Fantasy Football Guide: Steelers Players are Mostly an Unsurprising Afterthought

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We're less than one month away from the start of the 2011 NFL season. Fantasy drafts are scheduled for the upcoming weeks, rosters need to be trimmed, there are unfortunate injuries that have yet to rear their ugly head, etc etc. So, this list might change, but let's take a look at the Top 150 Fantasy Football Players that Steeler in Chicago, a longtime BTSC reader put together on Razz Ball. Chet Gresham has been writing good stuff on a number of properties since winning the Sporting News $10,000 fantasy challenge a few years ago. 

Let's see who he thinks are the Top 150 Fantasy Players for 2011 as of last week (numbers in parentheses represent aggregate Average Draft Position). I'll include the Top 50, with a link to the remainder of his list and some commentary at the selections at the conclusion of the post.

  1. Arian Foster (2)
  2. Adrian L. Peterson (1)
  3. Jamaal Charles (4)
  4. Chris D. Johnson (3)
  5. Ray Rice (5)
  6. Andre Johnson (7)
  7. Rashard Mendenhall (10)
  8. Darren McFadden (13)
  9. LeSean McCoy (6)
  10. Calvin Johnson (11)
  11. Matt Forte (19)
  12. Roddy White (12)
  13. Michael Vick (14)
  14. Mike Wallace (25)
  15. Hakeem Nicks (18)
  16. Frank Gore (16)
  17. Aaron Rodgers (9)
  18. Larry Fitzgerald (22)
  19. Michael Turner (15)
  20. Maurice Jones-Drew (8)
  21. Steven Jackson (17)
  22. Vincent Jackson (28)
  23. Drew Brees (23)
  24. Peyton Manning (27)
  25. Greg Jennings (20)
  26. Peyton Hillis (21)
  27. Reggie Wayne (24)
  28. DeSean Jackson (30)
  29. Dwayne Bowe (33)
  30. Jahvid Best (43)
  31. Philip Rivers (29)
  32. Miles Austin (31)
  33. Jermichael Finley (52)
  34. Tom Brady (26)
  35. Ahmad Bradshaw (32)
  36. Shonn Greene (38)
  37. LeGarrette Blount (34)
  38. Antonio Gates (35)
  39. Tony Romo (48)
  40. Steve Johnson (58)
  41. Brandon Lloyd (53)
  42. Brandon Marshall (40)
  43. Mike A. Williams (37)
  44. Dez Bryant (45)
  45. Mark Ingram (50)
  46. Santonio Holmes (54)
  47. DeAngelo Williams (39)
  48. Ryan Grant (59)
  49. Sidney Rice (66)
  50. Dallas Clark

So, in the top 50, we've got two Steelers players -- Rashard Mendenhall at No. 7 and Mike Wallace at No. 14.

Coming off a 1,273-plus yard season in which he found the endzone 13 times, Mendenhall is unsurprisingly expected to have yet another, if not even better, season in 2012. I'm personally of the belief that we'll see Mendenhall's workload reduced a little bit in 2011. He had 324 carries a year ago, not an astronomical number, but roughly one-third more carries than his previous career high mark set in 2009.

I suppose it depends on whether the Steelers would like to try to re-sign Mendenhall to a new deal after his rookie contract expires after 2012. If they're perhaps leaning towards letting him walk after the next two seasons, then no need to manage his workload cautiously. If they are, then I'd definitely expect them to keep him in the 290-310 carry range the next two seasons -- to both minimize wear and tear, and perhaps even keep his open-market value a tad lower than it might otherwise be if he was fed the ball 360 times and flirted with 1,500 yard seasons this next two years.

As for Wallace? Well, Gresham has only three wide receivers ranked ahead of him: Andre Johnson (6), Calvin Johnson (10) and Roddy White (12). Trailing Wallace are names like Hakeem Nicks (15), Larry Fitzgerald (18) and Vincent Jackson (22, Reggie Wayne (27) and Desean Jackson (28). 

Not bad company to keep. We'll see. I'm 100 percent sold on Wallace being a dangerous weapon and the main guy opposing defenses game plan for. But that's the thing: there's little question that defenses are going to spend a lot of time and energy game planning for Wallace this year. He'll still get his, but I don't think he has the size to compliment the speed in order to still be a 90-catch, 1,300-yard type receiver no matter what kind of defense he faces. It's enormously important for Hines Ward and Heath Miller to be on point this year if Wallace is going to have the monster year that so many are expecting.

See players 51-150

Couple other quick notes about the rest of the list:

  • Ben Roethlisberger's ranking seems about right, but I actually think he's going to have a bigger year than most are projecting. Partly because I see the Steelers running the ball a bit less frequently in '11, but also because I think Big Ben took major strides in his development last year. Most fans just remember the screw ups in SB XLV, but fact of the matter is Roethlisberger played great football for almost all of the 15 games he appeared in last year. The mistakes were down, his command of Bruce Arians' offense was up. Now if only we could get him to get rid of the ball more quickly, we might be in store for a great, great season. Hey, he's a married man now. Who knows how that might affect him?
  • Hines Ward checks in at No. 116. I like that he made the list, I'd just put him higher. I know, sounds homerific, but as I mentioned, I think Wallace is going to be bottled up a lot more than people might realize. That should leave Ward and Miller to have solid seasons. Put it this way, I think defensive coordinators will to a T choose to make Roethlisberger patiently beat them with the underneath stuff rather than allow Wallace to run wild, either down the field in the vertical passing game or underneath on quick hitting stuff that puts the ball in his hands and gives him the opportunity to make something happen. I really like Ward to catch 80 passes this season and surpass the 1,000 yard plateau for the seventh time in his career.
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