Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire
Each week throughout the NFL season, our staff at QB List will be watching and reviewing all the games from every week and offering up our takes on the fantasy-relevant things that happened. Here’s what we saw in Week 3’s Monday night game. Be sure to check out our thoughts on the rest of Week 3’s games.
Steelers vs. Buccaneers
Big Ben Impresses on Road
Ben Roethlisberger came through with another top ten fantasy quarterback week despite playing on the road, solidifying him as a mid-range QB1 this year. Roethlisberger threw three first-half touchdowns as the Steelers passing game once again looked unstoppable, leading Pittsburgh to a 30-27 victory over the Bucs. Although they would stall out in the second half, Roethlisberger finished with a super efficient stat line of 30/38 for 353 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He continually moved in the pocket and shook off rushers to make plays that few quarterbacks can make. He should be played in all favorable road matchups, despite his tough road splits.
JuJu and Antonio Strike Again
For all of the drama surrounding him this week, Antonio Brown looked as good as ever, catching 6 of 9 targets for 50 yards and a touchdown. The yardage total is disappointing in the end, but as his touchdown shows, Brown can still turn any pass into a touchdown. While he was shut down in the second half of the game, that seemed more a product of the game-flow than anything else. Brown remains a WR1 in all leagues and seems due for a monster game any week now.
JuJu Smith-Schuster out targeted Brown for the second straight game, turning 11 targets into 9 catches for 116 yards. Smith-Schuster has been even better than Brown this year and could have easily come away with a touchdown in this game. JuJu looks like one of the best fantasy wide receivers in the game right now, and there is no reason to think he will slow down anytime soon. He is an elite WR1 that will find himself in shootouts on a weekly basis.
James Conner had a solid if unspectacular week against Tampa Bay, very similar to his performance against the Chiefs last week. His 15 carries for 61 yards is inflated by a 27-yard run while running out the clock, and while those yards still count, he was under 20 rushing yards for a good portion of the game. Conner continues to hold a solid floor in PPR leagues due to his passing game involvement, with 5 catches on 6 targets for 34 yards this week. Conner was 3rd on the team in targets and received all but 3 of the Steelers carries, so his elite usage remains. The Steelers seem capable of running the ball when they want to, but the passing game has been so efficient that they have often strayed from it, and for good reason.
McDonald Overtakes James
Finally looking healthy, Vance McDonald staked a claim to the Steelers pass-catching tight end role, producing 4 catches and 112 yards on 5 targets. His big play touchdown above jump-started the Steelers offense, and Tampa safety Chris Conte will still be feeling that stiff arm tomorrow. Without the big play, McDonald would have only had 37 yards, so we shouldn’t overreact too much. But he was clearly ahead of Jesse James in the passing game, which was the assumption all offseason before McDonald’s injury. This situation may be frustrating at times with the two tight ends competing for snaps, but the tight end role in the Steelers offense has been extremely fantasy-friendly this year, and McDonald is worth a look in most formats.
James Washington turned 2 targets into 2 catches for 25 yards. He will be big-play dependent for now.
Stevan Ridley was once again the clear backup running back, but that was only worth three carries all game. He can be left on waivers.
Ryan Switzer continues to see a few plays designed for him a game, but that is all. Monday Night it resulted in 3 catches for 9 yards and a touchdown, which seems to be his ceiling.
Kicker Chris Boswell managed one field goal and three extra points, but left points on the field with a missed field goal and an extra point. He is a disappointing 1 of 4 on field goals and has missed 2 extra points on the year already.
Despite playing on the road and giving up 27 points, the Steelers defense finished as a top fantasy option this week. The defense forced three interceptions, recovered a fumble, and sacked Fitzpatrick three times. Bud Dupree stood out as their best defensive player, taking his interception to the house for a touchdown and chipping in a sack and a pass deflection. This defense is going to give up points, but in the right matchups, it can be counted on for sacks and turnovers.
Still no RoJo.
Ronald Jones was once again inactive and once again Tampa Bay was unable to get anything going on the ground, with Ryan Fitzpatrick running for nearly as many yards (27) as Peyton Barber (33). At this point in the season, Tampa Bay is reluctant as the team doesn’t believe Jones will fair better or because it believes Barber can turn it around – I believe the former. As such it will be a weekly check-in as to Jones status and short of an injury clearing a path – may not be relevant for weeks to come.
400+ and Counting.
For the third straight game, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 400+ yards. An unsustainable 6,400 yard pace for the season, Fitzpatrick had a good matchup and made the most of it despite three interceptions. Heading into Week Four – the preview will focus on whether Jameis Winston comes back and assumes control. For now, Fitzpatrick did everything he could in Week Three to prove he belongs – even if Tampa Bay was not able to complete its comeback.
The Second Receiver
For the first time in three games, Desean Jackson did not have a big play, resulting in three receptions on five targets for 37 yards. Chris Godwin on the other hand had five receptions on 10 targets for a total of 74 yards and a touchdown. Week Three cemented that despite Jackson’s early success – Godwin is the other receiver in Tampa Bay to own. He has seen a consistent target share and has been a frequent red zone threat opposite Mike Evans. Although this could change if Jameis Winston receives the nod in Week Four – invest in Godwin who is still only owned in 37% of leagues.