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QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, Ben Tate, Ronnie Brown
WR: Vincent Jackson, Santonio Holmes, Laurent Robinson, Leonard Hankerson
TE: Rob Gronkowski
PK: David Akers
TD: Pittsburgh Steelers
Let us say this as nicely as we can. This team is brutal. It is below average and/or too thin at all three core positions (quarterback, running back and receiver).To make this team into a serious contender, you are going to need to be extremely active in trades and on the waiver wire. You esentially need to turn over significant parts of this roster. Last year running backs like Michael Bush, Darren Sproles, and Fred Jackson all could be had dirt cheap at the draft. Additionally, wide receivers like Victor Cruz and Laurent Robinson were available after a lot of the drafts. Quarterbacks like Cam Newton last season, Michael Vick in 2010, Brett Favre in 2009, Matt Cassel in 2008, and Derek Anderson in 2007 could all be had cheap just after draft time. You are likely going to need to land many of this year's top waiver plays to make any significant noise, so pay close attention to increased workloads, targets, injuries, etc. Bottom line:
- With great inseason management, we think you have about a 35 percent chance of making the playoffs.
- With good inseason management, we think you have about a 20 percent chance of making the playoffs.
- With average inseason management, we think you have a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs.
In any event, we wish you the best of luck. Here's hoping all your weeks are like week 2 of 2009:Frank Gore vs. SEA: 246 combined yards, 2 TD
Ronnie Brown vs. IND: 136 combined yards, 2 TD
Matt Schaub vs. TEN: 357 passing yards, 4 TD
Vincent Jackson vs. BAL: 141 receiving yards, 1 TD
We have Ben Roethlisberger rated #16 among quarterbacks, so we're not even sold on him as a fantasy starter in your league. And we're not sure that Matt Schaub (our #22-rated QB) is likely to provide much help.Incidentally, these two have a pretty nice combined schedule and a decent playoff schedule too. If you simply played the one with the better matchup each week, this is the schedule you'd face:
DEN | JAX | OAK | TEN | PHI | GB | CIN | WAS | NYG | KC | JAX | DET | TEN | NE | IND | MINRB Summary:
We see both your starters at running back as below average. Our projections have Maurice Jones-Drew ranked 19th and Frank Gore ranked at #20.
We may not love Ben Tate at third RB, but we like the fact that you can hold the Arian Foster owner hostage.
Because you're not particularly strong overall at the position, adding some depth here was a good idea. But we're not convinced Ronnie Brown is the right player for the job. Check the end of the report for some alternative suggestions.
A quick note about the same-team Jones-Drew/Laurent Robinson duo you've got here. Though the effect is probably negligible, this kind of pairing is likely to make your team more (not less) consistent than a comparable-scoring different-team pair. See this article (which was written before the 2008 season) for more discussion.WR Summary:
We see both your starters at receiver as below average. Vincent Jackson is our #25 ranked receiver, and we have Santonio Holmes at #35.
Laurent Robinson is a very weak third receiver; he's a likely flex starter. Leonard Hankerson is also a liability at fourth receiver.TE Summary:
As you are well aware, Rob Gronkowski is an elite tight end. We have him ranked second overall at the position. He's about 2.8 points per game better than an average starting TE in this league. Given your league rules and the presence of Gronkowski, your decision to roll with just one tight end is a reasonable one.Kicker Summary:
With David Akers, you should be above average at the position.Defense Summary:
The Steelers are probably not a difference-maker at defense, but they should be OK.When you don't have an elite defense, one option is a committee approach. That is, try to get two cheap defenses whose schedules fit well together. Here are a few teams who we think may be available and whose schedules fit best with the Steelers', along with the combined schedule that each would create: Steelers + Patriots = DEN | NYJ | OAK | BUF | DEN | SEA | NYJ | STL | NYG | BUF | IND | NYJ | BAL | SD | DAL | JAX
Steelers + Cardinals = DEN | NYJ | OAK | MIA | STL | BUF | MIN | WAS | NYG | KC | BAL | STL | NYJ | SEA | DET | CHI
Steelers + Seahawks = ARI | NYJ | OAK | STL | PHI | TEN | CIN | DET | MIN | NYJ | BAL | MIA | CHI | ARI | BUF | CIN
Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2013 season.
