We are just three days away from the Steelers vs. Bills Week 1 opener, and there are several key fantasy players in this matchup. Which ones should you start, and which ones should you leave on your bench? If you are unsure about which moves you should make, you have come to the right place.
Each week during the NFL season, I, Andrew Wilbar, and BTSC podcast personality Jeremy Betz 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, I will be breaking down the starts and sits and running back, tight end, and defense, while Jeremy 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 good starts in the Steelers vs. Bills, let us know in the comment section below. But without further adieu, here are your Steelers and Bills starts and sits for Week 1.
RB: Najee Harris
Buffalo is not the greatest matchup for a rookie in his first career NFL game, but Harris is not a player you can afford to sit. The Bills gave up 21 rushing touchdowns to running backs last year, and considering that Ben Roethlisberger has never scored more than 13.5 fantasy points in a single game versus the Bills, I expect the Steelers to rely on Harris early and often. Whether the offensive line blocks well or not, Harris is a must-start in Week 1.
D/ST: Buffalo Bills
As mentioned above, Ben Roethlisberger has not exactly enjoyed a ton of success against Buffalo throughout his career. In 2020, Buffalo’s defense racked up 15 interceptions and allowed only 23 touchdowns. Yes, the Steelers have a boatload of weapons on the perimeter, but I am not sure we see all the benefits of Matt Canada’s offense right off the bat. Zach Banner’s injury also helps Buffalo’s cause. I do not expect Buffalo to be a top three fantasy defense this week, but I feel as if they are a low-end D/ST1 against an uncertain Steelers offense.
QB: Josh Allen, BUF
Wow, the Steelers fan in me is trying to come up with any reasons why you shouldn’t lock Allen into your week 1 lineup, but the truth is, you have to! Allen is a must start every week and even though this Steelers Defense will be one of the best in the league again in ‘21, Allen makes too many plays to sit on your bench. His rushing ability provides a high weekly floor, and the big arm and escapability mean big plays are bound to happen. Although I would temper expectations a little in a tough matchup (Pittsburgh held Allen to 18 pts and a 77.5 rating in their matchup last year), don’t overthink it - start this guy in week 1.
WR: Stefon Diggs, BUF
Another every week starter in fantasy lineups is Diggs, who went off in this same matchup last year to the tune of 10 catches, 130 yds, and a TD, costing Steelers fans fistfuls of hair, and rewarding fantasy owners with 19.1 fantasy pts. This week might be same song, second verse as the Steelers’ secondary is a concern going into week 1. Diggs is locked and loaded for a good start to his fantasy season, and if you own him, don’t miss out on it.
WR: Diontae Johnson, PIT
The question Steelers fans and fantasy managers will ask all season, “Which Steelers WR will be the guy this week?” If I have to roll with one this week, I’m going with Johnson, whose ability to get open is second to none in the entire NFL, not just this Steelers roster. In fantasy, volume is King, and Diontae will soak up targets. Get this, in 2020, Johnson had a mere 61.1% catch rate on his 144 targets. If he can bump that up in 2021 to around 70% (Ju-Ju came in at 75%) and maintain a similar target share, you’re looking at a borderline top 10 fantasy WR. For this game, confidently start him as your WR2 with upside for more!
WR: Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster
I don’t know why, but this just feels like a Ju-Ju game, ya know? Roethlisberger, coming off a long offseason, should look to his security blanket early and often, especially around the goal line, just like we saw against the Giants in week 1 last year where JJSS put up a 6/69/2 receiving line en route to 18.9 PPR pts. This definitely could be one of those predictions that leaves me with a diet of feathers and toe lint next week, but I can’t help but feel that JuJu has a great game! Put him in your flex spot.
K: Tyler Bass, BUF
With Kickers, it’s highly important to look at the skill of the offense they’re apart of and the type of defensive matchup they’re facing. In this game, Bass is supported by a high-octane offense facing a stingy defense. That, my friends, is a recipe for multiple field goal attempts. The only downside is fewer extra point attempts should also be expected. That being said, I like both Kickers in this game, but I like Bass better because that Buffalo offense, for now, is better.
RB: Zach Moss and Devin Singletary
It does not matter which Buffalo running back you may have on your fantasy team, because none of them are reliable starts. The Steelers gave up the second-fewest rushing yards per game last season, and a linebacker tandem of Joe Schobert and a healthy Devin Bush should only help. It is worth noting that Tyson Alualu is dealing with an injury, but even if he is unavailable, I do not trust either Buffalo running back against this Steelers unit.
TE: Eric Ebron
Whether it be Trumaine Edmunds, Jordan Poyer, or Micah Hyde covering Ebron, the Steelers tight end will have his hands full. While I do believe there is the potential for a couple red zone targets, I do not know how much of a factor Pat Freiermuth will play into things. It would not surprise me if either Steelers tight end is able to find the end zone on Sunday, but since we do not know how big their roles will be, I recommend sitting both Ebron and Freiermuth this week.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
This isn’t a “hard pass” this week, because the Bills D does have some holes that can be exploited, however we have seen slow starts by #7 before and this is a good secondary. Also, you probably have better options at QB for week 1 than Big Ben, so unless you’re in a very deep league or playing 2 QBs, the Steelers signal caller should probably take a seat on your virtual bench.
WR: Cole Beasley, BUF
For starters, this isn’t a good matchup against the stingy Steelers. With Devin Bush back and Joe Schobert bringing his A+ coverage ability to this D, I don’t think the shifty slot guy will find himself open very much. He only scored 9.1 PPR pts in this matchup last year. Also, with Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis looking to fit into the WR2 mix in Buffalo, there’s much more competition for targets than last year.
What do you think? Who should you start and sit in the upcoming AFC showdown? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Bills this Sunday.
You can also listen to the Steelers Fantasy Football Fix podcast for this week vs. the Buffalo Bills in the player below: