Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he wouldn't classify the Bryant's ailment as an injury.
“He had a bump or something on his elbow and it graduated to that. We just exercised a little caution and got it removed.” Tomlin said he doesn't expect Bryant to miss much time.
This story comes after Ben Roethlisberger's comments that he expected WR Markus Wheaton to start on the outside in two-receiver sets, this season, not Bryant. It's a shock to many and some speculated it was because of Bryant's elbow. It doesn't look like Bryant is going to miss much time here. He's also proved to be the more talented receiver after putting up solid fantasy numbers in a limited number of snaps in 2014. This is something to watch through camp and in the preseason. We have Bryant ranked 18th among our WRs this year.
When Ben Roethlisberger speaks, Pittsburgh listens. So when the two-time Super Bowl champion predicts a breakout star, it's worth paying attention.
Most of the Steelers talk heading into the 2015 season has been about Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant, but Roethlisberger believes a different player will steal the headlines offensively this season.
"I think Markus Wheaton is our breakout player of the year," Roethlisberger said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "I want that. I want him to have that pressure. Because when we're in two wide receivers, he's our No. 2. And we're asking him to play outside. And we go three wide receivers, we ask him to move inside."
Wheaton, a third-year pro out of Oregon State, has recorded 59 receptions for 708 yards and two touchdowns in his first two seasons.
It was widely believed Bryant, not Wheaton, would line up opposite Brown to start the season in two-wide sets. But it appears Bryant will miss some time with an infection in his elbow. This could cause a bit of a rankings shakeup among the Steeler WRs and is definitely something to watch during camp and heading into the season. Bryant was our 18th ranked WR while Wheaton wasn't even getting drafted in 12-team leagues. Bryant also put up fringe WR2 numbers while only playing 60-percent of the snaps.
"To me, I think Markus Wheaton is our breakout player of the year... I want him to have that pressure... When we're in two wide receivers, he's our No. 2, and we're asking him to play outside. And when we go three wide receivers we're asking him to go inside, so he's playing multiple positions. And it's new for him. He's always been an outside guy and we're asking him to play in the slot when we have three wide receivers, and that's a completely different ballgame."
While these comments might slow down the Martavis Bryant hype train a bit, we're not worried. Roethlisberger mentioned Bryant first when talking about the receiver group (other than Antonio Brown) and the Steelers play a ton of three-WR so Bryant will be on the field plenty in his sophomore season. The breakout is still on. Wheaton is a solid late-round pick, especially in PPR drafts. By most accounts, rookie Sammie Coates hasn't had a great offseason, so Wheaton's snaps should be safe. Bottom line: We're still targeting Bryant in the 5th/6th round.
The reed-thin rookie who caught eight touchdowns even as he struggled to grasp the playbook is gone, replaced by a more confident — and decidedly more muscular— playmaker who is ready to develop into something other than just a one-dimensional threat.
Bryant added 20 pounds of muscle over the spring, most of it in his well-tattooed biceps. The team didn't ask Bryant to get into the gym and start lifting more. He took it upon himself following a valuable lesson he learned during a rocky training camp last summer.
Pittsburgh went 8-2 with Bryant in the lineup and he made nearly all of his 26 receptions count despite limited playing time. Expect those limits to vanish.
"We're asking him to do more, to move around a little bit, play frontside, backside, know things better," Roethlisberger said. "We're going to count on him in the no-huddle. Last year when we were calling stuff he was asking everyone what to do. We feel more comfortable with him knowing what to do so hopefully we can translate that into playing faster."
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. With the news that Markus Wheaton is moving to the slot full time, it appears that Bryant will be getting starter’s snaps in 2015.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported earlier Tuesday that Bell was negotiating a settlement with the NFL to reduce his suspension to one or two games.
Bell was suspended in April for his August 2014 arrest on charges of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Bell was arrested while driving to the airport for a preseason game with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount.
Blount, who now plays for the New England Patriots, was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and will be suspended for the first game of the 2015 season. Bell was suspended an additional two games because of the DUI charge.
Bell is now our #1 RB in PPR formats and is coming in at #2 in standard formats, though brave owners should probably still take him first overall knowing that they can pair him with a replacement back. Maybe more importantly, Bell was a full go at training camp. There was some concern about a lingering knee injury, though it looks like that’s behind him now.
Roethlisberger: It will be big. He’s put the work in. He looks good. He’s picking everything up. Last year we just kind of put him in there and gave him a couple of things to do, which he did really well at. Now we’re asking him to do more. We’re asking him to move around a little bit, front side, back side, and to know things better. I’m going to count on him in the no-huddle. Last year he’d ask everyone what to do. Now we feel more comfortable with him knowing what to do. Hopefully he’ll be able to translate that into playing faster.
