Week 4 – October 2, 2016
Location: Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs
Starting off with a direct quote from my Week 3 Preview:
“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.”
Of course I actually meant that Wentz would play like the 13 year pro and Roethlisberger the rookie.
What an embarrassing performance for the entire team on Sunday in Philadelphia, and fantasy owners got to feel the pain as well. Let’s all hope that this was a one game aberration and that the team and fantasy performances will bounce back starting this week.
As I reminded my Twitter followers this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers were destroyed in Philadelphia in 2008 only to go on to win the Super Bowl that season. The Steelers have now lost nine straight games against the Eagles in Philly. There must be something in the water over there, don’t panic.
My thoughts on last week’s game were as wrong as could be, but let’s get back to the drawing board this week as the Steelers return home to try to right the ship against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Some of the concerns about the Steelers passing game that were discussed in the preseason are coming to light as September closes. The lack of a true number two receiver and the loss of Heath Miller are taking a toll on Roethlisberger’s efficiency, not to mention the extremely poor play of the offensive line that has allowed 46 combined Sacks, Hits, or hurries this season. Second worst in the entire NFL.
After posting a 72.9% completion rate in Week 1 against the Redskins, Big Ben has just a 52.9% completion rate over the past two weeks. He has looked lost at times and is clearly lacking a connection with anyone other than Antonio Brown.
The defensive metrics that I chose to overlook last week when analyzing the Eagles look eerily similar this week when looking at the Chiefs. Kansas City has only allowed 2 passing touchdowns this year and is surrendering the second fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, right behind the Eagles.
The Chiefs already have 8 interceptions on the young season, aided by an incredible 6 interception performance last week against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets. Ben will have to be very careful throwing into this talented secondary led by Eric Berry and Marcus Peters.
Roethlisberger will have the advantage of Le’Veon Bell back this week which should help in the passing game just as much as the run game. I do expect a bounce back performance from Big Ben but I am tempering my expectations based on the strength of the Chiefs defense against opposing quarterbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger Stat Projection – 23/37, 285 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
The Steelers wide receivers other than Antonio Brown have left much to be desired so far this year. Markus Wheaton made his return from a shoulder injury last week only to drop three passes including a touchdown.
With Eli Rogers now in a walking boot due to turf toe, the receiving corps likely shift again to see Wheaton in the slot with Sammie Coates outside opposite of AB.
As mentioned above, the Chiefs secondary is very talented. Marcus Peters may shadow Antonio Brown, forcing Ben to target the other receivers. The Chiefs have given up the 8th fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this season, making this a difficult matchup to play any of these Steelers receivers other than Brown. If anyone other than AB is able to produce here, it may be Sammie Coates. Coates has been targeted deep each week, averaging 31.1 yards per reception over the first three weeks. He may be able to break a long one this week.
Although Peters is tough, he takes risks that could get him in trouble against a talented receiver like Antonio Brown. Continue to roll with Brown as he looks to build on his 12 catch performance last week.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 8 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD
Markus Wheaton Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 40 yards
Sammie Coates – 3 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD
Last week we advised benching Jesse James, and hopefully you took our advice as James only posted 2 receptions for 10 yards. The Eagles were a very tough matchup for tight ends and it is more of the same this week against the Chiefs.
Kansas City is allowing only 2.7 receptions and 20.3 yards with no touchdowns to opposing tight ends.
Last week we saw Ben miss James on a deep crossing route as James sat on the route when Ben expected him to continue across the field. I would like to see these two get on the same page before recommending James again. Keep him on the bench for now.
Jesse James Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 30 yards
DeAngelo Williams was absolutely fantastic in the first two weeks of the season but hit a rough spot last week in Philly as the Steelers had to abandon the run game earlier than expected.
Williams will now head back to the bench for fantasy owners as Le’Veon Bell makes his return from a 3 game suspension. Although Williams is no longer a must start in fantasy, he may still see 7-10 touches in this game as the Steelers work Bell back into the offense. Bell returns at a perfect time for the Steelers offense that is struggling to find a secondary target in the passing game.
For any fantasy owners worried about Bell’s workload, head coach Mike Tomlin, at his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, suggested that Bell wouldn’t be eased into the offense.
“We’re going to let practice be our guide in terms of that division of labor, but his level of conditioning is not a concern to us,” said Tomlin of Bell. “His level of conditioning is not a concern to us. A guy that is highly conditioned over a 12 month calendar. We have seen him every day, he has been a part of us, and he has been in the building. He is up to speed on what we are doing from a schematic standpoint and really in tune there.
“We will see how sharp he is physically once we get on the practice field. But rest assured, you are going to see Le’Veon Bell and probably a lot of him on Sunday.”
Bell will bring stability in the run game and give Ben another weapon and outlet when he is under pressure. Expect Bell to have a great game on Sunday night. You know he is fired up as he has not seen the field since Week 8 last season.
Last year against the Chiefs, Bell posted 121 rushing yards and added 4 receptions for 16 yards, which was with Landry Jones at quarterback.
Bell could certainly be the piece that puts the Steelers offense over the top and gets them back on schedule quickly after last week’s poor performance.
Le’Veon Bell Stat Projection – 18 rushes, 82 yards, 1 TD / 5 receptions, 45 yards
DeAngelo Williams Stat Projection – 7 rushes, 40 yards / 1 reception, 10 yards
Kicker Chris Boswell has very quiet to start the season. An exciting fantasy option last year has gone quiet. One stat that leads me to believe that he may have a nice game here is that the Chiefs allow 2.3 field goal attempts per game, which is 3rd most in the league. Look for a bounce back performance from Boswell this week.
Chris Boswell Stat Projection – 3/3 Field Goals, 3/3 Extra Points
The Steelers desperately need a bounce back win against a tough AFC opponent. This game could certainly play a role in playoff seeding later in the season. Pittsburgh has been consistent and even dominant at times in primetime home games. According to Dom Rinelli, since Heinz Field opened in 2001, the Steelers have the 3rd-best winning percentage (.750) in home primetime games. They are tied for 3rd-most wins (21) over that time span. I like them to get right this week against the Chiefs.
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 30, Chiefs 23
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.