Week 5 – October 12, 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Opponent: San Diego Chargers
The Pittsburgh Steelers Week 4 loss to Baltimore is one that will sting for quite a while. The defense played a very solid game for the third week in a row, only to see kicker Josh Scobee miss 2 more field goals in a critical early season AFC North matchup.
Now that Scobee is gone, the Steelers can only hope that their 4th kicker of the season, Chris Boswell, can provide some stability at the position. Who would have known that Shaun Suisham’s injury could change the fortunes of the Steelers entire season?
The Steelers offense did some things well against the Ravens, namely Le’Veon Bell running the ball, but the play calling and decision making at numerous points in the game left us all scratching our heads. It’s time to move on and look toward the San Diego Chargers, who will provide a stiff test for this Steelers team on Monday Night Football.
Chargers quarterback, Philip Rivers is most similar to Tom Brady among the Steelers recent opponents in the way that he can get the ball out of his hands quickly and move the ball down the field. The Steelers defense could struggle in this matchup, forcing the offense to keep pace.
Mike Vick deserves a chance to redeem himself after an up and down performance last Thursday. Only three days to prepare was clearly not enough for him and Todd Haley to be able to run the offense effectively. With 11 days to prepare, there is no excuse for the Steelers passing game not to bounce back on Monday night.
One of the reasons for optimism concerning a bounce back performance for Vick is the return of Martavis Bryant. The Steelers offense is getting back the player that literally ignited their offense when he entered the lineup in Week 7 of 2014. Bryant can certainly do it again if he is in the right place mentally. Update: Reports are coming out late Friday noting that Bryant is no lock to play this week. Monitor his status closely. It may be smart to play other options on your roster and not risk a late game scratch with no replacements on Monday night.
The Chargers pass defense has been solid thus far. They are surrendering 225 passing yards per game, good enough for 10th in the NFL. If Bryant is able to suit up, the Steelers wide receivers will certainly be the toughest test that they have faced thus far. It would be great to see Todd Haley open the playbook more for Vick in his second start. Pittsburgh must get Antonio Brown more involved if they want to win this game.
San Diego did allow the Browns Josh McCown to throw for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns last week, so they can get beat through the air. Vick is a decent streaming option at QB this week, but I would proceed with caution. This game sets up much better for the Steelers running game.
Mike Vick Stat Projection – 17/28, 235 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
As mentioned here last week, Antonio Brown is going to take a hit to his fantasy production. His 35 game streak of 5 receptions and 50 yards came to a screeching halt in his first game with Vick under center.
Brown faces a Chargers secondary that is loaded with talented players, including Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle. Brown will likely struggle to find the 100 yard mark that he is accustomed to with Big Ben under center but I do like his chances of bouncing back with more than a full week of practice with Vick.
Expect a solid stat line from AB and maybe he can haul in a touchdown with that left handed spin this time around.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 7 receptions, 79 yards, 1 TD
Markus Wheaton is basically irrelevant in the Steelers offense and in fantasy circles at this point. It is sad to see that his talent may never translate to a big time producer with the Steelers. Darrius Heyward-Bey on the other hand, seems to have some chemistry with Vick. With Vick under center, targets flowed to DHB at an alarming rate. He now has at least 3 receptions in each game this season and has scored twice. He has proven that he is a decent flyer in very deep PPR leagues. If you are desperate, you can plug him in. You could do worse this week.
Markus Wheaton Stat Projection – 2 receptions, 22 yards
Darrius Heyward-Bey Stat Projection – 4 receptions, 54 yards
The big question mark for the Steelers offense is whether or not Bryant will suit up. Bryant showed incredible chemistry with Vick in their preseason work together but there is nothing concrete at this point to tell us Bryant will be back. If Bryant plays I expect a few nice plays but I am not going to project him to play at this point with the news on late Friday.
Heath Miller has been a non-factor in fantasy for three weeks running. After a 1 catch for 1 yard performance last week, I understand if you cannot stomach rostering him this week. However, San Diego has given up a touchdown to opposing tight ends in 3 of 4 games so far this season. My sneaky fantasy play of the week is Miller. If you are desperate at tight end, roll him out there and hope that the trouble San Diego is having with defending tight ends will continue.
Heath Miller Stat Projection – 4 receptions, 37 yards, 1 TD
The Steelers run game behind Le’Veon Bell will clearly be the focal point of the Steelers offense on Monday night. Bell had no problem carving up the top 10 ranked Ravens run defense. Imagine what he can do against the 29th ranked Chargers run defense. San Diego is allowing 127 rushing yards and 1 touchdown per game to opposing running backs. The Steelers should lean heavily on Bell to win the time of possession battle and attack the Chargers defensive weakness.
Le’Veon Bell Stat Projection – 19 rushes, 117 yards, 1 TD / 5 receptions, 43 yards
DeAngelo Williams Stat Projection – 6 rushes, 34 yards
Kicker Josh Scobee has been cut. Thanks for nothing, Josh. The Steelers turn to unproven kicker Chris Boswell who has never attempted a regular season kick in the NFL. Boswell is a wait and see fantasy option at this point.
Chris Boswell Stat Projection – 1/1 Field Goals, 3/3 Extra Points
The Steelers have historically struggled when traveling to the West Coast but with a mini bye and a Monday night start, I expect the offense to play well. The difference in this game is quarterback play and I think the Chargers have a significant edge at home. Get well soon, Ben.
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 24, Chargers 28
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.