Schedule AnalysisGreen means GO (good matchup), red means STOP (bad matchup). Main starters highlighted At the bottom of the table, the Relative Strength row shows you how strong we project your team to be, relative to your usual strength, in that week. This accounts for byes and matchups.
- Please note that the Relative strength numbers above account for both byes and matchups.
- Remember that you might have starters on bye in a given week, but still have a high relative strength. This could occur because of favorable matchups, or it might be because you are projected to be missing less production than an average opponent will (your opponents have to deal with byes too).
- Week 9 presents serious bye week issues for you: Frank Gore, Santonio Holmes, and Rob Gronkowski are off.
- Week 6 presents moderate bye week issues: Maurice Jones-Drew and Laurent Robinson are not playing.
- Vincent Jackson and David Akers are out in week 5, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
- Matt Schaub and Ben Tate are out in week 8, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
- In weeks 4, 7, and 10 you'll probably be better off than your opponent, as far as byes are concerned.
Potential Free AgentsListed in order of preference. We don't know exactly who is available in your league, but here is a list of players who might be available and could be upgrades over some of your depth players, listed in order of preference. Your players are listed in red for comparison. Players who might not mesh well with the bye weeks of your key players are grayed out.
QB: Jake Locker (11), Ryan Fitzpatrick (11), Matt Schaub (8), Carson Palmer (10), Andy Dalton (8), Christian Ponder (11), Matt Cassel (11), Mark Sanchez (9), Sam Bradford (9), John Skelton (8). RB: Cedric Benson (10), Jonathan Stewart (6), Michael Bush (6), Rashad Jennings (5), Ryan Williams (10), Jacquizz Rodgers (7), David Wilson (11), Isaac Redman (4), Roy Helu (10), Pierre Thomas (6), Mikel Leshoure (5), Evan Royster (10), Felix Jones (5), Chris Wells (10), Ben Tate (8), Taiwan Jones (5), Kendall Hunter (9), Toby Gerhart (11), Bilal Powell (9). We have all these players rated ahead of Ronnie Brown. WR: Lance Moore (6), Sidney Rice (11), Nate Washington (11), Randy Moss (9), Davone Bess (10), Danny Amendola (9), Doug Baldwin (11), Jerome Simpson (11), Alshon Jeffery (6), Steve Smith (5), David Nelson (10), Laurent Robinson (6), Austin Collie (4), Brian Hartline (7), Santana Moss (10), Harry Douglas (7), Josh Gordon (10), Emmanuel Sanders (4), Stephen Hill (9). We have all these players rated ahead of Leonard Hankerson. TE: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here. PK: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here. TD: New York Jets (9), Detroit Lions (5), Pittsburgh Steelers (4), Buffalo Bills (8), Atlanta Falcons (7), Dallas Cowboys (5), New York Giants (11), Tennessee Titans (11), Arizona Cardinals (10), New Orleans Saints (6).
Projections and Player Summaries
Ben Roethlisberger - Entering his ninth NFL season --- a stat that seems hard to believe --- Ben Roethlisberger could be a prime sleeper candidate at the quarterback position. While he may not be drafted like it, Roethlisberger could end the year as a top-10 fantasy QB. He has a couple of things working in his favor fantasy-wise. First, Roethlisberger will be leading an offense without injured RB Rashard Mendenhall for a good portion of the season. Secondly, new offensive coordinator Todd Haley has always molded his offenses to his personnel strengths. For Pittsburgh --- especially this season without Mendenhall --- said strengths are Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and even Heath Miller. Lastly, Roethlisberger's offensive line got a shot in the arm during this year's draft. As good as he is at evading the rush and making big plays, imagine a scenario in which he can scan the field, play from the pocket, and cut down on potential injuries. Roethlisberger's ceiling is that of a top-6 QB. His floor is still respectable but would leave him as a fantasy backup in the #18 QB range.
