It was a tight football game for most of the 3 quarters on Monday night as the Steelers traveled into Bengal country for their annual meeting. The game was tied at half-time and there were signs that the Steel Curtain was back, but the offense struggled to find their way and couldn’t keep the defense off the field. The Bengals took the lead in the 3rd and put it away in the forth for deciding win, but what stood out was the lack of fantasy value from the black and gold.
Yes, as a Steeler fan it was hard to watch, but as a fantasy football fan it was even harder to watch the lack of identity and consistency within their first unit. Outside of Antonio Brown, who is clearly their most reliable target and can make plays, the team lacks any other serious threats. Not having more veterans on the field like Heath Miller is certainly hurting the team.
Brown led the team with 6 catches on 9 targets for 57 yards, but had a big catch brought back from a bad penalty call. The other two receivers were 8 for 19 with Cotchery being especially poor with only 3 grabs on 9 targets. Sanders had the most yards, but he caught only 5 out of the 10 targets his way. Paulson wasn’t bad with 3 catches on 4 targets, but his fumble cost the Steelers a chance the score.
The carousel at running back was especially painful as Felix Jones opened the game and looked like he was going to be their guy, but didn’t appear to do much and they turned to both Redman and Dwyer to try to get the ball going. For now, it doesn’t look like it’s good to own any of these Steelers, but with Le’veon Bell hopefully coming back in the next week or two it will not matter as he should assert himself as the number one back.
On the ground Jones saw the most carries with 10, but he only managed 37 yards on those carries. Redman got 3 carries, but only squeaked out 4 yards and Dwyer saw 1 carry. It didn’t look pretty for the black and gold and none of these guys would be worth a fantasy play at this point. Until there is consistent output from this position, it’s not worth using a bench spot for any of these guys. Check the status on Bell later this week to see if he is ready to go.
On the other side of the ball it was text book. Green was kind of bottled up, but managed 6 catches for 41 yards. Jermaine Gresham also got 6 catches and led the team in yards. However, the breakout performance of the night came from Giovanni Bernard. This guy looks like he is going to make some plays in the NFL. He can catch out of the backfield and beat them on the ground. Although right now Green-Ellis is still the number 1 back, Bernard is certainly someone to own for fantasy. BenJarvus got the bulk work with 22 carries and worked 75 hard yards from it, but it was Bernard who saw the goal-line work and score on the ground. He capped it off by taking one to the house for a 27 yard touchdown reception. Both guys at this point look like they will be productive, but by the end of the year it looks like Bernard will be the clear back to own.
Between the QBs, both looked pretty good, but Dalton had the better fantasy night with 280 yards passing with 1 touchdown and no sacks or picks. Big Ben on the other hand threw for 251 yards and 1 touchdown but had 2 sacks and 1 pick. The Bengals are now 1-1 and will be tied for the top of the division with the Ravens while the Steelers will be tied for last with the Browns. It’s the the start the Steelers were hoping for, but they are still finding their way.