NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers roster for fantasy football. Offensively, they added tight end Eric Ebron from the Colts and defensively they tagged Bud Dupree and lost DT Javon Hargrave to the Eagles. Otherwise, the team has been quiet in free agency.
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger
Backups: Mason Rudolph, Duck Hodges
Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2 last season. His absence absolutely killed the Steelers offense while their defense somehow led them to an 8-8 season. Roethlisberger’s rehab appears to be going well and the team has no hesitation in calling him the starting quarterback for 2020. His return will give their offense a 180 turn after last season’s debacle under Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.
The Steelers defense played extremely well last season and could keep the offense from needing to go all out in 2020, limiting Roethlisberger’s passing attempts, but the offense looks like it has passing upside. Roethlisberger isn’t a sure fire fantasy starter this year, but there’s no reason he can’t get into the Top-10.
Starter: James Conner
Backups: Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Kerrith Whyte
James Conner missed six full games last season and many snaps due to injuries. If he could stay healthy, he would be set up for a good 2020 with Roethlisberger returning, but his inability to stay on the field has the Steelers looking at drafting a running back with their first pick in the second round.
Jaylen Samuels looked good in 2018 in relief of Conner, but couldn’t get anything going on the ground in 2019 with an abysmal 2.7 yards per carry. He remains a good receiver and should still be part of the offense, but will take a backseat if the Steelers draft a running back this year.
Starters: JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson
Backups: Ryan Switzer, Deon Cain
Amazingly, James Washington and Diontae Johnson weren’t awful last season despite the awful overall offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster did deal with injuries, which hurt his numbers, but in a lost season, the receiving group showed promise for when Roethlisberger returns.
Smith-Schuster remains the No. 1 receiver but he won’t be a target hog like we expected last season with Antonio Brown gone. All three of these receivers have upside with Roethlisberger back and could have fantasy value, but Smith-Schuster is still the guy to bet on in 2020.
Starter: Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald
Backups: Zach Gentry, Kevin Rader
The Steelers restructured Vance McDonald’s contract and kept him while adding Eric Ebron in free agency. That’s bad news for both of their fantasy football value. The Ebron move should help Roethlisberger’s fantasy upside, but unless one is injured, these two should split work.