Steelers Fantasy News
Sunday, June 16, 2013, 8:01pm
If Steelers TE Heath Miller can't start the season — and that appears to be a strong possibility — the starting tight end is likely to be Matt Spaeth, who is renowned for his blocking but never has caught more than 17 passes in six seasons, four with the Steelers.
Don't count on Miller being ready for Week 1. He tore his ACL late in the season and is no spring chicken.
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Sunday, June 16, 2013, 10:40am
Steelers RB LeVeon Bell has been brought up to speed quickly on RB Kirby Wilson's top rule over the past month at spring practices and has bought into the importance of the running backs doing their part in protecting $102 million quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Wilson won't hesitate to keep Bell on the bench, regardless of how well he runs the ball, if he can't trust him picking up a blitzing linebacker.
“I am looking forward to it,” Bell said. “I am a big guy (6-1, 244), too. There are other running backs that are a lot smaller than me who can protect great. I am going to watch technique, learn technique and use my size to my advantage. I know how important it is.”
Even though Bell was an excellent blocker at Michigan State, it's impossible to project that into the NFL. Wilson, who has been coaching running backs in the NFL for 16 years, said the final thing that comes for a rookie is pass protection because there is so much more technique involved than running the ball.
If he wants to start, Bell will have to show early in camp that he can protect Roethlisberger. It's good to hear that he was an "excellent" blocker in college. Those skills should translate to the NFL.
No depth chart yet at RB for Steelers
Thursday, June 13, 2013, 10:04am
Steelers RB coach Kirby Wilson on the team's lack of a depth chart: “There really is no pecking order other than that’s how we ended the season. Guys are jumping in accordingly and rotating themselves. There really is no rhyme or reason to it.”
Le’Veon Bell might be the best running back on the Steelers, but Wilson reiterated on Tuesday that if he can’t block, he can’t (and won’t) play.
Wilson said that pass protection is the last thing that comes to a rookie running back.
“Pass protection because there is so much more technique involved,” Wilson said. “You are dealing with skilled pass rushers opposed to guys in college.”
Bell is a power back that fits Pittsburgh’s style. He’s not a burner, but has shown good patience and can turn the corner. He’s pretty solid in the passing game as well, though pass protection is an issue. Assuming he wins the RB1 job, he’ll hold fourth-round fantasy value as the lead back in Pittsburgh. He’ll have to beat out Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman for that privilege, but that shouldn't be too hard. HC Todd Haley said that Bell is a “three-down back," although the team signed LaRod Stephens-Howling, who has been pretty good in that role. The Steelers are obviously high on Bell and they reportedly aren't all that high on Dwyer or Redman, so the rookie should have every chance to start in 2013.
Saturday, June 8, 2013, 11:08am
Steelers third-round pick Markus Wheaton has been under contract several weeks but remains unable to report because of an rule prohibiting draftees from joining their teams until after their final exams are complete. Tomlin said Wheaton will not join the team until June 14, but he is not worried about the delay impeding the rookie wide receiver's progress.
"He'll get plenty of opportunities to show what he's capable of to prepare himself to be a part of our outfit and help us," Tomlin said. "We've dealt with this in the past and, really, in the big scheme of things, it's been a nonissue. It creates some short-term discomfort, but these guys are professionals and capable of dealing with it."
Big Ben has his knee scoped
Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 8:49pm
"Earlier today, Ben had minor surgery on his right knee that was the result of slight discomfort this off-season," head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement.
"We advised him to get the surgery done to ensure he will be completely healthy for the start of training camp. This surgery will have no long-term effects on his health."
The procedure was arthroscopic surgery to clean up some meniscus damage in Roethlisberger's knee, a person informed of the details of the operation told USA TODAY Sports. The same procedure was performed on his left knee seven years ago and that knee has been fine since, the person said.
This is typically a 3-4 week recovery. No worries here.
Friday, May 24, 2013, 10:08am
The Steelers plan to use the outside zone scheme to supplement their power style in order to take advantage of their all-of-a-sudden big, nimble and young offensive line. The hope is to kick start a running game that had its worst output in a decade last year.
Do the Steelers have the running backs to make the scheme work? Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and rookie LeVeon Bell are more power runners than one-cut, take-it-to-the-house guys who are associated with the scheme.
“It is not like we are trying to run the sweep to the outside every play,” Redman said. “Outside zone, you are taking a certain landmark and picking a lane that you see fit.”
