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Week 1 vs. TEN
Receiving: 8 / 103 / 0 on 10 targets
Hines Ward had a productive night, but he won't want to hear that. Ward got his share of the underneath routes over the middle that he has made a living on, getting yards after the catch and providing a safe, easy target for Big Ben, and he also got free downfield twice. The second time, he was looking for the game-winning TD in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, but Michael Griffin caught him from behind and forced a fumble that Griffin also recovered. Ward was distraught, but he came back to catch a pass in overtime that helped set up the game winning field goal. Ward is looking like a tremendous value in PPR leagues yet again, as the Steelers appear to be much better at passing than they at running the ball.
Week 2 vs. CHI
Receiving: 6 / 57 / 0 on 7 targets
Ward is getting a lot of targets that perform the same function as a run - very quick targets near the line of scrimmage that allow him to get run after catch yards. He also had one downfield target converted right before Roethlisberger's interception. He has taken a back seat to Santonio Holmes in terms of prominence in the target pecking order, but he is still a key cog in the passing offense.
Week 3 vs. CIN
Receiving: 4 / 82 / 0 on 5 targets
After a long completion on a broken play early in the first quarter and two more first half receptions in third down situations, Ward was quiet in the second half. Ward also had multiple holding penalties that cost the Steelers big plays.
Week 4 vs. SD
Receiving: 8 / 113 / 0 on 11 targets
Ward had a field day working short & intermediate routes working out of the slot early on and then later split out. Ward was called on early and often and had a stellar game from both an NFL and fantasy football perspective. Ward also contributed heavily to Pittsburgh's punishing ground game by springing Mendenhall free with some great TE-esque blocks vs Eric Weddle. In the 3rd quarter Ward ate up Antonio Cromartie on a 26 yd gain. Later Ward absolutely blew up CB Antoine Cason on a run after the catch down inside the 10 yard line. It was a play that many WR's would have just stepped out of bounds on, but Ward put his head down and gained extra yardage.
Week 5 vs. DET
Receiving: 7 / 85 / 1 on 7 targets
Hines Ward looked more like the top Steeler wideout option again, leading Pittsburgh with seven targets and converting all of them against the weak Detroit Lion defense. Ward even found the end zone for the first time all season, pushing through two would-be tacklers for a 21-yard touchdown. Ward worked the under routes and middle of the field, helping the Steelers to a quick lead and 21-13 halftime lead. Ward looked quick and strong, securing everything thrown his way and with no hesitation in going over the middle.
Week 6 vs. CLE
Receiving: 8 / 159 / 1 on 11 targets
Ward ran free deep in the Browns' secondary all day long. His first touchdown catch came on a pass that looked to be intended for Santonio Holmes in the deep middle, which Ward grabbed crossing in front of Holmes and two Cleveland defenders then took into the end zone. His second touchdown catch was a nice over-the-shoulder catch on a corner route. Ward was able to gain separation often when the Browns pressed him, but usually found himself streaking open as Cleveland dropped off into two deep coverage.
Week 7 vs. MIN
Receiving: 1 / 3 / 0 on 3 targets
The Vikings were all over Ward the entire game. He had just one reception early in the first quarter and had a few targets that fell incomplete after that. He and Santonio Holmes were non factors in this game.
Week 9 vs. DEN
Receiving: 7 / 44 / 2 on 9 targets
The Steelers had to like the matchup of veteran Ty Law versus Hines Ward. Law, signed Friday by the Broncos, was lined up inside after spending his entire career as an outside cornerback. Many times he was confused as to what his assignment was, and Hines Ward turned him around on more than one occasion. Ward ran great routes as usual, scoring his first touchdown against safety Josh Barrett on an inside slant. His second touchdown of the night came with time winding down in the fourth quarter. He caught a little bubble screen, leapfrogged over Champ Bailey and skipped into the end zone for six. Ward also made his presence felt as a blocker on running plays.
Week 10 vs. CIN
Receiving: 4 / 24 / 0 on 10 targets
Ward showed his toughness on one catch, breaking tackles and gaining a first yard deep in Cincinnati territory. However, pressure from the Cincinnati defense kept Ben Roethlisberger from connecting with him more often when open and the Bengals' corners knocked a number of passes down when Roethlisberger was able to get the ball away.
Week 11 vs. KC
Receiving: 10 / 128 / 1 on 14 targets
Ward had a great game, and was obviously in synch with Roethlisberger. On a number of broken plays, Ward tended to get open --- and Roethlisberger tended to find him. If the ball was catchable, he caught it; and nearly all of his receptions were for first downs.
Week 12 vs. BAL
Receiving: 3 / 47 / 0 on 6 targets
Ward was used almost exclusively as one of QB Dennis Dixon's safety valves during week 12. Ward made a few screen catches and fought for some extra yards each time. One of his short catches turned into a classic battle with Ed Reed fighting for extra yards. Ward took the short pass for a first down on the play. Dixon overthrew Ward on the longer routes during the game which limited his final output.
Week 13 vs. OAK
Receiving: 6 / 77 / 1 on 7 targets
Ward had a very nice game, getting open on both short routes and downfield routes, and working both the middle of the field and the sidelines. His touchdown will add to his "dirty" reputation as Ward appeared to grab the defensive back's face mask to stagger him and get separation. He tweaked his hamstring and might not play vs. Cleveland after only a short week of practice, stay tuned.
Week 14 vs. CLE
Receiving: 4 / 21 / 0 on 8 targets
Hines Ward was able to struggle through a nagging hamstring injury and suit up to play in Week 14, taking the field on a cold and blustery Thursday night in Cleveland. Ward was not at full strength but was able to catch a few short passes and help a struggling passing game to move the chains, but his inability to get open and help Ben Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball hurt the Steelers. Expect him to bounce back next week with extra time off but the matchups do get tougher (Green Bay, Baltimore) and Pittsburgh is all but eliminated from postseason contention, so a letdown is quite possible.
Week 15 vs. GB
Receiving: 7 / 126 / 0 on 13 targets
Ward converted key third downs and worked the middle of the field all day. He did have a drop, but Ward caught a bomb from Roethlisberger when he broke deep after Big Ben kept the play alive for an inordinate amount of time. He is clearly over his hamstring injury heading into the week 16 tilt with the Ravens.
Week 16 vs. BAL
Receiving: 4 / 37 / 0 on 4 targets
Hines Ward started well with two grabs on the opening drive but was only able to match that total the rest of the game. Ward was not a primary option for Roethlisberger as the quarterback favored Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace against the Ravens in Week 16. Ward is still a solid fantasy option as Baltimore just happened to choose to cover Ward more closely. Expect him to boost his totals next week against Miami.
Week 17 vs. MIA
Receiving: 8 / 61 / 0 on 11 targets
Ward had a quiet first half, with only a couple of short catches. He was the most targeted Steeler receiver and came through in the clutch in the second half, although all of his receptions were of the shorter variety. He was used heavily when Pittsburgh was protecting the lead late in the game. One miscue: Ward was called for holding on what would have been a touchdown run by Willie Parker that would have sealed the win.