By Tony DelSignore Jr.
Week 2 – September 11, 2014
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Opponent: Baltimore Ravens
The Pittsburgh Steelers came out of the gate on fire. Scoring 27 points before the half was a pleasant surprise, however, the excitement left the building very quickly as the Steelers lead evaporated in the second half. Despite the Cleveland Browns furious second half surge, Ben Roethlisberger was able to lead the Steelers into field goal position late and Shaun Suisham was able connect on a game winning field goal. At the end of the day, the important outcomes are that the Steelers are 1-0 and the offense had many bright spots.
Week 1 in Review:
Last week I made some decent calls and I missed on a few. I projected Roethlisberger for 255 passing yards; he not only eclipsed that mark by half time, but ended up with 365 yards including one touchdown and one interception. Ben looked excellent for the most part and made some huge plays at the end of the game to set up the game winning field goal.
The running back position became very clear on Sunday. The talk of LeGarrette Blount cutting into workload of Le’Veon Bell was obviously blown out of proportion. While both running backs scored a touchdown, Bell out touched Blount 27-4. Bell looked absolutely amazing in his first contest of the 2014 season and could become a legitimate star this season. He was nimble, agile and explosive in the running game and through the air. I projected Bell for 17 rushes, 69 yards and 1 TD. He finished with 21 rushes, 109 yards and 1 TD.
In the passing game, Antonio Brown was as good as advertised. Another explosive performance, including burning Joe Haden and ninja kicking Browns punters. My projection for Brown was 7 receptions, 84 yards, 1 TD. Brown finished with 5 receptions, 116 yards and 1 TD and was explosive in the punt return game. The other bright spot was the breakout performance of Markus Wheaton. I projected Wheaton for 5 receptions and 43 yards; he finished with 6 receptions for 97 yards including a beautiful 40 yard reception down the sidelines. Heath Miller was quiet on Sunday but I do believe he will get things going as the season progresses. I projected Heath for 4 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD; he finished with 3 receptions on 4 targets for only 26 yards.
Week 2 Preview:
This week, the Steelers travel on a short week for the Thursday Night prime time matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
Is it a good week to be playing the Ravens with the Ray Rice fiasco? Could the Ravens be distracted by this situation? Time will tell, but the Steelers had better come with a different mindset than they showed in the second half of the Browns game. The Ravens will surely be desperate to win a home game and not go 0-2 on the season and 0-2 in the division.
Coming off of a 365 yard performance against a very talented Browns secondary with incredible efficiency, the arrow is pointing up for Roethlisberger. Even in his 11th season, Roethlisberger continues to grow as a quarterback and will be an excellent fantasy commodity this season.
The Ravens are always a tough opponent, but did just surrender 301 yards and a touchdown to Andy Dalton. Last season, Big Ben posted a 98.9 passer rating against the Ravens, the highest against any of the three division opponents. Roethlisberger averaged 208.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game in two contests vs Baltimore in 2013. Expect Ben to build upon those numbers on Thursday night and post a solid stat line.
Ben Roethlisberger Stat Projection – 25/37, 280 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brown will not face any cornerbacks better than Haden on Thursday against the Ravens, however he has had limited success against Baltimore in the past. In four games against Baltimore over the past two seasons, Brown has averaged only four receptions, 41.8 yards and has no touchdowns in those games. I think you should temper your expectations for Brown this week.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 6 receptions, 78 yards
The young receivers had a solid showing in Week 1 against Cleveland. With clutch receptions and 97 yards, it is clear that Wheaton will be an impact player for the Steelers this season. One of the most interesting stats from the Week 1 box score was that Wheaton had more targets (7) than Brown (6). Look for Wheaton to have a nice game again this week. Lance Moore appears to still be banged up and may miss another game. Justin Brown will likely work in the slot and likely see a few targets this week from Roethlisberger. I was impressed with a few of the tough catches that Justin Brown made against Cleveland.
Markus Wheaton Stat Projection – 5 receptions, 72 yards
Justin Brown Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 26 yards
Roethlisberger will surely look for Millermore than he did last week. I like Miller as a sneaky daily fantasy play if you are looking to save money at the tight end position. I am predicting Miller to catch a red-zone touchdown this week.
Heath Miller Stat Projection – 6 receptions, 57 yards, 1 TD
The Steelers have historically had trouble rushing the ball against the Ravens, but Bell made some noise against them in 2013 and will look to carry his momentum from Week 1 into the Thursday night matchup. In two games against Baltimore last year, Bell averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 35 rushes with one touchdown and also added eight receptions for 69 yards. Look for Pittsburgh to lean on the running game against the Ravens.
*Note – Dri Archer is banged up and may miss the Thursday night contest. I am not projecting him to play on a short week *
Le’Veon Bell Stat Projection – 23 rushes, 94 yards, 1 TD / 5 receptions, 47 yards
LeGarrette Blount Stat Projection – 6 rushes, 31 yards
Suisham was fantastic again against the Browns including a clutch game winner. He is becoming a strong fantasy option and I would consider him in your daily fantasy leagues this week after the Ravens surrendered five field goals to Mike Nugent last week.
Shaun Suisham Stat Projection – 3/3 Field Goals, 2/2 Extra Points
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 23, Ravens 20
Tune in to @SteelersDepot all season long to find my fantasy projections and analysis and feel free to shoot me your lineup questions each week at @TonyD_12 on Twitter.