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Fantasy Focus: Steelers vs Browns

This week kicks off another entry of our fantasy football prediction blog.  Steelers face off against the 1-4 Cleveland

Heath Miller

Heath Miller

Browns today at 1pm at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.  The Steelers have the opportunity to win its 3rd straight game against a struggling Cleveland Browns team.  Last week, the Browns somehow pulled out a 6-3 victory against the Buffalo Bills which was one of the most painful games I had to watch in a long time.  Starting Browns quarterback, Derek Anderson went a miserable 2-17 in passing, but somehow the Browns were victorious.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a 28-20 win against the Detroit Lions.  The Steelers offense looked impressive again with Rashard Mendenhall averaging over 5 yards a carry and Ben Roethlisberger distributing the ball nicely to a wide range of his weapons including Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller and rookie, Mike Wallace.

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Not so impressive was the Steelers defense.  Again, the defense allowed an inferior team to come back in the first quarter until a streak of sacks by LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison ended the game.  From the defensivie perspective, the good news is that all-pro safety, Troy Polamalu is returning to action for the first time since the season opener against the Tennessee Titans.  The bad news is standout defensive end, Aaron Smith, who is critical to the Steelers 3-4 is out for the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff.

And now for our Predictions:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger - Big Ben is off to one of his best starts in his already very successful career from a statistical perspective.  Roethlisberger is 1st in the league in completion percentage and second in total yards only behind Peyton Manning. Roethlisberger is being considered a league Most Valuable Player (MVP) by most and I expect his numbers to only get better especially against a struggling Browns team.  Big Ben is a strong pickup this week amongst fantasy owners.

Heath Miller - Miller is on pace for his first Pro Bowl appearance and has been exceptional for the Steelers passing game so far this season.  Miller is second on the team with 29 receptions and 235 yards. He also leads the receiving corps with 3 TD's.  Expect about 60 yards receiving and another touchdown for Heath Miller this week.

Hines Ward - Ward is the Steelers leading receiver thus far this season with 33 receptions and 440 yards receiving.  With Holmes wrist injury continuing to be a nagging problem, Ward will see more balls thrown his way.  However, it's concerning to fantasy owners that Ward only has 1 touchdown so far this season.  With all things considering Ward is still a good play this week against the Browns.

Rashard Mendenhall - Mendenall has looked real impressive the past couple of weeks with Willie Parker being out due to a turf toe injury.  In two games, Mendenhall is averaging over 5 yards a carry and has 3 touchdowns.  Against the league's worst running defense Mendenhall is expected to start and will see the majority of all carries with Fast Willie being the change of pace back as he recovers from his injury.

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Rashard Mendenhall Jersey
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Cleveland Browns

Joshua Cribbs - Unfortunately for the Browns, based on their play thus far this season, Cribbs is the only guy I would consider as a fantasy owner this week.  With Braylon Edwards being traded to the Jets, Cribbs should see some increased action as a 3rd WR.  Aside from that, Cribbs is well known to be an extremely dangerous kick-off returner and has had prior success against the Steelers special teams unit.

Steelers Edge Lions

The Pittsburgh Steelers edged out another close one Sunday with a 28-20 victory against the one-win Detrot Lions.  Once again, the Steelers jumped out to an early lead only to let Daunte Culpepper resurrect the team.  Culpepper lead his team down the field with less than 2 minutes to play executing a drive which easily could have been the game tieing score.  The Steelers defense had other plans which resulted in 3 straight sacks of Culpepper and ultimately ending the game with James Harrison leading the way.

Steelers fans have reason for concern.  The Steelers have not been able to close teams out.  They need to be able to put the "nail in the coffin".  In years past, the Steelers were able to control the clock with running the football.  Well, those days seem to be long gone for this Steelers group.  Against the Lions, the Steelers had no trouble moving the football but actually scored to quickly in respect that the Lions controlled the clock the majority of the second half. 

Game Stats

Ben Roethlisberger -  23-30, 277 yds, 3 tds
Rashard Mendenhall - 15 car, 77 yds, 1 td
Hines Ward - 7 rec, 85 yds, 1 td
Heath Miller - 5 rec, 54 yds, 1 td
Mike Wallace - 2 rec, 52 tds, 1d

Fantasy Focus: Steelers vs Bengals

This week kicks off another entry of our fantasy football prediction blog.  The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.  This may be a more difficult game than what most Steelers fans are anticipating.  The Bengals have 3 straight division games starting with the Steelers so expect them to try to set the tone against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger - Big Ben will rebound just fine against the Bengals defense.  The offense struggled last week to put points up on the board but they were able to move the ball against a solid Bears defense.  I see Big Ben and company putting up 27 points against the Bengals this week.

