LATROBE, PA - JULY 29: Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers puts his helmet on during training camp on July 29, 2011 at St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Fantasy Football Rankings: Who Are Steelers' Sleepers?

Follow this storystream for Steelers-related fantasy football advice.

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Fantasy Football 2011 Rankings (Position Rankings): Where To Draft Antonio Brown?

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown's fabulous preseason so far has Pittsburgh buzzing. But where should you take him in your fantasy football draft?

It's hard to say, but unless your league is filled with Steelers fans, there's a good chance Brown is going to be underrated. He's not even in ESPN's Christopher Harris' top 200, for example. Nor is he among the top 90 (!) wide receivers over at Yahoo!

Now, it's not as if you should spend one of your first five picks on Brown. Mike Wallace and Hines Ward are the Steelers' top two receivers, and the new kickoff rules will limit Brown's ability to help your team on returns. But he came on strong down the stretch last year and played well in camp, and in preseason games, he's been unstoppable. He has nine receptions so far for 230 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with four kickoff returns for 109 yards.

This might not mean anything outside the preseason, but given that Brown is in his second year in the league, it really looks like a potential breakout. Grab Brown in the later rounds, and you might end up looking really smart.

For more on fantasy sports, be sure to check out Fake Teams.

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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: How To Approach Your Draft

Confused about how to approach your fantasy football draft this week? Pete Wilmoth already did a good job laying out a fantasy draft strategy when he wrote that you shouldn't be the guy who drafts a top-rated quarterback, like Aaron Rodgers or Michael Vick, in the first round.

Instead, you should wait on a quarterback - not necessarily Ben Roethlisberger, but someone like him, someone who you can pick in the middle rounds but who's still likely to give you good production. You won't be able to pick a starting running back in those rounds, so try to load up on top running backs early, followed by top wide receivers. Given the way most leagues are structured, you can find good quarterbacks later on. Also, avoid the temptation to avoid overpaying for a tight end, and wait until the end of the draft to fill in your kicker and defense. You can also just switch defenses each week based on matchups.

The Steelers offer a bunch of great fantasy options, as we've detailed throughout this storystream. Rashard Mendenhall (a running back!) should be a first-round pick, and Mike Wallace, a top wide receiver, should probably be a second- or third-rounder. Roethlisberger should go in the middle rounds, and second-year wideout Antonio Brown is a great sleeper pick in the late rounds. Fellow receivers Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders should go in the late rounds as well. Also, the Steelers have one of the better fantasy defenses, but your best bet is to let someone else overpay.

For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams.

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2011 Fantasy Football Sleepers - Steelers' Big-Name Stars Are Actually Best Bet To Exceed Expectations In 2011

The Pittsburgh Steelers could not be a more gratifying team to cheer for. I don’t really need to explain why. But in terms of fantasy football purposes, the six-time Super Bowl champions typically sport few, if any, players that excel. This is especially true when the Steelers are winning. In 2009, when the Steelers missed the playoffs, Ben Roethlisberger had a monster season with over 4,300 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. His primary playmakers - Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Santonio Holmes - all had solid seasons, but not one had more than six receiving touchdowns.

Last season, Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace were the team’s most productive fantasy options. Mendenhall found the end zone 13 times in ’10 while amassing 1,273 yards on 324 carries. Wallace, meanwhile, nearly led the league in yards per reception for the second time in as many NFL seasons. Despite catching just 60 passes, Wallace finished with near 1,300 yards and found pay dirt 10 times. 

Common logic would suggest that those two would again be the best fantasy-wise in ‘11. Both will likely post solid seasons, but after such productive years, I imagine their productivity might taper off a bit as defenses spend even more capital on slowing them down. That’s not to say that they’re not worthy of high draft picks, but even if it pains you to do so, let someone else use too high of a pick on two of Steeler Nation’s favorite young stars. At the same time, take a look at these options as good value picks later on in your drafts. 

