Matchup Analysis: Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Steelers 25, Saints 31

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Steelers Offense27.4 (+4.0) (5)94 (-20) (30)312 (+72) (3)
Saints Defense20.9 (-2.6) (7)79 (-35) (1)262 (+22) (28)

New Orleans Saints Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Saints Offense32.8 (+9.3) (2)127 (+12) (8)258 (+18) (11)
Steelers Defense22.6 (-0.9) (15)97 (-17) (6)237 (-3) (13)

Steelers Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Saints defense.

James Conner looks unlikely to return to action this week, but it may not be that big of an impact due to the emergence of Jaylen Samuels. Prior to his injury, Conner had taken his second big efficiency downturn of the season, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and 46 per game from Weeks 11-13. Last Sunday in his place, rookie Jaylen Samuels racked up 142 on just 19 attempts in a massive win over the Patriots. Samuels showed an explosiveness and consistency last week and while it was a good matchup, looked like a much more competent back in his second start compared to his first. The good news is that Samuels will continue to run behind one of football’s best front lines: Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti currently assigns them one of the league’s three A+ grades in run blocking. Center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro form an exceptionally strong duo, capable of both winning inside and kicking out to seal off creases on the edge.

The Saints continue to boast one of the NFL’s most improved - and actually, most dominant - units on run defense. A punchline for years, this group is allowing the league’s second-fewest yards per rush (3.7) and fewest per game (79). They’ve run the gamut lately, a brutal stretch of Todd Gurley, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey over the last two months, but managed to hold each under 80 yards. With Sheldon Rankins excelling on the nose and linebacker Demario Davis enjoying a fine season in run support, there’s actually a strong core in place that routinely dominates the trenches. Typically, the only room to be found in this matchup is on the edges, but even that’s been pinched off more and more lately. Seemingly overnight, this Saints run defense is one no fantasy player wants to face, even with an elite rushing attack like that of the Steelers.

Steelers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Saints defense.

As the Steelers inch toward the postseason, Ben Roethlisberger continues to play dynamic, if shaky, real-life football. The 36-year-old has thrown 8 interceptions over the last 5 weeks, and his Week 16 performance against the Patriots (22 of 34 for 235 yards and 2 scores, with 2 picks) was arguably his worst of the season. Still, Roethlisberger remains a top-tier fantasy quarterback, thanks to a tremendous blend of opportunity, aggressiveness, and explosiveness at the receiver position. Roethlisberger is averaging 319 yards per game, with 170 of it (53%) going to the world-class duo of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both are enjoying fantastic seasons while dominating the ball, with Brown scoring 13 times over 14 games and Smith-Schuster topping 100 yards 7 times. Various others, like James Washington and tight end Vance McDonald, pop in and out of the gameplan as well, but not with any predictability. This attack belongs to the two starters, and Roethlisberger remains powerful enough to take full advantage in virtually any matchup.

The Saints pass defense continues to excel as the season wears on, wiping away a horrid start with near-shutdown play over the past two months. Over the last 6 weeks they’ve given up just 221 yards a game and 6 touchdowns, despite facing some fairly imposing matchups. Top cornerback Marshon Lattimore has certainly shaken off the cobwebs, and his ball skills have played a huge role in the turnaround. Lattimore is a gambler who can absolutely be beaten, but on most weeks, he looms as a shutdown presence that quarterbacks don’t like to test. On the other side, new Saint Eli Apple continues to improve week after week. He arguably earned the game ball for Week 15, repeatedly stifling Cam Newton and creating big, momentum-shifting plays on the ball. Lattimore is the star, but Apple’s quietly-strong play has been the key piece to the puzzle of late, and a big reason Julio Jones has been the only receiver to top 100 yards over this 6-week run.

Saints Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

The Saints rushing attack is a two-headed one, but remains exceptionally efficient and capable of supporting two fantasy starters. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have combined to top 100 ground yards in 7 of their last 8 games together, and they find the end zone at a robust 6.0% rate. Due to his pass game usage, Kamara is closer to the lead dog role, but the two split rushing opportunity nearly down the middle. Both are explosive runners in their own way, and both benefit from an elite run-blocking line that’s not even at full strength. Replacement left tackle Jermon Bushrod has been a liability, but center Max Unger and the right side are strong. All told, this backfield boasts a ton of fantasy appeal, from its top-notch efficiency to the big game-flow benefits that come in this offense. Kamara and Ingram routinely see lots of touchdown opportunity, and they’re often called upon to salt away games on the ground. Distribution can be a problem, limiting their week-to-week upsides, but both are good weekly bets for strong rushing lines.

