Hey Steeler Nation, Jeremy here. Just wanted to put to words what we are all feeling: we made it! The Bye Week is over and that means we get uninterrupted Steelers football every week now for at least the next 11 weeks, plus (hopefully) postseason play! Win or lose, don’t take it for granted. Enjoy every game because the NFL season is so short and before we know it, we’ll be stuck with only YouTube highlights just to get any semblance of Steelers football.
As far as Fantasy Football goes, the weekly drama of choosing your best roster is still as pulse-pounding as ever. I am commissioning or participating in 8 Leagues in 2021, and it has stretched me to the limit as a manager. But I love it. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to actually managing a football roster of any kind, and I’ll take every opportunity I can.
Each week during the NFL season, BTSC contributor Andrew Wilbar, and I will co-author a Steelers ‘start and sit’ article. It will include only players from the Steelers and from the team the Steelers are facing that week. This week, Jeremy will be breaking down the starts and sits and running back, tight end, and defense, while Andrew will cover the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and kickers. We will alternate who covers those positions every week.
If you have thoughts on which players are worth starting in the Steelers vs. Browns matchup, let us know who they are in the comment section below. But without further adieu, here are your Steelers and Browns starts and sits for Week 8.
RB: Najee Harris, PIT
Andrew: Until you are told otherwise, consider Najee a weekly start at this point, no matter the matchup. No need for an explanation here.
RB: D'Ernest Johnson, CLE
Andrew: If Nick Chubb plays on Sunday, he is an obvious start, but whether he does or not, Johnson could be a nice FLEX play. The Steelers run defense has not looked as strong as it was anticipated to be this year, and Cleveland's offensive line continues to dominate each week. If Chubb sits out, Johnson will get the bulk of the carries, but even if Chubb plays while not being 100 percent, Johnson could see an uptick in usage compared to his usual numbers when Chubb and Kareem Hunt are fully healthy. Unless you are loaded at running back, you will probably want to put Johnson in your FLEX this week.
WR: Diontae Johnson, PIT
Jeremy: Are you used to it yet? It’s been a couple years now since the Steelers have had a true every week fantasy starter at WR. Since the highly dramatic departure of one Antonio Brown, it’s been a shot in the dark as to whose going to step up as a fantasy asset on a week-to-week basis. Well, no more! Diontae Johnson is WR25 in PPR Leagues, but don’t let that average ranking fool you. Take out the bye week and a missed game due to injury, and Johnson is a top 10 WR, ranking exactly 10th in average PPR points per week. That’s bankable weekly production folks, and that’s why he should be in your lineups even against a tough Cleveland D.
WR: Chase Claypool, PIT
Flex alert. Flex alert. Yes, it’s hard to count on a Claypool so far in 2021, but with no Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, Claypool is by far the Steelers 2nd best option at WR and he is a playmaker, albeit an inconsistent one. He should probably be a weekly WR2 based on the usage (avg. 8.4 targets per game played) but he hasn’t quite put it together enough to be put up in that category. Talent usually finds a way, though, and that’s why I think you have to give him a chance to fill that flex role unless you have 3 RBs or WRs that are better options. I’m guessing that isn’t the case for the majority. Flex Mapletron this week.
Andrew: Whether it is Case Keenum or an injured Baker Mayfield, the Steelers should have the opportunity to force an interception or two. I realize that the Browns offensive line is one of the best in the league, but when T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cameron Heyward, and Devin Bush are all on the field together and relatively healthy, nobody is going to slow all of them down for the entirety of a game. A lot is on the line in this game, and the defense knows they need to create more splash plays, especially in the secondary.
WR: All Cleveland WRs
I was gonna try to break this down, but decided that I feel the same this week about all Browns WRs. Nobody is healthy, each one has question marks, and the QB “sitch” is about as reliable as Andrew Wilbar’s fantasy advice. Case Keenum has a real shot to start again, and whether it’s him or Baker, the Browns are going to try to win this game on the ground. They can’t afford to have TJ Watt and Co. setting off every down after an injured Mayfield or backup Keenum. Whether its OBJ, Jarvis Landry, or ‘21 breakout Donovan Peoples-Jones, you’re better off finding another solution at WR for Week 8.
Andrew: There are many talented tight ends playing in this game, but none of them have provided consistent production in fantasy. Until there is an injury or a major contrast in usage among the tight ends on both teams' rosters, do not bother with any of them.
If you haven’t listened already, make sure you check out Jeremy’s weekly podcast, The Steelers Fantasy Football Fix, which is available each and every Wednesday. You can listen to his latest episode in the player below.
What are your thoughts on the Steelers/Browns matchup? Which players do you think are worth starting in fantasy football? Be sure to light up the comment section with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!