Pittsburgh Steelers Team Capsule
What Went Right
The Steelers had plenty of mystery with Mike Tomlin taking over for longtime head coach Bill Cowher. Early on, Tomlin stayed conservative and threatened to run Willie Parker every play. That probably wouldn’t have worked out, and Ben Roethlisberger used Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller equally well to finish in the top eight of any scoring system. Parker, meanwhile, did account for 1,300 rushing yards, which is great for yardage-heavy leagues.
What Went Wrong
While Parker’s yardage totals were spot on, the touchdowns weren’t. He managed just two trips into the endzone, which is really quite an astonishing feat. Najeh Davenport stole five touchdowns, but Parker might have been dealing with an injury as well. Ward was definitely dealing with nagging injuries, but his production decline was still troubling. His yards per reception of 10.3 was the lowest of his career and almost a full three yards behind his 2006 number.
The Steelers didn’t make too much of a splash in free agency, as signing running back Mewelde Moore was the biggest offensive acquisition. In other words, there’s nothing to see here.
Fantasy owners have plenty to applaud or decry (depending on your situation) with the Steeler draft. In the first round, they took arguably the best back not named Darren in Rashard Mendenhall. For those of us that have Parker in dynasty leagues, we’re less than thrilled. Mendenhall, at the least, will be a more talented touchdown hawk than Davenport was last year. If he gets a shot at double-digit carries per game, he could steal the starting gig. In redraft leagues, he’s one of the most important handcuffs. Pittsburgh also took a top college producer at wide out. Limas Sweed flashed great talent at Texas when he was healthy. Unfortunately, he didn’t spend a lot of time being healthy. If he did, he probably would have been a first round selection. In this offense, he’ll have time to grow as a professional.
State of the Team
Quarterbacks – Some of us had Roethlisberger pegged as a fantasy starter quite a while ago. Ahem. If the Steeler defense just let opposing teams score some points, Roethlisberger could probably be a top performer. Unfortunately, he will have only one half to throw the ball consistently in some games.
Running Backs – Your guess is as good as ours. Parker spent the offseason recovering from his injuries and even if he does maintain the starting gig, Mendenhall will cut into his carries. Right now, you have to draft both just in case one emerges as the clear cut starter. If you could only take one, you still have to lean to Parker. That being said, dynasty leaguers shouldn’t wait long to scoop up Mendenhall. In fact, he is probably second on our rookie board right now. His long-term value in the running heaven that is Pittsburgh is off the charts.
Wide Receivers – Despite only playing 13 games, Holmes managed almost 950 yards on a measly 52 receptions. He is undoubtedly one of the best deep threats the NFL has right now. If he plays 16 games, he’s a lock for over 1,100 yards and should approach ten scores. That being said, because he’s a home run hitter, he will have some worthless games for you. In fact, five of his 13 games fell into the worthless category (under 60 yards and no scores) for us. On the other side of the field, the second spot is something of a question mark. Ward is still there and will certainly retain the “starter” moniker. That being said, his production dipped alarmingly, and others will have a chance to get more looks. Sweed might get there eventually, but Nate Washington played well in stretches last season and might repeat some of that success early in 2008.
Tight Ends – Heath Miller should always do a little better than he does. His 566 yards and seven scores last year were pretty good, but he had seven games with two or fewer receptions. That shouldn’t happen.
Defense/Special Teams – We’re really not experts on defense. In fact, we can’t even name more than a few Steeler defenders without checking the web. That being said, we’re confident this group will be one of the top fantasy performers this season. They always are. And we hate them for it, unless we happen to have a Pittsburgh back running well. Other than that, fantasy football would be better off without the Steeler defense.