Steelers without a top 30 fantasy football player this year

Tommy Jaggi
JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Fantasy football drafts are underway, but here’s why you may want to avoid taking any Pittsburgh Steelers early in re-draft leagues.

Just a few short years ago, it wasn’t even possible to draft a team full of Steelers in fantasy football. From 2014 to 2017, Le’Veon Bell was one of the first overall picks in fantasy leagues across the nation with his consistency in churning out production due to his usage on the ground and in the passing game, while Antonio Brown would typically follow a few picks later.

In addition, Martavis Bryant was a high-upside flex play with his ability to create chunk plays and score touchdowns, and Ben Roethlisberger was at the prime of his career.

Unfortunately for Steelers fantasy football fans, this current squad is lacking in high-end fantasy upside. According to Pro Football Focus’ consensus rankings, Pittsburgh does not possess a top 30 fantasy player this year. JuJu Smith-Schuster comes in just outside of this at 31st overall this year.

Why the Steelers have no elite fantasy players

To avid fantasy players, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. There are several reasons why this is the case.

In years past, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell used to see a bulk of the total touches on offense. Brown was the most targeted receiver in the league over for a six-year span from 2013-2018. Remarkably, that didn’t dip into Bell’s production, as he was the most targeted running back in the passing game for several seasons with the Steelers while still managing over 15 carries per game in each of his five seasons with Pittsburgh.

Today’s Steelers team looks very different. While JuJu stands to see the most looks on offense, there’s no guarantee that he could garner nearly as much production as he did in 2018.

Over the past three years, Pittsburgh has invested high in the wide receiver position with players like James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Eric Ebron. Though this deep receiving corps could prove to be beneficial to the Steelers as a whole, it makes for a curious fantasy situation. With so many viable options in the passing game, there may not be a receiver on the team this year that is worth more than a WR2 in fantasy football.

The running back position is even more of a mess. While James Conner was a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners in 2018, his inability to stay on the football field has left him as an afterthought for fantasy owners. In addition, Pittsburgh has drafted a running back in each of the past three years, and they very well could use a running back by committee approach in 2020.

Even when it comes to a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, you could probably find a better fantasy option elsewhere in the draft. Though he led the league in passing just two seasons ago, his attempts could reduce drastically in an effort to keep his throwing elbow healthy this year.

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Overall, the Steelers will likely have some solid fantasy contributors in 2020, but there likely isn’t a player worth spending a top-two round selection on, unless perhaps you are in a 16-team league. You may want to pass on Pittsburgh players this year unless the value is right.