Matt Schaub - Matt Schaub played only 10 games in 2011 as he suffered a rash of injuries that once again called in to question how durable he is. While Schaub's ability appears to be the same as it has been in recent years, his injuries and the emergence of the Houston running game mean he may not ever throw for 4,000 yards again. Schaub will be 31 this season and despite improving his interception percentage and reducing the number of sacks he takes, the Texans' more run-heavy offense may limit his offensive production going forward. Arian Foster and Ben Tate's emergence as the best rushing tandem in football means that Schaub will be called on to throw it less often on first and second down. Add in that top receiver Andre Johnson is beginning to show his age and it is fair to wonder if Schaub is as good of a fantasy option now as he once was. Schaub has become a more deliberate and effective quarterback in the last two seasons. He makes fewer risky downfield throws, more often settling for the safe option to the sideline than the dangerous throw downfield as he did earlier in his career. If Schaub can remain healthy than he should be a slightly better than average quarterback for 2012. However, his upside is likely minimal due to injury risk and a more balanced offense. The days of projecting Schaub to break out as a 30 touchdown, 4,000 yard passer appear to be at an end.
Ronnie Brown - Ronnie Brown, the former #2 pick overall by the Dolphins, failed to make an impact in Philadelphia last season. But the 30-year-old has looked rejuvenated in training camp with the Chargers this season, easily winning the #2 job behind Ryan Mathews. That gives him instant fantasy value for a few games at the beginning of the season, because Mathews is expected to miss some time with a broken clavicle. Brown will not get the same workload that Mathews was expected to get. He'll share touches with Le'Ron McClain and Curtis Brinkley. But he becomes at least a flex starter for as long as Mathews is out. After Mathews returns, Brown will be used mainly in the two-minute offense and occasionally on third downs in passing situations.
Maurice Jones-Drew - Maurice Jones-Drew had perhaps his best season as a professional in 2011 as he posted nearly 2,000 yards rushing and receiving. Unfortunately, his massive production did very little for the Jaguars offense as a whole as the passing game stalled often under Blaine Gabbert. Jones-Drew will look to carry over last season's momentum but is likely hoping for a reduced workload (he touched the ball 386 times) as the passing game improves. While he had fewer big plays than in seasons past, he was able to improve his between the tackles running in 2011 and showed improved lower-body power and balance on his way to rushing for 1,606 yards. Jones-Drew is 27 years old and entering his athletic prime. While he isn't likely to average 21 carries per game again in 2012, he should still be one of the few running backs in the league that receives enough carries to be thought of a stud running back. That, combined with his ability to score from anywhere on the field, makes Jones-Drew an excellent option at the top of most drafts.
Frank Gore - The 49ers running back may have lost a step as far as breakaway speed, but Frank Gore still runs with great vision and has the power between the tackles to wear down a defense. Based on the addition of smaller, primarily pass-catching backs like Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James in the past two draft classes, the 49ers may have a long-term plan to transition to a spread attack. While Frank Gore still has miles left in the tank, Jim Harbaugh will use him as the primary rushing threat, however, and therefore Gore can be counted on as a dependable RB2 with low-end RB1 upside.
Ben Tate - After starting his career with a horrific ankle injury, Ben Tate has rebounded to be one of the best backup running backs in the NFL. Tate is not as good of a receiver as Arian Foster and will remain the backup for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean he can't be productive in his own right. He excels in the Texans' zone blocking scheme and is productive both as a spot player and as an everydown ball carrier. Tate's 5.4 yards per attempt was a full yard better than starter Arian Foster and he shares Foster's stellar vision at finding holes and cutback lanes. Despite not being a starter, Tate is a very useful back for fantasy purposes and could rise to the top tier of the position should Foster be injured.
Leonard Hankerson - Hankerson (6'2", 209 lbs.) was drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and was expected to push for early playing time, but it took some time for Hankerson to gain the coaches trust. By midseason he was being worked into three-receiver sets, and emerged with an 8-catch, 106-yard performance against the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, Hankerson tore a hip labrum in that game and was lost for the season after undergoing hip surgery. Hankerson returned to camp determined to regain his momentum, and has gotten plenty of first team reps. Hankerson has the size and strength to go up and get jump balls, and he could provide Robert Griffin with a safety valve, particularly in the red zone. If he lands the starting job as planned, he's worth a late round selection in any draft format.
