Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers barely held on against backup quarterback Jeff Driskel Sunday to defeat the Broncos 26-21. Starting quarterback Drew Lock was injured early in Sunday’s matchup against the Steelers. The Steelers defensive front was overwhelming once again. They pressured the Broncos quarterbacks on 28 of their 47 dropbacks and every Broncos offensive lineman allowed multiple pressures.
Drew Lock: 1/5, 20 yards, 1 Sack, 1 fumble lost
Jeff Driskel: 18/34, 256 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 6 Sacks | 2 carries, 5 yards
Coming in to face, perhaps, the fiercest pass rush in the NFL, Jeff Driskel gave the Broncos a chance to win late against the Steelers. He took a sack on a 4th and 2 play on the Pittsburgh 15 late in the fourth quarter. The Broncos were down five at that point and driving to take the lead. We don’t know yet how serious Drew Lock’s shoulder injury is. Driskel ran only twice today against the Steelers but last year, when he started with the Lions for three games, he ran for 151 yards. He can be a decent matchup play for quarterback-needy teams or DFS. As stated above, the Broncos offensive line was completely overmatched with this elite Steelers pass rush. It doesn’t get much easier next week against a strong Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rush.
Melvin Gordon: 19 carries, 70 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards, 1 TD
Royce Freeman: 3 carries, 20 yards
With Philip Lindsay out with a turf toe injury, Melvin Gordon handled 22 of the 25 running back opportunities. He wasn’t very efficient with his touches but his offensive line was seriously overmatched today. Luckily for Gordon and his fantasy owners, he found the endzone on a beautiful wheel route down the sideline with an equally nice catch over his shoulders. As long as Lindsay is out, Gordon will be the primary ball carrier for the Broncos but the matchup next week is unappealing against Tampa Bay.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Courtland Sutton: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 66 yards
Noah Fant: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 57 yards, 1 TD
Jerry Jeudy: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 62 yards
Tim Patrick.: 5 targets, 2 reception, 24 yards
K.J. Hamler: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 48 yards
With Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler coming back from injury today, I was interested to see how the receiving corps would shake out. Sutton left the game in the third quarter with cramping but was on his way to a productive day before that. Rookies Hamler and Jerry Jeudy saw 14 targets but only caught half of them for a total of 110 yards. They both had multiple intermediate receptions but nothing over 20 yards. Noah Fant is currently the number 2 tight end in PPR leagues, averaging 18 points per game through two weeks. He has caught a whopping 81.8% of his targets and has an impressive 12.5 yards per target. It was encouraging to see that he still produced with Driskel in the game. To me, Fant is still in that low-end TE1 range but more games like this will have me moving him up.
Ben Roethlisberger: 29/41, 311 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 Sack | 3 carries, -2 yards
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense had an up and down day. He threw for some decent yardage and a couple of scores but had an interception and a couple more throws that should have been picked off. He wasn’t pressured much at all (7 times in 42 dropbacks) but still had some inconsistencies. He did connect with rookie Chase Claypool for a beautiful 84-yard touchdown down the sideline. His connection with Diontae Johnson looked good for the second straight game. He peppered Johnson with 13 targets and Johnson caught eight of them and had a nice 28-yard touchdown as well. The Steelers will face the Texans’ mediocre defense next week.
James Conner: 16 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards
Benny Snell: 3 carries, 5 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, -4 yards
James Conner owners have to be breathing a sigh of relief after this workload and performance. He had a game-sealing 59-yard rush to clinch the win late in the fourth quarter. He also had 18 of 22 total running back opportunities and had 121 total yards compared to Benny Snell’s 1 total yard. Conner left last week’s game with an injury but then was a full participant in practice all week which is a bit odd. He seems to be the bell cow we thought he would be now and going forward. He gets a good matchup with the Texans in Week 3.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
JuJu Smith-Schuster: 8 targets, 7 receptions, 48 yards
Diontae Johnson: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD
Eric Ebron: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 43 yards
Chase Claypool: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 88 yards, 1 TD
Diontae Johnson is now tied for second among receivers in targets with 23 through two games. He has nine more than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Johnson had a couple of nice broken tackles on catch and runs but he did drop a pass too. Johnson can be looked at as a WR2 going forward with this amount of usage. Smith-Schuster was catching a lot of high percentage throws today but they didn’t go for a lot of yardage. Smith-Schuster remains a great option in the passing game, as he has caught 13 of his 14 targets this year and has two touchdowns through two games. Chase Claypool caught a beautiful throw down the sideline for an 84-yard touchdown. Other than that catch he has four receptions for 16 yards on the season. Eric Ebron is a touchdown or bust tight end right now and is nothing more than a streamer.
-Kevin Taylor (@ktbeast918 on Twitter)