Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down the Pittsburgh Steelers

A fantasy football perspective on the team

What can the Pittsburgh Steelers do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.

Inside the Locker Room
with Scott Brown, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Can Isaac Redman be the full-time ball-carrier while Rashard Mendenhall gets back up to speed?
The Steelers are going to find out. No other healthy back on the roster has more than 25 career carries, meaning the Steelers will lean heavily on Redman. Redman shined after Mendenhall went down early in the regular-season finale, and the former undrafted free agent runs with authority. But the Steelers haven’t seen enough to anoint Redman as a
No. 1 back though he will be given every opportunity to prove he is just that.

What do you expect from Ben Roethlisberger this season?
A third 4,000-yard passing season, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley plays to his team’s strengths, and it’s hard to imagine him not taking advantage of the skill the Steelers have at quarterback and wide receiver.

Who will post more catches, yards and touchdowns in 2012: Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown?
It’s hard not to like Brown here. He broke out in 2011 after arriving at training camp as the No. 4 receiver, and he is the more complete player of the two. Take away the deep ball from Wallace, as teams did in the second half of last season, and the fourth-year veteran puts up pedestrian numbers. Plus the precipitous drop in his production after the first eight games last season and his uncertain contract situation make Wallace a wild-card heading into 2012.

Which linebacker is most likely to bounce back and be the most productive: Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley or James Harrison?
It is close between Woodley and Timmons. Injuries forced the Steelers to play Timmons both inside and outside in 2011, and the lack of continuity did not help his development. Timmons should be more productive if he plays most, if not all, of the season inside. Woodley had been terrorizing quarterbacks before suffering a pulled hamstring last October, and the nagging injury robbed him of his burst and effectively ended his season. If he stays healthy in 2012, Woodley will finish among the NFL leaders in sacks.

Athlon's Best Bets

Sleeper: Isaac Redman, RB
Deep-Sleeper: Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Overvalued: Mike Wallace, WR
Top Rookie: Chris Rainey, RB
Bounce-Back: Lawrence Timmons, LB
Top IDP: Troy Polamalu, S

2012 Draft Class

1. David DeCastro G 6/5 316 Stanford
2. Mike Adams T 6/7 323 Ohio State
3. Sean Spence LB 5/11 231 Miami (Fla.)
4. Alameda Ta’amu NT 6/3 348 Washington
5. Chris Rainey RB 5/9 180 Florida
7. Toney Clemons WR 6/2 210 Colorado
7. David Paulson TE 6/4 246 Oregon
7. Terrence Frederick CB 5/10 187 Texas A&M
7. Kelvin Beachum G 6/3 303 SMU

Fantasy Impact: The offensive line has been an issue for several years in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers may have finally fixed this unit by drafting David DeCastro and Mike Adams. Both will play right away. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley brought all-around threat Dexter McCluster to Kansas City, and Chris Rainey could fill a similar role in Pittsburgh.

Fantasy Playoff Run: Weeks 14-16 (SD, at DAL, CIN)

The playoffs might get progressively harder for Big Ben and Co. San Diego had the 11th-worst scoring defense (23.6 PPG) in the NFL and was 26th against fantasy QBs and 15th against WRs. Dallas ranked 18th against fantasy QBs and WRs. Cincinnati was 14th against QBs and WRs. Maybe new OC Todd Haley can help Pittsburgh improve on its 21st-ranked scoring offense (20.3 ppg).

Dominate Your Fantasy Football League! Click here for the ultimate online resource for mock drafts, positional rankings, Athlon's Top 250 and more.

You can order your award-winning Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Football preview magazine here.

More Stories: