Matchup Analysis: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Steelers 19, 49ers 26

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Steelers Offense14.5 (-7.3) (29)56 (-52) (29)228 (-20) (20)
49ers Defense17.0 (-4.8) (8)73 (-35) (8)232 (-16) (14)

San Francisco 49ers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
49ers Offense36.0 (+14.2) (3)178 (+69) (4)236 (-13) (19)
Steelers Defense30.5 (+8.7) (28)125 (+16) (22)320 (+71) (29)

Steelers Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the 49ers defense.

James Conner survived a scare this week when his knee injury proved minor. He’s expected to start and carry a typical workload in Week 3, with Jaylen Samuels in his change-of-pace role. Going forward, their primary challenge will be staying efficient as the Steelers revamp their offense on the fly. Mason Rudolph will step in under center, which will almost certainly bring down the passing game’s effectiveness to some degree. Conner is a powerful, determined runner, so his week-to-week floor is always fairly solid. But he could struggle for upside without a prolific passing game to keep defenses honest. The Pittsburgh line, led by Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro in the middle, still ranks among the league’s best. It’s a versatile group, capable of opening holes all over the formation. But there will be more defensive focus upfront now, and Conner likely lacks the speed and explosiveness to manufacture big runs out of nothing. Scatback Samuels, who has taken just five carries thus far, should be more involved going forward. Game flow should keep him on the field more, and his explosive burst will be an asset as the Steelers regroup.

The 49ers were near-dominant against the run in 2018, and after their dominance in Week 2, project to stay that way. On Sunday, they allowed the Bengals just 25 yards over 19 desperate attempts to kick-start the ground game. The game script played a role, with the 49ers jumping ahead 31-10 early in the second half, as did Joe Mixon’s injury status. But this was a swarming performance, and much closer to the level of play usually put forth by this unit. The line is stout and packed with playmakers; DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead make for daunting matchups upfront. Rookie Nick Bosa brings even more dynamism to the group, though he failed to make an impact or even record a stat in Week 2. The dominance of this front makes life easier on the mediocre linebacking corps, freeing them up to make unobstructed tackles. Safety Jaquiski Tartt remains a solid contributor in the box, as well. All around, this is not an easy fantasy matchup to exploit. Over their last 18 games, they’ve allowed only 4 runners to top 70 yards, with just 12 touchdowns along the way.

Steelers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the 49ers defense.

The Steelers have faced stretches without Ben Roethlisberger, who’s no stranger to the injury report, before. But they’re now staring down 14 games with *** Mason Rudolph at the helm. Rudolph looked plenty competent as a Week 2 fill-in, going 12 of 19 for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, with an interception that resulted from yet another Donte Moncrief drop. Still, expectations must be tempered. Unlike the Seahawks, the 49ers will have the week to watch and prepare for Rudolph’s traits. They’ll focus on taking away his key targets, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Vance McDonald, and forcing him to win with the intuition and experience he doesn’t yet have. On the plus side, he’ll benefit from working behind an elite offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro are the big names up front but left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is the team’s premier pass-blocker. Roethlisberger has taken fewer and fewer sacks over the past few years, so protection shouldn’t be an issue for Rudolph. The burning questions revolve around his ability to get the ball to those playmakers on-target. Rudolph did a great job of spreading it around Sunday, throwing to seven different receivers in the second half. Still, this attack will still go through Smith-Schuster and McDonald. The latter caught two short touchdowns late in the game, while the former made a great 45-yard play shortly after Rudolph stepped in. Overall, it’s rarely wise to trust a first-time starting quarterback on the road. Rudolph may find himself in a better situation than most, but he still carries far more questions regarding this passing game than answers.