The Pittsburgh run defense, so dominant to open the season, has taken on a noticeable dip and continues to struggle with consistency. They tend to clamp down fairly well on power backs, but give up far too many chunk runs to quick-footed speedsters. Over the last month, Phillip Lindsay (14 carries for 110 yards and 1 touchdown), Christian McCaffrey (14 for 77 and 1), and Justin Jackson (8 for 63 and 1) have all found their way to big-time efficiency. Still, there’s plenty of reason to consider this one of fantasy’s tougher matchups. Things have settled down of late, after all, with the Steelers allowing just 112 yards to their last 3 opposing lead backs. The stout, athletic front line is still packed with talent, and top linebacker Vince Williams is enjoying a fine season on the inside. They’re typically hit for a splash run or two per game, but tend to control things otherwise and make for a rather tough matchup.

Saints Passing offense

Good matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

As the Saints continue to control games from the outset, less and less is being asked of Drew Brees. Dating back to Week 7, he’s attempted just 29 passes a game and topped 250 yards only 3 times. Brees is still lethally efficient, completing 75% of his throws at 8.1 yards apiece. But it hasn’t translated into usable fantasy production in almost a month. The Saints pass game is run disproportionately through Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, who have accounted for 49% of team targets and 51% of the yardage. Beyond them, injuries have decimated the receiving corps, and Brees throws almost exclusively to undrafted practice-squad types. Thomas has been almost robotically good, catching 86% of his looks, but has lacked dynamism in this grinding offense. He’s averaged just 9.9 yards per catch over the last 6 weeks, landing below 50 yards in 3 of them. A Week 16 date with the Steelers seems like a perfect opportunity for this unit to break out of its shell, but that’s certainly not the Saints’ goal. They’d much rather shorten the game and win on the ground, with a small (and unpredictable) batch of splash plays mixed in.

The Pittsburgh pass defense continues to waffle between dominant and vulnerable. They enjoyed a fantastic stretch of play from Weeks 6 through 12, giving up just 187 yards per game and 8 touchdowns to a mostly-shaky batch of passers. But over their other 8 contests, they’ve allowed an average of 313 with 18 scores. The Steelers continue to struggle in downfield coverage - on display during Chris Hogan’s wide-open touchdown last week - relying instead on a dynamic yet inconsistent pass rush to disrupt the flow. When T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and the explosive front line collapse the pocket, passers are flushed out of their comfort zones and struggle to generate much down the field. But when the Steelers’ challenging blitzes and stunts are picked up, life is much easier for them. Top cornerback Joe Haden is no longer anyone’s idea of a shutdown guy, and the safeties are little more than auxiliary linebackers installed for run support. Drew Brees’ razor-sharp game matches up well against this group: he’s hard to rattle with the blitz, and his pinpoint passing can work wonders against shaky cover men.

Saints vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)28 (+2.8)28 (+2.7)28 (+2.7)28 (+3.1)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)17 (+0.2)17 (+0.1)15 (-0.7)17 (-0.2)
12Matt Ryan70354737721216027.527.521.725.7
13Dak Prescott71242824810522018.618.614.115.1
14Jameis Winston70183821321547022.422.420.220.2
15Cam Newton5816291310151507.

Ben Roethlisberger (FanDuel: $8700, DraftKings: $6700)

13vs LAC6829452812100021.
14@ OAK4125292822000022.122.119.319.3
15vs NE642234235222-3017.517.515.115.1
16PROJ-Dodds28423381.91.1260.124.624.624.6 (H=58)24.6 (H=76)
16PROJ-Tremblay294533721.3260.124.824.824.8 (H=59)24.8 (H=77)
16PROJ-Bloom21352372.11.1110.119.819.819.8 (H=40)19.8 (H=52)

Saints vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-5.0)4 (-4.9)4 (-5.0)3 (-5.6)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5 (-5.2)4 (-4.6)5 (-4.8)5 (-5.4)
12Tevin Coleman35860431718.311.39.811.3
12Ito Smith2640022700.
13Ezekiel Elliott63237606660119.625.622.625.6
13Rod Smith832000000.
14Jacquizz Rodgers314160543805.
14Peyton Barber321442021204.
15Christian McCaffrey581553011867018.526.522.026.0
15Alex Armah300000000.