2011 Fantasy Football Sleepers: 

 

  • Heath Miller - The Steelers’ reliable tight end is beloved throughout Steeler Nation, but typically doesn’t get much love from fantasy owners. For understandable reasons, I suppose. Miller has never ranked higher than seventh among TEs in fantasy points (2007). He’s coming off a mediocre statistical season in 2010, having caught just 42 passes for 512 yards and 2 touchdowns, good for only the 25th-most fantasy points by a TE. So why should he be considered a sleeper in ‘11? Well, Ben Roethlisberger won’t be suspended for the first quarter of the season like he was last year. Miller hauled in a mere 10 receptions for an even 100 yards and no scores while Big Ben was out. More importantly, though, defenses keyed in on Miller last season, daring Roethlisberger to look to his young wide receivers rather than his trusted, sure-handed tight end. Consequently, guys like Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace faced single-coverage for most of the year. Now that all three of the Young Money Crew has established themselves as threats in the passing game, expect defenses to start paying more attention to them, which in turn should make life easier on the former 2005 first-rounder. Look for Miller to finish with somewhere around 65-75 passes for somewhere around 700 yards. Fantasy owners will have to cross their fingers that he gets ample opportunities in the red zone. You’ll almost assuredly be able to get Miller somewhere after Round 12, which in my mind, would be a solid steal. 
  • Ben Roethlisberger - I was really impressed by Roethlisberger’s play in ‘10. Knowing he had to win back the trust of his coaches, teammates and fans, Big Ben was hard at work in the film room last year, something he hadn’t done enough of during the early years of his career. As a reward for his efforts, Roethlisberger managed to cut down on his costly mental miscues substantially. His five interceptions were the lowest total of his career, and his interception rate of 1.3 percent was significantly lower than any rate posted in his previous six seasons. Roethlisberger’s 13.3 yards per completion led the NFL, an impressive feat for a guy who completed more than 61 percent of his throws. Finally, don’t sleep on the fact that Rashard Mendenhall assumed a huge workload last season, and that Bruce Arians might be inclined to scale down his rushing attempts a bit this season. I’m expecting Big Ben to come close to or surpass the 4,000 yard plateau and flirt with 30 touchdowns. If Roethlisberger slips to the fifth or sixth round of your draft, you’d be wise to scoop him. 
  • Isaac Redman - You know in those final rounds of your draft where you don’t really even think more than a second or two about who you should pick up? Well, use one of those final picks on Isaac Redman and stash him away on your bench. There’s a strong possibility his workload increases substantially this year. This may be conjecture, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Steelers give goal line opportunities to Redman rather than Mendenhall in ‘11 in order to keep Mendenhall’s market value a smidge lower than it might otherwise be when the Steelers begin negotiations with Mendu’s agent on a contract extension. 
  • Hines Ward - Everybody is expecting Mike Wallace to blow up in 2011, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. He’ll face double teams each week and be the center of defensive coordinators’ game plans most weeks. Like Miller, Ward’s stats were hurt in ‘10 by the absence of Big Ben for the first four games. He had zero 100-plus yard games while Roethlisberger was sidelined; three after his return. I hate to cite dancing in a football article, but Ward definitely benefited from the intense training schedule required of his participation in Dancing With The Stars. He’s been an afterthought for most of training camp and the preseason because of the finger injury that kept him out of action in early August, but his touchdown catch against the Eagles last week convinced me he’s in great shape and ready to have another 75-plus catch season and surpass the 1,000 yard plateau for the seventh time in his Hall of Fame career. 

For more on the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain, and for more on fantasy sports, check out Fake Teams.

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Fantasy Football 2011 Rankings (Position Rankings): Where To Pick Rashard Mendenhall, Ben Roethlisberger?

Here's another look at various Steelers' NFL fantasy rankings, this time courtesy of CBS Sports.

