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Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview

Should the offseason additions of LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer scare off drafters from Le'Veon Bell? Also, where should Antonio Brown go in drafts and who is the favorite to win the second wide receiver job?

Gregory Shamus

Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, an efficiency metric from Football Outsiders, is referenced a few times below. You can read about it here.

QB: Ben Roethisberger

At first glance, I thought Roethlisberger’s schedule was great. Carolina and Kansas City would be tough, but after looking at DVOA numbers for defenses, I see that the Steelers will play eight games against teams that ranked as top-12 against the pass in 2013. In recent years, Roethlisberger has been the guy who can consistently score 15 points per week (15.5 average in 2013), but this tough schedule could threaten that. He hasn’t shown any real signs of slowing down, and should be fine as long as his line can give him some time.

RB: Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer

Despite missing the first three weeks of the season, Bell finished as the 14th running back in standard scoring thanks to the volume he received. Whereas Blount was one of the most efficient backs in 2013, Bell ranked middle-of-the-pack with how much he made each touch count, which backs up his low yards-per-carry from 2013.

After a noteworthy playoff performance, Blount probably expected a better contract than two years and $3.85 million to back up Bell. Unlike last year, Blount will likely struggle to maintain any fantasy value. His best chance is probably taking advantage of Bell’s poor pass protecting, but he is inconsistent in that area as well. Bell was okay around the goal line in his rookie campaign, but it is unknown whether he or Blount will get the valuable carries. Blount should reach at least 100 carries this year, but the low point would give him no value. I could see the Steelers adding more if they fall out of contention and want to conserve Bell for the future.

Although lightning fast, Archer will only be used as a change-of-pace back this year and isn’t worth an investment in redraft leagues. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley might draw up some plays in the passing game, but Bell is going to get most of the carries out of the backfield.

WR: Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavias Bryant

Brown is both overrated and underrated this season. He won’t finish as the top receiver, and probably should not be drafted as such, but he was arguably the most consistent player at his position in 2013, as he recorded at least 5 receptions in every game. Although unlikely to score 15 touchdowns, his target volume ensures that he’ll surpass 1,000 yards easily if he is healthy, and that has value. His current ADP is in the third round, which is at his value. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for profit, but that doesn’t mean he’s overrated, just properly valued by the community.

There’s a big training camp battle brewing between Wheaton and Bryant for the second receiver spot, and I think Wheaton has the edge. Bryant is just a rookie this year, and he has dealt with immaturity issues. He is also said to need more work at the pro level, so I think Wheaton runs away with the job and is worth a late round pick.

TE: Heath Miller

After returning pretty quickly from a torn ACL, Miller failed to score higher than 8 points in a week, although he finished 11th among tight ends with 58 receptions. Roethlisberger likes him, the coaching staff likes him, and DVOA loves him. He’s more of a streamer, but he’s not a bad guy to commit to over a full season.

Defense/Special Teams

Adding Mike Mitchell to replace Ryan Clark boosts a secondary that is just a shell of what it once was, but the Steelers defense is not worth investing in given this set of information. Addressing defense with their first two picks in the draft will also help, but I don’t think the Steelers D/ST will be of any use to your team this year.