Every year around mid-July as the countdown to NFL training camps gets ever-so close to zero, fantasy football leagues begin to plan out the dates and strategies for the pending draft season of August and early September.
For fans of our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers part of that strategizing is often figuring out a way to make sure you have at least one major playmaker from the Steelers on your roster. Though fantasy football victories can never trump the triumphs of Pittsburgh on the real gridiron, as our own Anthony Defeo accurately wrote about last week, it's always awesome when the two victories coincide with each other in the same week.
Fantasy football trash talk is always better when you're in a league with friends who aren't Steelers fans and you can stick it to them with your roster and a major performance by a Steeler. If you had Le'Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown as a pick last season you might have gotten to experience that more than once with each of them being league leaders. To do this it's important to check the average draft positions of the player(s) you want to draft and see where you could take risks in not picking them to add to your arsenal, or make an early stab at the player you want to lock them into your roster.
However if you're in a league with several other Steelers fans, the strategy to acquire your favorite Pittsburgh players has to be different because you are most likely not the only person who will target your favorite players. Last season I was able to wait on Antonio Brown until the third round in a league with a strong concentration of Philadelphia Eagles fans because no one saw Brown as a top five receiver in the NFL. That couldn't work in a league where everyone else also might think that Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the NFL or Le'Veon Bell might have a bigger year than any other player in the league.
That being said, if you really want to get those targets it takes certain prioritizing with when to take them. Below is a top 100 board with a priority in Steelers players and where you might expect them to be selected. Four Steelers made the list:
|21||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||204|
Le'Veon Bell is a player who has been seen as a potential #1 overall pick for fantasy owners, as Bryan DeArdo brought up last month, and it isn't unreasonable to see this as a worthy choice.
When you draft players you don't neccesarily draft them just for their total points, but also for how they will produce in the last five weeks of the season for playoff points. You can pick the best statistical team all season and never lose but if in week 14 your four key money-makers get shut down you could easily be upset by a team with lesser players who got hot at the right time because they faced opposing defenses that gave up more points in fantasy.
Bell's opponents aren't the easiest in the world, but based on how his final five opponents performed against the run in 2014, he could be poised to be the best option to start in the most important games of your fantasy season. We will get more into that when we focus more on the top players of each position.
Brown is the best fantasy option at receiver, don't let any hype article on Calvin Johnson being fully healthy or Dez Bryant's touchdowns he'll have in the redzone with the Cowboys losing DeMarco Murray. If you can't get Bell and all the top running backs are off the board get Brown.
Roethlisberger is listed higher than he normally would because of the Steelers' fan expectations of him this season and the arsenal of weapons he has at his command. Though most leagues will not see him go before Peyton Manning, I put his value ahead of the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback.
Martavis Bryant will round out this group that slides into the top 100, but Bryant also gets a nod for just making my top 50. I've already written how I think he's the ultimate sleeper of 2015, but this time around if you want him he will not be a player that will be a free agency pickup. Especially if you're playing with other Steelers friends, make sure he's on your radar as you enter the middle rounds.
As the next two weeks roll into training camp, be on the lookout as other BTSC writers join me in the pre-fantasy-football draft talk of mid-July.