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With the start of the 2015 NFL season upon us, the unrelenting moan of the Fantasy Football Widow echoes off in the distance, businesses see productivity levels wane and wanna-be GMs everywhere pour over data for hours to come up with the perfect lineup for teams named "Somewhere Over The Dwayne Bowe", "Le'Veon A Prayer", "The Walking Dez", "1.21 J.J. Watts", "Saved By Lev Bell" and "You Sankeyed My Battleship".
I realized I was way too deep into fantasy football when my eight-year-old son told me I should join Draft Kings or FanDuel and make the family some real money and when my wife intimated that four FF teams was probably way too many when my one draft interfered with our wedding anniversary (I had the second pick!!!). It was no consolation when I shared with her the little-known fact that the singer Meatloaf is in something like 57 leagues. She wasn't impressed. I bet Meatloaf's wife doesn't give him any guff.
Okay, the anniversary story was fictional, but everything else was true. I guess Meatloaf was right, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.
Anyhow I do have one major fantasy football rule. I never let it interfere with the Steelers. I truly would rather lose a fantasy game than have one of my players score the decisive points to beat Pittsburgh. So, I try to pepper Men of Steel onto my teams. But there is a fine line between having your favorite player on your squad and his actual fantasy value.
Here is a weekly forecast of how certain Steelers project for fantasy purposes. I have chosen to use point projections from both Yahoo Fantasy Football and ESPN.com Fantasy Football.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Yahoo Projected Points: 21.38
ESPN Projected Points: 17.8
Analysis: With a career high of 4,972 yards and 32 touchdowns, Rothlisberger had a career year in 2014. He is projected to eclipse those career highs from last year in 2015. Big Ben has always put up good numbers against the Patriots, averaging 275.7 yards-per-game and has had 16 touchdowns against 5 interceptions. Expect great numbers against New England and their depleted secondary. #7's own suspect defense should keep him on the field and force him to fling the ball often. Ben Roethlisberger is a QB1 option for opening weekend.
RB Deangelo Williams
Yahoo Projected Points: 10
ESPN Projected Points: 12.61
Analysis: With the suspension of Bell, The 32-year-old Williams will carry the load for the first two games of the season. However, the Steelers are expected to pass more in this game against a weaker secondary, in lieu of trying to pound the ball against a stout rush defense. Even with the expanded role, the Panthers all-time leading rusher cannot match the elusiveness or speed of the man he replaces in the lineup. Start only as a flex option if absolutely desperate.
Flex Dri Archer
Yahoo Projected Points: 5.38
ESPN Projected Points: 5.6
Analysis: Archer's role with the team is still not well defined, however speculation is that the game-breaking speedster should see a handful of touches and maybe see some action in the passing game. We will know more about Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley's plan for Dri after the opener. However, don't expect great fantasy production out of Archer, unless you are in a league that rewards kick return yardage and touchdowns to the player.
WR Antonio Brown
Yahoo Projected Points: 25.36
ESPN Projected Points: 19.3
Analysis: Against a weak secondary that lost Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner, expect Rothlisberger to target Brown early and often. No need to get too deep into stats here. Brown should always be a WR1 option.
WR Markus Wheaton
Yahoo Projected Points: 12.78
ESPN Projected Points: 9.5
Analysis: Wheaton is an interesting fantasy case. He's only owned in 54.7% of leagues, but my gut has him being a top waiver addition next week. With Martavis in a weed timeout, Markus will be getting extensive looks with Brown bring double teamed. #11 earned rave reviews from his quarterback and coaches for his effort this preseason and he's going to definitely have a chance to shine the first quarter of the season. With the state of New England's secondary, look at Markus Wheaton a a solid WR2 or WR3 option this week.
WR Sammie Coates
Yahoo Projected Points: 1.64
ESPN Projected Points: 1.2
Analysis: Even though the third-round pick out of Auburn has displayed both signs of brilliance and needing more seasoning, Coates is currently listed as the number four option at wide receiver, behind Brown, Wheaton and Heyward-Bey. Not really an option now, but could be down the line.
WR Darius Heyward-Bey
Yahoo Projected Points: 6
ESPN Projected Points: 4.5
Analysis: A great training camp has propelled Heyward-Bey into the role of WR3 for the Pittsburgh Steelers for now. The Steelers will be looking through a lot against the New England secondary, but at this particular juncture, Heyward-Bey is nit a good fantasy option. Thursday's opener could be a harbinger of things to come, but right now hold back on Heyward-Bey.
WR Heath Miller
Yahoo Projected Points: 11.81
ESPN Projected Points: 6.5
Analysis: In deeper leagues, Miller is definitely an option to start this week against New England. The Patriots allowed double-digit points to tight ends in eight of the last 11 games of 2014. With the Steelers looking to pass a lot more with Bell out, Rothlisberger's safety-valve option of going to Miller could pay great dividends. Consider Miller a lower-end TE1 or Flex option.
K Josh Scobee
Yahoo Projected Points: 8.17
ESPN Projected Points: 8.4
Analysis: Scobee is ranked 29th out of 32 in FFL position rankings. But with an explosive offense, the former Jaguar will get plenty opportunities to kick, and his career accuracy points to his converting those opportunities. I expect Scobee to work his way into the top 12 sooner rather than later. If you don't have a better kicker, Josh would be a good option.
Yahoo Projected Points: 4.08
ESPN Projected Points: 1.3
Analysis: This game promises to be a shootout and the Steeler defense is a trainwreck, and not the funny Amy Shumer kind. A Super Bowl celebration is a hard draw for any defense, but this squad is going to surrender a plethora of points. I never thought I'd see the day when the Steeler defense was only owned by 5.8% of the league. But that day has dawned and they are the surest bet to avoid altogether.
Enjoy and have fun. And remember, no matter how poorly your FFL team fares, at least you're not Meatloaf.