Steelers vs Falcons: Fantasy Outlook
Once again, I bring you the fantasy impact of this week’s matchup. The Steelers are headed to Atlanta to battle the Falcons, who sit atop the NFC South.
Last week showcased the best fantasy output of the season by a Steeler not named Ben Roethlisberger. Le’Veon Bell made AFC North teams groan as he dominated the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals.
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Behind should-be-pro-bowler David Decastro and veteran tight end Heath Miller, Bell was at times a flash–through a hole untouched–and at times a ram–battering through defenders. He also made one rather athletic linebacker look silly in pass coverage.
While I firmly believe that Ben has several good years left, he surely wishes that he were five years younger to enjoy more of the careers of Bell, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant.
Anyway, onto this week’s matchup! It is hard to believe that the Falcons are leading their division. The NFC South has been all around dreadful this season, and looks like it could put a team with a losing record in the playoffs. Note that the Steelers have lost two of three to the NFC South this year.
The biggest fantasy impact this week could come from a player that might not be playing. Julio Jones is typically the best athlete on the field when he plays. Obviously, that status is predicated on playing. The star wideout is coming off of a stellar performance, but sustained a hip injury.
Jones’ raw athleticism, size, and speed is similar to that of Bengal wideout A.J. Green. Jones, however, has a bit more size. Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, and Ike Taylor should be relieved if Jones doesn’t play, as Green made them look foolish last week. Only Pittsburgh’s offensive onslaught secured the team a victory.
Keep an eye on Jones’ status; if he is healthy, he could be in for a monster day. That also puts Matt Ryan in good fantasy position. Otherwise, the Falcons do not have any offensive players that should scare the Steelers. Roddy White could pick up some of the production if Jones is out.
For the Steelers, just look at the statline for backup running back Josh Harris: four carries, nine yards in two games played. Bell is going to get the ball early and often, especially on the road. The Falcons have been generous against the run and Bell and the Steelers should exploit that.
Hopefully, Todd Haley can use the Falcons’ film study against them to create some screen opportunities for the tight ends and some play action down the field to Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown. Haley called one of his best games against the Bengals, and the Steelers blockers showed some of their best execution.
For some owners, this will be the start of fantasy playoffs. If Julio Jones does not play many fantasy owners will be upset, and some joyful. Bell is coming on strong at the perfect time of year and has a good matchup this week.
The Steelers have been inconsistent on the road this year, but are coming off of a big road win. They need to capture that momentum to secure a playoff berth. Here we go, Steelers!