Pittsburgh Steelers fans were walking out on ledges a few weeks ago, and fantasy owners weren’t all that much better off.
Three straight wins (and five of seven) later, and everyone is looking at the Steelers a little differently.
Ben Roethlisberger: Fair Start
While his numbers weren’t spectacular last week, Roethlisberger overcame some terrible conditions to put up some decent numbers. In Week 11, Roethlisberger torched the Detroit Lions to the tune of 367-yards and four touchdowns.
On the other hand, we’re not that far removed from five interceptions in three games (Weeks 8 through 10), so we have to keep in mind Roethlisberger has been prone to struggling this year.
The Baltimore Ravens are a tough matchup right now, and they tend to have the Steelers’ quarterback’s number—last time out, they held him to 160 yards and one touchdown.
If you have some other bad matchups, Roethlisberger will probably not kill you, but he’s not a great start this week.
Le’Veon Bell: Fair Start
As is the case with a lot of the Steelers offense, Bell can be a bit hit-and-miss. That said, he has been able to put together some OK combined-yardage totals.
In his last three games, he has totaled 98 yards (Week 12), 88 yards (Week 11) and 96 yards (Week 10) in combined yards. Of course, he’s only scored one touchdown in that time (four total for the season) which limits his value a little.
He should have some success on the ground against the Baltimore Ravens, though not a tremendous amount.
You can start him as a low-end No. 2 running back or, more safely, a No. 3/flex.
Antonio Brown: Must-Start
Brown has quietly become one of the better starts in fantasy football. Two out of the last three weeks have seen Brown top 100 yards and, in that span, he has scored three touchdowns as well.
He’s also seen double-digit targets over that time and has been the most frequently targeted Steeler by far with 116 targets over the course of the season. The next-closest Steelers receiver is Emmanuel Sanders with 82.
While the Ravens defense can be tough, but they aren’t unstoppable. They’ve allowed 17 touchdowns to date, and while they’ve been improved since their Week 8 bye, they’ve allowed at least one touchdown to every team they’ve played, save the New York Jets.
Brown is a borderline top-10 fantasy receiver this week and can function as anything from a solid No. 2 to a low-end No. 1.
Start him with confidence.
Emmanuel Sanders: “For the Flex of It”
Fellow Footballguys.com staff members, Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom, have a little thing they like to call the “what-the-heck flex.”
I don’t want to step on their copyright, so I’ll call it my “For the Flex of It.”
Sanders will be that guy tomorrow. A guy who should do OK but has a tremendous amount of upside. Enough to where having him in your lineup is something you should try to make happen.
At minimum, I expect him to have 40 to 50 yards, as he will find himself open when the coverage shifts over toward Brown.
I have a good feeling about Sanders this week, a real gut feeling he’s going to have a touchdown in here as well.
No guarantees but if you have a flex spot and want some upside, he’s your guy.
Heath Miller: Spot-Start
Heath Miller has always been a sort of “AW CRAP, MY TIGHT END IS HURT” sort of start. A guy who is fairly reliable overall but nobody you want to be starting.
This year, that seems to be especially true as he has never looked the same since he returned from injury.
While you can plug him in in an emergency, he’s not going to put up great points—while he gets targets, there are never a large number of them, and they are almost never in the red zone, which means his touchdowns are infrequent at best.
If you are in a bind, throw him in because he won’t likely give you anything, but he does have upside.