Steelers Fantasy News
Thursday, July 31, 2014, 6:30pm
Saints WR Marques Colston says he made resting his ailing left foot a priority during the offseason and feels far healthier than he did a year ago.
After four straight top 20 seasons, Colston finished #27 in 2013. He got off to a decent start (#27 WR through the first four weeks) before a midseason swoon where he caught a combined six catches for 44 yards against the Bears, Patriots and Bills. Then, over the final 10 games (including the postseason), he averaged 6.1 catches for 76 yards and 0.50 TD, which equate to fringe WR1-type numbers. The 31 year-old should benefit from the loss of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, who saw a combined 143 targets last season. Health is a concern, but Colston has only missed four games in the last five seasons.
The biggest knock on Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron through off-season workouts and the first two days of training camp has been an inordinate number of dropped passes that have negated his big-play ability.
The Lions want Ebron to fill the Jimmy Graham role in new OC Joe Lombardi’s offense, so he should see playing time immediately despite the presence of Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Of the 21 tight ends who have been drafted in the first round in the last 10 years, 14 have managed to play at least 14 games. They averaged 35-371-2.6, or #31 TE numbers. (Oddly enough, that's where Brandon Pettigrew finished in 2013.) It usually takes a while for a young tight end to make a fantasy impact, though there has been the occasional exception. Jeremy Shockey (#3 TE in 2002), Heath Miller (#11 in 2005) and Dustin Keller (#14 in 2008) all posted TE1 or fringe-TE1 numbers as rookie first round picks. Cam Cleeland, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and John Carlson all had a TE1-type impact as rookies even though they weren't drafted in the first round. Ebron is an intriguing TE2-type in a potent offense, but he's no shoo-in to make a big fantasy impact in his first season, especially if he’s struggling to catch the ball.
Monday, July 28, 2014, 9:26am
As expected, Ray Rice did not appeal his two-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, meaning that the running back will be sidelined for the Ravens' Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and their Sept. 11 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rice also was fined three total game checks, which equates to $529,000, by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Ravens’ running back, who was accused of striking his now-wife, Janay, unconscious during an altercation in the elevator of an Atlantic City, N.J. casino in February, learned of the suspension Thursday, before the team’s first full-squad workout of training camp.
He had a three-day window to appeal the two-game ban, but that has now elapsed without action from Rice.
Rice can still participate in training camp and in the four preseason games. Bernard Pierce is expected to start the first two games, however, they are shaping up to be pretty tough matchups.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 8:49pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has made it known for some time that he would like to have a big receiver. During a team third-down period, Roethlisberger's wide receivers were Dri Archer (5-foot-8), Antonio Brown (5-10), Lance Moore (5-9) and Markus Wheaton (5-11). So who did Roethlisberger throw the ball to? How about 6-7 tight end Matt Spaeth. Spaeth beat rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier on a third-and-7 out pattern that resulted in a first down.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 6:35pm
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell left practice Sunday afternoon after experiencing tightness in his hamstring but the second-year running back may not miss any additional practice time, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. The Steelers ended Bell’s day early as a precaution, giving more repetitions to LeGarrette Blount and rookie Dri Archer. Archer, the fastest player on the team, drew one of the biggest cheers from the fans at St. Vincent College when he made a nifty cut and flashed through a hole. Archer has been every bit as fast as advertised and he has lined up in a variety of different positions.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 4:15pm
Steelers rookie Dri Archer is getting work all over the place, from running back, to receiver and on special teams where he was catching punts on the first day of practice. “Whatever they need me to do,” said Archer. “I am here to help the team any way possible. I have been catching punts and kicks since I reported. I didn’t drop any the first day. It’s another way to get the ball in my hands. I like the ball in my hands. I am a guy that likes to make things happen.”
It remains to be seen of Archer will be a fantasy option.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:44pm
Jerricho Cotchery doesn't mind being "the old guy" on the Panthers wide receiver corps — just as long as he's the productive old guy. The 32-year-old Cotchery realizes the team's younger wide receivers are looking to him for experience and occasional words of wisdom given his 10 seasons in the NFL. Cotchery is good with all of that, but said his primary concern right now is proving to his new team he can play at an elite level. "I want to be known as a guy who can help individuals — not just on the field, but off the field as well," Cotchery said. "That's fine with me. But that doesn't get you anywhere in the NFL. Teams don't bring you in to be counselors or anything of that nature. They want you to come in and contribute and make plays and help the team win." Cotchery was brought in as an unrestricted free agent to replace Steve Smith, Carolina's all-time leading receiver and a fan favorite.
Cotchery is coming off a year where he quietly caught 10 TD passes for the Steelers, but he's only ever had one 1,000-plus yard season. That came back in 2007 with the Jets. He's likely not getting drafted in a lot of leagues but he could end up being a free agent pickup if in fact he does end up starting for the Panthers.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 10:07am
Steelers O-line coach Mik Munchak, who compiled a 22-26 record as head coach of the Titans, is highly regarded as an offensive line coach. He very well could have been the Steelers’ best offseason transaction. The Steelers ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing offense last season. Their 1,383 yards were the fewest for the team since 1966. But the offensive line did allow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to play every offensive snap for the first time since 2008 and surrendered just seven sacks in the final five games after allowing 36 in the first 11.
