The Pittsburgh Steelers have not been able to get anything going on the ground this season, and they rank just 31st in the NFL in rushing through three weeks of the season. However, there is reason for optimism, as the team plays the Minnesota Vikings and their 21st ranked run defense Sunday in Wembley Stadium in London.
According to Weather.com it is supposed to rain Sunday in London, and the field at Wembley has gotten destroyed in the previous NFL games held at the stadium. Those two factors indicate that running the ball will be the ideal form of offense, so the Steelers must improve in that area.
Felix Jones has been the named the Steelers’ co-starter at running back (whatever that means) and he was clearly their most effective back against the Chicago Bears last week. Jones only had seven carries, but he picked up 34 yards, good for a very solid 4.9 YPC. Jones is also an effective receiver out of the backfield, and he will get quite a bit of third down work.
Le’Veon Bell is slated to make his debut for the Steelers this week, so there are questions about how the workload will be divided. Bell has not played since early in the preseason with a foot injury, and the safe bet is that the Steelers will ease him back to into action and he will not be a major fantasy factor this week.
That means that it is Jones who should receive the majority of the carries, even if it is only for this week. With the Vikings struggling to defend the run and Jones having breakaway speed, all it takes is one long run for him to have a good fantasy performance. Even if he doesn’t break one, Jones should still be good for about 60 yards rushing and another 20-30 receiving, making him a reasonable flex option, especially for those looking for bye week replacements.
Jones doesn’t have much long term value, but his matchup and the Steelers’ running back situation mean that he could be in for a solid performance this week.