Pittsburgh Steelers fantasy team preview

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It's not easy to replace a coaching legend, but Mike Tomlin handled it as well as anyone could have hoped last season. A 10-6 record and a playoff birth was enough to satisfy the Pittsburgh faithful in Year One, but that likely won't be good enough this season. The Steelers will start the season in everyone's top ten in power rankings, and probably in the top five in most.

Like any NFL behemoth, the Steelers are loaded with big time fantasy players on offense. Still, fantasy owners were likely upset to see Pittsburgh use its first round draft pick on running back Rashard Mendenhall, who may take away goal line touches from starter Willie Parker.

Ben Roethlisberger
2007 stats: 3,154 yards, 32 TD, 11 INT

Roethlisberger bounced back from an underwhelming 2006 to establish himself as a top ten fantasy quarterback last season. His improvement in the touchdown-to-interception ratio department was astounding. After finishing 2006 at -5, Big Ben was +21 last year. So did Roethlisberger play over his head last season, or is he the real deal? With a sound supporting cast only improving this offseason, it feels like Roethlisberger will be one of the safest bets on your draft board.

Running back
Willie Parker
2007 stats: 1,316 yards rushing, 164 receiving, 2 total TD
Notable backup: Rashard Mendenhall

Though Parker put up comparable stats to his electric 2006 campaign last season, he just couldn't find the end zone. A 13 touchdown drop last year made owners cringe, and forget about all the yards Parker still piled up. He should score more than two touchdowns this season just by circumstance, but because of rookie Rashard Mendenhall's presence, the number isn't do for a big jump. Mendenhall is a good option as a late round sleeper pick.

Wide Receiver
Hines Ward
2007 stats: 71 recs, 732 yards, 7 TD

Though he may have been insulted at his quarterback's request for a big receiver, few have been as productive as Ward in this decade, regardless of size. Ward's numbers slipped a tad last year, it was the first time in seven years that he didn't threaten to go over 1,000 receiving, but he still found the end zone enough to be a consistent fantasy threat. Here's the great thing about drafting Hines Ward: you know he's going to get balls thrown his way. In fantasy, consistency and durability go a long way.

Santonio Holmes
2007 stats:52 recs, 942 yards, 8 TD
Notable backup: Limas Sweed

If NFL receivers are supposed to establish themselves in their third season, someone forgot to tell Holmes. Holmes broke out in a big way last season for the Steelers, and his numbers would have been even more impressive had he played more than 13 games. Holmes should be the first Pittsburgh receiver taken in fantasy leagues this season, and should be Big Ben's number one option.

Tight end
Heath Miller
2007 stats: 47 recs, 566 yards, 7 TD

While not as flashy as Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates, Miller still finds a way to be consistently productive. Roethlisberger looks for him enough in the end zone to make Miller a viable fantasy target, and a sound pickup once all the elite tight ends are off the board.

2007 stats: 36 sacks, 11 INT

Though the coach changed, the system didn't. The Steelers patented 3-4 guarantees one thing for fantasy owners: sacks. Any team that can get after the quarterback like Pittsburgh has value.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ricky O'Donnell published on August 5, 2008 6:00 AM.

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