Full Stat Predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers' Regular Season
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There is an unwritten rule in fantasy football that says you do not draft any members of the Pittsburgh Steelers for your team.
The reason is that if you are looking for flashy stats, you are looking in the wrong place. The Steelers choose to win with sound defense, short fields and conservative offense.
But even with that, a projection of the Steelers' stats seems like a reasonable exercise. Factors like age, personnel changes and scheme changes all figure into these projections. The same goes for past statistical trends.
Overall, I expect to see a boost almost across the board in individual offensive and defensive stats. A second season of the new offense should bolster the offensive production, especially in the passing game. The defense could slide back some and keep teams on the field longer.
So take a look at these projections, then tuck them away, and let's see at the end of the season just how close they are.
Props to Pro-Football Reference for the assist on the historical statistics.
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Ben Roethlisberger: 4,461 Yards Passing, 32 TDs, 12 INTs, 66% Completion
Prior to his 2012 injury, Roethlisberger was on pace for a career season. That projection. along with his tendency to return strong from seasons where he was injured, makes it look like Roethlisberger is going to have a great year.
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Jonathan Dwyer: 162 carries, 745 yards, 7 TDs
Isaac Redman: 81 carries, 255 yards, 4 TDs
LaRod Stephens-Howling: 92 carries, 488 yards, 4 TDs
Le'Veon Bell: 57 carries, 228 yards, 2 TDs
The Steelers will likely platoon running backs to generate rushing yards once again. With Bell out several weeks with an injury, the load will again fall on Dwyer and the rest of the running backs. With this projection the Steelers will go for a third year without 1,000 yards from any single rusher.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
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Emmanuel Sanders: 63 catches, 837 yards, 6 TDs
Markus Wheaton: 34 catches, 578 yards, 3 TDs
David Paulson: 28 catches, 282 yards, 2 TDs
Will Johnson: 23 catches, 233 yards, 3 TDs
Heath Miller: 24 catches, 252 yards, 6 TDs
It is time for Brown to take the reins as the Steelers top receiving target. Brown is great as a deep target but struggles to score touchdowns. Sanders will ease into a starting role opposite Brown and will be the one to do the dirty work over the middle. That leaves the rookie Wheaton to be the other deep threat in the offense.
Roethlisberger loves to target the tight end, but a lack of talent at the position will limit the overall production at the position. If Miller can return ahead of schedule, he will certainly vulture catches from the other players.
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Brett Keisel: 42 tackles, 4 sacks
Steve McLendon: 39 tackles, 2.5 sacks
Ziggy Hood: 53 tackles, 5.5 sacks
The pressure is on the Steelers' defensive front. The Steelers' coaching staff has asked the starters to do more to rush the passer, so they will deliver with 11 sacks as a unit. This group won't be asked to put up the types of numbers a 4-3 defensive front would, but the talent is there to be very productive.
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Lawrence Timmons: 121 tackles, 7 sacks
LaMarr Woodley: 49 tackles, 6.5 sacks
Larry Foote: 83 tackles, 2 sacks
Jason Worilds: 60 tackles, 6 sacks
Jarvis Jones: 32 tackles, 7.5 sacks
The Steelers have one of the best linebackers in the game in Timmons. He is poised for a huge 2013 in terms of tackles and sacks. Foote is the solid veteran in the middle who consistently produces better than anyone would expect. Outside linebackers Woodley, Worilds and Jones need to have big years to bring back some of the swagger of the Steelers pass rush.
If Jones can win a starting spot, he could be the only linebacker on the team to eclipse double digits in sacks. But across the board, this group should have a better year getting after the quarterback.
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Ike Taylor: 39 tackles, 3 INTs
Cortez Allen: 58 tackles, 6 INTs
Ryan Clark: 81 tackles, 2 INTs
Shamarko Thomas: 41 tackles, 1 INT
This group of defensive backs have been maligned in past seasons for inconsistent play. But this season they will be led by Allen, who looks like he could be a turnover machine. If Polamalu and Clark can stay healthy, they should also have very good seasons. And while Taylor's play seems to be slipping, he can still be effective. For this projection, the rookie Thomas will find his way to the field through his aggressive play.