2013 Team Outlook: Pittsburgh Steelers
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, --- - Not Draft Worthy
The hyphen signed a 1-year contract with Pittsburgh after a four year sting in Arizona and figures to see time in 3rd downs and on special teams. Stephens-Howling has averaged 3.56 YPC on 183 career carries and hauled in 56 catches over his four seasons. At 5-foot-7, 185-pounds he lacks the size to be a starting RB, but his speed and receiving ability make him a potential PPR flier.
WR Antonio Brown, PIT - Solid/Safe Pick
UPDATE (10/21): Brown has 46 catches for 548 yards and two touchdowns through the first six games. He was the top fantasy WR back in week three when Brown torched Chicago with nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He's averaging 91 yards receiving per game and has been a solid PPR option averaging eight catches per game as Big Ben's clear cut go to weapon in the passing game.
PROFILE: The stars are aligned for Brown to return to his impressive 2011 numbers (69 catches for 1,108 yards) with Mike Wallace now in Miami. Last season, Brown missed 3 games with a high-ankle sprain and finished with nearly as many catches (66) as he did the season before, but about 400 less yards (787). The 24 year old WR from Central Michigan has just 7 touchdowns over his first three seasons, but those numbers could climb as he's locked into WR1 status and Heath Miller (a red zone favorite) remains a question mark. He should produce borderline WR2 numbers and makes for a wise investment in rounds 6-7.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN - Sleeper (undervalued)
UPDATE (10/21): The free agent to be remains just a bye week filler at best in 12 team leagues as he's averaging 4 catches for 51 yards with one touchdown.
PROFILE: Many thought he was New England bound, but the cash strapped / WR needy Steelers decided to match his restricted offer and inked Sanders to a one-year, $2.5M contract. The 26 year old WR from SMU will be an ultra motivated player in a contract year. He has yet to average more than 39 YPG in any of his first three seasons and Sanders has totaled just 94 catches, 1,290 yards and five TDs in his brief career. With the addition of rookie WR Markus Wheaton, Sanders could be playing his final season with the Steelers as he's due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
UPDATE (10/21): Wheaton has missed two straight games with a broken finger opening the door for Jerricho Cotchery to have fantasy relevance. Wheaton is a solid dynasty league stash as he should be starting in 2014 if the Steelers let Emmanuel Sanders walk via free agency.
The Steelers got lucky as many viewed Wheaton as a potential late 2nd rounder, but he was still available when Pittsburgh was on the clock at #79. Many at the Senior Bowl were comparing Wheaton to Wallace as they are similar sized (5-11) speedsters. Wheaton hauled in 91 catches for 1,244 yards (13.7 YPR) and 11 touchdowns as a senior at Oregon State. With Sanders in a contract year, Wheaton is a solid dynasty league target as the downfield weapon should be a starting WR by 2014 (if not sooner).
WR Jerricho Cotchery, --- - Low Potential
UPDATE (10/21): The veteran is seeing work in three WR sets as rookie Markus Wheaton is sidelined with a broken finger. He has 19 catches for 289 yards (41 YPG) with two touchdowns. He and is not on the fantasy radar barring an injury to Antonio Brown or Emmanuel Sanders.
PROFILE: The soon to be 31 year old WR has posted two lackluster seasons with Pittsburgh since coming over from the Jets. He has just 33 catches for 442 yards and two touchdowns over the past two seasons and is just a #4 WR at best without fantasy relevance.
TE Matt Spaeth, PIT - Deep-league Only
UPDATE (8/13): Spaeth is expected to miss 8-10 weeks following Lisfranc surgery. David Paulson appears likely to be the starter for the first few games until Heath Miller is able to return. Bottom line is the Steelers WRs will likely see more targets in the first month of the season.
The University of Minnesota alum signed a 2-year contract and his expected to remain more of a blocking tight end following the loss of Leonard Pope. Spaeth has topped 10 catches just once during his six year career and should remain off the fantasy radar despite the questions surrounding Heath Miller as David Paulson is the better short term fantasy option if Miller is forced to miss the early portion of the season.