If Wheaton should play, it remains to be seen how much he’d be used. Rogers has settled in as the slot receiver, the position Wheaton held down last season, while Coates possesses the size and speed that the Steelers have been missing with Martavis Bryant suspended and TE Ladarius Green on the PUP list. Heyward-Bey played just 35 percent of the snaps on offense but contributed 62 percent on special teams.
Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette was asked how the team's depth chart would shake out. His response:
Last week, Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) of the Observer-Reporter gave us the heads up about Rogers' likely role in the slot. If this holds, then Coates is being severely overdrafted in the 9th/10th round of fantasy drafts and Rogers is a deep sleeper, especially in PPR formats. We've favored Wheaton in our rankings all summer, the concern is that he'll now be competing directly with Coates for snaps, and if he doesn't carry over the momentum from late last season, he could find himself on the bench. On the plus side, Wheaton is currently starting in a high-octane passing attack and if that continues, he'll be a steal in the 10th/11th round. He'll have to prove that he can consistently get open on the outside, but he's apparently done enough in camp to earn the starting job.
Bryant is eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before 1-year anniversary of the suspension.
Markus Wheaton sees the biggest bump in fantasy value with the news of Bryant's suspension. He caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns on the season, but really came on down the stretch, averaging 4.7 catches for 79 yards and 0.67 TD (on 7.8 targets per game) over the final six games of the season. (He was the #12 fantasy receiver in that span.) Though he only gained 53 total receiving yards in two playoff games, he was targeted 13 times, so he was an integral part of the offense late in the year. Wheaton fared well on a per target basis, finishing 22nd and 27th (out of 121 eligible receivers) in fantasy points per target in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Consider Wheaton a fantasy WR3 with WR2 upside. The other players who stand to benefit are TE Ladarius Green (especially in the red zone) and deep threat Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Brown could not get over the concussion protocol hump.
The team announced the news Friday.
It's a big blow to the entire Steeler offense. Ben Roethlisberger may struggle without his top weapon, but Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey all get a bump. The matchup is bad, however, so Bryant and Wheaton aren't shoo-ins for productive afternoons. Heath Miller is also more attractive as a cheap play at tight end.
Friday, November 13, 2015, 6:45pm
Thursday, November 12, 2015, 6:09pm
Martavis Bryant was removed from the suspended list Tuesday after missing the first five games of the season and likely will take away most of Heyward-Bey's snaps.
Still, Heyward-Bey is hoping to contribute in other ways.
“My focus is whatever Coach Tomlin needs me to do,” he said. “My job is to play every position on the field, whether it is X, Z or F. Whatever they need me to do, I will do.”
Friday, September 25, 2015, 7:02pm
Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (chest, probable) returned to take full practice reps Friday after missing practice Thursday and is probable for Week 3. Wheaton is going to play. Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t as appealing as a Sneaky Start with Wheaton a go.
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 6:16pm
Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (chest) was added to the injury report Thursday after missing practice. This looks like the dreaded midweek downgrade. If Wheaton can’t play, then Darrius Heyward-Bey would become a Sneaky Start. He has 12 targets through two games and has played 68 percent of the snaps.
“It was just something I felt like I needed to do,” Bryant said. “Just to add a different aspect to my game of being physical, being bigger.”
Bryant said he is focusing on mastering the “Z” receiver spot that places him on the outside on the strong side of the field. However, Mann said in three-receiver sets Bryant and third-year receiver Markus Wheaton would be “interchangeable” between the “Z” and the slot.
Bryant figures to be a bigger part of the offense this season. He averaged 30 snaps per game in 2014.
“He's always been strong, but to be honest with you his conditioning is way better now,” Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “That's what we look at — and me being his big bro, I tell him, ‘You gotta work on your conditioning.' And he came back in way better condition than he was last year. “You can be fast — but you need to be fast 10 plays in a row, not just two.”
One of the concerns with Bryant is playing time, but it appears that he's distanced himself from Wheaton and is in line for starter's snaps opposite Antonio Brown. He averaged 2.8 catches for 56 yards and 0.82 TD in the final 11 games of the season (including a 5-61-1 outing against Baltimore in the playoffs). Thanks to the incredible touchdown rate, those are high-end WR2 numbers in standard formats and solid WR2 numbers in PPR. Increased playing time should offset any drop in TD rate. We like Bryant to break out in 2015.
Martavis Bryant already has the Steelers' attention after averaging 21.1 yards per catch as a rookie in 2014. But he's trying to place more eyes on him with a productive offseason that included 10 pounds of added weight and his workout to enhance his footwork.
"Running routes in the sand," Bryant said. "The beach, the sand pit, wherever."
Many receivers employ this routine, Bryant said, but he's used it extensively this offseason to improve mobility he said was lacking early in his playing days.
Bryant's imprint on organized team activities with athleticism and speed has been obvious, as has potential starting slot receiver Markus Wheaton. If Bryant can be a reliable No. 2 receiver, the offense falls into place because Wheaton can take the slot and backups Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey provide depth.
Bryant averaged 2.8 catches for 56 yards and 0.82 TD in the final 11 games of the season (including a 5-61-1 outing against Baltimore in the playoffs). Thanks to the incredible touchdown rate, those are high-end WR2 numbers in standard formats and solid WR2 numbers in PPR. What's more, he didn't play 60% of the snaps until the postseason, so there's upside here from a playing time standpoint. If he earns a starting role this offseason -- and it looks like he will -- he’ll be a middle round pick in 2015 fantasy drafts.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 11:38pm
Sunday, January 18, 2015, 5:13pm
Friday, November 7, 2014, 6:15pm
Steelers WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring, probable) was limited Friday after taking full reps earlier in the week and is probable for Week 10.
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