Fantasy: 2019 Projections - Who steps up in Steelers' receiving corps?
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With training camps approaching, theScore's Justin Boone is releasing his offensive projections for all 32 teams, including his thoughts on every fantasy-relevant player.

Projections are based on the following point values in PPR leagues:

  • Passing Yards: 1 point per 25 yards
  • Passing TDs: 4 points
  • Interceptions: -2 points
  • Rushing Yards: 1 point per 10 yards
  • Rushing TDs: 6 points
  • Receptions: 1 point
  • Receiving Yards: 1 point per 10 yards
  • Receiving TDs: 6 points
  • Fumbles Lost: -2 points
  • Two-point Conversions: 2 points

2019 Fantasy Projections

AFC East
NE | BUF | NYJ | MIA
AFC North
BAL | CIN | PIT | CLE
AFC South
JAX | IND | HOU | TEN
AFC West
DEN | KC | OAK | LAC
NFC East
DAL | PHI | NYG | WAS
NFC North
DET | GB | MIN | CHI
NFC South
ATL | NO | CAR | TB
NFC West
LAR | SF | SEA | ARI

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger, QB

Fantasy Points 269.8
Attempts 634
Completions 405
Pass Yards 4755
Pass TDs 27
INTs 16
Carries 24
Rush Yards 56
Rush TDs 0
Fumbles Lost 3
2PT 2

Removing one of the NFL's best receivers from an offense has major repercussions for the passing game, and Roethlisberger's stats are destined to take a hit. His chances of leading the league in passing yards for a second straight season are slim and another top-three fantasy finish is unlikely. Roethlisberger will be forced to spread the ball around more than ever to make up for Antonio Brown's absence. With so many young quarterbacks emerging in fantasy, the 37-year-old will be a fringe QB1 in 2019.

Quarterback depth: As we've seen in past years, the Steelers' offense deflates completely when Roethlisberger is sidelined. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Big Ben has only missed one game over the last two seasons - a credit to his offensive line. Third-round pick Mason Rudolph is entering his second season, but we haven't seen or heard anything to suggest he'll be the future starter.

James Conner, RB

Fantasy Points 269.1
Carries 249
Rush Yards 1123
Rush TDs 10
Fumbles Lost 2
Targets 71
Receptions 51
Rec. Yards 438
Rec. TDs 1
2PT 0

Conner capitalized on the Le'Veon Bell holdout to become one the biggest breakout stars of 2018. Though he helped managers reach the fantasy playoffs, Conner was injured and out of the lineup from Week 14 to Week 16 - the most important stretch on the fantasy calendar. Durability concerns combined with the strong play of Jaylen Samuels and the team's decision to draft Benny Snell in the fourth round led some, including Conner, to question his volume for 2019. However, beat writers and historical data suggest the Steelers' lead back role should remain mostly a one-man job, making Conner a top-12 fantasy back for the second straight season.

Jaylen Samuels, RB

Fantasy Points 120.3
Carries 80
Rush Yards 344
Rush TDs 0
Fumbles Lost 0
Targets 46
Receptions 39
Rec. Yards 289
Rec. TDs 3
2PT 0

Samuels was outstanding when thrust into the starting lineup, as most of the Steelers' backup running backs are. He'll remain one of the few second-stringers who offers RB1 fantasy upside when given a full complement of snaps. As you can see from this projection, we expect him to be involved with six-to-eight touches per game, but not to threaten Conner's workload.

Running back depth: Snell profiles as a between-the-tackles grinder with a strong ability to keep his legs moving after contact and a nose for the end zone. He'll go undrafted in most re-draft leagues, but he'll be a hot waiver-wire addition if either Conner or Samuel get hurt.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR

Fantasy Points 307.1
Targets 179
Receptions 116
Rec. Yards 1451
Rec. TDs 8
Carries 0
Rush Yards 0
Rush TDs 0
Fumbles Lost 1
2PT 0

Smith-Schuster saw 166 targets last season, fourth-most in the NFL behind Julio Jones, Davante Adams, and former teammate Brown. Even with Brown out of the picture, how many more passes can we expect the Steelers' new No. 1 receiver to have thrown his way? This projection gives Smith-Schuster the highest target total in the NFL since 2015 and locks him in as a top-seven fantasy wideout at just 22 years old.

Donte Moncrief, WR

Fantasy Points 137.7
Targets 89
Receptions 51
Rec. Yards 627
Rec. TDs 4
Carries 0
Rush Yards 0
Rush TDs 0
Fumbles Lost 0
2PT 0

As we mentioned earlier, the Steelers will need to rely on several pass catchers in order to fill the void left by Brown. The 25-year-old Moncrief, who signed on in free agency to compete with James Washington for the No. 2 job, has the early edge. In five seasons, Moncrief has flashed game-breaking skills, but he hasn't been able to sustain quality production over a full campaign. He did manage to post top-30 fantasy numbers during a seven-week stretch with the Jaguars last year, and the upgrade at quarterback could be enough to put him over the top. He's a high-ceiling, low-floor pick at his ADP in the 11th round.

James Washington, WR

Fantasy Points 130.2
Targets 81
Receptions 45
Rec. Yards 612
Rec. TDs 4
Carries 0
Rush Yards 0
Rush TDs 0
Fumbles Lost 0
2PT 0

Washington is also being selected in the 11th round of fantasy drafts and has just as much of a chance to break out in his second season with the Steelers. At their current price, you can draft both Washington and Moncrief and wait to see if one of them develops a clear advantage during training camp and the preseason.

Receiver depth: Given the Steelers' impressive track record of finding and developing receiver talent, fantasy managers should take notice of third-rounder Diontae Johnson. The rookie reportedly impressed in offseason workouts, and if he continues to stand out, a Year 1 role in the offense is possible, making him worth a late-round dart throw. Ryan Switzer should also soak up some targets in the slot, but won't see enough volume to be fantasy relevant.

Vance McDonald, TE

Fantasy Points 159.3
Targets 88
Receptions 58
Rec. Yards 713
Rec. TDs 5
Carries 0
Rush Yards 0
Rush TDs 0
Fumbles Lost 0
2PT 0

Whether a dependable second option materializes from the receiver corps or not, McDonald is in position for a breakout campaign at tight end. He finished as the TE10 in fantasy leagues despite an 11 percent target share in 2018. That number should grow with Brown gone, opening a path for McDonald to step up as the second-best receiving weapon. He's one of the few tight ends available in the mid-to-late rounds who possesses top-five upside.

Tight end depth: Xavier Grimble and rookie Zach Gentry would be touchdown-dependent streamers if McDonald were out for an extended period.

2019 Fantasy Projections

AFC East
NE | BUF | NYJ | MIA
AFC North
BAL | CIN | PIT | CLE
AFC South
JAX | IND | HOU | TEN
AFC West
DEN | KC | OAK | LAC
NFC East
DAL | PHI | NYG | WAS
NFC North
DET | GB | MIN | CHI
NFC South
ATL | NO | CAR | TB
NFC West
LAR | SF | SEA | ARI

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Fantasy: 2019 Projections - Who steps up in Steelers' receiving corps?
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