Week 11 – November 20, 2016
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Opponent: Cleveland Browns
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to disappoint in 2016, but not necessarily from a fantasy perspective. Losing four straight games over five calendar weeks has been frustrating but the offensive explosion against Dallas was still fun to watch and won quite a few people some money in fantasyland.
The injury to Cameron Heyward weakens the Steelers defense even further than what we have already seen from the rather uninspiring group. This will mean more throwing and more offense from Big Ben and company to try to keep up with their opponents. Good for their fantasy owners.
The Steelers need to get on the winning track on Sunday against the abysmal Cleveland Browns. This would put the Steelers back at .500 and tied atop the AFC North if Dallas takes care of business at home against the Ravens.
The biggest question in analyzing this game is the weather. As of Friday morning, Cleveland is expecting 30+ mph winds, some snow and rain during game time on Sunday afternoon. Ben Roethlisberger said that he is preparing for the weather by practicing with different gloves that can help him still “spin” the ball in the high winds.
I strongly advise checking the weather on Sunday morning to make a more informed decision when plugging Steelers into your lineups. Obviously, continue to start them in season long leagues but you may have better options that are not dealing with bad weather on DraftKings and Fanduel.
Analyzing the matchup itself is a different story. The Browns are the 2nd worst in the NFL in allowing fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They are surrendering 22.2 fantasy points per game so this is a spot that Ben should be able to post a very nice stat line, even with his documented struggles on the road.
The Cleveland Browns have given up 25 passing touchdowns this year, more than any other team. They have allowed at least two passing scores in all but one game (Jets), and they have given up at least three passing scores in six of the past eight games.
If the weather cooperates, I am excited to fire up Big Ben this weekend against the NFL team that he all but owns.
Ben Roethlisberger Stat Projection – 25/38, 315 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Antonio Brown continues to dominate no matter what the matchup shows on paper. This week Brown will get Joe Haden in coverage. Research at 4for4 Football shows Haden allowing 0.30 points per route. Brown is producing 0.51 points per route and generating an 18 percent target snap rate. Translated, AB is seeing a pass come his way from Ben on 18% of Steelers offensive plays. That is an extremely high percentage! Fire up AB as always this week against a Browns defense that is allowing 41.8 PPR Fantasy points, second worst in the league.
As for the other Steelers wide receivers, it seems as though Eli Rogers is the only one that we can trust at this point. Sammie Coates played only two snaps last week. So much for a breakout season like we thought. Cobi Hamilton is a fine player but not in play for fantasy purposes.
Rogers is intriguing in this matchup. The Browns are 31st in schedule adjusted fantasy points given up to opposing wide receivers. Rogers played 86% of the Steelers offensive snaps against Dallas and has posted 14 or more fantasy points in two straight games. The Browns have been abused by slot wide receivers so far this season. Kendall Wright, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews and Cole Beasley have all had 50 or more yards and a touchdown against these Browns. Fire up Rogers with confidence this week.
Antonio Brown Stat Projection – 7 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD
Sammie Coates Stat Projection – 1 reception, 20 yards
Eli Rogers Stat Projection – 5 receptions, 60 yards, 1 TD
Cobi Hamilton Stat Projection – 3 receptions, 25 yards
With Ladarius Green finally healthy, the Steelers just might have themselves a true pass catching tight end. Green has an absolutely perfect matchup this week against Cleveland. The Browns surrender 20.2 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, by far the most in the league.
Green saw only 16% of the Week 10 snaps in return from injury but will likely see upwards of 40% this week. What was more important than the snaps was Green’s Target Rate. Green saw 4 targets on 12 snaps in Week 10. Obviously that 33% Target rate is not going to continue but it is a good sign for his usage moving forward. Green practiced in full as the week went on and his knee tweak seems to be a non-issue.
I love Green as a sneaky option this week in daily fantasy. Green is only $2,500, the minimum price, on DraftKings this week.
Ladarius Green Stat Projection – 4 receptions, 35 yards
Le’Veon Bell is probably the top running back option on the board this week for fantasy purposes. Bell is being targeted in the passing game like an elite wide receiver. Since Bell’s return from suspension, he and AB have 45 targets each. Bell leads all backs in percentage of team touches over the last six weeks.
Cleveland is 26th in schedule adjusted fantasy points to opposing running backs. They are allowing 26.6 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing backs. Bell should see upwards of 25 touches this week, especially if the weather turns poor.
Bell is an elite fantasy option in an elite matchup this week. Ring the Bell!
Le’Veon Bell Stat Projection – 22 rushes, 125 yards, 2 TD / 5 receptions, 55 yards
Kicker Chris Boswell will likely face very difficult kicking conditions in Cleveland. Besides that, the Browns are 10th in fantasy points allowed to kickers, giving up only 6.5 points per game. They allow touchdowns not field goals, remember?
Sit Boswell this week or look for a better option on the waiver wire.
Chris Boswell Stat Projection – 1/1 Field Goals, 4/4 Extra Points
The Steelers have no time to whine about injuries or late game losses, they must pick themselves up and get this divisional road win. We know the Browns stink. We know the Steelers dominate the Browns. However, the team must bring their A game each and every week in they have any chance of making the playoffs. That will start this week in Cleveland.
Final Score Prediction – Steelers 31, Browns 16
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.