The Steelers hope an improved line under Munchak will allow them to get RBs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount going this season and improve on last year's rushing totals. Bell is turning into an attractive, second-round fantasy option in drafts and is ranked 12th among our backs.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills pulled up lame on a pass route and had to leave the field. Payton said it was a right quadriceps injury that flared up on the play. Payton said Stills had similar tightness two weeks ago.
Stills figures to see a jump in snaps and targets after the Saints lost both Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, who saw a combined 143 targets last year. Stills should get at minimum the 5.5 T/G that Moore saw in the past three years, making him an intriguing WR3 with upside. The arrival of Brandin Cooks does take some of the wind out his sails, but that should only serve to keep his ADP at a reasonable level. Drew Brees had a QB rating of 139.3 when throwing to Stills, the highest in the league. He’s bound to improve as a second year receiver and is playing in one of the best pass offenses in the league. There’s a lot to like here. Hopefully the quad injury doesn't linger.
Friday, July 25, 2014, 2:49pm
Drew Brees can certainly get used to New Orleans Saints first-round pick wide receiver Brandin Cooks terrorizing secondaries with his speed and ball skills. Cooks came up with the play of the day as the Saints wrapped up their first full training camp practice Friday morning at the pristine facility at The Greenbrier. It probably won't be his last. The wideout darted through the Saints secondary on a deep post pattern. Brees' pass was slightly behind Cooks, but Cooks displayed why he deserved a first-round selection as he adjusted to the approaching football by slowing down. Cooks then outleaped rookie safety Ty Zimmerman to haul in the reception.
The Saints spread the ball around, but not only do they have to replace the departed Lance Moore, the team has to also replace the production of Darren Sproles in the receiving game. The two combined for 143 targets in 2013, so while we're expecting Kenny Stills to see a larger role, there are targets for the speedy Cooks as well.
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown on the team's WR pecking order: (Lance Moore) looked really good during offseason practices, and he is such a solid player and one of those guys who just knows how to get open. I don’t see much of a difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers since the Steelers will use a three-wideout formation frequently. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Moore gets the majority of the snaps opposite Brown when the Steelers use only two wide receivers. Markus Wheaton will be given every opportunity to win a starting job in camp but it won’t be given to him. If he stays healthy I think he will emerge this season and become a big part of the passing game. Wheaton wants to be great and he has the physical talent to succeed at this level.
The Steelers play a lot of three-WR sets, so we’re expecting big snaps for Wheaton even if Lance Moore is on the field for two-WR sets. (Emmanuel Sanders played 76% of the snaps in 2013, while Jerricho Cotchery played 60%.) Wheaton was a 3rd round pick and is a terrific athlete. He’s not big (5’11”) but he fits the mold of a typical Steeler receiver. Despite a short resume, Wheaton is a breakout candidate if he sees big snaps in his second year. In the last four seasons, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (x2) and Sanders have averaged 65-848-4.5 in the Steelers' WR2 role.
Friday, July 25, 2014, 12:55pm
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown on RB Dri Archer's potential workload: "Archer has stiffer competition than Chris Rainey did for carries with LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount ahead of him on the depth chart. I’d like to think that the Steelers will get Archer the ball eight to 10 times a game, but that depends a lot on him and the progress he makes during training camp."
Brown confirmed that the 8- to 10-touch estimate includes returns. Our current projection calls for 3.8 touches per game for Archer. One thing seems clear -- LeVeon Bell's touches are under pressure with Archer and Blount in the fold.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:30pm
Expect to see a lot of two tight end sets by the Lions, which will give them an opportunity to mix things up pre-snap and move pieces around. Ebron can play in-line, in the slot and outside, which will give offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback Matthew Stafford a lot of options after reading defenses. Ebron gives Stafford something he hasn’t had from that position in his five years in Detroit. In Ebron, Stafford has a tight end that can take a five-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. He also has a player who can run by defenders down the seam and create mismatches from the tight end position.
The Lions want Ebron to fill the Jimmy Graham role in new OC Joe Lombardi’s offense, so he should see playing time immediately despite the presence of Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Of the 21 tight ends who have been drafted in the first round in the last 10 years, 14 have managed to play at least 14 games. They averaged 35-371-2.6, or #31 TE numbers. (Oddly enough, that's where Brandon Pettigrew finished in 2013.) It usually takes a while for a young tight end to make a fantasy impact, though there has been the occasional exception. Jeremy Shockey (#3 TE in 2002), Heath Miller (#11 in 2005) and Dustin Keller (#14 in 2008) all posted TE1 or fringe-TE1 numbers as rookie first round picks. Cam Cleeland, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and John Carlson all had a TE1-type impact as rookies even though they weren't drafted in the first round. Ebron is an intriguing TE2-type in a potent offense, but he's no shoo-in to make a big fantasy impact in his first season, especially if he’s struggling to learn the offense, which was the case in OTAs.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hand down a two-game suspension to Ray Rice for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, sources confirmed Thursday. The league has not officially announced the suspension.
The general consensus was that Rice would get a four-game ban, so this is good news for his fantasy value and bad news for Bernard Pierce who will have a tough time establishing himself as the RB1 in two division games against the Bengals and the Steelers.
Monday, July 21, 2014, 7:47pm
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown on the potential workload of RB LeGarrette Blount: I think Blount should get around eight carries per game but that could mean four to five one week and 10-12 the next.
We currently project Blount for 7.8 touches per game and he's one of the more capable handcuffs in the league. He's going very late in drafts considering his talent and LeVeon Bell's injury history (foot).
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