As fantasy football players sat down in the summer of 2016 preparing for their upcoming drafts, the Pittsburgh Steelers had plenty to choose from. Despite a defeat to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Playoffs, the Steelers had stars at each of the top three skill positions that were ready to make a fantasy impact in 2016. As the team continues their journey towards a record seventh Super Bowl title, let’s dive into the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 fantasy football recap (statistics and rankings used from cbssports.com).
Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 Fantasy Football Recap
Ben Roethlisberger was coming off a mediocre 2015 fantasy season. The All-Pro quarterback ranked 20th in standard leagues for 2015. Many fantasy players expected a huge rebound from the Steelers franchise signal caller. So with there being lofty expectations in the steel city, was Roethlisberger able to deliver for those who showed confidence in him? Let’s find out.
2016 was a tale of two seasons for Big Ben. His season stat line showed 14 games started with 3,819 passing yards to go along with 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 95.4 and he finished as the ninth ranked fantasy quarterback on the season. However, the biggest knock on the 13 year veteran was drastic difference in his home and road splits. In six home games, Roethlisberger threw for 1915 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. His home quarterback rating was 116.7. In eight games on the road, Ben had 1904 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. His quarterback rating on the road was 78.4.
When assessing if Roethlisberger’s 2016 was a success or not, the answer would be yes and no. Although he finished sixth in the league in touchdown passes, he failed to hit 4000 yards passing for the second consecutive season. He also saw his yards per game dip from 328.2 in 2015 to 272.8 in 2016. So did Ben outperform his average draft position (ADP) of 48.2? Most likely not, but the Steelers did win the AFC North and are two wins away from a Super Bowl title and Roethlisberger is a huge reason for that.
Le’Veon Bell entered the 2016 season with a three game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension was not for failing a test but for missing multiple drug tests. On top of the suspension, Bell was also coming back from a severe right knee injury that cost him most of the 2015 regular season and all of the playoffs. Despite the suspension and injury worries, fantasy players showed their confidence in the talented running back, drafting him with an ADP of 11.4, which was good enough for late first round. Would their confidence pay off? Absolutely.
Bell started 12 games in 2016, missing three for the aforementioned suspension and one for rest in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns. The man they call “juice” amassed a stat line of 1884 total yards (1268 rushing) and nine total touchdowns (seven rushing). These numbers were enough to be the number two ranked fantasy running back for the season. Bell’s 2016 has all but locked him into a top three overall fantasy pick in 2017.
DeAngelo Williams started the first three games of the season while Bell was suspended. The veteran put together 343 rushing yards and four touchdowns while holding down the fort for the Steelers. However, if the Steelers re-sign Williams in the offseason, he will only have value if Bell is hurt or suspended again for any reason.
Antonio Brown is without a doubt the top wide receiver in Pittsburgh, if not the entire NFL. The question for the Steelers the past few seasons is who would take the role as the number two wideout. At the end of the 2015 season many people felt Martavis Bryant was going to be that guy. However, early in the offseason Bryant was hit with a season long suspension for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. Bryant’s suspension opened the door for someone to step up and take that spot along Brown. Who took the role? Was business “boomin” for Antonio Brown?
AB as he is known around the league was the consensus first overall pick in fantasy drafts in 2016 carrying an ADP of 1.5. Even though his yardage total took a dip from 1,834 in 2015 to 1,284 in 2016, Brown still finished the year as the number one ranked fantasy wide receiver. His touchdowns were up from ten to 12 and he always seemed to make a big play when needed. With the success of running backs such as Bell, David Johnson and others, Brown will not be the number overall pick next year. He should however, still be the first wide receiver drafted.
Eli Rogers made the most of his chances in 2016. The former Louisville Cardinal started eight games for the Steelers. Rogers established career highs in receptions (48), yards (594) and touchdowns (three). Even with the impending return of Bryant, Rogers has certainly earned himself a spot in the offense in 2017.
Sammie Coates started five games in 2016, catching 21 passes for 435 yards and two touchdowns. His season was derailed after suffering a finger injury against the New York Jets in week five. Coates never really saw the field again except for some work on special teams. Going forward his future in Pittsburgh is up in the air.
Fan favorite Heath Miller announced his retirement after the 2015 season. Miller was always reliable and a favorite target of Ben Roethlisberger. So with his departure, the Steelers brought in free agent Ladarius Green to fill the void. Green had shown great promise in San Diego with the Chargers, and the Steelers wanted to see that promise first hand. However, an injury early in training camp put Green on IR to start the year. He would eventually see the field and started two games. The big tight end amassed 304 yards and a touchdown before suffering a concussion late in the season.
Second year tight end Jesse James took a step forward catching three touchdown passes on 338 yards. James showed he has the ability to play in the NFL and provides a nice safety net for the Steelers in 2017. His fantasy value is predicated on the health of Green.
In what was a rough year for kickers in the NFL, Chris Boswell was 21-25 on field goal attempts. Boswell also converted all 36 of his extra point attempts. The “Wizard of Boz”, as he is referred to by his teammates, proved himself to be a consistent NFL kicker. In a Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Boswell converted all six of his field goal attempts. The high powered offense of the Steelers places him as one of the kickers to target in your 2017 fantasy drafts.
The Steelers defense got off to a rough start in 2016. Through the first eight games the defense had only 11 sacks and nine total turnovers. In the final eight games we saw a much more aggressive approach. From Weeks 10-17, the defense had 27 sacks and 14 total turnovers. In 2017 the Pittsburgh defense may be worth a late round pick based off the success in the second half of 2016.
Overall in 2016, Pittsburgh had the number one wide receiver (Brown), number two running back (Bell), and number nine quarterback (Roethlisberger). With three players in the top ten at their respective positions, fantasy players will once again look at the Steelers as a team to draft from in 2017.