Full 2014 Fantasy Projections for Pittsburgh Steelers' Top Offensive Performers

Andrew Watkins@@AndrewWatkins10Correspondent IMay 21, 2014

Full 2014 Fantasy Projections for Pittsburgh Steelers' Top Offensive Performers

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Three Pittsburgh Steelers players were worthy fantasy starters last season: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Sure, Jerricho Cotchery’s 10-touchdown campaign was nice, but he was too boom-or-bust to fit in with that trio.

    Heading into this year, little has changed. Bell and Brown will be drafted higher, and the perennially underrated Roethlisberger will post numbers comparable to those of Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers at half the price.

    Now, all that’s left to do is rank the Steelers’ best fantasy options. That will be done using the following standard fantasy league scoring system, per ESPN.com.

    Please note, however, that total fantasy points aren’t the only qualification in these rankings. What value a player represents at their position and their projected draft position factors in as well.

    Positions: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends

    Scoring system:

    • six points per rushing or receiving TD

    • six points for player returning kick/punt for TD

    • six points for player returning or recovering a fumble for TD

    • four points per passing TD

    • two points per rushing or receiving two-point conversion (note: teams do not receive points 
for yardage gained during the conversion)

    • two points per passing two-point conversion

    • one point per 10 yards rushing or receiving

    • one point per 25 yards passing. 

5. LeGarrette Blount

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Stats: 120 CAR, 550 YDS, 6 TDS / 5 REC, 20 YDS

    Projected Fantasy Points: 93

    LeGarrette Blount’s fantasy value is among the most intriguing and uncertain of any current Steeler.

    If Blount can get eight to 10 carries a game, he could prove to be a worthwhile fill-in during bye weeks. However, the Steelers haven’t allotted that kind of run to a second back since Mewelde Moore in 2008. Even then it was due, in part, to Willie Parker being hampered by injuries.

    Another intriguing aspect of Blount’s game is his ability as a goal-line runner. The 250-pounder proved to be adept at that in scoring eight touchdowns (postseason included) over 2013’s final three games. However, Le’Veon Bell isn’t exactly svelte in his own right and should see his fair share of goal-line touches.

    As of now, Blount’s greatest value is a handcuff for Bell owners in case of injury. If, by some unfortunate circumstance, Bell does succumb to injury, Blount could prove to be well worth the investment.

4. Heath Miller

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Projected Stats: 60 REC, 650 YDS, 5 TDS

    Projected Fantasy Points: 95

    Heath Miller’s ’13 season was a far cry from his Pro Bowl campaign in 2012 to be sure. Being less than a year removed from a season-ending ACL tear obviously played a role in that.

    That being said, Miller’s ’12 season was a career best in terms of receiving totals. His ’13 season was more par for the course. Miller’s 593 receiving yards were actually the fourth most in his nine-year career.

    The biggest drop-off came in the form of touchdowns. Miller scored just one touchdown after managing eight the year before. That should change.

    When Jerricho Cotchery departed for the Carolina Panthers this offseason, he took a team-leading 10 touchdowns with him. That means Roethlisberger will be looking for his old red-zone security blanket more often.

    Miller may not return to Pro Bowl form in ’14, but he should continue to improve another year removed from injury.

    Draft Miller late and reap the benefits on bye weeks or when matchups dictate.

3. Ben Roethlisberger

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Projected Stats: 3,700 YDS, 24 TDS, 11 INT / 25 CAR, 90 YDS, 1 TD

    Projected Fantasy Points: 237

    Ben Roethlisberger’s been on a remarkable run over the past five seasons. In four of the five, he’s topped 20 passing touchdowns; in three of the five, he’s hit the 4,000-yard mark.

    The two outliers came in the ’10 and ’12 seasons in which he missed four and three games, respectively. If you project his numbers from those years over a 16-game season, you’ll find that he’d have likely hit 4,000 yards and 20 scores in those seasons as well.

    Unfortunately for Roethlisberger, durability does play a role in fantasy sports. Last season marked the first time he started a full 16-game season since ’08, so it’s fair to wonder if he can repeat the feat.

    In these projections, he doesn’t. These numbers are based off Roethlisberger starting 14 games and missing two others.

    Regardless, Roethlisberger provides great value in the back half of fantasy drafts. Draft him, and you’ve got a player who can finish in the top 10 among quarterbacks at a backup price.

2. Le'Veon Bell

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Projected Stats: 250 CAR, 1,070 YDS, 6 TDS / 35 REC, 300 YDS, 2 TDS

    Projected Fantasy Points: 185

    Le’Veon Bell provided major value to fantasy owners last season. In spite of missing the season’s first three games, he managed to compile nearly 1,300 yards from scrimmage and eight scores in the 13 games he suited up for.

    Bell showed improvement as the season wore on, running for better than four yards per carry in four of his team’s last five games after breaking the mark just twice in the previous eight. While an improvement in YPC is evident in these projections, you’ll note that Bell’s total yardage gained remains about the same.

    That is due, primarily, to the acquisition of LeGarrette Blount. If Bell had played 16 games last year, he would’ve gotten a projected 355 touches, an alarming workload for such a young back.

    Apparently Pittsburgh wants to preserve the 22-year-old’s legs, as it brought in Blount to help ease Bell’s workload. Blount has had at least 153 carries in three of his four professional seasons and should see at least 100 in this coming season.

    With so few featured backs in today’s NFL, though, Bell still presents value as a high-end second running back.

1. Antonio Brown

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Projected Stats: 90 REC, 1,300 YDS, 7 TDS

    Projected Fantasy Points: 172

    It’s not too surprising that a two-time team MVP would also prove to be the Steelers' most valuable fantasy commodity.

    Brown’s ’13 season wasn’t just among the best in the league; it was among the best in team history. Brown’s 110 receptions were good for second most in Steelers history, and his 1,499 receiving yards were the most ever tallied by a Steeler.

    Brown was also remarkably consistent, a trait cherished by fantasy owners everywhere. He became the first player in league history to record at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards in all 16 games.

    So then, why the slight drop-off? Brown was clearly the recipient of increased defensive attention, but that didn’t stop him from dominating last year.

    Well, there’s two reasons.

    For one, it’s flat-out tough to match such an awesome season. Guys like Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson were still great after smashing NFL records, but even they declined statistically.

    Secondly, Brown will be flanked by new second and third wideouts in ’14. It may take some time for this new-look receiving corps to jell and play off one another.

    Still, Brown will post top-flight numbers again in ’14 and should be off the board no later than Round 3.