Pittsburgh Steelers fans went into the 2019 season hopeful for a good year. Gone is the off-the-field drama that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell gave on a daily basis in 2018. But with the 33-3 thrashing by New England in week 1 and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger having a season-ending elbow injury in week 2, things are looking quite bleak for the 0-2 Steelers. But you know what? I think they’ll be ok.
By “ok,” I’m not saying they were going to be Super Bowl contenders by any means. But I don’t think they’re going to be 2-14 and contending with the Miami Dolphins for the worst team in the league, either.
Exactly 15 years to the day that you’re likely reading this, the Steelers had another seismic change that set the course of where we’re at today. In week 2 of 2004, quarterback Tommy Maddox left the game against the Baltimore Ravens with — ironically, an elbow injury — and was replaced by a then 22-year-old rookie first round quarterback out of Miami of Ohio by the name of Ben Roethlisberger. From there, Big Ben led the Steelers to a 15-1 regular season record that season and eventually gave the franchise two Super Bowl rings.
So in last Sunday’s game, Roethlisberger was replaced by sophomore QB Mason Rudolph — a third round pick last year out of Oklahoma State that saw no playing time last season. Rudolph filled in admirably, going 12-of-19 for 112 yards and two touchdowns to Vance McDonald in losing to Seattle 28-26.
I know he’s only played a single half of professional football, but I think Rudolph has the potential to be Big Ben’s successor. The Steelers front office obviously has faith in him, as they sent its 2020 first round pick to Miami in exchange for defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick — a move that I am 100 percent in favor of. If they didn’t have faith in him, why would you trade a pick that could potentially be in the top 10?
Rudolph played three games as a freshman in 2014 and then started his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, going 30-9 in that span with career numbers of 13,267 yards passing, 90 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
Heading into the 2018 draft, many scouts and experts had projected him to be a second round pick. But he fell into the third round and Pittsburgh then moved up to select him at number 76 overall.
I think if Pittsburgh ends up at 8-8 on the year, that’d be considered a great accomplishment at this point. Anything else to me is just icing on the cake.
If Rudolph goes down, then congratulations Miami, that 2020 pick will be a guaranteed top 5 pick.
Anyways, I’m excited to see what Rudolph will do the rest of the way and where Pittsburgh goes from here and as a Steelers fan, I hope he can be the heir and lead them to success for many years to come.
Last week I started out the year at 6-4 with my picks.
Here’s to hoping I stay well above the .500 line this year.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions. Stafford is actually owned in less than 50 percent of fantasy leagues on Yahoo! Sports — a staggering stat in which he was virtually owned in all leagues a handful of years ago. The former Georgia Bulldog shouldn’t have any trouble scoring against a Philadelphia team that is dealing with a boatload of injuries on both sides of the ball.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles. Speaking of Philly, Agholor is one of the few receivers not injured right now.
Because of that, expect a good day against the Lions secondary solely on the fact that there’s no one else to throw it to.
James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers. If Donte Moncrief had a nickel for every dropped pass he had in the first two weeks of the season, he’d have his own private island by now. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but Washington surely has to go up the depth chart due to Moncrief’s struggles. He also played at Oklahoma State with Rudolph and they showed great chemistry not only there but during Steelers preseason contests. I wouldn’t be shocked if he finds the end zone against the Niners.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Houston Texans. The former Ohio State Buckeyes has had a tumultuous run of late — signing with Cleveland last season after success in San Francisco, then getting traded to Jacksonville and doing nothing, then signing with Kansas City and traded to the Texans after Lamar Miller tore an ACL.
And here in Houston, he’s thrived, rushing for 173 yards in two games for a 5.8 yards per carry average — dare I say, elite RB numbers.
He’s not a bad play for someone needing RB help as they’ll take on the Chargers.
Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks. Dissly and Russell Wilson knifed up the Steelers defense on Sunday as the big TE scored a couple of touchdowns with his five receptions and 50 yards. Look for him to be a bigger red zone target as the year goes on, particularly against the New Orleans Saints this week.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns. Last year’s number one overall pick has started out 2019 slow despite having three million offensive weapons at his disposal. I don’t think he gets on the right track yet against a very stout Rams defense, as Aaron Donald should be in his face through much of the contest.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton has been exceptionally bad at this thing called “quarterbacking” this year and even worse at dressing himself for the post game press conferences. Last week he said he has to “look himself in the mirror.” If he did, he’d look like a stunt double from Thelma and Louise. Anyways, as I write this, signs are pointing to him being out due to a foot injury. That would mean Kyle Allen would get the nod at QB against the Cardinals. Do yourself a favor and just bench all Panthers, minus Christian McCaffrey of course.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns. With Mayfield struggling, that’s put a hurting on the possession wideout from LSU. He’s gotten 13.5 fantasy points in the past two games. Don’t expect much against the Rams this week, either.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets. The Jets are onto their third QB in Luke Falk after Sam Darnold got mononucleosis and backup Trevor Siemian had a bad season-ending ankle injury on Monday.
Gang Green plays the Patriots this week. They might give Bell 400 touches in this one, but New England will be ready for each and every one of them.
OJ Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Howard was a hot commodity in fantasy drafts this year. Through two games, he’s got 32 more yards than you and I do. That, umm, is not good. Until Jameis Winston stops “eating the W” (look that one up on YouTube if you don’t get the reference) and plays turnover-free football, I don’t see Howard getting that much better.