The 49ers have opened the season much stronger against the pass than they were in 2018. After harassing Jameis Winston into a flurry of interceptions in the opener, they forced Andy Dalton and the Bengals into an ineffective Week 2. It’s too early to truly gauge their progress, but this isn’t an ideal first start for the Steelers’ Mason Rudolph. The 49ers boast a talented, versatile pass rush up front and shutdown potential in the secondary. At age 31, Richard Sherman remains an elite cover man on the 49ers’ left side. He blanketed Mike Evans for much of Week 1, then Tyler Boyd from the Bengals’ game plan last Sunday. Sherman doesn’t shadow, though, nor does he move down into the slot. K’Waun Williams, one of the league’s weaker slot men, will be tasked with JuJu Smith-Schuster for most of this game. That’s a clear trouble spot that Rudolph will look to exploit, so the 49ers will deploy a handful of bodies to slow Smith-Schuster. It will then be up to Sherman and pleasant surprise Ahkello Witherspoon to lock down the boundaries, which they’ve done so well thus far. Funneling the ball to the middle would force Rudolph to spend the day throwing scary passes into traffic.

49ers Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

Matt Breida’s talent has often been dismissed as that of a late-round fill-in, but he’s doing everything he can to shake that tag. Thanks to Tevin Coleman’s injury, Breida is again in the driver’s seat in the San Francisco backfield, and again he’s producing nicely (121 yards on just 12 attempts last week). A creative, quick-footed runner, he’s tailor-made for coach Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone attack. Dating back to last year, he’s averaged 5.4 yards per rush and 64 per game. Breida ceded 13 carries last week to Raheem Mostert, but that can mostly be chalked up to the blowout win. Although Shanahan likes to use multiple backs, when the game is competitive, Breida is the lead dog on early downs. Mostert looked explosive in his own right, racking up 83 yards of his own. Over his last 6 extended appearances, he’s put up 373 yards at 7.5 per carry. Behind them, Jeff Wilson looms as a short-yardage specialist. He’s a distant third for carries, but punched in two short touchdowns against the Bengals. All told, this is a deep, dynamic group of runners that’s withstanding Coleman’s injury just fine. They’ll all operate behind a solid front line that’s adept at creatively blowing open holes. Even tight end George Kittle, who’s blossomed as a star receiver, can be counted among football’s best run-blockers at the position.

In general, the Steelers boast a strong run defense. Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt lead a tough, space-eating front line, while explosive rookie linebacker Devin Bush is capable of making plays all over the field. Still, on game days, this group tends to offer a mixed bag, as seen in Week 2’s loss to Seattle. They did great work against Seahawks lead back Chris Carson (15 carries for 60 yards), but had no answer for complement Rashaad Penny (10 for 62 and 1 touchdown). Penny’s highlight was a 37-yard touchdown in which he cut just once to the outside, taking advantage of over-pursuing linebackers in the middle of the field. That lapse was nothing new for this group, which tends to dominate power backs but struggle against quick, one-cut runners. That’s worrisome with Kyle Shanahan’s zone-running attack next on the docket. Linebackers Bush and Mark Barron will need to play with vision and discipline - neither has been a strength thus far - or Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert can make them pay dearly.

49ers Passing offense

Good matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back from a shaky opener with a statement performance on the road in Week 2. Garoppolo was sharp all day against the Bengals, completing 17 of 25 passes at a stout 11.9 yards per attempt. Most importantly, he was on-target with his downfield throws, hitting on 3 of his 4 deep balls (15+ yards downfield) for 98 yards. Garoppolo rekindled his 2017 connection with ex-Olympian Marquise Goodwin (3 for 77 and 1 touchdown) and put down roots for a new one with rookie Deebo Samuel (5 for 87 and 1). With George Kittle and a pair of pass-catching backs also in play, Garoppolo’s supporting cast is suddenly loaded with after-the-catch dynamism. And that’s to say nothing of Dante Pettis’ potential; he worked his way back onto the field for 35 snaps Sunday, though he failed to draw a target. Coach Kyle Shanahan makes heavy use of screens and quick slants, which should help get the ball to these weapons efficiently. It also helps to mitigate the 49ers’ mediocre front line, which allowed just two quarterback hits Sunday. There are still plenty of question marks surrounding Garoppolo, who’s been anything but consistent as a starter. But unlike last year, the team finally boasts a wide array of explosive, versatile receivers to play around with. Garoppolo may not need to be Tom Brady 2.0 to take advantage.