Jaylen Samuels (FanDuel: $6700, DraftKings: $6700)

13vs LAC17250332018.511.510.011.5
14@ OAK4811280776409.216.212.716.2
15vs NE391914202230017.
16PROJ-Dodds14580.44300.212.416.414.4 (H=30)16.4 (H=37)
16PROJ-Tremblay11440.34340.210.814.812.8 (H=24)14.8 (H=31)
16PROJ-Bloom14580.43270. (H=27)15.1 (H=32)

Stevan Ridley (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3500)

14@ OAK854100006.
15vs NE6316000001.
16PROJ-Dodds4130.20002.52.52.5 (H=1)2.5 (H=2)
16PROJ-Tremblay3110.10001.71.71.7 (H=1)1.7 (H=1)
16PROJ-Bloom370.20001.91.91.9 (H=1)1.9 (H=1)

James Conner (FanDuel: $8300, DraftKings: $7000)

13vs LAC49156024314019.422.420.922.4
16PROJ-Dodds000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
16PROJ-Tremblay3130.111002.93.93.4 (H=2)3.9 (H=3)
16PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Saints vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)32 (+5.3)32 (+7.6)32 (+6.0)32 (+8.1)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)16 (-1.1)19 (+1.5)15 (-1.8)17 (+0.5)
12Calvin Ridley5213893100015.323.317.322.3
12Julio Jones621411147011014.825.818.327.8
13Michael Gallup52757600007.612.610.112.6
13Amari Cooper56887500007.515.59.514.5
14Mike Evans61648600008.612.610.612.6
14Adam Humphries57844200004.
15D.J. Moore573212012203.
15Curtis Samuel55411702802.

Antonio Brown (FanDuel: $8700, DraftKings: $8300)

13vs LAC671310154100021.431.426.434.4
14@ OAK59753500003.
15vs NE617449100010.914.912.914.9
16PROJ-Dodds7840.700012.619.616.1 (H=28)19.6 (H=41)
16PROJ-Tremblay6810.600011.717.714.7 (H=24)17.7 (H=34)
16PROJ-Bloom6810.800012.918.915.9 (H=27)18.9 (H=39)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (FanDuel: $8000, DraftKings: $8000)

13vs LAC60964900004.910.97.910.9
14@ OAK521281302000253329.036.0
15vs NE60104400000486.08.0
16PROJ-Dodds7960.4000121915.5 (H=28)19.0 (H=41)
16PROJ-Tremblay7950.4010121915.5 (H=28)19.0 (H=41)
16PROJ-Bloom6650.50009.515.512.5 (H=19)15.5 (H=28)

James Washington (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3100)

14@ OAK22421100001.
15vs NE44436500006.
16PROJ-Dodds2230.10002.94.93.9 (H=4)4.9 (H=10)
16PROJ-Tremblay2200.10002.64.63.6 (H=3)4.6 (H=9)
16PROJ-Bloom2290.10003.55.54.5 (H=5)5.5 (H=12)

Ryan Switzer (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $3400)

13vs LAC2422900000.
14@ OAK2811100000.
15vs NE2122901301.
16PROJ-Dodds2160.10002.24.23.3 (H=3)4.3 (H=7)
16PROJ-Tremblay2230.1010354.1 (H=4)5.1 (H=9)
16PROJ-Bloom000000000.1 (H=0)0.1 (H=0)

Eli Rogers (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $3000)

15vs NE2844200000264.06.0
16PROJ-Dodds1900000.91.91.4 (H=0)1.9 (H=2)
16PROJ-Tremblay1700000.71.71.2 (H=0)1.7 (H=1)

Saints vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5 (-2.1)5 (-3.2)5T (-2.3)18T (-3.1)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+1.2)17T (+0.1)20 (+0.7)18 (+0.0)
12Austin Hooper48553103.
13Blake Jarwin28111201.
14Cameron Brate464212213.
15Chris Manhertz152150111.012.011.512.0

Vance McDonald (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $4100)

13vs LAC44742802.
14@ OAK38443703.
15vs NE23321317.
16PROJ-Dodds4410. (H=13)9.9 (H=25)
16PROJ-Tremblay4420.36108.0 (H=13)10.0 (H=26)
16PROJ-Bloom3270. (H=9)8.1 (H=18)