Santonio Holmes - Did Holmes and quarterback Mark Sanchez make up after a tumultuous end of the year and a war of words in the offseason? Holmes isn't happy with the amount of targets he saw last year and he shouldn't be as Sanchez seemed to stop throwing to him near the end of the year. When Holmes gets the ball he is a dangerous playmaker and the Jets need to find a way to get the ball into his hands - it is just that simple. The problem for fantasy owners is figuring out how much that is worth. The Jets are saying they will run the ball more and Sanchez is shaky at the best of times --- and Tebow is still refining his technique. Holmes could be a solid number two wide receiver but in this offense, he's more of a number three. He could be so much more, but this is not the offense that will help him get there. On top of all the rest, Holmes has been hurt all preseason. Not a good start for the number one Jets wide receiver.
Vincent Jackson - After spending his career to this point in San Diego, Vincent Jackson has opted for a change of scenery. Jackson gives the Buccaneers a legitimate go-to receiving threat that they have not had in quite some time. Jackson's presence will give the offense an edge and provide a deep threat that will give Josh Freeman a big target to use off play action. Jackson will command the attention of a safety over the top that may give Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, among others, with more single coverage. The opportunity for Jackson to thrive in 2012 is there, but it remains a run-first offense and he may not reach the heights of his San Diego days. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers could be playing from behind often, so he could come close or possibly eclipse his personal career high of 68 receptions and finish with a Top 15 ranking. He is a solid late fourth- or fifth-round pick and is an decent candidate to outperform his draft position at season's end.
Laurent Robinson - After bouncing around from Atlanta to St. Louis in his first four years, Robinson finally had great success in 2011 with the Dallas Cowboys. The Jaguars wasted little time in the offseason by signing him to a large free agent deal with the hope that he will finally be able to fulfill the potential he showed when he was drafted by the Falcons to be a number one receiver. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle; Robinson benefited from single coverage as the Cowboys third receiver but also showed great acceleration and concentration during his time in Dallas. Robinson was particularly effective near the sidelines and on downfield routes. The Jaguars will count on Robinson to stretch the field while Justin Blackmon works shorter routes. While Robinson is unlikely to match his 11 touchdowns of 2011, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he could catch more than 50 balls again this season with a solid yards-per-reception average.
Rob Gronkowski - Gronkowski has become one of professional football's premiere tight ends. His talent and situation warrant an early second-round pick in your draft. Last season, the former Arizona player was targeted 144 times, snaring 90 passes for 1,327 yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns. Gronkowski has, along with Jimmy Graham, taken the tight end position to a new stratosphere. The arrival of Brandon Lloyd may give some pause over Gronkowski's numbers once again reaching the heights of 2011, but don't expect Gronkowski's numbers to take much of a hit. Tom Brady will continue to feed the massive tight end the football all over the field, and the Patriots offensive game plan will always feature him heavily, specifically in the red zone where his height, soft hands and route-running prowess set him apart. His athleticism allows him to line up all over the formation, from an in-line tight end to flexing out as a slot receiver. Defenses will continue to struggle in their game planning against this potent tight end; some defensive coordinators would argue that he is nigh on unstoppable as a weapon. Rob Gronkowski will be the number one tight end in fantasy football once more and his immense talent may seem him take another step forward as an all-around player in 2012.
David Akers - During his final years with the Eagles, Akers had grown accustomed to getting plenty of kicking opportunities. In his first season with the 49ers he got more than plenty, setting the NFL single season scoring record. This year, his holder will again be punter Andy Lee. The third specialist spot will between incumbent long snapper Brian Jennings, who withstood a brief challenge from free agent acquisition Ryan Pontbriand. After four years at or near the bottom of the rankings in kicker scoring opportunities, the 49ers shot up to number one last year - with one of the highest attempted totals in history. Can Akers repeat or come close to repeating last year�s feat? Anything is possible however history suggests otherwise. Over the past two decades, teams kicking over 140 points in a given year average only 111 points the following year (high of 129, low of 89).
