Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 14 Stock Report
The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of some important business in Week 13, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 45-10. In a win like that, there are doubtlessly standout players whose stocks are on the rise. But not everyone on the team made a positive contribution to the winning effort.
With that in mind, here is the Steelers' stock report for Week 14.
Stock Up: CB Brandon Boykin
Cornerback Brandon Boykin got his biggest workload of the season in Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts, and based on his performance, he should remain in the Steelers' defensive mix moving forward.
According to Pro Football Focus, Boykin played 42 snaps against the Colts, giving up two catches on three targets for 49 yards, 47 yards after the catch and no touchdowns. He also defended a pass and grabbed an interception.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was encouraged enough by Boykin's performance that he will remain part of the team's cornerback rotation, working out of the slot when the Steelers run a nickel defense. He's finally made his mark on the defense, and while it was a frustrating few months for Boykin, it's better late than never for him.
Stock Down: CB Antwon Blake
With Brandon Boykin seeing increased playing time on defense in Week 13, fellow cornerback Antwon Blake saw his reduced—and for good reason. So far this season, Blake has allowed nearly 70 percent of the passes thrown his way to be caught, and he's given up six touchdowns while pulling in just two interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.
He did play 32 defensive snaps in Week 13, though, and has seen his role on special teams expand, so all is not lost for Blake. But he is being rotated off the field in coverage, and is being used more on running downs than when opponents are in obvious passing situations. That's not good news for any cornerback.
Stock Up: RB DeAngelo Williams
In Weeks 11 and 12, Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams seemed to come back to earth. In Week 10, he rushed 27 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns. In the two games that followed, he had just 54 and 29 rushing yards, respectively. Though he did have 103 receiving yards over that two-game span, it looked as though the 32-year-old back was beginning to show his age.
But those fears proved to be unfounded in Week 13, when Williams rushed 26 times for 134 yards and caught five passes for another 31. Williams, the Steelers' lead back since Le'Veon Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 8, has been a crucial part of the team's offense. His hot hand may have cooled for two weeks, but in Week 13, he proved he's still able to rack up serious yardage.
Stock Down: KR Jacoby Jones
Kick returner Jacoby Jones has not had a good 2015 season. He joined the team after five games in San Diego, and his season took a turn for the worse in Week 13, when Jones fumbled twice on his kickoff returns, losing one.
The fumbles saw Jones taken off the field in the second half of the game, and this week, he was demoted to third-string punt returner and second-string kick returner. Markus Wheaton will return kicks for the Steelers going forward, while Antonio Brown will be the punt returner, with Wheaton his backup.
The demotion nearly guarantees that Jones won't be on the Steelers' roster, with his release potentially coming before season's end. The once-dynamic returner could be on the last stop of his NFL career.
Stock Up: LB James Harrison
The plan this year was to keep 37-year-old Steelers linebacker James Harrison on a snap count to protect him from the ravages of age in a violent sport. And the Steelers have stuck with that, with Pro Football Focus noting that he's been on the field for just 57.2 percent of the team's defensive snaps this year. That hasn't resulted in Harrison being any less effective, though.
Harrison had his best game of the season in Week 13 against the Colts, with seven tackles (six solo), three sacks, two tackles for a loss, a pass defended and three quarterback hits. The performance now ties him with defensive end Cameron Heyward as the team's sack leader, with five on the year.
While older—and coming off of a brief retirement—Harrison still has much left to give his team. And he's still very much a force in both the Steelers' run defense and pass rush, even with his playing time limited. Week 13 proved that Harrison is still a scary man.