By Connor Rigg
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a rough beginning to their 2019 season. Ben Rothlisberger played in two games and missed the remainder of the NFL season due to an arm injury. His absence forced the Steelers to trot out Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback. Well, things did not go as planned. The skill players for the Steelers were average at best, and Juju came back down to earth from his breakout season in 2019. With Big Ben back and hopefully healthy, they look to regain their form and fantasy-friendly offense. Let’s take a look at their 2020 outlook.
QB: Ben Rothlisberger
Big Ben only played in 2 games last season before missing the rest of the season with an elbow injury. He had surgery and is looking healthy for the upcoming season. If everything goes right, Roethlisberger seems to be a solid QB2 with QB1 upside every week. I think he will throw around 560-580 pass attempts this season with about 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Steelers skill players will welcome Big Ben back with open arms and hopefully rejuvenate their offense.
RB: James Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Anthony McFarland
James Conner only appeared in 10 games last season and is considered injury-prone. Conner had 715 total yards and 7 TDs before getting injured. He’s capable of handling a large workload, but his body tends to break down, so I believe the Steelers start dialing back his workload. Conner will be a free agent after this season, and he might find himself on another team. For this season, he’s an RB2 option but be wary of his injury risk.
Benny Snell’s rookie year was average, rushing for 426 yards and 2 TD’s with a 3.9 Y/A. He’s mainly used for short down and goal-line situations and should remain on waivers.
Jaylen Samuels was used as the receiving back when Conner went down, but he only totaled 305 yards on 47 receptions and caught 1 TD. He’s not somebody worth targeting in redraft this fall.
Anthony McFarland is a name that you should know. The Steelers 4th round pick is very explosive and can also catch the ball. I believe he takes over as the lead back in 2021, and he might have some stand-alone value if he can grab the 3rd down role. Keep an eye on him in redraft.
WR: Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool
The 2019 season was one to forget for JuJu Smith-Schuster. He was 3rd in targets, 4th in receptions, 3rd in yards, and tied for 2nd in touchdowns. 2020 will be a bounce back season for Juju as he regains his top 10 WR status this season. He will move back into the slot, where he played when he blew up in his 2nd season. You can safely draft him in the 2nd or 3rd round of your redraft leagues.
Diontae Johnson is many fantasy analysts’ favorite sleeper, as well as mine, for this upcoming season. He drew 92 targets, which was the most on the team and had the 2nd most receiving yards and the most touchdowns. With Big Ben back and likely throwing the ball downfield more, look for DJ to explode this season.
James Washington and 2020 draftee Chase Claypool will fight for playing time and the 3rd wideout opposite Diontae Johnson. Washington has a leg up since he’s been on the team longer, but Claypool is very talented and could be a sneaky value if he surpasses Washington. Both are late-round dart throws in drafts.
TE: Eric Ebron
Eric Ebron signed with the Steelers as a free agent this offseason. He’s a big-bodied tight end, who to no surprise, regressed in the touchdown department last season with the Colts. He provides Big Ben with an end zone threat and can make plays down the field. I doubt he commands a large target share, but he could score around 5-7 touchdowns. Consider Ebron as a TE2 in redraft leagues.
Connor Rigg – Redraft/Dynasty
Ride or Dynasty