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Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Fantasy Football Outlook


The Pittsburgh Steelers saw Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell leave before the 2019 season, which meant they needed to instill a new identity in its offense. Instead, 2019 saw the offense struggle due to numerous injuries. While there is hope that many of the younger players on this roster can fill the holes Brown and Bell left, there is no guarantee.

However, the Steelers added some firepower this offseason and are anticipating the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in hopes of getting to the playoffs in 2020.

Here’s a breakdown of the Steelers offense heading into next season in order to prepare you for fantasy football draft season early!

 

Quarterback

QB Ben Roethlisberger went down early in 2019 with an elbow injury, and the 38-year-old was forced to see the season play out from the bench. In came Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, who were supposedly the “future.” Both had flashes of glory and struggle. Rudolph was not a great fantasy option, finishing with 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns, and nine picks for 108 PPR points.

Hodges didn’t fare better, compiling 1,063 yards, five touchdowns, and eight picks for 51 fantasy points (PPR). As long as Big Ben is healthy, neither will be playing this season and they are irrelevant in fantasy. It’s fair to say Roethlisberger is the most reliable fantasy QB on this team for 2020 considering he will be back to the starting role.

His last full season came in 2018 in which he tossed 5,129 yards, a career-high in 16 years of playing. He also had a career-high 34 touchdowns, along with 320.6 yards per game and 16 picks. He proved to be an elite fantasy option, as he led the league in passing yards and yards per game. Big Ben’s arm comprises mostly all his fantasy value, as he only has 1,357 rushing yards in 16 years of playing. His career-high was 204 rush yards in a season, but that was way back in 2007.

Heading into 2020, the veteran is nevertheless older, and he will not have played a full game for nearly a calendar year when the season starts. Even with some new weapons and a stellar fantasy season in 2018, it’s best to look at younger and healthier QBs in redraft leagues or keep Big Ben as a backup QB on your team to begin the season because it’s not clear on how well the QB will play after not being on the field for some time. It also depends on if he has fully recovered from the injury and is back at full strength.

 

Running Back

James Conner was expected to lead this backfield in 2019 after a breakout 2018 campaign. However, that was derailed by multiple injuries, including to Conner’s knee and shoulder. This hindered the 24-year-old’s fantasy value. He finished with 464 yards rushing, 251 yards receiving, seven rush touchdowns, and three receiving touchdowns in 10 games played. 2019 was a disappointing year for the RB despite breaking out the season prior. He averaged 46.4 rushing yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry. He also had 2.3 rush yards after contact per attempt. One positive note is Conner had 38.5 percent of the rushes inside the five-yard line, thus bringing some brightness to his fantasy value for 2020.

Heading into 2020, the Pittsburgh product should be considered the lead back on this team. There is no doubt Conner is a worthy fantasy play weekly (when healthy) because of his workhorse role. The only concern for owners should be his frequent missed time due to injuries, as he dealt with a knee, thigh, and shoulder injury last year.

There are no real threats to Conner’s RB1 role on the team, as Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels only filled in when he was absent last season. In 13 games, Snell compiled 426 rush yards, two touchdowns, 3.9 yards per rush attempt, and 32.8 yards per game. He was a non-factor in the receiving game, getting only 23 yards for the season. He also had 2.8 rush yards after contact per rush. Essentially, Snell has sporadic usage and only received these numbers because of Conner’s injuries.

Samuels didn’t fare much better, as he accumulated 175 rush yards and one touchdown. He had 2.7 rush yards per attempt and 12.5 rush yards per game on average. He did prove reliable in the passing game, getting 47 receptions, 305 yards, one touchdown, and 57/510 targets (11.1 %). However, with Conner returning and slated to reclaim his large role, that enough should spell the end of any hope for fantasy relevance for these two Steelers backs.

If he can stay healthy, James Conner should be considered an RB2 in fantasy and is certainly worth drafting. Just stay wary of his injury history, which means you can draft him as one of the RBs further down the depth chart on your fantasy team. Samuels and Snell Jr. should not be trusted unless any new circumstances arise during the season.

 

Wide Receiver

JuJu Smith-Schuster was supposed to take the WR1 role in 2019 after the void Antonio Brown left but instead ended up being a liability to fantasy owners who depended on him. There were multiple reasons for a struggling season, which includes QB issues and knee and foot injuries suffered during the season.