Big Ben later went a little further talking about Bryant, saying he was in for a lot of deep ball stuff, and that was kind of his go to pattern. But Roethlisberger added the team can now start using him in some different areas, use him coming underneath as well as catching the ball and running after the catch. We think there is upside for Bryant who ranks 18th among our WRs this year in what is expected to be a high-powered offensive attack from Pittsburgh. Bryant put up WR2 numbers without playing 60-percent of snaps last year, thanks to his high TD rate.
The Pittsburgh Steelers did not wear pads on the first day of camp, but the running backs didn't need contact to look the part Sunday as the team opened camp at Saint Vincent College.
LeVeon Bell looked noticeably explosive. He says he's in the best shape of his life, and he's not lying.
Stutter steps. Change-of-pace runs. Straight-line speed. Watching Bell run is like one big tease for the Steelers, who can't play him until Week 4 because of his marijuana suspension. Bell's right knee injury, which kept him out of a playoff loss to Baltimore, still needs additional pre-practice stretching and isn't completely the same as the left one. But this is the best Bell has felt in a while, he said. If he had to play today, he could.
The story said Mike Tomlin is challenging free agent DeAngelo Williams by saying Bell will run with the first team, even though Williams needs enough work to be ready to start Week 1 against New England. But the piece went on to say that Williams felt he got plenty of work on what was just the first day. The big fantasy question is do you take Bell early in drafts knowing he going to miss games. Nabbing Williams later in drafts will be nice insurance is you do take Bell, and if this story is any indication, Bell is on his way to another very productive year. Bell is sixth on our RB list due to missing time, but his ADP is 1.3, so if you want him, you likely will need to take him very early.
The Steelers set team record in points, first downs, and yards per game, powered by the superstar trio of Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The quarterback -- who reported to training camp with teammates on Saturday -- sees no reason why Pittsburgh can't top those numbers.
"We want to start fast and we want to be able to put 30 points on the board in every game," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday.
Roethlisberger has strong belief in his supporting cast, from Bell and Brown, to an improved offensive line, the story said. Roethlisberger is now 33, but he's coming off his two best statistical seasons of his career. We're buying in on the Steelers this year, too, as Big Ben jumps to sixth on our QB list and is looking like a great option to target in the middle rounds of drafts. Brown is our top WR, and despite a suspension, Bell is among our best RBs.
You’ve heard about the 30-30 club. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell could redefine it. 30-20.
Less than 30 sacks for Roethlisberger, more than 20 carries a game for Bell.
These are modest goals that can vault the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense from a high-yardage attack to possibly the league’s most potent one.
Last season felt like a breakthrough for Pittsburgh’s offense, not only because of its 6,577 total yards -- second in the NFL behind the Saints -- but for Roethlisberger’s best sack rate since 2005. His 33 sacks in 16 games symbolized progress for a quarterback who’s been sacked nearly twice as much as Tony Romo. Romo has 242 sacks in nine seasons as starter, and Roethlisberger has 419 sacks in 11 years.
Less hits will equal a longer career for the 33-year-old Roethlisberger. And though Todd Haley’s offense protects quarterbacks with a quick passing game, the Steelers’ running game can make that transition easy for Roethlisberger, the story added. It doesn't hurt that Bell has emerged into one of the better do-it-all backs in the league and the addition of DeAngelo Williams as a backup should help the run game. This news could make Bell a bit more attractive to fantasy owners, even with a looming suspension to start the season.
Steelers RBs Josh Harris and Dri Archer are both going into their second NFL seasons. But since Archer arrived as a third-round pick and Harris as an in-camp free agent signing, the expectation level is dramatically different as are the roles each player will try to fill. For Harris, it’s to show himself capable of being a traditional No. 2 running back during the length of LeVeon Bell’s suspension. Carry the football, catch the occasional pass, step up and deliver in pass protection. Because the Steelers figure to utilize more than one running back in every regular season game, Harris will have to convince the coaches he can be trusted to play on Sept. 10 in New England. Archer’s chore is similar, but he’ll be competing for a less traditional role. It makes little sense to expect someone who’s 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds to run the ball between the tackles and take on blitzing linebackers, and so the Steelers are expected to look for ways to maximize his difference-making speed.
