Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 3
Steelers vs. Buccaneers
With the current distractions around Le’Veon Bell’s holdout and Antonio Brown’s unhappiness, how will the Steelers’ play be affected?
For fantasy football, I don’t really care. If you think you have a read on this situation and can use it to determine the individual fantasy seasons for the Steelers, feel free to react accordingly. But until I see evidence of their production slipping, this isn’t an issue I’m worried about. Ben Roethlisberger is the QB6, James Conner is the RB4, Antonio Brown is the WR11, JuJu Smith-Schuster is the WR7, and Jesse James is the TE2 (!) in PPR leagues this year. I guarantee that you have more important issues to worry about on your fantasy team. Coupled with a defense that turns games into shootouts, this offense is locked into fantasy excellence while everyone is healthy.
So there’s no reason to worry about the offense? Is this the end of the article?
Well, not exactly. The Steelers have run the most plays in the league so far, and while they should stay among the league leaders, chances are they will begin playing some lower scoring games as the year progresses. They still have 2 games against the Ravens and Bengals, and games against the Jaguars, Panthers, Chargers, and Broncos. While looking too much at the schedule can be misleading, odds are these games will be lower scoring than the track meet last week against the Chiefs.
Each player mentioned above has some minor concerns as well that could hurt them at some point this year. Conner was unable to get anything going on the ground last week, with 17 yards on 8 carries. Brown has had some minorly concerning muscle injuries over the past couple years that are beginning to add up. Smith-Schuster has rookie wide receiver James Washington beginning to see more targets and snaps behind him. James has the return last week of tight end Vance McDonald to cut into his snap count. And Roethlisberger is 36 and has struggled in road games. These are all minor issues, but worth monitoring.
What is the outlook for the Steelers this week travelling to Tampa Bay?
While there are legitimate reasons to be concerned with Ben Roethlisberger‘s struggles historically in road games, Tampa Bay has allowed the 2nd most passing yards so far this year behind only the Chiefs. With Fitzmagic currently in full effect, the Steelers look primed for a second straight shootout. Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster are all elite plays this week with huge upsides. Brown and Smith-Schuster incredibly saw 17 and 19 targets last week respectively.
James Conner might be a slight step down from Brown and Smith-Schuster this week but remains a solid top tier running back. If the Steelers fall behind again in a shootout like they did last week, Conner may find himself a distant third option. Tampa has done a good job limiting rushing yards so far (3.6 yards per attempt), although most of that may be due to the big leads they have jumped out too. But Conner still managed 5 catches for 48 yards last week and salvaged his day with a rushing touchdown against the Chiefs. Conner is a solid RB1 in most leagues.
It’s still incredible to me that Jesse James is this year’s TE2, but for now, he should be started in most fantasy leagues, especially with the struggles of the tight end position as a whole. Vance McDonald‘s return is certainly a concern, and James might be a week to week starter at this point. But in a matchup Vegas projects to be high scoring, you could do a lot worse at the position. McDonald is a wait and see waiver player at this point and probably isn’t worth a roster spot.
James Washington saw 80 percent of the Steelers snaps last week and may be following a similar path to Smith Schuster last year. Unlike Smith-Schuster, however, he probably doesn’t have a path to being the number two target outside of injuries. Brown has been banged up at times lately, giving Washington a slight boost in his season-long outlook. I wouldn’t play him this week outside of daily fantasy as a long shot play, but he is probably worth a roster spot if you have room.
Reddit wants predictions! What will everyone’s stats be?
Ben Roethlisberger (QB): 330 yards passing, 2 TDs, 1 int
James Conner (RB): 20 carries, 80 yards, 1 TD, 3 catches, 45 yards
Antonio Brown (WR): 8 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR): 6 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD
James Washington (WR): 3 catches, 35 yards
Jesse James (TE): 4 catches, 30 yards
Vance McDonald (TE): 3 catches, 19 yards
Chris Boswell (K): 2 FGs, 3 extra points
Steelers (D): 24 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 int, 1 fumble recovery
Will Ronald Jones finally get the call?
Despite only 155 rushing yards (36 from Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week One) through two weeks and Peyton Barber, the team’s lead back, averaging 45 yards per game – Tampa Bay wins. Although Tampa Bay’s success is attributed to big plays resulting in touchdowns, to find success someone needs to run the ball effectively. Ronald Jones was ineffective in the preseason, but Tampa Bay could be looking for a spark to get their running game moving. If not, the team is betting that Barber can turn it around at some point.
Will Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 400+ yards again?
Probably. For two consecutive weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 400+ yards both of which were surprises. Week Three could be less of a surprise as Tampa Bay is playing a porous Pittsburgh defense that is coming off of a week where they let up six passing touchdowns. Tampa Bay will once again be aggressive in their play calling and is likely to capitalize in Week Three. Stay humble.
DeSean Jackson or Chris Godwin?
Despite DeSean Jackson’s success so far this season, his targets have not been dissimilar to Chris Godwin’s usage. The two are still listed as co-starters and have the ability to stretch the field for big plays. Both are worthy of flex considerations, but given Jackson’s success he may start to get more looks – how Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to spread the ball in Week Three should be indicative of how Tampa view’s its receivers not named Mike Evans.