What changed for the Steelers? Click here
Roethlisberger was always a good NFL quarterback who performed well in a run-first philosophy offense. That always
limited his fantasy worth but not his reputation as a strong NFL passer. A funny thing happened in Pittsburgh over the last
few seasons however and that is the passing game has become dominant and all of a sudden, Roethlisberger is a fantasy gem who has risen in the rankings. He did miss four games last year and the 16 interceptions was a little high, but he threw for 325 yards per game and completed 68% of his throws.
Last year he threw for 4952 yards and 32 touchdowns, which ranked as the fifth best fantasy quarterback. That was his best fantasy season since his strong 2007 campaign and only his
2nd top-five finish. He is 34-years old and still in his prime so expect a similar effort this season or even better. He is a great fantasy option and could finish inside the top-five.
Landry Jones was serviceable in replacing Roethlisberger last year, completing 32 of 55 passes for 513 yards with 3 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. At least he has some experience if called upon again in 2016.
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Daryl Richardson, Rajion Neal
Le'Veon Bell suffered through a tough season after an amazing 2014 season in which he finished as the 2nd best fantasy back. Last year he was suspended for the first two games of the season, came back and had five terrific games (511 rushing yards and 22 receptions) before suffering an season ending knee injury in his sixth game that ended his year. He has a tremendous mix of size, speed, quickness, power and explosiveness along with exceptional hands. He is the most complete running back in the game today and the sky is the limit as to his fantasy possibilities. He still is not running and cutting on his knee but the time table looks encouraging for a full return to duty before the start of the season.
Veteran DeAngelo Williams replaced the injured Bell last season and did he ever do a super job. Really in ten games with significant action, Williams finished the year with 200 carries for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught a career high 40 passes and was a fantasy RB1. He did everything well but will take a back seat this season if Bell is ready to go.
Martavis Bryant (Suspended 2016 season)
Antonio Brown has had the best 3-year span at any position I have ever seen. Seriously, his numbers look more like a Madden football game season than an actual NFL one. He has caught a staggering 375 passes over the past three years (I had to double check that when i wrote it) for 5031 yards and 31 touchdowns. Move over Jerry Rice, move over Randy Moss, move over Terrell Owens and move over Calvin Johnson. Nobody has done that in their career. Truly spectacular from a former 6th round draft pick from Central Michigan. Brown works hard, practices hard, runs tremendous pass routes and has excellent quickness once the ball is in his hand. It is a lot to expect him to match the 129 receptions from last year but 100+ receptions and 10+ touchdowns is a near certainty barring injuries. He is a stud who worked his ass off to get to this level. Nothing but
respect for this kid.
The second receiver in this offense was Martavis Bryant but he will miss the entire season due to failed drug test. This opens the door for Markus Wheaton to become a legitimate weapon in 2016 after a couple of encouraging seasons. Last year he caught 44 passes for 749 yards and scored 5 times. He is a great slot receiver who runs strong pass routes. He is capable of elevating his play.
Sammie Coates has easy acceleration and is fluid in and out of breaks. He has many of the traits of an
excellent NFL receiver but he is often inconsistent and has big time focus issues while catching. He did not really do much as a rookie last season but the suspension to Bryant will give this talented youngster a chance to have an impact with the Steelers. He will battle with veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey for playing time in 2016 with the winner capable of 40-50 receptions.
Jesse James, Matt Spaeth
Long-time starting tight end Heath Miller retired this off-season and a battle between Ladarius Green, Jesse James and Matt Spaeth will determine the starting tight end in Pittsburgh.
Both James and Spaeth are better blockers than receivers Green should emerge as the tight end target and 60+ receptions is a strong possibility. Green has been buried behind Antonio Gates in San Diego but he could very well be a household name after this season.
Projected Starters: LT Ryan Harris, LG Ramon Foster, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David Decastro, RT Marcus Gilbert
Key Backups: Cody Wallace, Alejandro Villaneuva, Jerald Hawkins (rookie)
The Steelers offensive line is very good and led by veteran center Maurkice Pouncey who plays at an elite level when healthy. Unfortunately injuries have limited him over the past few seasons but he is still a great option in the middle. David Decastro is a former 1st round pick from the 2012 season who has become one of the finest guards in the NFL. Ramon Foster is a formerly undrafted linemen who has found a home at left guard while Marcus Gilbert is a solid option at right tackle. The question mark here is who wins the job at the left tackle position between Ryan Harris and Alejandro Villaneuva. Ryan Harris was brought over in free agency and should win the starting job but the 6'9 Villaneuva, a former Black Knight who earned several starts last year could win this job. Harris is serviceable at best and the weak point of an otherwise strong group. A wildcard here is rookie Jerald Hawkins who could elevate with a good camp. The LSU grad is a gifted run blocker but a real liability in the passing game.
Shaun Suisham, Chris Boswell:
Veteran Shaun Suisham had been lights out for the Steelers from 2012 to 2014, hitting on 87 of 95 field goals. Last year he suffered a knee injury prior to the season and Chris Boswell came in and kicked the crap out of the ball, hitting 29 of 32 field goal attempts. They will compete for the job in 2016.