Santonio Holmes Fantasy Football Pick of the Day

Santonio Holmes Fantasy Football Pick of the Day

Hines Ward - Historically a Cincinnati killer (just ask Keith Rivers).  Ward is closing in on his 10,000 yards receiving mark and it very well could happen this week against the Bengals.

Santonio Holmes - Holmes had one of his worst performances in recent memory last week.  3 dropped balls including a tough but catchable winning TD catch capped off a disappointing day for Holmes.  Even though the weather was less than desirable and the field was messy, Holmes dropped several catchable balls that ended up as "drive killers".  I expect Holmes to rebound and post a solid overall performance with over 100 yards and a TD.

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Parker / Mendenhall - Parker has been the most disappointing player on the team so far this season.  He's not running the ball with any authority and he's been "tip toeing" to the line of scrimmage.  Mendenhall might steal some of Parker's opportunities and rightfully so.  It's time for one of these two to step up and provide some sort of rushing attack.  The Bengals run defense has struggled so this might be a good game to get this offense going.

Heath Miller - Miller continues to be one of Roethlisberger's favorite targets.  He's consistent, has great hands, and picks up first downs.  With the offensive line struggling, Miller is a nice safety net for Big Ben.

Steelers Defense - Although the Steelers defense hasn't necessarily struggled, they do have some flaws.  For one, the Steelers outside linebackers including Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), James Harrison and emerging star LaMarr Woodley only have a combined 2 sacks on the year.  Lawrence Timmons appears to be healthy which should hopefully add to the pass rush this week.  This is a shocking statistic that no one would have guessed going into the 2009-2010 season.  With the loss of Polamalu, Tyrone Carter was exposed by Jay Cutler last week being responsible for 2 touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals

Carson Palmer - If last game was any indication, Palmer appears to be healthy.  Palmer has one of the best deep balls in the game and is typically very accurate.  If the Steelers defense doesn't get a pass rush against Palmer, it will be a long day for the Steelers and their fans.

Chad Ochocinco - Ochocinco has had just one 100-yard game and three touchdowns against the Steelers since Ike Taylor's rookie season in 2003 so don't expect much out of him today.   He talks a good game and is being outspoken against Steelers cornerbacks William Gay and Ike Taylor but until he produces on the field against the Steelers, I would steer away from picking Ochocinco.

Cedric Benson - Benson has been one of the bigger surprises this year for Cincinnati.  However, like most other running backs, expect Benson to struggle against the Steelers stellar run defense.  Don't start Benson this week on your fantasy team.

Fantasy Football Pick of the Day: Santonio Holmes (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)

Fantasy Focus: Steelers vs Bears

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger - Expect Roethlisberger to put up solid players against the Bears defense today.  I don't see the

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers being able to run against this defense (again).  Our o-line is simply outmanned and not talented enough against most defenses of the Bears caliber.  Roethlisberger will throw over 30 passes and display why he's an elite quarterback in this league.

Santonio Holmes - With Roethlisberger throwing 30+ passes, Holmes will be the primary target of many of those.  Holmes has been "lights-out" since the playoffs started last year.  Holmes will have over 100 yards and a touchdown against the bears.

Hines Ward - Ward only needs 117 receiving yards to reach 10,000 for his career.  What an accomplishment for a receiver in a run-oriented offense!  I could foresee both Ward and Holmes going for over 100 yards yet again.

Heath Miller - While Miller won't have huge stats, he's one of Roethlisberger's favorite targets.  I expect around 50 yards receiving and a touchdown this week.  It's also possible that given the Steelers offensive line struggles especially against good defenses, Miller may see more action as a "safety net" for Big Ben.

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Chicago Bears

Matt Forte - Even given the Steelers great defense, Matt Forte would be a solid pick this week because he does so many things in both the passing and rushing attacks.  Forte is a very underrated back with a good combination of speed and power.  However, don't expect Forte to get 100 rushing yards this week against arguably the best running defense in the league.  I would say that he will have 100 all-purpose yards

Jay Cutler - Cutler is "hit or miss" in this matchup.  Last week he struggled with 4 interceptions and had an overall poor performance.  If he plays like that again, the Steelers defense will make it a miserable day.  If Cutler is on target, he could pose some challenges for the Steelers secondary.  Cutler torched the Steelers defense before and he could do it again.

Devin Hester - He's a big play waiting to happen.  The Steelers secondary must respect his speed and athleticism.  If he gets behind the secondary, Cutler has the arm and accuracy to take advantage of it.  As proven, Hester's punt return ability is off the charts.  Special teams could play a big role in the outcome of this game.