Heath Miller (torn ACL) is doing some running
Thursday, May 23, 2013, 1:19pm
Steelers TE Heath Miller on his recovery from a torn ACL late in the season: "I’m running now. I’m doing everything. I’m not at full speed, but I’ve been able to do everything that they’ve asked me to do. So, I’m pleased and encouraged. It’s been a long process, and it’s still going to be a long process. But I’m going to keep taking it one day at a time and get better every day."
We're not expecting Miller to be ready for Week 1, but if he makes steady progress during the offseason, he'll rise in our rankings.
Saturday, May 4, 2013, 10:24am
Steelers OC Todd Haley called WR Markus Wheaton “a versatile, good, polished” player. And while Mike Wallace had game-changing speed, the word “polished” wasn't used to describe him coming out of Mississippi, also as a third-round pick.
“A little different skill set than Mike other than the speed,” Haley said. “I saw Mike as more of an outside receiver outside the numbers. This guy has played the slot a bunch when he wasn't outside. He is a little wider base, a little more running back.”
His ability to line up as the ‘X' receiver, which Wallace played almost exclusively, but also as the “Z” receiver and in the slot is certain to be utilized by new receivers coach Richard Mann, who is strong on fundamentals and technique.
“He was in the slot. He was in the backfield,” Haley said. “That tells us he's a smart guy. Any time a coach feels comfortable moving a guy around a bunch like that, that's good.”
Wheaton could see considerable snaps in 2013, especially if TE Heath Miller (ACL) is not ready to play early on.
Thursday, May 2, 2013, 11:58am
What kept RBs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer on the team -- those $1.3 million contract tenders -- might also drive one of them off it. Paying one backup that much is a lot for the Steelers, two is likely too much. The NFL Network reported that after the Steelers drafted LeVeon Bell, they offered Dwyer to other teams as trade bait.
Redman would seem to have the edge on Dwyer as a complementary back to Bell, if it comes to that.
Haley: Le'Veon Bell is a "three-down back"
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 1:47pm
Haley said running backs coach Kirby Wilson looked at tape of some of Michigan State's roughest games -- "The games where the back isn't necessarily getting those big holes, so you can see what he's really capable of doing on his own.
"Because, as we know, in the NFL the holes are a lot smaller," Haley explained. "This is a big guy that can play like a big back, and yet also can get outside some and catch the ball."
Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 4:23pm
If second-round pick Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State does not take command and become a quick starter for them, then the Steelers may rue their choice there.
"Running back is a position, probably more so than most, that you have a chance to come in and make an impact," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said about Bell. "Obviously, there's a lot of work ahead of him. He's a young guy, but he's coming from a pro-style offense. A lot of the runs will be very similar to the runs that he was running. So I expect him to get into the mix and be a factor."
At this point, we have Bell penciled in as the Steelers' RB1.
Friday, April 26, 2013, 10:20am
Thursday, April 25, 2013, 2:08pm
The Steelers need a running back to contribute, a lot. While Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman had their moments last season, the coaches have decided they serve better as complementary backs than ones who can lead the way. Tomlin became frustrated with his back-by-committee approach last season and would like to find someone he could run, as he once said about Willie Parker, "until the wheels fall off.''
Saturday, April 20, 2013, 8:36pm
“We had good chemistry. I’m going to miss him as a person and as a teammate. He is a great locker room guy who always brought a smile to your face because he was fun, because he was funny. Really going to miss him. But on the field, he was something special. He really was. People don’t realize how important it is to have a guy with his ability on the football field and the guy who is probably going to notice it the most right from the get-go is Antonio Brown. Safeties have to respect Mike’s speed. Cornerbacks and the defense are scheming to stop Mike Wallace going deep. It opens up other receivers, so to lose a guy like that is really going to be tough for all of us.”
On the importance of TE Heath Miller:
“He’s been my MVP vote very year since he has been here. That’s what I think of Heath Miller. That’s how key he is to this team, to me. He is something special. It hurt so bad to see him get hurt. It hurt me more as a person than it did on the football field because of what Heath is.”
Depending on Miller's status to start the season, Roethlisberger could be down two of his top three weapons from last season. We like him as a fantasy QB, but it's going to be tough for him to post his usual numbers without Wallace and Miller.
Arians: Rashard Mendenhall is "a legitimate big-time threat"
Saturday, April 20, 2013, 3:13pm
“He’s a legitimate big-time threat every time he touches the ball,” Arians, the Steelers former offensive coordinator, said this morning at the NFC coaches breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. “He’s a big back who never has to come out of the game. He has a 230-pound body with 180-pound feet.”
It certainly sounds as if Arians plans to start Mendenhall over Ryan Williams, but we'll know more once we get deeper into summer.