The Pittsburgh pass defense is a solid unit, though certainly not prohibitive for fantasy matchups. They’ve been especially vulnerable in the slot, where Mike Hilton and the safeties have been nickel-and-dimed by Julian Edelman (6 catches for 83 yards) and Tyler Lockett (10 for 79). It was to that end that the team sent next year’s first-round pick to the Dolphins for second-year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick this week. The merits of that deal are up for debate, but what’s clear is the upgrade he offers in coverage over Sean Davis and Cameron Sutton. Fitzpatrick will play free safety in Pittsburgh, with a heavy focus on the slot, and should get up to speed quickly. He’ll be needed right off the bat to help keep an eye on explosive 49ers tight end George Kittle. On the outside, another new Steeler, ex-Chief Steven Nelson, looked much better in Week 2. He pairs with Joe Haden to form a strong coverage duo on the boundaries. When the pass rush is healthy and active - Stephon Tuitt was a one-man wrecking crew Sunday - this unit is fully capable of slowing opposing pass games. But it may take a game or two for Fitzpatrick’s upgrade to be truly felt.

49ers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10 (-3.7)10 (-3.7)10 (-3.3)12 (-3.1)
1Jameis Winston70203619413513012.
2Andy Dalton7026423112122022.822.819.622.6

Mason Rudolph (FanDuel: $6600, DraftKings: $4800)

1@ NE000000000000.00.0
2vs SEA2812191122117013.313.312.212.2
3PROJ-Dodds24382691.51.216018.818.818.8 (H=48)18.8 (H=67)
3PROJ-Tremblay26433001.31.415019.319.319.3 (H=51)19.3 (H=70)
3PROJ-Bloom22342271.5100016.416.416.4 (H=38)16.4 (H=52)

49ers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5 (-7.4)8 (-7.0)6 (-7.0)8 (-7.4)
1Ronald Jones II2213750111809.310.39.810.3
1Peyton Barber258330421204.
2Joe Mixon3811170531002.
2Giovani Bernard2866031701.

James Conner (FanDuel: $7400, DraftKings: $6400)

1@ NE321021044.04406.510.58.510.5
2vs SEA311133143.012010.513.512.013.5
3PROJ-Dodds14550.42.92009.912.811.4 (H=18)12.8 (H=25)
3PROJ-Tremblay11460.42.51808.811.310.1 (H=14)11.3 (H=20)
3PROJ-Bloom16620.53.0170.111.514.513.0 (H=22)14.5 (H=32)

Jaylen Samuels (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $5300)

1@ NE2324021.0200.
2vs SEA22318011.01303.
3PROJ-Dodds5200.11.8120. (H=5)6.2 (H=8)
3PROJ-Tremblay5220.11.9140. (H=6)6.7 (H=10)
3PROJ-Bloom3110.12.0120. (H=4)5.5 (H=7)

49ers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)15 (-1.0)15 (-2.1)16 (-1.5)16 (-0.6)
1Chris Godwin646353100011.314.312.814.3
1Mike Evans60522800002.
2John Ross6084112100017.
2Tyler Boyd551010122000012.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (FanDuel: $7500, DraftKings: $6900)

1@ NE6286.07800007.813.810.813.8
2vs SEA4785.08400008.413.410.913.4
3PROJ-Dodds5.3720.3000914.311.7 (H=18)14.3 (H=29)
3PROJ-Tremblay5.0670.30008.513.511.0 (H=16)13.5 (H=26)
3PROJ-Bloom5.0710.500010.115.112.6 (H=21)15.1 (H=31)

James Washington (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $3500)

1@ NE3662.05100005.
2vs SEA3432.02300002.
3PROJ-Dodds2.9400.20005.28.16.7 (H=10)8.1 (H=21)
3PROJ-Tremblay2.5310.10003.76.25.0 (H=6)6.2 (H=13)
3PROJ-Bloom4.0550.30007.311.39.3 (H=18)11.3 (H=38)

Diontae Johnson (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ NE2553.02500002.
2vs SEA2741.01700001.
3PROJ-Dodds2.2290.10003.55.74.7 (H=6)5.8 (H=14)
3PROJ-Tremblay2.7340.100046.75.4 (H=8)6.8 (H=18)
3PROJ-Bloom2.0270.10003.35.34.4 (H=5)5.4 (H=12)

Donte Moncrief (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $4000)

