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Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks


It's August, which means you're likely going back and forth with other members of your league finalizing draft times, incessantly researching top prospects and coming up with great Fantasy Football team names.

At least that's what I'm doing.

Fortunately, I know enough about one team in the NFL so my researching isn't particularly difficult. Gauging exactly where Steelers players should go in Fantasy Football is a pretty tough task, though. Without any definitive word on the status of RB Rashard Mendenhall for the season opener, and a new offense in place, we must go on what we know.

The first candidate for evaluation is RB Isaac Redman. On the plus side, Redman is an outstanding back, even if he's little known outside of Pittsburgh. His performance in last year's AFC Wild Card loss at Denver shows he can lug the rock when given the opportunity and if Mendenhall starts the year on the PUP - which is certainly a possibility - Redman will get the workhorse share of the carries. Expect him to produce at a high level for your Fantasy team, but his value drops quite a bit in Mendenhall's return, as does Mendenhall's value with Redman's presence.

The key thing with the Steelers' running backs is receptions. in PPR leagues, the value of both Redman and Mendenhall increases due to new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. RB Jamaal Charles finished second and third, respectively, in receptions on the Chiefs - where Haley last coached. That trend likely would have continued in 2011 but Charles suffered a knee injury that ended his season.

It looks like a more run-by-committee approach in Pittsburgh, but assuming Mendenhall is on the shelf for the first six weeks (a requirement if a player is placed on the PUP to start the year), Redman could be a good mid-to-later round pick-up.

Shifting over to the receivers, WR Antonio Brown proved he can catch the ball and make plays. Brown's issue last year was he only saw the end zone twice, obviously a killshot to a Fantasy player. The Steelers offense gained yards in chunks but faltered quite a bit in the red zone. Brown doesn't possess great height - an obvious advantage in the red zone - and wasn't in on many of their goal line packages. With the big contract he signed this off-season, and the amount of targets he got over the second half of the year, Brown could easily up his total touchdown mark and add to his 1,100+ receiving yards figure from last year. He's a risky pick from a Fantasy perspective, though, and should be seen as a later round option.

WR Mike Wallace was a Fantasy god through the first seven games last year. His numbers fell off steadily after that, a combination of an injured-armed quarterback, opponents' desires to allow other receivers to beat them short if Wallace is covered deep and the role he played in the offense being largely one-dimensional.

The fact he's currently holding out, with no real indication he plans to report to the team any time soon, really damages his stock. Still, removing the contract situation, Wallace is probably a top six or seven Fantasy player at his position. As it is, Wallace can't be trusted until the later rounds. Move him into the third round if he reports by the end of training camp next week.

The tight end position in Pittsburgh becomes intriguing with Haley. He got then second-year TE Tony Moeaki 47 catches in 15 games in 2010, and he was expected to be a high-level producer in 2011 before a knee injury kept him out the whole year. While the statistics don't show an abundance of passes to tight ends, Fantasy Football obviously favors the Jimmy Graham/Rob Gronkowski mold of tight end. If you can't get a guy like that, a strong Fantasy tight end is going to get you around 60 catches, 900 yards and seven or eight touchdowns. It's not unreasonable to think TE Heath Miller could have that kind of a season. Languishing in-line blocking for the last few years under former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Miller has plenty of talent and should expect his receiving numbers to increase quite a bit in 2012.