Wow, where to begin talking about this game…
I don’t want to get into a long-winded observational piece on this game for the sake of the game itself, all the penalties and injuries, etc. I need to stay focused on fantasy ramifications in this critical week. I will just say this – How the hell did the Steelers win this game?
It was 17-0 Cincy at one point, and 17-3 at the half…and the wind completely out of the sails of the Steelers after the Ryan Shazier carted off the field event and with Antonio Brown limping around, plus the on and off downpours of rain…I thought the Steelers were dead and buried. The fact that they came back and won this game – it’s why I think the Steelers can knock off the Patriots, finally, this time/this season. At least, I thought that until Shazier went down…and maybe out.
The Bengals would have been right in the thick of the playoff race with this win, but now they are hanging on by a thread…fortunately, the AFC Wild Card may go to an 8-8 team, but even then – the Bengals have ‘0’ quality wins to help them with tie-breakers at this point. They have at Minnesota Week 15…so, it’s likely the Bengals are going to 8-8 at a minimum…but today they still have a pulse.
The Steelers are heading the Week 15 showdown with the Patriots. I would like the Steelers in that game if Shazier is fine. I go against Pittsburgh if no Shazier. I’m assuming no Shazier for a while.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s start with Shazier and the Steelers DST because many of you have the Steelers as your solo DST or paired with like the Chargers DST. Week 14 vs. Baltimore was gonna be great…and then we lost Shazier. It’s akin to Dallas losing Sean Lee or Carolina losing Luke Kuechly…you see how bad formerly good/great Dallas and Carolina are when they lose their monster in the middle. I fear the Steelers just had that same fate hoisted upon them.
You know you won’t have Shazier for Week 14 at a minimum, so it makes the PIT DST a very nervous/hopeful start this week…the hope is the Ravens offense is so bad it will be OK.
If Tyler Matakevich (7 tackles) was healthy, filling in for Shazier, I would be happier about a Week 14 start. But it looks like Matakevich got hurt here too and may be out as well. Overall, the Steelers are startable but with a limited upside. If you have the Chargers – I start them instead. If you know you need points, I’d rather roll dice on NYJ or GB because of their opponents.
If Shazier is coming back Week 15 or Week 16…maybe you hold the Steelers for Week 16 at Houston. However, if you need the roster spot and you know you aren’t using them this week…for sure you wouldn’t use them Week 15 vs. New England – you can dump them for greener pastures.
Consider…this was a good Steelers DST, made great by schedule. Now, they go into Week 14 minus their best corner (Haden) and their best defensive player period (Shazier). The Ravens aren’t great on offense but they’re scoring…and Justin Tucker is going to put 6-12 points on the board himself. The PIT DST upside in Week 14 is very limited.
-- I own much Joe Mixon (7-34-0) stock and was aggravated to see him go out…looked like he was going to go toe-to-toe with Le’Veon Bell, or die trying. But he went out with a concussion. Then, Gio Bernard (13-77-0, 2-19-0/3) comes in and looks the best I’ve ever seen him run…which is another reason I fear the Steelers DST this week, minus Shazier – Gio was a star running up the gut on them. That’s not normal.
Gio Bernard is definitely in play as a free agent to handcuff Mixon this week…or just grab as a possible ‘look what I found’ RB1 for you for one week vs. Chicago…if Mixon ruled out.
-- One quick note on the Steelers WRs…
Antonio Brown (8-101-1/15) looked like he shouldn’t have been playing in this game…and then drops 8 catches for 101 yards and a clutch TD – that’s nails. That’s ‘best in class’ work there…not phony stuff like Julio Jones gives people.
With Brown limping and JuJu gone…Martavis Bryant (4-40-0/6) continues to do nothing in this offense. Two TDs this season and one game over 50 yards. JuJu missed games recently and Martavis was a snooze.
-- Tyler Kroft (2-30-0/2) has gone from strong TE1 to a TE2 in a matter of weeks. Catches in games the past five games: 2-1-2-3-2. He hasn’t gone over 30 yards his last 4 games. He’s scoring TDs (2 in his last 3 games) but he’s not doing much else. You can move on if something better presents itself.
-- I heard the game analysts drop a little nugget in this game on Bengals 2nd-year CB Will Jackson (3 tackles, 2 PDs)…I think it was ‘Lowest QB rating of any CB being thrown at this season’. Ummm, why isn’t he starting and playing 100% of the snaps for Cincy?
That nugget may come into play for a Stefon Diggs Week 15 or Marvin Jones Week 16.
-- I thought the Bengals DST might be an alternative for Week 14…facing the self-inflicted wound offense of the Chicago Bears, but half the Bengals starting defense is now on the injury list after this game. If the Bengals don’t have Vontaze Burfict…that hurts some like no Shazier for Pittsburgh. Burfict and 2 other LBs are hurt. Their two starting CBs are hurt. It’s a M.A.S.H. unit for Week 14 potentially.
The Bengals may be more of an upset candidate -6.0 over the Bears this week than they are a DST to work with. We’ll see how the injury report progresses.
Snap Counts of Interest…
61 = William Jackson (92%)
41 = Tyler Matakevich (64%)…7 tackles in 41 snaps