As we get closer to the start of the NFL season most people are going to begin drafting their fantasy football teams. This is one of my favorite times of the year and I always try to get a player or two from my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. This season the Steelers might not have some of the most flashy players in the league but within the rough their are some fantasy diamonds. In this article I will tell you the top five fantasy players on the Steelers.
5. Issac Redman (NFL.com rank: 178, ESPN rank: 174)
Running back Issac Redman is on this list for one main reason, he is the go-to back in the redzone. Throughout the early parts of training camp the reports from Steelers camp about Redman is that he is gotten most of the carries in the short yardage situations and in the redzone. Which makes sense because he is a big back capable of punching it in from short yardage. Redman is going to be a major part of the Steelers three headed running attack this season and while is only projected only 2 touchdowns this season, according to ESPN, but I’d take that with a grain of salt. Redman has the perfect build to blast in touchdowns from short yardage and I think that’s what the Steelers have planned for him this season.
Redman has a real low ranking and should be available in the late rounds of drafts. If you’re in a deeper league and need another running back I would look at Redman to get a touchdown here and there and be a good stop gap on a bye week.
4. Emmanuel Sanders (NFL.com rank: 114, ESPN rank: 101)
Emmanuel Sanders is going into this season as the Steelers number two receiver. The Steelers fought to bring the 26 year old receiver back to Pittsburgh and the fact that he has a good relationship with Ben Roethlisberger is a good sign. Sanders is coming into this training camp fully healed from his knee and foot injuries that held him back last season. According to reports Sanders is looking “faster” and his self esteem is much higher than in past seasons. As the number three receiver last year Sanders had 600 yards receiving but only one touchdown, but this year Sanders is going to see more targets and will see mostly single coverage with Antonio Brown calling for double teams on the other side of the field. Sanders is projected to have over 800 yards this year and four touchdowns according to ESP, which I believe is what most people should expect.
The young receiver will be a great number three or four receiver in fantasy leagues. Roethlisberger likes Sanders and his speed makes him a threat to turn any pass into a long touchdown.
3. Le’Veon Bell (NFL.com rank: 52, ESPN rank: 63)
The rookie Le’Veon Bell should be the Steelers starting running back at the beginning of the season. He has the perfect balance of speed and strength that makes him a threat. The Steelers have been talking about how they want to run the ball more and with Bell they have a great smash mouth down hill runner. While Bell doesn’t have the Steelers starting job right now it’s one that is slowly becoming his to lose according to reports out of Steelers training camp. The only problem with drafting Bell is that he is still fighting with two other backs for the starting job which will limit the amount of carries that he will have. I believe that after week two or three of the season we will see Bell begin to become the Steelers feature back. Bell is projected to rush for close to 800 yards and have seven touchdowns according to ESPN, but if you ask me I think Bell will be close to a thousand yards on the ground.
Bell is in the thick of the rankings and should be a solid number three running back this season. If you are drafting in the fourth or fifth rounds and still season him there I would take the chance on the rookie.
2. Ben Roethlisberger (NFL.com rank: 106, ESPN rank: 97)
The quarterback position is always the bread winner in the realm of fantasy football, and Big Ben Roethlisberger is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Last year Roethlisberger threw for 3,200 yards and had 26 touchdowns and he also missed three games due to injury. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, which is a strong possibility with the offensive line getting better, then I would expect an even better season from Big Ben. Roethlisberger is not a Manning or Rodgers who is going to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns every week but he is always a solid starter at quarterback who always has the big game potential waiting for him. Roethlisberger is a very solid number 2 option at quarterback and while he is projected to have only 3,200 yards and 25 touchdowns this season I expect him to have better numbers then that.
1. Antonio Brown (NFL.com rank: 49, ESPN rank: 59)
Antonio Brown is the best player on the Steelers’ offense. With the departure of Mike Wallace, Brown is going to have more targets and more opportunities to make plays within the Steelers offense. He has incredible speed and toughness. The young receiver has the straight line speed to outrun double teams and is able to go across the middle and make the tough catch and take the big hit. His big play potential makes him a threat to score on any given play. Last season Brown had 787 yards receiving and five touchdowns. This year Brown is projected to rack up 980 yards and six touchdowns according to ESPN, but I think that Brown is going to have an even better season than that. Brown is going to be Roethlisberger’s primary target especially at the beginning of the season without Heath Miller. Brown should be expected to have over a thousand yards receiving and I wouldn’t be surprised if he posted double digit touchdowns.
Expect Brown to have a fantastic season and be a good number two or three receiver and will be gone by the middle of the draft so if you absolutely want him on your fantasy team be prepared to use an earlier pick on him.
Honorable Mentions: Heath Miller didn’t make the list due to the ACL tear that he suffered at the end of last season, but when he gets back and healthy I expect him and Roethlisberger to begin right where they left off last season. Also the Steelers defense and special teams is always one of the league’s best especially since they don’t allow many points to opposing offenses. With the addition of LaRod Stephens-Howling the special teams of the Steelers should be even better this year.