It took only a month for the Steelers brass to come to the decision that everyone wearing black and yellow had anticipated since the start of camp. By the process of elimination – Ben Roethlisberger’s indiscretions, Byron Leftwich’s injury woes and Charlie Batch’s age – Dixon will take the snaps in the team’s Week 1 contest against the Falcons.
What does this mean for fantasy owners? Very little, I’m afraid.
For one, despite Dixon’s athleticism, the team will have no use for him after Roethlisberger returns. And because Commissioner Goodell trimmed Big Ben’s sentence two games for good behavior, this means Dixon will see four starts at the most (the team will use the bye to prepare Roethlisberger for Week 6). Those four games certainly will not make Dixon worth picking in your draft, nor does the news justify picking him up as a short-term fill-in for Roethlisberger; at best, Dixon is a low-level fantasy performer.
On the flip side, Dixon’s presence also should not hurt the fantasy value of those around him. Teams must still respect Pittsburgh’s receiving corps, as Dixon showed his ability to get the ball downfield during the team’s preseason games. This, in turn, should allow Rashard Mendenhall to face an honest defense on most downs.
Sure, some teams will attempt to load the box to force Dixon to move the chains, but Dixon is good enough to beat single coverage and identify open spots. And looking at the Steelers first four opponents – Atlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Baltimore – only the Ravens own a unit that ranked among the league’s top 20 in total defense last season.
Labor Day will undoubtedly be a day Dixon will not soon forget, as it will begin the greatest period of his playing career … even if it is certain to last for only a month.