Week 3 – September 25, 2016
Location: Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
The battle of Pennsylvania becomes even more interesting after the Eagles win on Monday Night Football. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Eagles enter the contest at 2-0 looking to maintain their respective division leads.
The obvious difference in this matchup is the quarterback matchup. Rookie Carson Wentz looks good early but will be making only his 3rd career start while Ben Roethlisberger leads the league in touchdowns after two weeks into his 13th career season.
Playing each other only every four years, the Keystone state teams are hardly rivals but make no mistake, there are bragging rights on the line.
The Eagles defense continues to be opportunistic and always seems to harass Pittsburgh when they travel to the City of Brotherly Love. The Steelers have lost 8 straight games in Philly, so there is reason to think that this one may be closer than anticipated.
The Eagles have been incredible at defending quarterbacks so far this season. They are one of two teams in the NFL (Seattle) that have not given up a passing touchdown in the first two weeks. They are currently 2nd in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, giving up only 8.35 points per game. Obviously Robert Griffin III and Jay Cutler are far from high water marks among NFL passers but we still have to take this Eagles pass defense seriously.
In saying that, still look for Big Ben to test the Eagles secondary early and often behind the vastly improved Steelers offensive line. In each of the first two games, right tackle Marcus Gilbert allowed just one hurry in each game with no sacks or hits. He will be tested in this one against Eagles DE Brandon Graham, who owns the top pass-rushing productivity mark among 4-3 defensive ends, according to Pro Football Focus.
Although the Eagles have surrendered the 5th fewest passing yards in the NFL, they have not faced a dynamic offense like Pittsburgh. I like the passing matchup for Roethlisberger in this one as Antonio Brown and company should easily beat up Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks and Jalen Mills in the secondary.
Ben Roethlisberger Stat Projection – 27/38, 320 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
The Steelers wide receivers aside from Sammie Coates had a quiet day on Sunday against the Bengals. Antonio Brown was nearly invisible and Eli Rodgers did not get going like he did in Week 1. Look for that to change this week in Philadelphia. As mentioned above, AB and company will be lining up against a very subpar group of cornerbacks that could be without starting corner Leodis McKelvin.
Brown will be focused this week as he looks to please his fantasy owners with a monster outing. This one could be memorable for AB. Look for some “splash plays” in the passing game as Mike Tomlin would say.
The Eagles have allowed 160.5 receiving yards per game to opposing wide receivers through two weeks and I believe AB has a great chance to reach that mark by himself.
As for the rest of the receiving corps, it appears that Markus Wheaton may be back this week. He had not gotten enough practice reps so Tomlin held him out against Cincinnati. Wheaton will bring another trusted weapon for Big Ben in the passing game.
It was great to see Sammie Coates connect on the deep ball with Ben against the Bengals. I was surprised with how many deep shots they took in that game. Unfortunately, a few of those throws led to interceptions for Ben but look for him to try another deep shot or two this week. Coates could find the end zone in this one.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 9 receptions, 145 yards, 2 TD
Eli Rodgers Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 30 yards
Markus Wheaton Stat Projection – 5 receptions, 45 yards
Sammie Coates – 3 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD
Jesse James showed once again why the Steelers coaching staff has confidence in him. As we predicted here last week, James did get in the end zone against the Bengals. His 6’7” frame is a huge advantage and Big Ben threw the ball where only he could get it.
I did not, however, mention that Xavier Grimble would find the end zone! Good for you, kid. He is a great story and I hope that he continues to succeed for this Steelers team but he isn’t a fantasy option at this point.
As tough as the Eagles are against opposing quarterbacks, they are even stronger against tight ends. They have only surrendered 4 receptions for 33 yards over the first two weeks to opposing tight ends. I would look elsewhere for fantasy production this week.
Jesse James Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 25 yards
DeAngelo Williams continues to shine in his role for the Steelers. Williams has been fantastic so far, leading the league in rushing yards. This week, he is facing an Eagles team with the sixth-lowest run-defense grade through two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus.
This matchup sets up perfectly for Williams as the Steelers will likely pass early, get out to a big lead and then allow Williams to roll late as he did against Washington.
The Eagles have given up a rushing touchdown in each of the first two weeks and I like that trend to continue in this matchup.
DeAngelo Williams Stat Projection – 23 rushes, 95 yards, 1 TD / 4 receptions, 20 yards
Kicker Chris Boswell has been pretty quiet in the early portion of the Steelers schedule. I could see this week going the same way as I expect the Steelers to find the end zone often in this one. Boswell is a middle of the road kicking option in this one. The Eagles have only surrendered one made field goal through two games. Start him if you have him but I would look elsewhere for your kicker on Fanduel.
Chris Boswell Stat Projection – 1/1 Field Goals, 4/4 Extra Points
The Steelers will be challenged in this game. Carson Wentz has looked very good so far this season and the defense is strong. However, I do think the Steelers will snap the losing streak in Philly and be too much for this young Eagles team. Start your Steelers and look for an exciting matchup on Sunday afternoon.
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 31, Eagles 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.