Fantasy Focus: Steelers vs Titans

The Steelers and Titans kick-off the NFL season tonight at 8:30 est standard time.  For those fantasy football players, here are a few players to focus on:

Steelers Defense - Returns most starters from last laster.  The two replacements, William Gay and Lawrence Timmons are not downgrades by any means

Chris Johnson - Very fast and elusive. The Steelers defense historically has had trouble with cut-back runners (ala Fred Taylor).  Johnson is that type of player.

Ben Roethlisberger - Look for Big Ben to continue his success from the Super Bowl and put up solid numbers tonight against the Titans.

Hines Ward - Mr. Dependable will show why the Steelers decided to extend his contract and have him as a Steeler for life.

Limes Sweed - As the #3 wide receiver, Sweed is a mismatch for any team

Stefan Logan - As proven in the preaseason, Logan is an absolute speedster (ala Sproles from San Diego).  He's dangerous as both a kick and punter returner.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he runs one back for a touchdown tonight.

Hines Ward on the September 2009 Cover of WHIRL Magazine

Hines Ward is featured in an exclusive interview in the Septembeger 2009 WHIRL magazine. For details, read the below release statement:

Hines Ward

Hines Ward

Pittsburgh – The September 2009 issue of WHIRL Magazine features an exclusive interview with and photographs of the “happiest man in football,” Hines Ward.

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The Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl XL MVP invited WHIRL into his home for the interview and photo shoot. “Every day, I wake up blessed, so why be sad all the time? I’m always smiling, that’s the attitude I take,” Ward tells WHIRL. Ward’s positive attitude is what prompted President Barrack Obama to call Ward the “happiest man in football.”

Each month throughout the Steelers season, WHIRL will feature a Steelers Special Section which includes profiles of the rookie draft picks, player profiles, profiles of Steelers bars throughout the country and essays

written by Contributing Editor and Steelers kicker, Jeff Reed.


Click here to read the full article.

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Redskins top Steelers in second preseason game

The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their first preseason game 13-17 of the year last night to the Washington Redskins. The game gave us a good opportunity to see the first team for the first couple of series. However more importantly it gave the youngsters an opportunity to showcase their skills in hopes of making the 53 man roster.keyaron-fox

On a side note, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not play due to an injury to his achillies heel from starting left tackle, Max Starks (6-8, 340 pounds) stepping on it. Initial tests confirmed that the injury does not appear to be serious. I really worry about the health of Big Ben this year. He may get sacked 50+ times this year if Max Starks & Co. continue to perform at this level. This offensive line looks to be just as bad as last year if not worse. They're pass protection was subpar and they have not gotten any push in the run game.

The preseason record does not really matter. It's the analysis of the players, and the "sharpness" of the game. It was good to see of the rookies such as Ziggy Hood do well. As a team though, the Steelers looked flat. They didn't seem to have a sense of urgency outside of a few players, and they certainly weren't "sharp" (13 penalties). Below are some quick notes from what I've observed from the game:

Lawrence Timmons - Excels in "search and destroy" mode but I still don't think he's strong in the run game. Once these guards get their hands on him, he really struggles to fight through blocks. Everytime the Redskins ran to his side, they gained positive yardage, somtimes in huge chunks too. I do not think I have ever seen Timmons read a run play, fight through a block inside, and stop a running back at or behind the line of scrimmage. It's obvious to me that 3-4 ILB is not his ideal position during run plays at this point in his career. To be honest, if this becomes a consistent problem, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Keyaron Fox on 1st down.

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Limas Sweed - Similar to last game, Sweed dropped a very easy first down catch. However, he made a very nice sliding catch for 17 yards.

Mike Wallace - The "speedster" continues to impress. He has good hands and isn't afraid to go across the middle.

Rashard Mendenhall - Did not play with the first team offense at all. When given the opportunity, he did well averaging 5.2 yards a carry (5 carries for 26 yards). He looks a little hesitant out there though.

Offensive Line - In defense of the OL, they were down 2 starters if you consider Darnell Stapleton a starter. Overall, they played poorly. On the first play of the game, Max Starks almost got Charlie Batch killed. The DE ran right around Starks like he wasn't even there. I swear, a lawn chair would have done a better job blocking than Starks did on that particular play. They hardly gave Batch any time to throw and Batch being very immobile doesn't help matters. Wow, we are very lucky to have Big Ben as our quarterback especially behind this OL. The OL also got very little push in the run game.

Daniel Sepulveda - It's great to have a solid punter again. He is really going to help out our defense (not like they need much help). Sepulveda had 5 punts averagine 47.8 yards.

Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes - Both had 2 very nice catches for 1st downs. Hines' was spectacular in a leaping grab on a post pattern with LaRon Landry on the coverage.

Dennis Dixon - 8/16 for 68 yards. He also had a few nice runs. He definitely has his hot and cold streaks. At this moment, I would not feel comfortable with him as our #2 QB.

Joe Burnett - Allowed the ball to be stripped on a punt return. He may have a hard time making the 53 man roster if he doesn't progress with special teams. He needs to protect the ball better.

Ziggy Hood - Another strong performance for the first rounder with 4 tackles and 2 sacks. I see him getting immediately involved in the rotation to keep our starters fresh. On a side note, he is very quick for a big man.

Ra'Shon Harris - Another rookie with a strong performance. Seems to hold his ground well and gets a little push into the backfield. If Harris can make the 53 man roster, this would be a great injection of youth to the Steelers defensive line. Could he possibly progress to our future NT?

Troy Polamalu - In typical Troy fashion, he looks like he's in mid season form

William Gay - Looks solid both in coverage and run support. I don't think we'll miss McFadden much as a starter. I just hope one of the young guys such as Burnett or Wallace step up to provide added depth to our secondary.

Keyaron Fox - Overall, solid ILB. Last night, he was particularly strong in run defense and led the team with 5 tackles. Very good to have a quality backup at ILB.

Other Backup LB's - Arnold Harrison and Donovan Woods looked solid. Some of our backups could probably start on other teams which is a good problem to have. I'm also seeing Bruce Davis progress as well.

Stefan Logan - Did very well in both kick and punt returns. Averaged 40 yards a kick return (60 yarder in the 3rd quarter).

Steelers Draft Analysis

For those of you trying to put together a Steelers draft- here's a couple of things to ponder:

Since being hired in 2000, Kevin Colbert has had 1 OL player drafted in Round 1 (Kendall Simmons 2002). 1 2nd

Kevin Colbert

Kevin Colbert

round pick was used on OL (Marvel Smith (2000). 2 3rd round picks have been spent on OT's (Starks & Essex), 3 4th rounder's were spent on OL (Hills, Colon, Nkwenti) & 7 picks spent on OL players beyond the 5th round (Only Kemoeatu & Okobi of any real note). What does it mean? Probably nothing. But it seems that Colbert run organisations place OL value in the middle rounds instead of the high rounds.

You think that this trend only began once he joined the Steelers? He was at the Lions before that- Jeff Hartings being the only 1st round OL & Aaron Gibson the only 2nd round OL to be picked on his watch.

Since 2000, 10 'skill' players (RB's, WR's, DB's & QB's) have been selected in the first 2 rounds. In only 2 years since 2000 have the Steelers NOT spent a top 2 round pick on a 'skill' position.

Since 2000, 11 LB's have been selected by the Steelers. Only in 1 year was no LB selected (2006).

Since 2000 only 3 players have been selected on Day 1 (first 3 rounds) that did not play for a good sized foot ball program- Trai Essex (Northwestern), Ben (Miami OH), Ricardo Colclough (Tusculum).  Conversely- 5 FLORIDA STATE players have been selected in the top 3 rounds in that time frame (The highest of all schools for the Steelers). FLORIDA STATE & GEORGIA are the two schools to have the most players selected by the Steelers since 2000 with 5 a piece. TEXAS is 3rd with 3. (This DOES NOT INCLUDE UDFA).

Since 2000 only 2 DL's have been selected in the first 3 rounds- Casey Hampton in 2001 & Kendrick Clancy in 2000. 9 DL's have been selected in Colbert's reign. The latest 2- Ryan McBean in 2007 & Orien Harris in 2006 were both 4th round selections. (To balance this- the DL has been set for the Steelers for some time).

THE BREAKDOWN
Since 2000

QB- 5 selected- 1 1st round pick & 4 5th round picks.

RB- 5 selected- 1 1st round pick, 1 5th round pick & 3 7th round picks.

WR- 9 selected- 2 1st round picks, 2 2nd round picks, 1 3rd round pick, 2 4th round picks, 1 6th round pick & 1 7th round pick.

TE- 5 selected- 1 1st round pick, 1 3rd round pick, 1 5th round pick & 2 6th round picks.

OT- 7 selected- 1 2nd round pick, 2 3rd round picks, 3 4th round picks, 1 6th round pick.

OG- 3 selected- 1 1st round pick, 1 5th round pick, 1 6th round pick.

C- 3 selected- 1 5th round pick & 2 6th round picks.

