Head coach- Mike Tomlin
Offensive coaching philosophy- Hurry up offense- up tempo, pass oriented focus- 11 personnel
What to expect- Randy Fichtner enters his 2nd year as offensive coordinator. He likes an up tempo offense, however, he is also known for his willingness to listen to his players opinions and adapt accordingly. He likes to spread the field by using 11 personnel. (Don’t worry i had to look it up too.) 11 personnel is basically 1 RB 1 TE and 3 WR.
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger had one of his best seasons passing for 5,129 yards and passing for 34 TDs. That said he’s 37 years old, and he’s never been the picture of perfect health. He usually misses a few games. Counting on Ben to last a full season seems overly optimistic. Also, while the locker room might benefit from the absence of both LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown- the play on Sunday might not. Yes Bell never played in 2018, but he was still regarded as one of the best RBs in the league. Losing him permanently hurts. Losing Bell and Brown doesn’t help an offense no matter how you slice it- including the aforementioned QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Running Back- The LeVeon Bell distraction is finally in the rear view mirror. The Steelers were unwilling to pay Bell so he left for the Big Apple to play for the Jets. Time will tell how this unfolds. James Conner has big shoes to fill, but he did a good job last year. It '‘s hard not to root for Conner. His comeback from cancer was one of the feel good stories of the year. A local kid he was a game changer for fantasy owners last year- shifting the balance of power in most fantasy leagues. Whoever the fantasy analyst who recommended him last August 18th as a late round sleeper deserves a medal, cough cough, Mark Ringo cough cough on August 18th, 2018. That said he still missed 3 games with a injured ankle. The buzz I’m hearing is that the Steelers might prefer a RBBC so he doesn’t wear down. While Jaylen Samuel is still there, he admits he isn’t comfortable in pass blocking. The guy to watch out for is rookie Bennie Snell from Kentucky. Snell doesn’t seem like a special back. He’s too slow imo. However, scouts say he’s a try hard runner and he can break tackles. It wouldn’t shock me if the Steelers pull Conner from the goal line and put Snell in to muscle it in. If you’re looking for a handcuff- Snell is the guy to own. He can pass block, catch the ball out of the backfield, and be a bell cow back if needed.
Wide Receiver/Tight Ends- Gone is Antonio Brown and he’ll be difficult to replace. Brown was a mainstay for the Steelers proving some scouts and analysts like myself wrong. He’s not the biggest or the fastest WR, but he might be the best. He felt disrespected by his teammates and the front office. Strictly from a team chemistry outlook- maybe it was time. If you think Juju Smith-Schuster and the other WR will naturally pick up Brown’s stats- think again. Brown is a dynamic WR. Smith-Schuster will have to prove he can be the #1 WR for a full season. Maybe he can, but a 2nd round pick for fantasy owners is a pretty lonely place to find out. Pittsburgh wants to use him in the slot. They think his size can give them an edge. That means more catches, but shorter routes and less yards. They’ll look to James Washington and Donte Moncrief to work the outside. Both have speed, Moncrief has more size and has more experience. Can he stay healthy? If he can - despite not being the WR Brown is - he can pile up good stats in a hurry up passing attack. Washington is more comfortable with the offense in his 2nd year. He should take a step forward. His body type is more of a RB though. WRs like that usually don’t become difference makers. We’ll see. At tight end Vance McDonald is on many analysts draft boards as a sleeper. Jesse James is gone so he’ll get more snaps. I’ll have to see it before I can go there.
Offensive Line- Excellent A clear strength- the Steelers have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro are all-pros. Alejandro Villanueva is very good at left tackle. Ramon Foster and Matt feller round out an excellent unit.
Schedule- OK not great-Cincinnati, Miami, and Arizona are good matchups. Cleveland, New England, NY Jets not so much. The Browns defense is very good. They’ll be tough to score on if healthy.
Bye- Week 7
Playoff Schedule- weeks 14-17 OK not great at Ariz, Buf, at NY Jets, at Balt Arizona and Baltimore are decent matchups. The Jets front 7 is menacing with rookie Quinnen Williams coming on. He might be the best player in the 2019 draft when all is said and done. When all else fails just draft guys from Alabama and you should be okay. Buffalo has a young improving defense as well. Eh- the playoff schedule could be better- could be worse.
Sleeper- Donte Moncrief, Bennie Snell
Overvalued- Ben Roethlisberger
Bust- James Conner
Bottom Line- The days of drafting James Conner at the Dollar Store are long gone my friends. This year he’ll cost a pretty penny. He’s going in the 2nd round. That’s too rich for my blood. The whispers I’ve heard from those in the know of the Steelers organization are that Bennie Snell could be a TD vulture when Pittsburgh gets in the red zone. That would kill Conner’s value and 2nd round ADP. Jaylen Samuels is more of a gimmick player than a handcuff. Juju Smith-Schuster will also cost a 2nd round price tag in most drafts. He has a higher floor than Conner. I’m just not sure he has the ceiling that Brown did by running shorter routes from the slot. He’s known for size not speed. Moncrief can be had for cheap and he seems like a bargain. He has both size and speed- he just needs good health to put up stats.
The Steelers window of fantasy stars is nearing an end. The Big 3 B’s of Ben, Bell ,and Brown are down to just one. At 37 years old does Ben have enough to make it through the season in one piece? If he does there are fantasy stats there for the taking in this up tempo passing offense. If Ben can’t stay healtthy can’t this entire offense takes a huge hit. Either youngster Mason Rudolph or Joshua Dobbs would take the reins- it’s doubtful either is the QB of the future- neither was an early round pick. Even if Ben can avoid the injury bug expecting the same results without Antonio Brown seems foolhardy. Despite the exceelent offensive line- this offense should take a step back in 2019.