Ten days is an awful long time to wait for football but thankfully the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in business this weekend with a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Since they did not play last Sunday, not much has changed has changed since last week’s stock report but here are some names that may have fallen through the cracks.
CB Steven Nelson – Stock Up
Steven Nelson has had a quiet season but that is exactly what a team wants from their highly paid cornerback. The Steelers’ cornerback is mentioned less than a handful of times per game and that is because quarterbacks are choosing not to target him at all. With another shutdown performance last Thursday that saw Nelson lock down Odell Beckham, the cornerback is building a legitimate case for being the best player in the Steelers’ secondary.
Just how well has Nelson been playing? Well according to Player Profiler, Nelson currently has a burn rate this season of 0-percent, meaning that no wide receiver has gotten more than five yards of separation downfield on him.
CB Mike Hilton – Stock Down
After a strong game against the Los Angeles Rams the week prior, Mike Hilton had a bit of a letdown game against the Browns last Thursday. The slot cornerback was directly responsible for two of the Browns’ biggest plays. On the 42-yard catch by Beckham, Hilton abandoned his duties forcing Minkah Fitzpatrick to pick up his slack, leaving no help over the top for Nelson who was covering Beckham.
A few drives later and it was also Hilton in coverage on KhaDarel Hodge when Baker Mayfield connected with him for a 41-yard pass. Thursday night was rough but hopefully it was just the effects of a short week rather than the start of a decline in play.
RB Benny Snell Jr. – Stock Up
If you are ready for some Benny Snell football, give me a Snell Yeah!
After a three-week layoff, Snell is set to make his return this Sunday and it could not have been a timelier return. With James Conner banged up and Jaylen Samuels struggling, Snell will be a big boost to a backfield that has battled injuries and ineffectiveness all season. The rookie running back is also a decent pass blocker which will also help as Samuels and Trey Edmunds have struggled mightily to protect their quarterback in recent weeks.
RB Jaylen Samuels – Stock Down
It has been a rough sophomore year for Jaylen Samuels. The second year running back has failed to make much of an impact running the football as he is averaging just 2.6 yards per attempt. While Samuels has impressed as a receiver, he has struggled as a pass protector as he has had numerous breakdowns in pass protection over the last number of weeks. The talent difference between Conner and Samuels is a very wide margin and it should come to no surprise if Snell receivers a bulk of work over the second year back this Sunday.
DE Tyson Alualu – Stock Up
While replacing Stephon Tuitt is an impossible task, Tyson Alualu has been doing about as good of a job possible in replacing him. The veteran defensive line has taken his game to another level as he has stacked a number of consistent performances together. While he may not be able to hold a candle to Tuitt as a pass rusher, Alualu has been more than stout in run defense and that was fully on display last Thursday as he recorded four tackles and two tackles for a loss. Tuitt’s loss was a big one but it is always a lot easier when you have a guy like Alualu waiting in the ranks.
LT Alejandro Villanueva – Stock Down
Alejandro Villanueva was dealt with a tough task last Thursday – block Myles Garrett who was leading the AFC in sacks at the time. While Villanueva did not allow a sack, he was still dominated by the Browns defensive lineman as Garrett recorded three quarterback hits. Villanueva was also called for two holding penalties on Garrett and was even put on his backside on a fumble near the end of the first half. The big left tackle has had a habit of struggling against Garrett but to be fair, who hasn’t? What is more concerning is that twice this season Villanueva has gone up against an elite pass rushing talent, Garrett last week and Nick Bosa in week three, and both times he has come out defeated.