*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
Here’s how bad Cleveland is, again, potentially, it looks like (and yet they’re being hailed conquering heroes for their tie) – for the first 53 minutes of game play, there was not a lot of rain, it was a normal-ish game condition (just wet) and the Steelers took a 21-7 lead despite Big Ben having 3 picks in the first half of the contest.
For 53 minutes, the Browns could hardly move the ball or complete a pass it felt like. Tyrod Taylor was sacked (7 times) in most critical spots. The Browns O-Line is weak. Their defense was good but not ‘wow’; the Steelers moved the ball fine with a backup RB.
In the final 7 minutes + OT, the rains started up. The Steelers fumbled in their red zone. The Browns got a quick TD. The Steelers couldn’t sustain a drive after that and the Browns came back with a quick score to tie the game in the span of a few minutes. 53 minutes of domination wiped out in 3-4 minutes.
The Browns got the ball back again near the end of regulation, with a prime chance to win, and Tyrod got picked off. With a chance to win with an FG with 0:27 left in OT…the Steelers blocked the FG.
If you wanted to see a team under a curse trying to win a football game – this was the living definition. Lost in all this – the Steelers pretty well dominated/the Browns are bad. It took a fluky last few minutes in the rain to wipe that reality away.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The fantasy story of the game was James Conner (31-135-2, 5-57-0/6), obviously. He was fine, but I didn’t see any ‘wow’ events or anything. Conner is a very solid RB, not a future star, per se, unless he gets 36 touches a game, like he did here.
Part of this is being the main RB on a good offense. Part of this was the OT/heavy touch counts (unsustainable). Part of this is the Browns are a weak opponent. Part of it may have been the rain/wet conditions.
Conner feels like an A+ talent today, but he’s a ‘B’ (at best)…in a good situation.
Jordan Howard is the far superior RB talent. I mention that because you can get JoHo for Conner quite easily in some leagues…people, by and large, hate/dismiss Howard (and everything Bears). Howard is available at a bargain this week – take advantage, Conner in house or not. Howard is going to push to lead the league in rushing, again. Conner won’t.
Jaylen Samuels, where was he? No clue. They have to get him involved. They can’t keep pushing Conner all these touches. It may have been the weather conditions, I don’t know. We’ll see Samuels (or someone) soon to help. Then we’ll see if Samuels can make some hay here.
No Samuels in Week 2 and then I assume the Steelers are enslaved to Conner…the ‘power runner’, ‘smash mouth football’ that NFL coaches live their alter egos out with.
-- Josh Gordon (1-17-1/3) returns, didn’t start, but played the 2nd most snaps of any Browns’ WR…69 snaps in all, a full game essentially. He saw all of 3 targets.
He caught a TD pass…only when Joe Haden was hurt, and the Browns attacked the new CB with an alley-oop in the red zone to Gordon. Other than that moment, you may not have realized Gordon was even playing.
-- Carlos Hyde (22-62-1) is the lead dog at RB, but man was there nowhere to run. The Steelers have a good+ defense and the Browns are dysfunctional on offense.
Nick Chubb (3-21-0/1) got into the game at one point, and his first run was for -1 yard. Fitting. Chubb later had a seam and ran straight for a nice gain. Other than that, hesitant, dancing Chubb was here again. I want nothing to do with Nick Chubb for the current or future.
-- T.J. Watt (10 tackles 3.0 sacks 4.5 TFLs) was on fire in this game. Part of it that Watt is the most talented ‘Watt’ in the NFL now, and some of it – the Browns are going to allow this type of activity because they are not good.
-- IDP Jon Bostic (9 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 2.5 TFLs) had a game in his debut as starter. Solid, not special…lots of tackles available in a run heavy game that went to OT.
-- Myles Garrett (6 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 TFLs) was a menace at various times. He’s going to get 14-16+ sacks this year…he’s just too good not to.
-- After the Steelers face MYreek in Week 2, they then get – Fitzpatrick, Flacco, Ryan, Dalton, BYE, Tyrod?, Flacco, Cam, Bortles, Keenum. All favorable matchups or in the so-so ones, not super-duper high-end QBs/offenses.
The Steelers have a strong ‘B’ to ‘B+’ defense with the best schedule of any DST until Week 13 (Week 13 on: Rivers, Brady, Carr, Brees). They are arguably the single best DST to own (Patriots want to be in that discussion too) in fantasy for the next 12 weeks, less Week 2. Worth sitting on this week as a 2nd-DST and then dropping your Week 2 rental and going PITT the rest of the way (BYE Week 7).
Snap Counts of Interest:
78 = Njoku
38 = Fells
06 = DeValve
47 = Hyde
41 = Duke Johnson
81 = Landry
69 = Gordon
54 = Higgins
15 = Callaway
11 = James Washington
07 = Ryan Switzer
04 = Chubb
89 = Sean Davis (100%)
74 = Terr. Edmunds
59 = Bostic
40 = Burnett
84 = Myles Garrett (100%)
79 = Ogunjobi
62 = Kindred
51 = Jamie Collins
35 = Peppers