The 2020 Steelers have successfully etched themselves in the lore of the franchise going 8-0 for the first time in team history. The jury is still out whether or not they will be remembered as an all time great team amongst the many in Steelers history. To do that, they will need to display endurance through the second half of the season and into the playoffs. Unless a first round bye is secured, the team would have to play in 17 straight weeks, or a full regular seasons worth, to make it to the Super Bowl. A tough task for any team in the NFL.
The week nine game was not pretty by any stretch of imagination. Here are the players whose stock is on the move:
QB Ben Roethlisberger – Stock Up
I have not included Ben Roethlisberger on the list much this season, but after two weeks in a row of come-from-behind victories mostly engineered by Ben, he deserves a mention. Roethlisberger completed 29 passes on 42 attempts for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns. Most of that production came after injuries to both knees. Pro Football Focus had him graded out as the highest rated player on the Steelers offense at 79.8. This game moved his season touchdown to interception ratio to 18:4.
If you needed any reassurance of how much Ben Roethlisberger means to this team, look no further than the end of half Mason Rudolph drive that resulted in two completions on three attempts for three yards.
RB Benny Snell Jr. – Stock Down
Benny Snell Jr. (5) logged less playing time than rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. (8). Benny Snell Jr. started the season strong going over 100 yards in his first start, but since has had issues with ball security as well as issues in short yardage situations. None more critical than a 4th and 1 attempt in the second quarter than gave Dallas the ball and led to a touchdown. Anthony McFarland was in on most of the drive before that play, and the coaches clearly put him in trusting him in the 4th and short situation. If you do not succeed in your limited role and also have a troubled history with ball security, you are going to find your stock on the decline.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick – Stock Up
It is only fair to put Minkah Fitzpatrick’s stock up after previously putting him on the declining list with the type of performance he had in week nine. Minkah Fitzpatrick is still generally being avoided in coverage with less than ten targets his way on the season which is a positive thing on its own, but now he is finding ways to create splash and give the defense a spark. This was highlighted by his critical interception in the end zone and his fumble recovery.
He also has two game winning pass deflections in back to back weeks. Its better that I just leave his stock alone at this point because he has proved all doubters, including myself, wrong.
S/ILB Marcus Allen – Stock Down
Marcus Allen should have been positioned to get his most playing time of the season the last couple weeks as both Devin Bush and Mike Hilton were out injured. His primary role is as the dime linebacker, so missing those two players would lend itself to a role for Allen in dime defense. He only logged four snaps in week nine in dime and was taken out of the package in the latter portions of the game after missing a tackle and generally failing to make an impact.
ILB Vince Williams – Stock Up
Vince Williams leads the league in tackles for loss with 14. Through eight games, there have only been seven occasions where a player has 14 tackles for loss in the last decade. Most of the names on the list are players who are up on the line of scrimmage like JJ Watt or Von Miller which makes this stat all the more impressive for an inside linebacker. With Devin Bush out for the season, a lot of pressure was put on Vince to hold the middle of the defense down, and he has done an admirable job. Cutting Vince would free up a decent chunk of money for the cap strapped 2021 Steelers, but he is making that decision harder each week.
TE Vance McDonald – Stock Down
Pittsburgh asked Vance McDonald to put on some weight this season to serve in more of a blocking role at the tight end position. Even still, his blocking has not been great. Eric Ebron had 59 snaps to Vance’s 20 as both registered roughly the same run blocking grade per Pro Football Focus at a rough 50.5. Vance is scheduled to have a cap hit of $7+ million in 2021. The team could save $5,200,000 per Over The Cap by cutting him after this season. Odds are good that happens.