DT- 3 selected- 1 1st round pick, 1 3rd round pick, 1 7th round pick (Please note- Casey Hampton, selected in 2001, has started for 8 years with Chris Hoke his back-up most of that time- no real 'need' for this position).

DE- 6 selected- 2 4th round picks, 2 6th round picks, 2 7th round picks.

OLB- 7 selected- 1 1st round pick, 2 2nd round picks, 1 3rd round pick, 2 5th round picks & 1 6th round pick.

ILB- 4 selected- 1 2nd round pick, 1 4th round pick, 1 5th round pick, 1 6th round pick.

CB- 6 selected- 2 2nd round picks, 1 3rd round pick, 1 4th round pick, 1 5th round pick, 1 7th round pick.

S- 4 selected- 1 1st round pick, 2 3rd round picks & 1 6th round pick.

ST- 1 selected- 1 4th round pick

By Round-
1st round- 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR's, 1 TE, 1 OG, 1 DT, 1 OLB, 1 S (6 'skill', 3 'non-skill')

2nd Round- 2 WR's, 1 OT, 2 OLB's, 1 ILB, 2 CB's (4 'skill', 4 'non-skill')

3rd Round- 1 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT's, 1 DT, 1 OLB, 1 CB, 2 S's (5 'skill', 4 'non-skill')

4th Round- 2 WR's, 3 OT's, 2 DE's, 1 ILB, 1 CB, 1 P (3 'skill', 7 'non-skill')

5th Round- 4 QB's, 1 RB, 1 TE, 1 OG, 1 C, 2 OLB's, 1 ILB, 1 CB (7 'skill', 5 'non-skill')

6th Round- 1 WR, 2 TE, 1 OT, 1 OG, 2 C's, 2 DE's, 1 OLB, 1 ILB, 1 CB (4 'skill', 8 'non-skill')

7th Round- 3 RB's, 1 WR, 1 DT, 2 DE's (4 'skill', 3 'non-skill')

You will notice a heavier weighting on 'skilled' players in the first 3 rounds, while there is a heavier weighting on the 'non-skill' players in the middle rounds.

Round 5 is weird- 4 QB's?? It would seem that Colbert uses Round 5 to grab the 'BPA' more often than not, while leaning towards playmakers early & 'grunts' in the middle.

This might all mean nothing. After all, the Steelers have been set in many positions that appear to be 'negleted' for a number of years (Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, James Farrior, Alan Faneca, Kendall Simmons, Jeff Hartings, etc)

But then again, if it's used as a guide to Colbert's 'draft weighting', we might find our guessing to be a little less 'random'...

Post provided by Chadman at the Planet Steelers Forum

Max Starks Interview (Radio)

STEEL CURTAIN RADIO #4: MAX STARKS INTERVIEWMax Starks

Check out the 1 on 1 Interview with Max Starks

Click Link to Listen

Show Topics:

1.  Max Starks talks About Free Agency and his Long Term Plans
2.  Max talks about what makes Big Ben so Special?
3.  Max gives his thought son Albert Haynesworthss Deal
4.  Max speaks on the media’s focus on contracts?
5.  Max gives his thoughts on Demarcus Ware
6.  Max gives his thoughts on the differences between Tomlin and Cowher

Interview Provided by: whatchatalkinbout.com

Nate Washington Signs with Tennessee Titans (DETAILS)

Nate Washington Signs with Tennessee Titans

Former Steelers wide receiver, Nate Washington has signed with the Tennessee Titans for a 6 years, 27 million dollar payday.  9 million of that money is guaranteed.Nate Washington Catch Versus Rams

Nate Washington has seen incredible growth over the past several years and was a solid contributor the past two years.  He especially came up with a few first down plays on the road to the Steelers 6th Super Bowl victory.

Washington was an undrafted free agent from the tiny division 3 school, Tiffin in 2005.  Washington showed flashes of his speed and deep threat ability when given the opportunity.  He possesses great straight-line speed that opposing secondaries must respect.   In fact, Jeff Fisher said exactly that when asked about the signing of Washington.  He notes that he worried about Washington's speed when facing the Steelers and now other teams will now other opponents will have to worry.

This was an expected move by the Steelers front office especially with 2nd year pro from Texas, Limas Sweed pushing for playing time next year.  Sweed will be the Steelers #3 wide receiver next year behind both Hines Ward and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes.  Dallas Baker will likely be the #4 wide out.  Sweed, like Washigton, also posses' great speed combined with a bigger frame at 6-4 and 200+ pounds.  While Sweed needs to improve on his concentration and game awareness, he has the potential to be a game changing wide out and a solid deep threat for opposing defenses with an ability to make the big play.

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