The Pittsburgh Steelers went 13-3 in the 2017 season and lost at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Divisional Round shootout. Featuring a top-10 offense in points scored and a top-10 defense in points allowed, the Steelers fell short of expectations in 2017 considering the season they put together before the playoffs.
From a fantasy perspective, owning players from the black and gold was extremely lucrative in 2017. Observe the positional fantasy finishes of the primary offensive weapons:
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley was fired in favor of Randy Fichtner, who was promoted from his post as the quarterbacks coach. Haley had run the offense since 2012. Although Fichtner was an internal promotion, it’s possible we could see some changes to scheme and tendencies in 2018.
Three additions* we want to see for fantasy
(*All in all, the Steelers have pretty much all the pieces they need from a fantasy perspective. They aren’t going to venture afield much, and instead will look to boost their internal options.)
Re-sign Le’Veon Bell: As of this release, Bell has not yet been franchise-tagged by the team. He is undeniably one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league and has been locked in to a bell-cow fantasy role for several years. While he would likely find success wherever he plays due to his talent, from a fantasy perspective, there’s not a clear argument for wanting to break up this band. If he’s back in Pittsburgh in 2018, he will be one of the best bets for overall fantasy RB1 status in PPR leagues.
A commitment to a WR2: Both Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant have high-end WR2 upside in this offense if the target volume is there. However, the two cannibalized each other in 2017, seeing 77 and 80 targets, respectively. It may be good real game strategy to keep opponents guessing, but from a fantasy perspective, funneling additional targets to one of these players would be preferable. If one of the pair was penciled in for 100 targets, that receiver would likely jump to the top four rounds of fantasy drafts this season. It’s possible that Smith-Schuster’s breakout rookie season will earn him additional work.
Vance McDonald’s role to grow: McDonald was traded to the Steelers prior to the 2017 season. He was injured at the beginning of the season and struggled to find playing time, but when healthy he provided a downfield spark for the offense that was lacking from counterpart Jesse James. McDonald average nearly five yards more per reception than James, but only saw 24 targets on the season due to his inconsistent availability. With a full offseason to get on the same page with Roethlisberger, McDonald may be able to achieve upside TE2 status for fantasy in 2018.