2014 Fantasy Football Team Previews – Pittsburgh Steelers

The carry over from the Bill Cowher era is probably down to one shining star (Ben Roethlisberger).  Mike Tomlin will enter his eighth season as the head coach of the Steelers.  He is 71-41 in his career with one Super Bowl title.  Pittsburgh hasn’t had a losing season since 2003, but they have been mediocre in back-to-back years as their defense is starting to fade.  Over a nine-year period from 2004 to 2012, Pittsburgh finished in the top five in least amount of total yards allowed eight times and in the top three in least amount of points allowed six times.  Last year, their defense faded to 14th in the league in points allowed (370) and 13th in yards allowed.  Pittsburgh allowed the most points in a season 1988.  Todd Haley will return for his third season as the offensive coordinator.  Dick LeBeau has led the Steelers defense over the last 11 seasons.  Pittsburgh struggled to run the ball in 2013 (1,383 yards – 27th in the league).  They finished 12th in passing yards, but their offensive line allowed 43 sacks. The Steelers were 21st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (115.6 YPG) while allowing 18 rushing TD’s. Their pass defense remains the strength of their team, as they finished ninth in the league in passing yards allowed (3,553), but they didn’t create turnovers (10 INT’s) due to a week pass rush (34 sacks). This team is headed in the wrong direction with multiple areas of concern going into the 2014 season.

Position Breakdowns

*Wide Receivers

Antonio Brown – Brown made a huge step forward in 2013.  His production improved by more than 50% over his best season in the NFL.  Antonio set career highs in receptions (110), receiving yards (1,499), TD’s (8), and targets (166).  He finished the year as the third highest scoring wide receiver in PPR leagues with the fourth best WR opportunity.  He was extremely consistent as he had five catches or more in all 16 games with double-digit fantasy points in PPR leagues in every week.  He finished the year with five impact games where he had more than 100-yards receiving.  His highlight game was Week three against the Bears when he caught nine passes for 196 yards and 2 TD’s.  He had an excellent catch rate (69.2%) last season with only eight drops.  He finished last year with 20 plays of more than 20 yards and 5 catches for more than 40 yards.  His value has grown in Todd Haley’s system where he is now considered a top 10 fantasy option.  He doesn’t have elite size, which hurts his value scoring TD’s in the red zone.  Roethlisberger will find a way to get him involved in every game, which makes his opportunity repeatable in 2014.  Solid PPR wide receiver with 250+ fantasy point upside, but his 2013 success may lead to him being somewhat overvalued when matched up with the elite wide receivers in the NFL with higher upside in scoring ability.

Markus Wheaton – Wheaton appeared to have more value heading into the 2013 season.  He was only on the field for 20 plays over the Steelers first three games of the season before fracturing his pinky finger on his right hand, which forced him to miss four games.  His season was highlighted by two games where he caught six passes for 64 yards on 10 targets.  With Emmanuel Sanders moving on to Denver, Wheaton should be in prime position to have an upgrade in playing time.  During his senior season at Oregon State, he caught 91 balls for 1,244 yards and 11 TD’s.  Markus even showed value as a runner in college (83 rushes for 631 yards and 5 TD’s).  His NFL resume is short, but he has enough talent to make a nice step forward in 2014.  Last summer, he was running with the first-team offense in early August, which gives him the inside track to the WR2 job this year.  A player to watch with upside in scoring ability.

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