Ben Roethlisberger ranks No. 10 among quarterbacks in both Jamey Eisenberg's and Dave Richard's lists. This is pretty much a consensus ranking for Roethliberger - ESPN and Yahoo! also have him at around the same place. The key with drafting Roethlisberger isn't necessarily his exact ranking among quarterbacks, but how you value quarterbacks relative to running backs and wideouts. We at SB Nation Pittsburgh advise avoiding quarterbacks in the first few rounds and grabbing backs and receivers instead, then taking someone like Roethlisberger in the middle rounds.

Rashard Mendenhall ranks No. 12 and No. 14 among running backs, which pretty severely underrates him, in my opinion. Mendenhall should get a ton of carries in a run-happy offense, and should therefore be a top fantasy performer. If he's available at the end of the first round of your draft, you should take him.

Mike Wallace ranks No. 6 in both lists among wideouts. This is, again, pretty much where he's ranked at most fantasy services. Hines Ward ranks No. 39 and No. 34, which might actually overrate him slightly - he's at the tail end of his career, and might not see as many opportunities as usual thanks to the emergence of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say you should take Brown before taking Ward, but if I were drafting, I'd let someone else overrate Ward. 

For more on the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain. For more on fantasy sports, check out Fake Teams

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Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet 2011: Pittsburgh Steelers

Here's a fantasy football cheat sheet for the top players on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall: Talented young back likely to get tons of carries. No. 5 overall in Yahoo!, No. 5 RB in Yahoo!, No. 12 overall in ESPN, No. 8 running back in ESPN.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace: Third-year receiver hoping to solidify his place as an elite wideout. No. 28 overall in Yahoo!, No. 6 receiver in Yahoo!, No. 7 receiver in ESPN.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Strong performer will play a full season this year, health permitting. A great option in the later rounds after you've used your first several picks on running backs and receivers, as you should. No. 47 overall in Yahoo!, No. 10 quarterback in Yahoo!, No. 9 quarterback in ESPN.

Wide receiver Hines Ward: Don't overpay for a former star - likely to get fewer balls this year as Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders develop. No. 40 receiver in Yahoo!, No. 50 receiver in ESPN.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders: A good late-round option, but beware his foot problems. No. 60 receiver in Yahoo!, No. 61 receiver in ESPN.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown: No. 68 receiver in ESPN. A great late-round pick; he's had an impressive camp and a good preseason in his second year in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers: No. 3 defense in Yahoo!, No. 1 defense in ESPN. Defenses are pretty fungible, so you should wait until the late rounds to pick one, even a good one like the Steelers'.

For more on the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain, and for more on fantasy sports, check out Fake Teams.

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Fantasy Football 2011 Rankings: How The Steelers Stack Up

Here's a look at how various Steelers figure in a set of rankings by ESPN.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger. No. 62 overall, No. 10-ranked quarterback. This looks about right. Roethlisberger has a very good corps of receivers this year, led by Mike Wallace, and he (Roethlisberger) actually figures to play the whole season, unlike last year.

Running back: Rashard Mendenhall. No. 15 overall, No 8-ranked running back. You might make a case that Mendenhall should be ranked higher, given his prominence in the Steelers' offense. Look out for Isaac Redman in the late rounds.

Wide receiver: Mike Wallace. No. 21 overall, No. 6-ranked wide receiver. Wallace has his sights set high this year, and hey, why not? It's his third year in the league. 

Hines Ward, No. 115 overall, No. 44-ranked wide receiver. If you're picking Ward to be anything more than a bench player, you must be in a really deep league. He's had great fantasy seasons before, obviously, but he was unimpressive last season, and this season, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will cut into his opportunities. Look for those guys in the late rounds, especially Brown.

Heath Miller, unranked among tight ends. Miller is only really an option if you're in a deep league.

Steelers defense: No. 139 overall, No. 1 among defenses. As ever, you should be waiting until the very end of the draft to pick a defense. The Steelers will rack up sacks, but their secondary could prove frustrating.

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Should You Draft Rashard Mendenhall Before Chris Johnson?

With Chris Johnson's holdout dragging on, should you take Rashard Mendenhall ahead of him in fantasy drafts?

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