Steelers Fantasy News
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.
FREE 4for4 EMAIL SERVICE
Receive breaking news and fantasy analysis straight to your inbox.
Note: This service comes automatically with a paid subscription.
Report: Ray Rice suspended for two games
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 11:44am
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.
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).
Previewing the Browns' QB competition
Saturday, July 19, 2014, 12:13pm
Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich...
I’m picking Brian Hoyer to win job, even though 11-of-16 quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2008 have started right away.
How long he’d keep it would depend on wins and losses, but I don’t think the leash would be long. For example, if the Browns start the season 0-3 after visiting the Steelers and hosting the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens, it would be convenient for Mike Pettine to promote Johnny Manziel during the Week 4 bye and have him ready to face the Tennessee Titans on the road Oct. 5.
But even if Hoyer becomes the starter and wins like he did last season, it wouldn’t necessarily preclude Manziel from playing as a rookie. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of OC Kyle Shanahan featuring Manziel in certain packages.
And remember, the backup always seems to find himself in the lineup in Cleveland. No Browns quarterback has started all 16 regular-season games since Tim Couch in 2001.
If Manziel wins the starting job this summer, he'll be an intriguing QB2 who should be available in the 10th-12th rounds given all the depth at quarterback. His rushing yards will drive his fantasy value, especially since the team is likely to be without Josh Gordon for most (if not all) of the season.
Friday, July 18, 2014, 1:23pm
I usually consider myself a voice of reason when it comes to predicting the level of impact any rookie can have in the NFL.
But even my practical, sensible side believes Cooks can become the Saints' first offensive rookie of the year in nearly three decades, joining Rueben Mayes (1986) and George Rogers (1981).
Cooks was the 20th pick in the draft, and no other offensive weapon landed in a better place to immediately showcase his skill set. Even if Cooks is only the third or fourth option in New Orleans' versatile offense, you know coach Sean Payton will find a way to create mismatches for him and quarterback Drew Brees will find a way to exploit them.
I'm not necessarily predicting blockbuster numbers for Cooks, since the Saints spread the ball around so much. But even if he catches something like 70 passes for 800 yards, he'll be doing it for a Super Bowl contender. And he's likely to hit a lot of "home runs" on a variety of screens, reverses, deep balls and punt returns.
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.
Broncos have 'big plans' for WR Emmanuel Sanders
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 12:19pm
One of the team's best free-agent signings might be Sanders.
The Broncos get a fast-twitch receiver who makes defenders miss once he has the ball. He can play outside or in the slot in a creative three-wide-receiver look. Sanders gets the opportunity to show what he can do in an offense that was the highest scoring in league history last season.
Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has big plans for Sanders and there is plenty of draw-it-up potential to work the middle of the field with players like Sanders, Welker and tight end Julius Thomas working out of the slot. Sanders gets himself away from bump coverage well and the Broncos, after getting pushed around at times at the line of scrimmage last season by some of the more aggressive secondaries, want to make teams pay more for pressing the issue this time around.
Sanders was the #35 WR in 2013, when he saw WR2 targets (112) for the Steelers. Eric Decker (138) and Wes Welker (111) saw a combined 249 targets as Denver's WR2 and WR3. With Decker gone, Welker (and TE Julius Thomas) could see a bit more work, but Sanders should be stepping into a big role. As OC Adam Gase said, Sanders is a good fit for his system and is versatile to play both inside and outside. He is very quick and is adept at making people miss, so he should thrive in Denver’s screen game.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:42am
TE Jermichael Finley's quest to return to the football field continues at the doctor's office.
The free agent tight end will undergo further testing on his injured neck Wednesday and send the results to all 32 teams, Finley told USA Today's Tom Pelissero.
Finley recently suggested he was hopeful for a reunion with the Green Bay Packers. However, he told Pelissero the Pittsburgh Steelers have been interested enough to show him the makings of a contract.
"Pittsburgh have showed me a couple deals, but we all know the money ain't what it's supposed to be," Finley said Monday. "If I quit the game right now, I can take tax-free money, and that's a difficult thing that I'm going through with myself ..."
That "tax-free" money Finely referenced is a $10 million insurance policy he took out that he could cash in if he never plays another snap.
Steelers plan to let RBs 'sort themselves out' in camp
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:20pm
Mike Tomlin isn't giving any hints on how he plans to deploy his backfield options this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers coach told NFL Media's Lindsay Rhodes and Brian Baldinger on Friday that he plans to let the training camp and preseason play of Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer determine a pecking order in 2014.
"I'm excited about letting these guys sort themselves out from a division of labor standpoint," Tomlin said. "I know that they're all committed to being a significant component to what we do."
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observed last month that the Steelers "mixed and matched" Bell and Blount during minicamp, a possible sign Blount could have a bigger role than originally anticipated.
Bell will be the lead back, but he may not be a bellcow he was in his rookie season since the Steelers will have Blount in the bullpen.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:13pm
“The thing that I like about the Broncos is there is really no number one guy,” he added. “Peyton always goes with the favorable matchup and that’s what I’m really liking about this offense. Any guy could go off for 180 yards or 100 yards with 10 catches any week based off of matchups.”