1@ NE62103.0700000.
2vs SEA1810.000000000.00.0
3PROJ-Dodds1.5220.20003.44.94.2 (H=5)4.9 (H=7)
3PROJ-Tremblay3.2430.20005.58.77.1 (H=12)8.7 (H=21)
3PROJ-Bloom0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Ryan Switzer (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ NE4666.02900002.
2vs SEA1341.000000010.51.0
3PROJ-Dodds2.0180.10002.44.43.5 (H=3)4.5 (H=9)
3PROJ-Tremblay3.4340.20004.686.4 (H=11)8.1 (H=24)
3PROJ-Bloom1.0400000.41.41.0 (H=0)1.5 (H=1)

Johnny Holton (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ NE820.000000000.00.0
2vs SEA610.000000000.00.0
3PROJ-Dodds0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
3PROJ-Tremblay0.91100001.121.6 (H=1)2.0 (H=2)

49ers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)17 (-0.2)17 (+0.5)17 (-0.8)17 (-0.2)
1O.J. Howard55543203.
2Tyler Eifert1953916.

Vance McDonald (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $4300)

1@ NE4942.0400465.06.0
2vs SEA5277.038215.822.819.322.8
3PROJ-Dodds4.2440. (H=11)9.8 (H=24)
3PROJ-Tremblay3.9440. (H=11)9.5 (H=22)
3PROJ-Bloom5.0410.46.511.59.0 (H=15)11.5 (H=31)

49ers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10T (-1.3)10T (-1.3)10 (-2.0) (+0.0)
1Matt Gay1122555.05.0
2Randy Bullock1222555.05.0

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

1@ NE1100333.03.0
2vs SEA2222889.09.0

49ers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)22T (+0.7)22T (+0.7)9T (-1.8)9T (-1.8)
1Tampa Bay Buccaneers3125611101111112.012.0
2Cincinnati Bengals415720100022-2.0-2.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (FanDuel: $3500, DraftKings: $2300)

1@ NE33.0046510000110.00.0
2vs SEA28.0042540200887.07.0
3PROJ-Dodds25.203742.310.600.4888.0 (H=20)8.0 (H=31)
3PROJ-Tremblay24.75344210.600. (H=19)7.7 (H=29)

Steelers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)27 (+8.1)27 (+8.0)27 (+6.8)29 (+9.0)
1Tom Brady7024363413000029.129.125.628.6
2Russell Wilson79293530030622029.

Jimmy Garoppolo (FanDuel: $7200, DraftKings: $6200)

1@ TB681827166112-2011.111.111.411.4
2@ CIN7217252973148026.726.723.723.7
3PROJ-Dodds20312461.70.9240. (H=46)19.2 (H=53)
3PROJ-Tremblay19312201.61240.117.417.417.4 (H=39)17.4 (H=45)
3PROJ-Bloom192824920.613020.120.120.1 (H=50)20.1 (H=58)

Steelers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)24 (+3.1)26 (+6.4)24 (+3.9)24 (+5.5)
1Rex Burkhead328440854108.513.511.013.5
1James White334260755608.213.210.713.2
2Rashaad Penny2610621113012.513.513.013.5
2Chris Carson4315600332708.711.78.210.7

Matt Breida (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $5400)

1@ TB301537010.0003.
2@ CIN2112121011.011013.214.213.717.2
3PROJ-Dodds13570.41.9160.110.312.211.3 (H=22)12.2 (H=28)
3PROJ-Tremblay12530.31.2100. (H=16)9.9 (H=19)
3PROJ-Bloom12630.31.0100.19.710.710.2 (H=18)10.7 (H=22)

Raheem Mostert (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4700)

1@ TB20940011.000454.55.0
2@ CIN341383043.068121.124.122.624.1
3PROJ-Dodds9430.32.6220.18.911.510.2 (H=18)11.5 (H=29)
3PROJ-Tremblay10430.32.8210.18.811.610.2 (H=18)11.6 (H=29)
3PROJ-Bloom11410.32.0210. (H=18)11.2 (H=27)

Jeff Wilson (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3000)

2@ CIN151034200.00015.415.415.415.4
3PROJ-Dodds6220.20.0003.43.43.4 (H=3)3.4 (H=5)
3PROJ-Tremblay4170.10.0002.32.32.3 (H=1)2.3 (H=2)
3PROJ-Bloom8220.60.0005.85.85.8 (H=7)5.8 (H=14)

