By Tony DelSignore Jr.
Week 7 – October 20, 2014
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Opponent: Houston Texans
The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Houston Texans in primetime this Monday night and they will put their league best 7-0 record at Heinz Field since 2001, on the line. There is not much to be excited about concerning the Steelers offense after two terrible performances against some of the league’s worst defenses.
The key, in my mind, is Ben Roethlisberger improving his play. Ben was only 50% (21-42) passing last week and must run this offense more efficiently if the Steelers have any chance of moving the ball against the tough Texans defense.
Week 6 in Review:
Last week, the Steelers were embarrassed by their little brother, the Cleveland Browns. A meaningless touchdown pass by Roethlisberger was the only thing worth cheering about in the contest. The offense and defense were both dominated by a more talented Browns roster.
Because of the struggles of the Browns secondary, last week, I projected Roethlisberger for 23/34, 285 yards, 2 TD. He finished Week 6 with a stat line of 21/42 with 228 yards and 1 TD. The attempts were plenteous for Roethlisberger but the efficiency was poor due to bad throws, drops and miscommunication with the receivers.
Antonio Brown dominated once again, catching 7 receptions for 118 yards on 10 targets. I had him projected for 105 yards on 7 receptions and 1 TD but he failed to score for the second week in a row.
Le’Veon Bell logged 82 yards on 18 carries. He continues to be efficient with his touches and is one of the best all-around running backs in the league. I projected Bell for 16 rushes, 91 yards / 5 receptions, 45 yards, 1 TD. I was close on attempts and yardage and he did chip in 4 receptions in the passing game. The concern with Bell for fantasy owners is that he continues to struggle to find the end zone. He only has one touchdown on the season, coming in Week 1.
Heath Miller was held in check again this week, catching only 2 balls for 19 yards. I had Heath projected for 4 receptions, 50 yards. This week, I could see Heath needing to stay in and block to help neutralize Watt and company.
Week 7 Preview:
As mentioned in the open, Roethlisberger has performed poorly for several weeks in a row now. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley must put Ben in comfortable positions early this week to get him rolling. If I were Haley, I would run the no-huddle right off the bat and get Ben and his receivers in rhythm. On paper, the Texans are a fairly favorable matchup for opposing passers.
Houston has surrendered 280.5 passing yards per game and 1.7 passing touchdowns. Roethlisberger should be able to post a solid stat line for fantasy owners, but we have expected that for the past two weeks, with negative results.
Ben Roethlisberger Stat Projection – 24/39 285 yards, 1 TD
The Texans are struggling against opposing wide receivers. Through six games, the they are allowing 25.08 standard fantasy points per game to wide receivers.
Houston is giving up 189 yards per game to opposing pass catchers. Brown should be able to take advantage of the soft Texans secondary and reward fantasy owners with a big stat line.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 7 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD
Lance Moore caught his first touchdown of the season in a meaningless last gasp drive in the 4th quarter. Moore will likely be more involved moving forward if the Steelers do move toward an up tempo pass heavy game plan.
Starting receiver Markus Wheaton possibly played his worst game of the season on Sunday. Constantly out of sync with Roethlisberger, Wheaton only caught 4 passes on his team high 11 receptions. Wheaton must turn it around quickly and make the most of his looks. Wheaton has failed to score this season and I still do believe his big games are coming. Look for Ben to go back to Wheaton this week if the Texans game-plan to slow down Brown.
Markus Wheaton Stat Projection – 5 receptions, 65 yards
Lance Moore Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 38 yards
Justin Brown Stat Projection – 1 reception, 12 yards
For the second straight week, Miller will draw a very tough matchup. Houston ranks 9th in the league at defending the tight end position. They are surrendering a mere 6.52 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Brian Cushing and the middle of the Texans defense are very effective in coverage. Miller will likely be asked to block often in this matchup and I do not anticipate a big game for Heath.
Heath Miller Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 25 yards
Bell draws a Texans defense that boasts the best defensive player in the NFL. J.J Watt is a disruptive force that the Steelers offensive line will have a hard time containing. The Texans surrender 19.68 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
I do think Bell has a good chance to score this week at home. The Steelers need to involve Bell heavily in the no huddle offense and get him in space. Look for Bell to have a nice game and finally find the end-zone this week.
Dri Archer will continue to be incorporated into the offense more each week. He and LeGarrette Blount will spell Bell and rack up minimal stats unless the Steelers take big lead.
Le’Veon Bell Stat Projection – 17 rushes, 87 yards, 1 TD / 4 receptions, 35 yards
LeGarrette Blount Stat Projection – 6 rushes, 24 yards
Dri Archer Stat Projection – 2 rushes, 13 yards / 1 reception, 5 yards
Shaun Suisham will likely get plenty of opportunities to put points on the board in primetime. The Texans defense is fairly solid and will likely hold the Steelers out of the end zone at points in this game.
Shaun Suisham Stat Projection – 3/3 Field Goals, 2/2 Extra Points
I would avoid playing the Steelers D/ST this week. The Texans will likely score points and run the ball very well. I don’t see many sacks or turnovers for the Steelers defense this week. I am going to pick the Steelers to lose this week. Last time I did, they pounded the Carolina Panthers in prime time. Let’s hope for a repeat performance.
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 23, Texans 26
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.