Pittsburgh Steelers - Last year the Steelers struggled as a team defense, managing just 15 turnovers and 35 sacks, which is a far cry from what they normally produce on defense. Interestingly enough, they were the top overall defense averaging only 271.7 yards per game, including a league low 171.9 yards passing per game. Pittsburgh dominated defensively from a yardage and total points allowed standpoint. Their inability to force turnovers and score defensive TDs kept them from being a strong fantasy defensive unit. Outside of their two main edge rushers, Lamar Woodley and James Harrison, nobody had more than 3 sacks. Two defensive rookies could make an impact this year. ILB Sean Spence, who possesses good speed and quickness, is a great fit for the Steelers LB corps. DT Alameda Ta'amu will fit in nicely as the team's NT, replacing Casey Hampton (knee), who could be released due to his big number against the cap. WR Emmanuel Sanders will be taking over both PR and KR duties, allowing Antonio Brown to focus all of his efforts at wide receiver. If the Steelers can find a way to force more turnovers, they should be able to jump back into the Top 10, possibly Top 5.
Player News (last 7 days)
"Our view" written by footballguys.com's Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom. Click here for all the news around the NFL, updated constantly.Patriots | Uncertain about Rob Gronkowski's back injury - The New England Patriots are not sure how serious TE Rob Gronkowski's (back, forearm) back injury is at this point. Gronkowski may not be ready for the start of training camp because of the offseason surgeries. Fri May 24, 02:22 PM [Link to story]
|Our view: Gronkowski received good news after his fourth forearm surgery. He won't need a fifth procedure on the forearm as no infections were found. However, he still may need back surgery this offseason. We'll know more in a few weeks. If he does have back surgery then Gronkowski may miss time in the preseason. At this time he is still on track for the start of the regular season.|
Jets | Santonio Holmes not expected to take part in minicamp - New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said he does not believe that WR Santonio Holmes (foot) will be able to participate in the team's minicamp in June. Wed May 22, 04:09 PM [Link to story]
|Our view: Holmes may not even be ready by the start of training camp later this year. We'll see if the team puts him on the camp PUP in August and eases him back in the lineup. They need to get him on the field ASAP because Geno Smith may win the starting job and needs to build chemistry with their top wide receiver.|
Steelers | Ben Roethlisberger happy with offensive changes - Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has voiced his happiness over the direction of the team's new offense this offseason. 'There've been some changes this offseason in some of the offensive philosophies, playbook and some things that I think are good,' Roethlisberger said. 'It's some compromise from all the different position coaches, the running back coaches, the line and quarterback coaches. I think we've taken a little bit of everything and made it a lot better.' Wed May 22, 02:30 PM [Link to story]
|Our view: We'll see if year two in the Todd Haley offense is better for Roethlisberger and the Steelers. The team needs to feature more downfield passing which is not a Haley specialty but plays to the strength of their QB.|
Patriots | Rob Gronkowski surgery went smoothly - New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that arm surgery for TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) received 'as good a report as we could hope for.' Tue May 21, 01:53 PM [Link to story]
|Our view: Good news for Gronk, Patriots fans, and fantasy owners here. Now Gronkowski will examine the possibility of having minor back surgery in a few weeks. His status for week one is still up in the air. We'll know more when/if we see Gronkowski during training camp.|
Patriots | Rob Gronkowski to meet with doctor about back - New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) plans to meet with a doctor in California in about three to four weeks to decide whether he will need to undergo back surgery. Mon May 20, 06:39 PM [Link to story] Patriots | Doctors believe Rob Gronkowski's infection cleared - New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) underwent surgery Monday, May 20, to replace the plate in his forearm. The doctors believe the infection in his forearm has cleared. Mon May 20, 05:35 PM [Link to story]
|Our view: Good news for Gronkowski here. Without an infection he won't need to undergo a fifth procedure on his forearm. However, he still needs minor back surgery which may be scheduled in the next few weeks.|
Patriots | Rob Gronkowski will undergo surgery Monday - New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday, May 20, on his injured forearm. The doctors are expected to take cultures from his forearm to see if the infection is still there. If there is no infection, the plate in his forearm will be replaced and Gronkowski would start a 10- to 11-week rehab process. The plate will not be replaced if there is still signs of an infection. Sun May 19, 01:45 PM [Link to story]
|Our view: Gronkowski could have a fifth surgery on the forearm if an infection is there. He also has to undergo minor back surgery but the doctors didn't want to schedule his surgeries too close together. Sources close to Gronkowski say he'll be ready for training camp but nothing is set in stone.|