As a big believer in “give credit where credit is due”, it’s just so wonderfully refreshing to see a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who knows their place in the giant sports bar of life:
*Nas voice* IMAGINE THAT.
And speaking of knowing your role, if there was ever a time for you to drop the “Know your role, and shut your mouth!” , it’s now - you’re either one of four teams still in the Super Bowl hunt, or you’re purely playing for draft position or to avoid the shame of the Sack-O. And as luck would have it, right as every other team in the league is getting rocked by varying degrees of injuries, you can count the number of fantasy-relevant Patriots on the injury report on one hand.
And that’s using the word “relevant” EXTREMELY loosely, given some of the guys we talk about in this space every week.
What is undeniably relevant isn’t just that the Patriots have owned the Steelers in recent history - like, recent enough that at least some of the non-quarterback players are the same - it’s that the Patriots have consistently hung points after glorious points on the board when they play the Steelers. How many points are enough when you play Pittsburgh? MORE, that’s how many. Check out the last 5 meetings:
Note: this is counting playoffs, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting the last time New England and Pittsburgh met in the postseason because you were probably pouring victory shots at halftime.
It doesn’t matter how many nice things Bill Belichick has to say about the Steelers defense when Bill and Brady have been the final boss that has the Steelers rage-smashing their controller against the wall for most of the decade.
Stevan Ridley is out for revenge against...the team that chose not to resign a 26-year-old coming off a brutal knee injury while he never could replicate that monster 2012 season, though, so, yeah, there’s always that.
Anyway, as we do, let’s start with the running backs.
(FYI, for positional rankings, I’m going off Fantasy Pros, which aggregates a whole bunch of expert rankings. You probably knew that already, and if you didn’t, congrats, Pats Pulpit just made you smarter. You’re welcome.)
James White, RB
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 24th in running backs
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 18th in running backs
Once is a chance, twice is a coincidence, and the third time...better not be this weekend if you’ve gotten this far with James White. By that, I’m referring to White’s *worst* game from weeks 1-9 being 8.4 points in standard scoring, and here’s his scores since:
Week 10 vs the Titans: 2.6
Week 12 vs the Jets: 7.8
Week 13 vs the Vikings: 11.8
Week 14 vs the Dolphins: 2.8
Also worth noting: Sweet Feet’s snap counts have been consistently in the mid-30s for the past few weeks, compared to some in the 40s, 50s, and even 60s earlier this season.
He’s also the 10th-highest scoring back in all of fantasy. Just thought you all could use a reminder.
Sony Michel, RB
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 19th in running backs
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 21st in running backs
If it wasn’t for Belichick and McDaniel’s determination to keep feeding Sony, this’d be a bit concerning: last week against the Dolphins, who we noted are one of the worst run defenses in the entire *Rodney Harrison voice* NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, Michel only squeaked out 2.9 yards per carry on 34 carries. And the Steelers, for as much as we busted their balls earlier, have the 6th-best run defense in yards allowed, but somehow loosen up in the red zone, where they’ve allowed 10 rushing scores, which is basically league average.
On the other hand, watch out for noted touchdown vulture James Develin.
Rex Burkhead, RB
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 50th in running backs
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 52nd in running backs
0.5 points against the Dolphins last week. 4 points the week before that. Unless Rex breaks a big gain in 17 snaps a game, which is what he’s logged in both of his last two games, this one’s a surefire recipe for playing yourself.
Unless, of course, Bill pulls a classic Belichick move and gives Rex the rock 40 times this week as part of a Pittsburgh-specific game plan.
James Develin, FB
FUN FACT: James Develin has scored more fantasy points in the last 2 weeks (28.9) than Rex Burkhead has all year (16.3).
Julian Edelman, WR
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 15th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 12th in wide receivers
Some guys I used to play country music with and I had a saying: “There’s always someone who sucks more than you”.
In that spirit, at least you’re not this guy:
Man even the white girls that walk into my Sunday bar wasted after brunch know that isn’t right https://t.co/fGoTL0B5J2— Matt/Goose (@SomeCallMeGoose) December 14, 2018
Edelman’s targets this year: 56
Gordon’s targets this year: 39
That’s with Edelman being suspended 4 games, and Gordon sitting out two games before he got traded to New England, but still. Jules went right back to his double-digit-scoring self last week, logging a cool 14.6 points on 9 catches and a score. Not bad for Brady’s third option, right?!
Josh Gordon, WR
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 17th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 21st in wide receivers
Courtesy of ESPN Fantasy saving your boy 2.5 minutes of goofing off on Pro Football Reference, Josh Gordon now has either 70+ receiving yards or a touchdown in all of his last 5 games, and as of right now, he’s also the NFL leader in yards per reception. Apparently we CAN have nice things!
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Gordon might be squaring off against a cornerback named Artie.
Or anyone else that’s part of a Steelers secondary that’s ranked 25th in passing touchdowns allowed this season. Does it even matter who Josh lines up across from? Does it ever?
Chris Hogan, WR
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 80th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 84th in wide receivers
Someone will probably mention that last time Chris Hogan played the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, he barbecued the Steelers for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
This, while true and cool, means a cameo in Do Your Job 2, and nothing else. Hogan hasn’t seen more than 2 targets a game since October.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (sort of?)
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 85th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 88th in wide receivers
Don’t let Flash get hot!
Phillip Dorsett, WR
Standard Scoring Rank this week: Why do you guys keep making me do this
PPR Scoring Rank this week: Seriously though, why
Rob Gronkowski, TE
Standard Scoring Rank this week: 5th in tight ends
PPR Scoring Rank this week: 6th in tight ends
File this one under “sometimes you just have to take the L” - if you watch the replay, you can actually see safety Sean Davis’s soul leave his body into the Pittsburgh smog-o-sphere:
There’s something to be said for looking objectively at a player like Gronk and not necessarily plugging him into your starting lineup just because you spent a sunk-cost high draft pick on him.
This is NOT one of those times.
This is Gronk looking at the Steelers, who somehow keep trotting out new faces playing the same defense since Gronk was doing body shots at Arizona, and Robert channeling Bruce Wayne going “You’re not the devil...you’re practice”.
Dwayne Allen, TE
Standard Scoring Rank this week: Unranked
PPR Scoring Rank this week: Unranked
Since I can’t find any rankings for Allen this week even though he’s healthy, I just have to say, as a kid where Sunday Night Football showdowns with Peyton and the Colts were invite-your-friends-and-order-5-pizzas nights, it still gives me the willies to look at tight end rankings and see a “Dallas”...then realize it’s not Dallas Clark, it’s Dallas Goedert from Philly. Whew!
Tom Brady, QB
Standard Scoring Ranking this week: 9th in quarterbacks
You’ve made it this far, grasshopper, you know what to do.
But in case you need a little convincing, here’s how Brady’s fared in his last few main-event fights with the Steelers, who, again, have been trotting out basically the same defense since Lil Jon and the Yin Yang Twins did “Get Low”:
2017, regular season: 17 points
2016, regular season: 21 points
2015, regular season: 35 points
And while we don’t have any fantasy data for that AFC Championship Game we mentioned earlier, TB12 went 32-42 with 384 yards and 3 TDs. That’d be 31 points in most leagues.
Enjoy the games, everyone.