Jesse James (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $2800)

13vs LAC3331700.
14@ OAK31222802.
15vs NE2211900.
16PROJ-Dodds2220. (H=4)4.8 (H=10)
16PROJ-Tremblay2210. (H=3)4.7 (H=10)
16PROJ-Bloom180. (H=1)2.4 (H=3)

Saints vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)1 (-2.3)1 (-2.3)1 (-2.8) (+0.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)1T (-2.9)1T (-2.9)2 (-3.4) (+0.0)
12Matt Bryant1122555.05.0
13Brett Maher2211778.08.0
14Cairo Santos0222222.02.0
15Chandler Catanzaro0011111.01.0

Chris Boswell (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

13vs LAC1134667.07.0
14@ OAK0233333.03.0
15vs NE1222556.06.0

Saints vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2 (-2.4)2 (-2.4)11T (-4.8)11T (-4.8)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10T (-1.3)10T (-1.3)11 (-1.3)11 (-1.3)
12Atlanta Falcons3131221000443.03.0
13Dallas Cowboys1017621000448.08.0
14Tampa Bay Buccaneers2829811100554.04.0
15Carolina Panthers1234621100668.08.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (FanDuel: $3000, DraftKings: $2200)

13vs LAC33.0037120000221.01.0
14@ OAK24.0035440100666.06.0
15vs NE10.0036811000337.07.0
16PROJ-Dodds31.003732.10.70.600. (H=11)5.3 (H=16)
16PROJ-Tremblay31.503692.20.80.500. (H=11)5.2 (H=15)

Steelers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)21T (+0.7)21T (+0.7)21 (+0.8)20 (+0.9)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)21 (+1.7)21 (+1.6)23 (+2.0)23 (+2.2)
12Case Keenum571528197203-3017.617.615.615.6
13Philip Rivers6326362992000023.
14Derek Carr672534322201-1024.024.018.822.8
15Tom Brady6225362791100017.

Drew Brees (FanDuel: $8400, DraftKings: $6500)

13@ DAL521828127111209.
14@ TB642431201113-11191914.915.9
15@ CAR742335203012-20996.96.9
16PROJ-Dodds24342752.10.6120.222.922.922.9 (H=53)22.9 (H=69)
16PROJ-Tremblay22332451.80.8230. (H=43)20.1 (H=55)
16PROJ-Bloom21292491.80.7110.119.619.619.6 (H=41)19.6 (H=53)

Taysom Hill (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4000)

13@ DAL700000000000.00.0
14@ TB7000001-60-0.6-0.6-0.6-0.6
15@ CAR120000011701.
16PROJ-Dodds115003130. (H=1)2.2 (H=1)
16PROJ-Tremblay003003120.1222.0 (H=1)2.0 (H=1)
16PROJ-Bloom00000180. (H=0)1.4 (H=0)

Steelers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8 (-2.9)6 (-4.1)6 (-3.5)5 (-4.6)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8 (-3.0)6 (-4.0)6T (-3.3)8 (-3.9)
12Phillip Lindsay36141101000017.
12Royce Freeman15617000001.
13Justin Jackson1486311119014.215.214.715.2
13Austin Ekeler4913210852204.
14Doug Martin331632100009.
14Jalen Richard33824011502.
15Sony Michel231359000005.
15Rex Burkhead164250331804.

Alvin Kamara (FanDuel: $8100, DraftKings: $7400)

13@ DAL35113601183607.
14@ TB4112510653608.713.713.215.7
15@ CAR47146719736016.323.319.823.3
16PROJ-Dodds13580.65460. (H=36)20.3 (H=49)
16PROJ-Tremblay13540.75420.2152017.6 (H=35)20.1 (H=48)
16PROJ-Bloom13610.54330.314.218.216.3 (H=31)18.3 (H=41)

Mark Ingram (FanDuel: $6600, DraftKings: $5100)

13@ DAL21727032102.
14@ TB2913521311011.312.311.812.3
15@ CAR3312630221107.
16PROJ-Dodds11490.52170. (H=19)12.2 (H=29)
16PROJ-Tremblay11460.42150. (H=16)11.1 (H=25)
16PROJ-Bloom12510.52100.19.711.710.7 (H=18)11.7 (H=27)

