AFC North Preview – Pittsburgh Steelers

Anthony Knox
@hardknoxffb

The Pittsburgh Steelers are my favorite team in the NFL, so I’m going to be slightly biased towards them and may be a little critical of the other AFC North teams when you read those previews. It doesn’t change the fact that the Steelers have the best running back/wide receiver combination in the NFL, and some will argue those two should go one and two in all drafts.

Aside from those two, the Steelers feature a lot of players that you should and could have on your team.

Must Draft Players

  • Le’Veon Bell – Running Back
  • Antonio Brown – Wide Receiver
  • Martavis Bryant – Wide Receiver

There are three players that will be drafted from the Steelers without question, and two of them will go in the first round. Le’Veon Bell is the best running back in the NFL. His combination of running ability and pass catching make him a true double threat in the backfield. On a per game basis, Bell scored more points per game than David Johnson. Had Bell played the entire 16 game season, he would have easily ended up as the number one player in Fantasy Football. He has healed from his injury that he suffered in the playoffs and he has not been in any trouble this offseason (knock on wood). If you’re drafting second in your league and he falls to you, go buy a lottery ticket because you’re the luckiest person alive!

Antonio Brown has proved for the last three seasons that he should be the first wide receiver taken in all drafts. He has averaged 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns during that time period. I know some will say that because he got paid he won’t work as hard, or because Martavis Bryant is back he will lose targets. Brown is not going to slow down this season, and his targets were down last season without Bryant. When defenses can double team him then his numbers are impacted. With Bryant back this season, defenses will have to play man to man with him, and he’s going to beat them every time!

Speaking of Martavis Bryant, he will also be taken in every draft this year. He missed all of last season after being suspended by the NFL. Bryant took the time to get himself right mentally and now he is ready to go! Bryant has never played a full NFL season, but if his average stats per game were projected for an entire season, he would have 64 receptions for 1,008 yards and 7 touchdowns, giving him an average of 13 points per game. I’ll take that from my second receiver all season!

Players That Should Probably Be Drafted

  • Ben Roethlisberger – Quarterback
  • Jesse James – Tight End
  • Chris Boswell – Kicker

Chill out, everyone. Just because Ben Roethlisberger is on this list and not the first one doesn’t mean he won’t be relevant for your Fantasy Football team. Big Ben will be dominant some weeks (when he’s at home) and will totally suck others (when he’s away). At the end of the year, you’ll like what his stats show, but a part of you will know that he disappointed you several times. If you draft Roethlisberger you’ll need to draft a second quarterback to play when Big Ben is on the road. He throws A LOT fewer touchdowns on the road than when he’s at Heinz Field. His interceptions also go up on the road.

Let me be clear on something, Jesse James is probably not going to be drafted by many teams this year. He had 39 receptions for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2016. He scored 90.8 fantasy points. Why on earth would I include him in this list? Jesse James is becoming Heath Miller I like the consistency that Miller always brought to the tight end position. Miller’s first couple of seasons weren’t great, like James, but then he was a solid 8 points every week with a chance for a touchdown. I’ll take that with my last pick, or stream that from the waiver wire, all day!

Chris Boswell makes every kick within 40 yards of the goal post and doesn’t miss extra points. He also only missed 6 field goals in his entire NFL career. If you want a kicker you can put into your lineup and not change anything, Boswell is your guy.

Players You Could Draft If Your Rosters are Deep

  • James Conner – Running Back
  • Sammie Coates – Wide Receiver
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey – Wide Receiver
  • Eli Rogers – Wide Receiver
  • Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster – Wide Receiver

If you are the Le’Veon Bell owner you need to take James Conner with one of your last picks. We have all seen how valuable the back-up for Bell is in the last two seasons, and I don’t see how that would change with Conner.

The four wide receivers listed are all going to have a big week within the season, but their consistency is not likely to be there with both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant commanding the majority of the targets. Out of all of them, I like Eli Rogers the best because he was effective in the slot last year, which is where all 4 of those guys will play out of when they are on the field.

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