Sanders said last season was the first time he had been used as an outside receiver after many years playing primarily as a slot receiver. With Wes Welker entrenched in the slot for Denver, Sanders will likely continue to be used on the outside for the Broncos. Denver is looking to replace the production lost from the departure of Eric Decker to the New York Jets this offseason. Sanders and second-round pick Cody Lattimer will be called upon to replace the majority of that production for the Broncos this season.
Sanders was the #35 WR in 2013, when he saw WR2 targets (112) for the Steelers. Eric Decker (138) and Wes Welker (111) saw a combined 249 targets as Denver's WR2 and WR3. With Decker gone, Welker (and TE Julius Thomas) could see a bit more work, but Sanders should be stepping into a big role if he can beat out Andre Caldwell and hold off rookie Cody Latimer. As OC Adam Gase said, Sanders is a good fit for his system and is versatile to play both inside and outside. He is very quick and is adept at making people miss, so he should thrive in Denver’s screen game.
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 10:22am
Steelers TE Heath Miller missed just two games despite coming back from a torn ACL, and he caught 54 passes for 593 yards and a touchdown. Miller should be better in 2014 after participating in offseason practices as well as training camp.
Friday, July 4, 2014, 4:40pm
It will be interesting to see how the division of labor shakes out with the Steelers trying to feature RB LeVeon Bell in the offense while also finding touches for LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer. Two of the three could play together in different packages given their respective skill sets. And the trio provides offensive coordinator Todd Haley with an opportunity to get creative with his running backs. What is certain is the Steelers are much better equipped to deal with an injury to Bell this season and that they've significantly improved their overall talent at running back.
Blount's arrival caps Bell's upside as the team's feature back.
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 7:08pm
The Dolphins spent $60 million acquiring WR Mike Wallace from the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago. But last season former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman seemed lost with how to use his newfound toy. Miami’s offense with Wallace was too predictable and it impacted everyone’s production. Sherman was fired and Bill Lazor was hired as Miami’s new offensive coordinator. Already players, including Wallace, are raving about the new scheme. Wallace is being moved around -- sent in motion to make things less predictable. Wallace also is showing a strong work ethic this offseason and looks poised to have a better season.
Wallace, first and foremost, is a big-play receiver. But to make big plays and get behind a defense, it takes good pass protection and a quarterback able to throw deep to take advantage of Wallace’s elite speed. The Dolphins had neither last season. Miami allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterback sacks and starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, in two seasons, has struggled throwing the deep ball. He missed Wallace various times last season in what could have been game-changing plays. Other times, Tannehill didn’t have enough time to allow Wallace to get downfield. The Dolphins believe they’ve fixed both issues, but that remains to be seen. Miami’s offensive line will have five new starters in Week 1 and Tannehill must still prove he can throw a good deep ball.
Wallace finished the season as the #25 WR, but was an unreliable option for most of the year. Thanks to four touchdowns in his final six games, he averaged 10.8 FP in that span, which equates to low-end WR1-type numbers. We're not expecting that kind of production, though he should be a top-end WR3 if his late season surge continues into this season. The arrival of OC Bill Lazor should help; Wallace really seems to like the new offense. The main concern is the offensive line -- Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is going to miss three months after undergoing hip surgery.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 10:58am
Steeler third-rounder Dri Archer gives the Black and Gold an offensive X factor who rattled off the combine's top 40 time (4.26) and is expected to be used creatively in Todd Haley's scheme.
"It's going to be a big role, Archer said, per the Akron Beacon Journal, "but I'm just going to do whatever I'm asked to do. Play receiver, play running back, helping special teams. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it."
Even the author of this story pointed out how Archer will likely struggle to eat up significant snaps at running back after never seeing more than 14 offensive touches in a season at Kent State. He should see time returning kicks and maybe some special plays from time to time on offense to try to get him free in space.
Steelers won't 'lean as heavily' on Le'Veon Bell
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 6:57pm
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown was asked about LeVeon Bell's workload: "I think LeVeon Bell could get 300-plus carries this season but not much more than that even if he plays every game. The Steelers say they are committed to running the ball this season, and I don't think that's just lip service from offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. However, I doubt that the Steelers lean as heavily on Bell as they did last season because of the additions of LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer. Bell will start at running back but the other two will get touches as well. I like that approach because I think it will extend the number of productive seasons Bell has in the NFL. That's probably not good news for fantasy football owners who covet Bell, but he will still be a prominent part of the offense and the Steelers will put his receiving skills to good use too."
Bell's touches are under pressure with the addition of Blount and Archer. Blount was very productive for the Patriots last season and is likely to eat into Bell's workload in 2014.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 8:18am
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss was asked to compare WR Aaron Dobson to other NFL receivers: "...two players who come to mind a little bit from an athletic and outside-receiver perspective are San Diego's Malcom Floyd and Chicago's Alshon Jeffery. There's a gap there between the two -- Jeffery is the better player -- and that's the range in which I peg Dobson's potential."
As a rookie, Dobson caught a respectable 37 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns, but he flashed some big play ability in his 5-130-2 outing against the Steelers in early November. His FP/T (1.05) was average, but if he can beat out Brandon LaFell and Kenbrell Thompkins for a starting job, he should produce with Tom Brady throwing the ball. He only played 63% of the snaps as a rookie.