Game Review: Steelers at Panthers
Pittsburgh Steelers 37, Carolina Panthers 19
The Steelers finally have an OL stay healthy through the first three weeks of the season. The result? 454 yards of total offense and 264 yards on the ground. Let’s also keep in mind this was on the road against a great Panthers defense. On the flip side, the Panthers only ran it for 42 yards on what looked to be a questionable Steelers rush defense. However, they only ran it 10 times (not sure why since the Panthers were in this game until the middle of the 3rd) and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The Steelers have also lost CB Ike Taylor for the season, LB Jarvis Jones (1st-round 2013 pick) is out indefinitely and LB Ryan Shazier (1st-round 2014 pick) has a mild MCL sprain. We’ll see if their recent signing of James Harrison holds the unit together.
Ben Roethlisberger – The Steelers have been going more no huddle this season, and Roethlisberger looks very comfortable in doing so. He was an efficient 22-of-30 for 196 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs. Antonio Brown was his go-to guy again, but Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller stepped up again with four catches each. Ben will likely get more yards down the road since they were up so much in this game, but as long as he has those three targets, he’s a solid GPP fantasy option in the right matchup. The Buccaneers at home next week are a perfect example.
LeVeon Bell – I don’t want to overstate this, but Bell is quickly looking like a top-five RB (maybe better). He racked up 147 yards on 21 carries. Ben described Bell as a outstanding all-around RB, and that’s what he is. He lost some weight to add some speed to go with his power, agility and pass catching. LaGarrette Blount also got 118 yards on only 10 carries, but most of these came in garbage time against the second unit. Blount will complement Bell here and there, but Bell will get a vast majority of the workload on a weekly basis. After what you saw the Falcons do to the Buccaneers last Thursday, Bell has a perfect matchup in Week 4.
Antonio Brown – He runs every route in the book, is used on jet sweeps (although he wasn’t in this game) and returns punts. He has huge upside and his consistency is evolving too. Brown caught all 10 of his targets for 90 yards and 2 TDs.
Markus Wheaton – Ben still isn’t looking his way a ton, but he is getting him the ball somewhat consistently. Wheaton caught four of his five targets, although it should have been all five when a TD was overruled by another official for being out of bounds. It was a bad call though. Wheaton now has 15 catches for 170 yards. He appears to be the next WR in line for the Steelers to take late in the draft and turn into a legit threat. I’m not sure if I want to play him just yet, only because his upside is probably somewhat limited. Then again, he’ll get a TD any game now and that alone will make him meet his value. Consider him in a GPP with a great matchup if you’re making several lineups.
Heath Miller – Miller hasn’t been used as much under Todd Hailey as OC, mostly because he’s using more three-step drops with Ben and utilizing WR screens. Miller will catch anything his way and always manages a few catches though. Still, it’s tough to use him.
Shaun Suisham – Made all three FGs. He’s now 8-for-8 on the season. He doesn’t have the strongest leg, but he’ll make essentially everything under 50 yards.
Steelers D – The Steelers got a special teams TD in the 3rd quarter. Philly Brown muffed a punt, picked up the ball, but had it stripped and Pittsburgh fell on it in the end zone. They also recovered an additional fumble. The Steelers D will a very heavily used in Week 4 at home against the Buccaneers. It is a great matchup, but make sure you don’t overuse them. The injuries they suffered are significant, especially to Ike Taylor. The Steelers have struggled forcing turnovers for the last couple seasons and this doesn’t help.
Cam Newton – Outside of taking three sacks (his OL did not protect well), Newton looked fairly sharp. He was 24-of-35 for 250 yards and a TD with 0 INTs. Newton still doesn’t look 100 percent from a mobility standpoint and only ran it twice for seven yards. Although with the Steelers injuries, Newton was more interested in taking advantage of the opportunities downfield. With a matchup at the Ravens next week, it’s best to wait and see how Newton looks next week. His matchup isn’t ideal.
Jonathan Stewart – With Deangelo Williams still out, Stewart got the start. Despite against what looks like a questionable rush defense (Pro Football Focus had it 32nd through two games), Stewart only got five touches. He gained 31 yards though with one coming on a 15-yard run, although a missed holding call supported it. The Panthers OL is really struggling in both run block and pass protection. It looks like all Panthers RBs are not worth playing until they get it figured out.
Kelvin Benjamin – This is another scenario preseason where I didn’t understand the boom or bust projections from everyone. He still has some dropping issues on crossing routes or basically shorter passes that come in with some heat. With very little talent behind him, superb athleticism and can catch just about any deep ball thrown his way in one-on-one coverage, he’s more of a solid choice every week with outstanding upside. Granted Taylor going down helped his production, but Benjamin finished with 8 catches for 115 yards and a TD (this catch was one-on-one on the outside and made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch). Benjamin’s price is still in the $6,000 range on FanDuel, which is about right or slightly undervalued. I’d probably avoid him this week, but his upside will always give him a chance to go off.
Greg Olsen – If you want someone for 50/50s or heads-up matches that will give you consistency, Olsen is your guy. He now has 19 catches for 224 yards and 2 TDs. Whether it’s Newton or Derek Anderson, Olsen has consistently gotten open up the seam and in the flat. He’s leading the team in targets too. Always consider him on a weekly basis.
Graham Gano – Made both short FGs. Fairly consistent and has a decent leg. He’s worth playing in high O/Us.
Panthers D – One of the worst performances by the Panthers D in quite some time. Pretty much outplayed in every fashion. For some reason they are the most expensive defense on FanDuel after this game. If the price had dropped, I would have considered them more against Baltimore. But not for $5,600.
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