Steelers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)16 (+0.5)21 (+1.5)13 (+0.7)19 (+1.4)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)24 (+3.8)25 (+6.4)25T (+5.6)25 (+6.9)
12Emmanuel Sanders4412786100014.621.618.121.6
12Courtland Sutton42411400001.
13Keenan Allen581914148100020.834.829.839.8
13Travis Benjamin282244111010.512.511.512.5
14Seth Roberts52757600007.612.610.112.6
14Jordy Nelson63764800004.810.87.810.8
15Chris Hogan393268100012.814.813.814.8
15Julian Edelman581179000009.016.012.516.0

Michael Thomas (FanDuel: $8300, DraftKings: $8100)

13@ DAL5185400000496.59.0
14@ TB5813119800009.820.815.320.8
15@ CAR69974900004.911.98.411.9
16PROJ-Dodds8950.600013.121.117.1 (H=32)21.1 (H=48)
16PROJ-Tremblay7920.700013.420.416.9 (H=32)20.4 (H=45)
16PROJ-Bloom7890.700013.120.116.6 (H=31)20.1 (H=44)

TreQuan Smith (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $4000)

13@ DAL441000000000.00.0
14@ TB411000000000.00.0
15@ CAR46421500001.
16PROJ-Dodds2340.20004.66.65.6 (H=7)6.6 (H=13)
16PROJ-Tremblay1170.10002.33.32.8 (H=2)3.3 (H=3)
16PROJ-Bloom3460.30006.49.47.9 (H=14)9.4 (H=24)

Keith Kirkwood (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3500)

13@ DAL27313010009109.510.0
14@ TB22222100002.
15@ CAR3422400000465.06.0
16PROJ-Dodds2270.20003.95.94.9 (H=6)5.9 (H=12)
16PROJ-Tremblay1200.20003.24.23.7 (H=3)4.2 (H=6)
16PROJ-Bloom2290.20004.16.15.1 (H=6)6.1 (H=13)

Steelers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)25 (+1.7)24 (+2.5)28 (+2.3)28 (+2.9)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)28T (+3.8)26 (+3.6)29 (+4.3)28 (+4.7)
12Matt LaCosse27433419.412.410.912.4
13Sean Culkin1100000.
14Jared Cook57107116011.618.615.121.6
15Rob Gronkowski62522102.

Ben Watson (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $2700)

13@ DAL200000000.00.0
14@ TB28332402.
15@ CAR32212802.
16PROJ-Dodds2250. (H=5)5.7 (H=15)
16PROJ-Tremblay1170. (H=2)3.3 (H=5)
16PROJ-Bloom2310. (H=5)5.7 (H=15)

Josh Hill (FanDuel: $4300, DraftKings: $2500)

13@ DAL260000000.00.0
14@ TB451000000.00.0
15@ CAR51322402.
16PROJ-Dodds1160. (H=2)3.2 (H=5)
16PROJ-Tremblay1130. (H=2)2.9 (H=5)
16PROJ-Bloom1110. (H=1)2.7 (H=4)

Dan Arnold (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

13@ DAL1222200243.04.0
15@ CAR142000000.00.0
16PROJ-Dodds1110. (H=1)2.7 (H=4)
16PROJ-Tremblay1160. (H=2)3.2 (H=5)
16PROJ-Bloom000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Steelers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)9T (-0.6)9T (-0.6)5T (-0.9) (+0.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6 (-1.4)6 (-1.4)5 (-1.7) (+0.0)
12Brandon McManus1133667.07.0
13Mike Badgley1222555.05.0
14Daniel Carlson1133667.07.0
15Stephen Gostkowski1111444.04.0

Wil Lutz (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

13@ DAL1111444.04.0
14@ TB2222888.08.0
15@ CAR2200667.07.0

Steelers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)16T (-1.7)16T (-1.7)17T (-2.5)17T (-2.5)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)16 (-0.5)16 (-0.5)17 (+0.2)17 (+0.2)
12Denver Broncos1752722200101011.011.0
13Los Angeles Chargers3033611001338.08.0
14Oakland Raiders2134011000333.03.0
15New England Patriots1737622000667.07.0

New Orleans Saints (FanDuel: $3500, DraftKings: $2300)

13@ DAL13.0030870200111115.015.0
14@ TB14.0027941000669.09.0
15@ CAR9.00247411008812.012.0
16PROJ-Dodds24.904122. (H=21)8.1 (H=32)
16PROJ-Tremblay25.504142.91.30.600. (H=22)8.3 (H=33)