Team Profiles- Pittsburgh Steelers by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
The Pittsburgh Steelers, the oldest franchise in the AFC, has been led by head coach Mike Tomlin since January 22, 2007. Tomlin is the first African-American to be named head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in its 75-year history. At age 36, he was the youngest head coach to ever win the Super Bowl and in 2010, Tomlin was the only coach to reach the Super Bowl twice before the age of 40. Tomlin’s record is 76-44 and he is the first Pittsburgh coach without a losing season.
The 2014 season was known for record performances from the “killer B’s”. This trio consisted of WR Antonio Brown, QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell.
2015 Team Outlook – The Steelers won the AFC North division in 2014, topping rivals Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland. 3 of the 4 teams in this Division made it to the playoffs. The 4th, Cleveland, almost did as well (Until they decided to bench QB Hoyer and start Manziel, which ended the Browns chances because they never won again in 2014.) Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore all have such well coached, well-balanced teams that it’s anyone’s guess who will be champs of that division in 2015. (I guess I’m anybody, and my guess is that it will be Pittsburgh taking the Division once again.)
2015 Fantasy Outlook-
QB– Ben Roethlisberger is the best quarterback in the AFC North division, followed by Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. Every year in fantasy drafts, I am the guy that is willing to wait to the later rounds to get my QBs. I understand wanting QB Rodgers, Brees and Manning early, but I have to say that I am usually able to win my leagues by putting a higher priority on top RBs & WRs, then getting my Tier 2 quarterbacks in the later rounds. In 2014, I drafted Roethlisberger and later Russell Wilson in nearly every league. They ended the 2014 season as the #5 and #6 QBs in the NFL respectively. (I’ll also target Cutler, Rivers and Romo. If you are going to wait on QBs in fantasy drafts, you have to jump in and get 2 of the top 15 rated QBs or it’s too late.)
* Last season Roethlisberger recorded 4952 passing yards with 32 TDs vs 9 INTs. Only QBs Luck, Rodgers, Brees and Peyton Manning had better seasons. His receiving corps with #1 WR Antonio Brown and two young guys, Martvius Bryant and Markus Wheaton will be one the best in the NFL for 2015. Roethlisberger will help you win fantasy leagues this year.
RBs– Le’Veon Bell is really good, and Le’Veon Bell is really going to spend at least the first three games in 2015 sitting on the bench. (appeal to suspension pending ) Bell pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of marijuana on Aug. 20 2014. This suspension will make some fantasy owners pass on him in the first round, which will allow you to steal him. If you subtract three average games from his incredible 2225 total yards from scrimmage and 11 all-purpose TDs in 2014, Bell would still rank in the top 5. He’s an every down back, he’s used on the goal line and no running back in the NFL had more receiving yards last season than Bell (854). UPDATE: The NFL is taking their sweet time on Bell’s appeal and Bell confirmed that he doesn’t know when it will. The NFL should reduce Bell’s three-game suspension. He’s a first-time offender of league policy.
WRs– I pride myself on seeing player potential, finding the fantasy diamonds-in-the-rough and forecasting break out players, but have to admit that I missed the boat on Antonio Brown’s past 2 seasons. I knew that he was a great receiver and the #1 WR on a great team, but from #37 in 2012…to #7 in 2013…to #1 in 2014? WR Antonio Brown got the lion’s share of the passing game last season, pushing Pittsburgh’s #2 receiver Martavius Bryant down to ranking #43 in the NFL. Brown had 1698 and 13 TDs while Bryant had 549 yards and 8 TDs. WR Markus Wheaton ranked #59 with 644 yards and 2 TDs. Bryant and Wheaton are young WRs that were drafted in the past 2 years. I expect Antonio Brown to have another monster year for Pittsburgh, but I also expect that the passing numbers will even out more between the 3 WRs in 2015.
TEs– QB Ben Roethlisberger has referred to Heath Miller many times as the best tight end in the NFL. Statistically Jason Witten, Gronk and Graham beat Miller, but that position carries more with it than just receptions and TDs. After the 2012 season, Miller was voted MVP of the team by his teammates. In 2014, Miller had 761 yards and 3 TDs which ranked him #12 TE in the NFL. He is the only fantasy option at the position for Pittsburgh and is under contract through 2016.
K– On August 1st, 2014 K Shaun Suisham signed a three-year contract extension with the Steelers and is coming off a 30-of-32 campaign, the best of his career. He was the #7 placekicker in the league last season and he plays for a team who’s offense routinely gives him plenty of opportunities. Suisham’s 56 extra points was the most of any team in 2014.
DEF– Pittsburgh’s 5 defensive TDs was tied for tops in the NFL last season. The Steel Curtain was more like the the Lead Curtain when it came to sacking opposing quarterbacks and recording interceptions, as Pittsburgh ranked near the bottom in both categories. The Steelers were so strapped for pass rushers that they were forced to coax back 37 year old James Harrison. With defensive players heading for free agency, asking Troy Polamalu to retire, and others just not cutting it for Pittsburgh, the team has a plenty to fix between now and September. UPDATE: Troy Polamalu has retired from football. Steelers resigned James Harrison.
2014 Pittsburgh Fantasy Surprises– I knew WR Antonio Brown would be great, just not #1 WR in the NFL great. RB Le’Veon is proving to be incredibly durable considering his workload, having played in all 16 games during the 2014 season. His only missed games in 2013 were the result of a mid-foot sprain that he suffered in the 2nd week of preseason. The injury did not require surgery but he missed the first three weeks of the NFL Regular Season.
2015 Free Agents that Pittsburgh Needs to Address– RB Bet Tate (signed late December 2014)- FB Will Johnson- WR Darrius Heyward-Bey- WR Lance Moore (released)- TE Matt Spaeth (resigned)- CB Ike Taylor- CB Brice McCain
2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Pittsburgh are addressing most positions on defense, and at running back. As in indicted by their fewest number of sacks in 5 years, Pittsburgh has to get some pass rushers (DE), the Steelers have two of their corners possibly leaving in free agency (CB), they need depth on their up-front rotation (DL). They also need someone not only backing up Le’Veon Bell, but someone who can start games 1-4 in 2015 if necessary (RB). UPDATE: Pittsburgh’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- PITTSBURGH’S DRAFT
Did You Know– In 1962 the Pittsburgh Steelers did not have their own logo design until a company named Republic Steel (Who are located in Cleveland – the city of their most bitter rival.) suggested that they adapt the insignia called the Steelmark, used by the American Iron and Steel institute. Pittsburgh liked the idea and their logo was born. The 3 colors in the insignia represent the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap. (Prior to 1962, while other teams were already sporting teams logos, since the Steelers didn’t have theirs yet, all they could do was add the players’ numbers and a black stripe to their distinctive gold helmets.)
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS
Team Home Page: www.steelers.com