The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost all four of their games this year and have look awfully bad in doing so. Le’Veon Bell made his NFL debut in Week 4 and looked good against the Minnesota Vikings, but the Steelers as a team have been a disappointment in every sense of the word.
So why would this week be any different for Ben Roethlisberger and the offense from a fantasy perspective as they face the surprising New York Jets?
First, both the Jets and Steelers play a physical brand of football, so the 14 days between games for Pittsburgh and only six days for the Jets could be a big factor. In addition to a short work week, the Jets will likely be without their two starting corner backs in Dee Milner (a nagging hamstring injury that has cost him the last two weeks) and Antonio Cromartie (suffered a knee injury in Thursday’s practice).
While the defense has received plenty of praise for the Jets’ hot start, they have surrendered nine touchdown passes while intercepting only one pass, a trend that should continue without their ball-hawking corners.
There is no doubting that the Steelers have weapons on the offensive side of the ball, making the combination of extra preparation time and defensive injuries enough for me to consider Roethlisberger a better fantasy option this weekend than Matthew Stafford or Terrelle Pryor.
This isn’t the dink-and-dunk Steelers offense that you remember. It is an aggressive offense that (for better or for worse) attempts to stretch the field vertically. They have three receivers with an aDOT (average depth of target) of at least 10 yards (Antonio Brown at 10.1, Emmanuel Sanders at 13.0, and Jerricho Cotchery at 11.9) and Roethlisberger ranks third among quarterbacks (minimum 160 pass attempts) with a 9.7 aDOT.
Why do I bring this up? Because this offense wants make big plays in the pass game, and with the Jets missing their top cover corners, I expect them to continue to force the issue, thus giving Roethlisberger plenty of fantasy value this week.
I mentioned that Bell looked like an NFL running back in his first career game, but that was against the average run defense in the Vikings. The Jets are allowing a league low 3.0 yards per carry, and with their impressive front four playing at an elite level and the Steelers struggling offensive line, it is hard to imagine Pittsburgh establishing a successful ground attack.
Look for the Steelers to put this game on the back of their franchise quarterback, something OC Todd Haley traditionally has no problem with. Roethlisberger has opened this season with four consecutive games in which he has thrown at least as many interceptions as touchdowns, but he has never done that five games in a row.
Bold projection: 27-of-42 for 308 yards and two touchdowns
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