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AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – Pre-Season Update

Pitt

by Greg Talcott

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of my top 3 picks in the AFC to win the Super Bowl, right behind Indianapolis and just ahead of New England. I don’t think there is a team in the NFC that can beat the AFC champ, so the Steelers are legitimate contenders to hoist the Lombardi trophy if they can make it to the big game.

From a fantasy standpoint, the Steelers have perhaps the best set of triplets in the NFL with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, or they would if it weren’t for the latter being suspended for the first three games of the season. Last year, Roethlisberger posted a career high in yards with 4952 and tied a career best with 32 TD’s, and just 9 INT’s. This season he may well break those numbers and yet he will still be available in the mid rounds of many fantasy drafts. Aside from having the NFL’s leading receiver in Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger has a trio of young, talented receivers in Martavis Bryant, rookie Sammie Coates, and Markus Wheaton. One of these guys may emerge as a reliable WR3 or WR4 status for owners. When you pair that with Le’Veon Bell being out for three weeks, Big Ben may come out firing and keep it going all season long; expect 4500 yards, 35+ TD’s, and few turnovers.

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Antonio Brown is coming off back-to-back outstanding seasons and 2015 should be no different. For Brown, another season of 100 + receptions, 1500 yards, and 10 TD’s are realistic numbers for owners to bank on. Where owners will “buy high” is with Le’Veon Bell – I am not going to say it may not be worth it, but I would not use my first round pick on him. From a production standpoint, by the end of the season, I think Frank Gore will have put up the same if not better numbers despite being drafted three to five rounds behind Bell.

It’s not all good news for Steelers’ fans, as the one thing that could hold them back this season is their pedestrian 18th ranked defense; 6th against the run, and a ghastly 27th against the pass. They also ranked 26th in scoring defense which simply isn’t championship material. For fantasy owners, the Steelers’ defense should improve this year with the drafting of Bud Dupree, the highly touted linebacker out of Kentucky; but the upside is not huge here for the defense from a fantasy standpoint. They may be a good match-up play on occasion for fantasy owners, but this is not an every week defensive team like it used to be.

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