Over the past week and a half or so, we have seen a pretty rapid push toward the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not just because they have managed to win their first two games—about a third of the league is in the same boat this year—but because they have answered some questioned that hung over them in the offseason.
Power rankings don’t particularly mean much, but it has been interesting to witness Pittsburgh’s migration north on the boards. Most notably, perhaps, they went from 12 at the start of the season all the way up to fourth on Dan Hanzus’ most recent list for the league’s website. They are also fourth on CBS’ power rankings, for example.
Yes ESPN has remained oddly resistant, and in fact they continue to place the Steelers outside of the top 10. They came into week two ranked 11th, and 11th they stay, even with several teams ranked ahead of them losing their second games, some experiencing major injuries.
This power ranking list doesn’t actually give explanations or justifications for their decisions, but they’re still ranked behind the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, the latter of whom just lost two of their best defenders, including Nick Bosa. They still have the New Orleans Saints ranked fifth despite Drew Brees looking rough.
All ESPN offers is an ‘under-the-radar fantasy standout for each team, and as you might guess, Brooke Pryor’s choice was Diontae Johnson. “It’s hard to call Johnson under the radar when he was a trendy sleeper pick before the season. He is inconsistent and has started games slowly; but he has eight receptions on 13 targets, and he led the Steelers with 92 receiving yards against the Broncos”, she wrote.
“If Johnson becomes a bona fide WR1 in fantasy, keep an eye on Chase Claypool to develop into the next under-the-radar asset. Claypool has been targeted five times and has five catches — including an 84-yard touchdown against the Broncos”.
That’s nice and all, but are there really 10 teams in the NFL who are better than the Steelers? I beg to differ, but the good news is that it couldn’t possibly matter less what ESPN thinks. If Pittsburgh prevails over the Houston Texans next week, I would imagine they’ll move a few notches up into the top 10 anyway.