Pittsburgh Steelers Late August Scouting Report
The Steelers split their second and third preseason games at Heinz Field beating the Falcons and losing to the QB Andrew Luck-less Colts. Most importantly there were no catastrophic long term injuries. A concussion suffered by NT Javon Hargrave against the Falcons was the most serious issue. Not many starters will see action in the final preseason game on Thursday in Charlotte.
QB: The preseason for QB Ben Roethlisberger consisted of two drives and a field goal. QB Josh Dobbs got extended play starting the first two preseason games, basically playing six quarters. He proved not to be ready for the backup role. QB Landry Jones returning from an oblique injury to perform adequately against the Colts. He did throw an interception on what could have been the game winning drive trying to connect from the 1 on a slant to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. An injury to Roethlisberger would definitely have a major adverse affect on the passing game.
RB: The expectation has been RB LeVeon Bell will sign his franchise tender the day after the final preseason game, September 1st. Bell has confirmed through twitter that will be the case. RB James Conner leads all Steelers backs in the preseason in rushing yardage with 124, most of the damage done in the second preseason game. He did have a couple of egregious drops in the passing game and a fumble that went out of bounds. Conner has not yet been elevated up the depth chart as the clear backup to Bell. The decision seems inevitable anyway. RB Fitzgerald Toussaint was a top the depth chart through the beginning of the preseason. He was uninspiring. RB Knile Davis was a surprise starter against the Colts, he has also been far from awe inspiring as either a runner or kick returner. The surprise of camp has been between the tackles power RB Terrell Watson. Whether he has a legitimate shot at the third back job is unclear.
WR: The preseason was of course as unimportant if not more so for WR Antonio Brown as Roethlisberger. In fact from a fantasy standpoint there really wasn't much to see on the field at the receiver position. The final, official reinstatement of WR Martavis Bryant from year long suspension is really the only thing anyone is waiting to occur. There has been no indication of a problem. WR Eli Rogers easily held off Smith-Schuster for the third receiver job. WR Justin Hunter remains in competition with WR Sammie Coates for the final roster spot. None are fantasy relevant with Bryant active.
TE: A trade on Tuesday for TE Vance McDonald from the 49ers seemingly came out of nowhere. The new 49ers regime basically gave away McDonald to get his contract off the books with the Steelers swapping a likely low fourth rounder for a probably high fifth rounder to make the deal happen. McDonald is a solid blocker with big play ability that has had problems with drops. The deal moves TE Jesse James to the more suitable role of second tight end. Hope that TE Xavier Grimble would show more consistency in camp proved unfounded. Grimble did catch a touchdown from Jones against the Colts.
K: A rare extra point miss by PK Chris Boswell against the Colts was his only miss of the preseason. He has made all 6 field goal attempts and 4 of 5 extra point attempts. Boswell has no competition in camp.
DEF/ST: The starting defense did not look good early against either the Falcons or Colts. That is somewhat understandable againt QB Matt Ryan, not so much QB Scott Tolzien. The prudent course would be taking a wait and see attitude on the Steelers defense for fantasy purposes with this caveat. The opener is in Cleveland against rookie QB DeShone Kizer, a matchup simply too good to ignore.
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