It’s football season. Almost equally important: its fantasy football season. Time to take a look at the players that will have a fantasy impact in the game against Cleveland.
The high profile fantasy player of the bunch is Antonio Brown. Last year, Cleveland CB Joe Haden blanketed the receivers that opposed him, irking fantasy owner’s with big play wideouts. Haden, however, had trouble with AB. In two games against the Browns last year, the pro bowl receiver had 15 receptions, 179 yards, and 1 touchdown on 24 targets.
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Those numbers weren’t Brown’s best, but he did better than most receivers did against Haden–and we know Ben will try to get him the ball. With Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery out of town and Lance Moore inactive for the week, someone will have to get the ball.
Heath Miller and Markus Wheaton are the likely candidates after Antonio Brown. Miller was largely ineffective against the Browns in 2013, but he is far removed from his 2012 knee injury and might be a go to 3rd down and redzone target sans Cotchery.
Wheaton is an unknown. The opportunity is there–this week and beyond. The Browns will likely key on Miller and Antonio Brown, giving Wheaton a chance to make some plays. He might be a good 3rd WR or flex option, but this early he is still a gamble.
At the RB position Le’Veon Bell looks to improve on his impressive rookie campaign. Like Brown, his numbers against Cleveland in 2013 were good, but not his best. His impact will largely depend on his ability to get into the endzone, which might be hindered by the presence of his new backfield mate.
This week we will get a real look at what the plan for division of labor amongst running backs will be. Bell owners will be wary of LeGarette Blount coming in as a redzone and short yardage vulture.
It is way too early to have a comprehensive idea of what Dri Archer’s involvement will mean for fantasy. We might get a glimpse of Todd Haley’s plans for the speedster. Archer might add some value to the Steelers defense/special teams as he pairs with Antonio Brown to bolster a dynamic return game.
On the Browns’ side there are mostly questions. Will Manziel play? Who will step up with Josh Gordon suspended? How will Ben Tate do as a featured back?
The player to really watch is Jordan Cameron. The pro bowl tight end is Cleveland’s most talented pass catcher and no matter who is playing quarterback, they’d be smart to throw the ball Cameron’s way. The defense, however, might be expecting this. Look for the Steelers’ athletic inside linebackers to matchup on Jordan–they had trouble with opposing tight ends in the preseason.
This week the Browns may answer some of the questions surrounding their offense, but many of them will likely linger throughout the season.
Both teams will start answering some questions that fans and fantasy owners would like to see answered.