Week 3 – September 27, 2015
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Opponent: St. Louis Rams
That’s more like it! The Pittsburgh Steelers dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2 has fans and fantasy owners excited for what the Steelers offense is going to do moving forward now that Pro-Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell is back from suspension.
The Steelers travel to St. Louis this week to take on the 1-1 Rams. Let’s hope that history repeats itself as the Steelers have easily beat the Rams in their last two meetings, including a 27-0 beat down in Heinz Field in 2011. (With Charlie Batch at QB)
The Steelers need to be on red alert for this game as the Rams are coming off a very disappointing road loss to the Washington Redskins. The Steelers cannot afford to look ahead to next Thursday’s matchup with the Ravens, as Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and company will present a very formidable challenge. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks.
Pittsburgh’s offense has picked up right where it left off at the end of the 2014 campaign. The offense ranks first in the NFL in yards per game, with 458.5 through their first two contests. Without Bell and Martavis Bryant, players like Darius Heyward-Bey and DeAngelo Williams have really picked up the slack.
Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is second in the NFL with 720 passing yards through two games. Ben is playing at an elite level right now. According to numberFire’s Net Expected Points metric, which measures how efficient a player is playing, Ben is tops among all quarterbacks.
This week against St. Louis, Ben will see the best pass rush that he has faced so far this season. As was discussed last week, Ben’s road splits are not nearly as impressive as his home splits. Since the start of 2014, Ben has 26 touchdowns at home with only 10 on the road. However, with the way that Ben has been playing, I would bet on him posting a great performance on Sunday in St. Louis.
St. Louis is statistically stout against the pass, allowing only 205 yards per game, but Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson have been incredibly efficient against them. In two games, the Rams have allowed 55 completions on 68 passing attempts (81%). Ben is passing the ball at a 72.3% completion percentage so far this season.
Ben Roethlisberger Stat Projection – 26/35, 315 yards, 2 TD
What else can we say about Antonio Brown? Brown is already leading the league in fantasy points among wide receivers, where he will likely stay all season long. Brown will face off against a St. Louis secondary that just allowed Kirk Cousins to complete 23 of 27 passing attempts.
Brown leads the league with 328 receiving yards and is a near lock each week to reach 100 receiving yards. Start Brown every week with confidence.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 9 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD
Opposite Brown is Markus Wheaton, who missed practice this week with a chest injury. Wheaton is now listed as Probable which limits Heyward-Bey’s upside this week.
Wheaton continues to produce mediocre stat lines and appears to be the 4th option in the Steelers passing game behind Brown, DHB and Heath Miller. Wheaton can probably be dropped in most leagues at this point. He has shown he is not a fantasy asset at this point.
Filling in for suspended Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey had a huge game against San Francisco. Heyward-Bey is running deep routes and looking the best that he has in years. That is what Ben Roethlisberger can do for you. Averaging 16.9 yards per reception, DHB will continue to attack opposing defenses down the field until Bryant returns. Continue to ride the hot streak for the next couple weeks and hope for another deep touchdown.
Markus Wheaton Stat Projection – 4 receptions, 46 yards
Darrius Heyward-Bey Stat Projection – 4 receptions, 67 yards
Heath Miller was quiet in Week 2 with only 2 receptions for 15 yards, but did score a touchdown as was predicted here last week. For fantasy purposes, Miller has been good so far but the concern for him now is that Le’Veon Bell is back. Bell will be Roethlisberger’s security blanket in the passing game, causing Miller to lose a few targets each week.
Miller is a decent tight end option from week to week but I think this is a week that you need to sit him. The Rams are very stout against tight ends, allowing only 5.7 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
Heath Miller Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 35 yards
The Steelers run game did not see any drop-off with Le’Veon Bell suspended. Veteran DeAngelo Williams has already proved to be an excellent free agent signing. He kept the seat warm for Bell, and now Bell gets to face a Rams defense that has allowed 153 rushing yards per game, 3rd worst in the league.
The concern among some fantasy owners is that Bell’s touches will be limited in his return. Mike Tomlin made it very clear in his weekly press conference that Bell will not be limited. He said, “If 26 is out there, I am going to play him”. Expect Bell to get his full complement of snaps and see 20+ touches this week. Roll Bell out there with confidence.
DeAngelo will certainly still see some work this week but it will likely be in spot duty. You can safely return Williams to your bench.
Le’Veon Bell Stat Projection – 19 rushes, 94 yards, 1 TD / 5 receptions, 47 yards
DeAngelo Williams Stat Projection – 7 rushes, 34 yards, 1 reception, 14 yards
Kicker Josh Scobee banged an extra point off the upright last week and is losing opportunities to score as the Steelers are going for two point conversions. Scobee appears to be a strong option at kicker in a high scoring Steelers offense, but I think it is time to move on until we see some consistency from him. If he can get it going at all, it would be this week in the dome. He is a mid-range option at kicker this week.
Josh Scobee Stat Projection – 2/2 Field Goals, 4/4 Extra Points
The Steelers have proven in years past that this type of game has been a tough one for them to win. With Baltimore looming, Pittsburgh cannot get caught looking ahead to Thursday Night Football. I do expect the Steelers to win in St. Louis behind the return of Le’Veon Bell but look for it to be close.
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 34, Rams 27
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.