As the fall approaches, football season is nearing which means, of course, fantasy football drafts. Over the course of the season, your fantasy team may cross paths with your hometown team forcing you to root for the team you've loved your whole life or the team that could make you a decent amount of money. Of course, you may skip out on some players for the simple fact that they play the Steelers twice. While you mull over the reasons, whatever they may be, as to why Ray Rice will have a down year in Baltimore, consider adding some Steelers of your own to your team. Here's a breakdown of viable options who play for your hometown favorite:
1. Rashard Mendenhall
Mendenhall had a solid 2010 campaign, rushing for 1250 yards and 13 touchdowns. Although he only caught 23 passes in his first full season as a starter, Mendenhall has the ability to add the receiving aspect to his game. The offensive line didn't get any better but it also didn't get any worse from last year, so his numbers should probably go up slightly due to experience and an easy schedule. If you're worried about fumbles, keep in mind Mendenhall only fumbled twice during the regular season last year. If you're playing in a PPR (Points Per Reception) he's still a good pick. If you're playing in a PPIT (Points Per Idiotic Tweets) league, he's top three.
2. Mike Wallace
Already ranked in the top 10 for fantasy receivers at #6, Wallace has openly stated his goal is to reach 2000 yards this upcoming season. Since he averaged 20 yards per catch last year, simple math states it will take 100 catches for Wallace to achieve his goal. While many are skeptical he'll see the ball that much, I am not. Every fantasy football magazine you buy will tell you the Steelers are a running team. But I tend to disagree. Last year's numbers suggest the Steelers are balanced with just a few more passing attempts (479) than rushing attempts (471). Couple Roethlisberger starting all 16 games (barring injury) with the emergence of two wide receivers no longer in their rookie seasons, and you have potential to see big things out of the passing game. As it stands, there are only a handful of players that can cover Mike Wallace and while his speed has always been an asset, his improved route running could make the difference.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
While Ben still doesn't have a tall receiver to throw to, he still has enough weapons to have an excellent year. Wallace can stretch the field, while Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders both have speed as well. Hines Ward, although declining, still finds soft zones in coverage. Heath Miller is an excellent third down target while Mewelde Moore, is an excellent pass catching third down back. If there was an opportunity for Big Ben to move into elite quarterback status, this year seems to be his best chance. As mentioned before, due to Pittsburgh's balanced offense, Ben's numbers may not translate into MVP, but he will be a solid starter on any fantasy roster.
When looking around the league, the Steelers still have the best defense in the league. Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons are the playmakers while Casey Hampton gums up the middle, preventing running backs from doing anything. As weak as the secondary is, the defense as a whole is one of the greatest rushing defenses in NFL history. Chances are, if you are a fantasy expert, you wont end up with this team as someone in your draft will ALWAYS take a defense too early.
Other low round options:
Heath Miller: He had a down year after catching 76 passes in 2009, he's a possible red zone threat but doesn't seem to get in the end zone enough to be a viable option. Unless you're playing in a 16 team league, Miller is nothing but a backup.
Hines Ward: He's slowed down considerably with injuries and age. Ward is more of a third receiver in fantasy as Mike Wallace seems to get the majority of the targets.
Antonio Brown: Brown had a few excellent moments here and there but was nowhere near consistent enough to be a fantasy option. Still, he's fast and has a chance to be the third receiver if Emmanuel Sanders can't stay healthy.