Kyle Juszczyk (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ TB3200000.000000.00.0
2@ CIN3716021.0501.
3PROJ-Dodds1300.9600.91.81.4 (H=0)1.8 (H=1)
3PROJ-Tremblay0201.11001.22.31.8 (H=1)2.3 (H=2)
3PROJ-Bloom0000.000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Steelers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)28 (+12.0)28 (+13.9)28 (+12.9)28 (+12.2)
1Phillip Dorsett614495200021.525.523.525.5
1Josh Gordon474373100013.316.314.816.3
2DK Metcalf707361100012.115.113.615.1
2Tyler Lockett7012107900007.917.912.917.9

Deebo Samuel (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $4500)

1@ TB6033.01700001.
2@ CIN2975.087127015.420.417.920.4
3PROJ-Dodds3.7480.31306.910.68.8 (H=15)10.6 (H=26)
3PROJ-Tremblay3.0410.31406.39.37.8 (H=12)9.3 (H=21)
3PROJ-Bloom5.0580.40008.213.210.7 (H=22)13.2 (H=38)

Marquise Goodwin (FanDuel: $5400, DraftKings: $5000)

1@ TB5031.0700000.
2@ CIN3733.077100013.716.715.216.7
3PROJ-Dodds2.3400.20005.27.56.4 (H=9)7.5 (H=13)
3PROJ-Tremblay2.0310.20004.36.35.3 (H=6)6.3 (H=9)
3PROJ-Bloom3.0550.50008.511.510.0 (H=19)11.5 (H=27)

Richie James (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ TB2621.03910009.910.910.410.9
2@ CIN3341.0700000.
3PROJ-Dodds1.5220.20003.44.94.3 (H=5)5.0 (H=10)
3PROJ-Tremblay2.0280.2000465.1 (H=7)6.1 (H=15)
3PROJ-Bloom1.0130.10001.92.92.5 (H=2)3.0 (H=4)

Kendrick Bourne (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ TB1731.0900000.
2@ CIN2321.0400000.
3PROJ-Dodds1.5160.20002.84.33.6 (H=4)4.3 (H=8)
3PROJ-Tremblay1.8230.20003.55.34.4 (H=5)5.3 (H=11)
3PROJ-Bloom1.0600000.61.61.1 (H=0)1.6 (H=1)

Dante Pettis (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $4500)

1@ TB211.0700000.
2@ CIN3500.0000000.
3PROJ-Dodds0.790.10001.52.21.9 (H=1)2.2 (H=1)
3PROJ-Tremblay0.3500000.50.80.6 (H=0)0.8 (H=0)
3PROJ-Bloom0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Steelers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+2.4)19 (+1.1)19 (+1.8)19 (+0.9)
1Ryan Izzo4521300.
2Will Dissly475550217.022.019.522.0

George Kittle (FanDuel: $6600, DraftKings: $5600)

1@ TB62108.05405.413.49.413.4
2@ CIN4833.05405.
3PROJ-Dodds5.2670.59.714.912.3 (H=23)14.9 (H=38)
3PROJ-Tremblay5.0510. (H=18)13.1 (H=30)
3PROJ-Bloom6.0860.712.818.815.8 (H=36)18.8 (H=57)

Steelers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)28 (+3.2)28 (+3.2)25 (+3.0) (+0.0)
1Stephen Gostkowski4433151516.016.0
2Jason Myers0144444.04.0

Robbie Gould (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1@ TB3422111112.012.0
2@ CIN2355111111.011.0

Steelers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6 (-2.8)6 (-2.8)17T (-0.3)17T (-0.3)
1New England Patriots3308110003310.010.0
2Seattle Seahawks2626111000333.03.0

San Francisco 49ers (FanDuel: $3700, DraftKings: $3200)

1@ TB17.0029533102232327.027.0
2@ CIN17.0031641000667.07.0
3PROJ-Dodds18.303592.61.20.700.410.510.510.5 (H=31)10.5 (H=36)
3PROJ-Tremblay18.253762.81.40.800.511.911.911.9 (H=39)11.9 (H=45)