Smith-Schuster finished with 42 receptions, 552 yards receiving, three touchdowns. He had 70/510 targets (13.7 %), but it’s important to factor he only played in 10 games during the season.

On the other hand, receivers James Washington and Diontae Johnson developed a rapport with the Steelers’ backup QBs and shined in 2019.

Washington paced the unit with 735 receiving yards and had 44 receptions and three touchdowns. He drew 80/510 team targets (15.7 %) while averaging 49 yards per game. His most notable stat was amassing a terrific 16.7 yards per reception. This breakout was attributed to several factors, including Smith-Schuster’s injury and already having chemistry with QB Mason Rudolph, who played with the receiver at Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, Johnson led the unit in receptions (59), touchdowns (five), and targets, with 92/510 (18%). He finished with 680 yards, 11.5 yards per catch, and 42.5 yards per game.

There are several reasons to expect a decrease in fantasy value for both Washington and Johnson. This includes QB Big Ben returning and needing to build more chemistry with both, Smith-Schuster also returning fully healthy (hopefully) and cutting into targets, along with the addition of wide receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame.

Claypool is huge (6’4”), and brings another body who need targets. The newest Steelers receiver finished with a breakout senior season in 2019. He amassed 66 receptions, 1,037 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns, and 15.7 yards per catch.

It’s safe to say Claypool will get a fair amount of playing time, and with Smith-Schuster engrained as the WR1, the Notre Dame product will cut into Washington and Johnson’s targets.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to trust any other Steelers receiver other than Smith-Schuster in fantasy heading into 2020 and for drafts. Claypool has yet to show his NFL potential and Washington/Johnson are still young, rather unproven players. In addition, all three aside from Smith-Schuster could be fighting for targets to stand out as a WR2 on the team.

Smith-Schuster built incredible chemistry with Roethlisberger in 2018, so he would be the most trust-worthy to draft considering Antonio Brown is no longer in the fold. To highlight the USC product’s great rapport with Big Ben, he finished 2018 with 111 receptions, 1,426 yards, seven touchdowns, 89.1 yards per game, and 12.8 yards per catch. He was top-five in yards, tied for sixth in receptions, and finished seventh in yards per game among NFL wideouts.

Smith-Schuster finished with a career year in 2018. Those types of stats are not unrealistic for the receiver in 2020, but that’s also considering Big Ben had a career year too in 2018. You can expect the receiver to be reliable in fantasy though for 2020 and he is a good starter in redraft leagues.

 

Tight End

It was an injury-plagued 2019 for the entire Pittsburgh offense which saw essentially zero fantasy assets. Overall, Pittsburgh tight ends finished with 76/510 targets (14.9 %), 53 receptions, 408 yards, and three touchdowns.

Vance McDonald led the Steelers TE unit in 2019 with 273 yards and three touchdowns. With Roethlisberger slated to return, McDonald’s value may increase, but it’s hard to trust at this point.

With the free-agent addition of Eric Ebron from the Colts in the offseason, he automatically spoils McDonald’s fantasy value and should be a great tight end for fantasy purposes once more this season with Big Ben. Ebron saw a down year with Jacoby Brissett at the helm in 2019, getting 31 receptions, 375 yards, three touchdowns, and 12.1 yards per game.

In 2018 with Andrew Luck, Ebron had a career year that showcased immense fantasy potential. The UNC product finished with a career-high 66 receptions, 750 yards, and 13 touchdowns, along with 11.4 yards per game. In six total years in the NFL, 2018 was Ebron’s best. The biggest question about the TE will be which version fantasy owners will get in 2020.

The 27-year-old is undoubtedly the top TE on the team. He has a good QB in Big Ben. At this point, though, it may be best to try and grab another TE who is heavily utilized/already guaranteed a large role on his team rather than Ebron.

Though he offers some great upside, Ebron’s role and usage on Pittsburgh has not been determined yet, which means you are taking a risk on him and expecting sufficient weekly production. For now, he could be considered a good TE in 14-team or larger leagues or those that require two TE. If you do end up drafting him, you can monitor his stats during the 2020 season, and start him once he begins to show some great, consistent numbers.

Nick Vannett was brought in from Seattle, but only got 13 receptions, 128 yards, and no touchdowns. He is nothing more than depth at this point.

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Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More