There's no doubt Bell will carry the load once he's fully back from his suspension, which currently stands at three games. DeAngelo Williams figures to be the RB1 while Bell sits, and should have RB2 value in that time. The team seems concerned with Williams' injury history, so if Harris can step up, he figures to get some work in an attempt to try and keep Williams healthy. Williams can be had in the late rounds while Bell is still an attractive, early-first-round option because of his running and pass-catching abilities. Anyone who drafts Bell may want to consider reaching a little earlier for Williams. His current ADP is the 12th round in 12-team leagues.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 11:57am
After spending the last four years trying to make it as an NFL quarterback, Terrelle Pryor is now in Cleveland, trying to make it as a wide receiver. He says he has the talent not just to earn a roster spot, but to be a great wide receiver.
“I believe I can get great at anything,” Pryor told KDKA. “Just need the reps and just got to prove it.”
Pryor said he has the work ethic that only the great ones have.
“There’s not a lot of guys who work like I work,” he said. “I truly believe that. I believe somebody who works extremely hard is Antonio Brown. Definitely I’ve worked with him, I have had to opportunity to work out with him an awful lot. We spent a lot of time together in 2011 down in Florida, so I saw his work ethic. The drive, the nights we would run in the sand along the ocean, run 6 miles every night.”
We had a story on this item last week. Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot said there just may not be enough time for Pryor to learn all the details involved in the transition from QB to WR, but that it was definitely worth a shot to try and convert Pryor.
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was a week from returning to the Vikings' roster after a three-game suspension for drunken driving, when ESPN reported on Sept. 18 that Simpson had been cited in July for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving with an open bottle. The Vikings released Simpson later that day, and signed Charles Johnson off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad the next day.
It seemed at the time like a move to replenish the Vikings' wide receiver depth with a known commodity -- quarterbacks coach Scott Turner had been Johnson's position coach the previous year in Cleveland -- but Johnson was less than a year removed from knee surgery, and didn't play more than 20 snaps in a game until Nov. 16. From that point on, though, he caught 25 passes for 415 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and supplanted Cordarrelle Patterson as the team's "X" receiver.
"He was recovering from that knee surgery a year ago and I don't know that he was ever 100 percent," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "I think he's 100 percent. He's got great work ethic, and he's a big, strong guy. He's a 218-pound receiver that can run. He's got everything you need to be a productive player in this league."
In organized team activities and minicamp, there was no mystery about where Johnson figured in the Vikings' plans, the story went on to say. He was lined up at split end all spring, and teamed with Mike Wallace and Jarius Wright in the team's three receiver sets. According to ESPN, 33 of Johnson's 58 targets were at least 10 yards downfield, and 13 of those 58 were 20 or more yards downfield. Johnson worked out in Southern California with Bridgewater and a number of the Vikings' receivers this offseason, and also spent time in Houston with Rischad Whitfield, the "Footwork King" who has counted Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins among his clients. Johnson is one of 4for4.com Senior Editor John Paulsen's potential sleepers this year. We rank him 37th on our WR list and he looks to be in a good situation with the offense under OC Norv Turner and a developing QB in Bridgewater.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 9:52am
Bucs WR Mike Evans helped make the 2014 rookie receiver class one of the best in NFL history.
When asked by USA Today's Tom Pelissero recently if there is a competition within the group to be the best, Evans wouldn't constrain it to merely his own draft class.
"I'm just trying to be the best, period," he said.
While Beckham bathed in the spotlight in 2014, especially after his ridiculous one-handed catch on Sunday Night Football, Evans put up his 12-touchdown, 1,051-yard season relatively quietly on a two-win Buccaneers team. You can argue Evans' QB situation was among the worst of that group. But with Jameis Winston under the helm and Evans taking over the "X" receiver role in the Bucs' new offense under coordinator Dirk Koetter, the second-year pass catcher is confident he can push his name further into the national consciousness. We think so too as Evans is ranked eighth among our WRs this season heading into camps. He has an ADP of the third round and we project him for over 10 TDs and 1,200 yards.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:22am
Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is a No. 3 or 4 option for the offense but nothing more.
He might’ve been a 1,000-yard receiver as a 25-year-old in Haley’s offense. Miller’s scoring rate is concerning. After 27 touchdowns in his first five years, Miller has 16 in his last five, for an average of 3.2 per year. He surpassed three scores in one of those five seasons.
The Steelers placed a waiver claim for tight end Tim Wright, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. When coupled with reported interest in second-round tight end Maxx Williams during the draft, the Wright claim indicates the franchise is at least exploring tight end alternatives.
The story went on to say Miller isn’t an elite tight end but he’s still very solid. He can put up 600 yards in this offense at age 32. And the truth is the Steelers still need him. He’s a safety valve for QB Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, we predict Miller for 588 yards and just under 3 TDs for 2015. However he's ranked 20th on our list and likely won't get a lot of draft attention in typical leagues. With Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant, that's a strong core of talent to monopolize the red zone touches.
A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.
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