Pittsburgh gave up 265 yards passing and 19 points to the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. Normally, that would allow them to breathe a sigh of relief over the relatively light damage inflicted by Pro Bowler Andrew Luck. Instead, they have fans worried about how their proud defense could allow Scott Tolzien and an undrafted free agent to have their best game of the preseason in handing the Steelers a 19-15 home loss.
On the other side of the ball, Ben Roethlisberger made a couple of connections with Antonio Brown before they both took a seat to watch their understudies come up short against the Colts. it was just enough to let everyone know they are ready to continue their prolific partnership come opening day.
Landry Jones went 21 for 31 for 163 yards and a touchdown before being named the winner of the backup QB derby. He also threw an interception and took a sack in his extended session. 16 different Steelers caught passes with Eli Rogers and Martavis Bryant collecting five each.
What did we learn
Pittsburgh players and coaches don’t seem as concerned about their secondary as the writers and fans. Generally regarded as one of the smartest defenses in the league, I wouldn’t doubt they are holding some things back for the regular season. The Steeler’s pass rush didn’t get much pressure against the poor offensive line of the Colts after two very good efforts earlier in the preseason. They are still moving bodies and changing assignments and will likely be ready to go soon enough.
Roethlisberger looks engaged and having fun. He was accurate and decisive in his very short stint. The whole passing game looked sharp and in sync.
Le’Veon Bell did not play as the battle to unseat Fitzgerald Toussaint as the number three running back heated up. Terrell Watson got the start and made a good case for himself with 82 total yards and a 5.0 yards per carry average. Knile Davis tallied 21 yards on his first two carries but his next five opportunities went for zero yards. Trey Williams took his one carry for ten yards. He and Toussaint have seen fewer snaps than the others, which is expected to correct itself in the Steelers’ final tune-up Thursday.
Ben looked good behind center, but he always looks good at home. He has the biggest QBR differential between home and away games of anyone in recent memory. He is coming off the draft board as the 12th quarterback. There are several steadier quarterbacks (Rivers, Prescott, Stafford, Dalton) I would consider taking before the inconsistent and injury-prone Steelers’ veteran.
Antonio Brown looks like he is going to enjoy trying to outscore Le’Veon Bell. Both make arguments to be number one off the board in their respective positions. Martavis Bryant is shaking off the rust of his one year away and looks very good and very motivated. I am not sure he is the WR20 his ADP reflects, but he is close enough to defend that pick. Eli Rogers looks like the third musketeer. He is worth a play in home games when Ben is on his game. He is getting no love on the typical draft boards as of yet.
James Connor is getting some late round interest as a handcuff for Bell. He is not likely to see the field much unless Bell goes down. When Bell needs a breather, Ben just throws a few passes.
Those other fantasy guys
There are three players listed ahead of him on the depth chart, but Xavier Grimble has caught everything thrown to him in the preseason. He saw as many targets as the projected starter, Jesse James. I mention this just because I like to say “Xavier Grimble”, but I wouldn’t draft either of them just yet. Neither would anyone else apparently, as neither has registered an ADP.
Chris Boswell is a minimal threat to make you look silly by not drafting him at kicker, either.
The Pittsburgh D/ST is coming off the board as the 11th favorite unit in fantasy. I don’t see them being much better than Baltimore or the Rams who come off the board just behind them. Pittsburgh does seem to get a higher-than-normal volume of bad weather games that might help keep scores down later in the year. I have them as 14 on my board with a strong streaming interest.
So… that’s that
Pittsburgh fans are chomping at the bit to see their Steelers go to battle in quest of glory. I just want them to score lots of fantasy points. The team should fill a sizeable chunk of fantasy roster spots.
Of course, situations change and I may feel the need to say “Xavier Grimble” again, so check back with us at RealSport for fantasy updates and advice all year long.
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