2012 Team Outlook: Pittsburgh

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2012 Team Outlook: Pittsburgh

A fantasy football preview of the Steelers this year. Profiled players include Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Jonathan Dwyer, and Chris Rainey.

With RB Rashard Mendenhall likely to miss a large portion of the upcoming season, expect the Steelers to become a pass centric team in 2012. Reports have also surfaced that new OC Todd Haley could employ more no huddle packages. The draft day additions of OG David DeCastro (Stanford) and OT Mike Adams (Ohio State) should go a long way in improving Big Ben's pass protection. Roethlisberger has topped 4,000 yards passing in two of the past three seasons and remains a borderline QB1 / high end QB2 as he enters his 9th NFL season.

The Steelers re-signed QB Charlie Batch to a one-year contract. The 37-year-old has been a backup in Pittsburgh since 2003. His lone start of the 2011 season resulted in a a 27-0 victory over the Rams in week 16 when Batch completed 15-of-22 passes for 208 yards and a TD. He is obviously not on the fantasy radar unless Big Ben were to sustain an injury.

The 32 year old Marshall alum appears to have the upper hand over Charlie Batch to be the primary backup for Big Ben. Leftwich (7 overall pick of the 2003 draft) missed most of the 2011 season following ankle surgery last September. He has yet to top 100 passes in a season since 2006 and would be a major downgrade to the Steeler passing game if he is forced into action.

The 2010 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech has failed to stay healthy in his first two NFL seasons (played in just 8 games) totaling only 25 carries for 151 yards. With Rashard Mendenhall likely to be sidelined for significant part of the upcoming season, Dwyer could be elevated to the #2 RB position (provided he's recovered from a broken foot). He might be worth a late round flier if he proves to be healthy in training camp.

The Steelers used a 5th round pick on the Florida speedster and he could very well fill a slot WR / tailback slot in his rookie season. Some have compared Rainey to KC'S Dexter McCluster, as each back has top end speed but a smallish frame (under 5'9). Rainey ran an impressive 4.37 forty time and finished 9th in University of Florida history with 2,464 rushing yards. He's not worth considering except in deeper dynasty leagues as Rainey doesn't possess the size to be a starting RB at the NFL level.

The Illinois alum suffered a torn ACL late in the 2011 regular season and there are rumblings that he will miss a significant portion of the 2012 season. Mendenhall topped 1,100 yards in the 2009/2010 seasons, but his production regressed in 2011 as he finished with 228 carries for 928 yards (62 YPG). He does have 30 touchdowns over the past three seasons, but with his season in jeopardy it is difficult to recommend taking him before round 10. Mendenhall is in the final year of his contract and (depending on his recovery) may have played his last snaps with the Steelers.

UPDATE: Surprisingly was activated from the PUP list on August 17th. Questions regarding his speed/burst are concerning considering he's averaged just 3.9 YPC since the start of 2010.