The fantasy football playoffs begin Thursday night, and if you expect to advance don’t start any Cleveland Browns players against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On top of this being a matchup of the 30th ranked offense (290.7 YPG) going against the No. 1 ranked defense (273.8 YPG), there is no Brown that will give you starting-caliber numbers in a 12-team league — that means no top-12 QB, no top-24 RB, no top 24 WR and no top-12 TE. This goes for QB Colt McCoy, WR Greg Little, tight ends Evan Moore or Benjamin Watson and the running back mess that is Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya. If you want to use one as a flex, good luck with that.
McCoy, who’s dealing with a sprained knee, threw for 281, a TD and two interceptions in Pittsburgh last season — his starting debut — in a 28-10 loss. He also fell 41-9 to the Steelers in last season’s finale. McCoy is 0-7 against AFC North opponents and there is nothing pointing to that improving to either statistical improvement or a 1-7 record. Pittsburgh has surrendered four 220-plus yard games four times this season and held the other eight under 200 yards. The one caveat is that seven of the 14 TDs surrendered by the Steelers have come from the under-200 passers. McCoy has gone over 16 points once in the last seven games after registering four such games in the first five weeks of the season.
Little is 17th in targets amongst receivers but is ranked 44th as a fantasy receiver in PPR leagues with three double-digit games all season. The Steelers have allowed three TDs to receivers in the last five weeks and eight all season. Little has just one touchdown this season. Pittsburgh has allowed just three receivers to gain 80-plus yards and only five to catch six-plus balls.
Where do you begin with the Browns running back situation? Hillis and Hardesty are always hurt and Ogboyanna is not dependable or useful if one of the other two are active. Add on top of that the Steelers having not allowed an opposing RB to gain over 60 yards since Week 6 and only two TDs in that time, and it doesn’t matter who’s healthy or active for Cleveland.
And as for the tight end productivity against Pittsburgh, Rob Gronkowski is the only one to have a double-digit day against them since Week 5 and only Gronkowski, Owen Daniels (Week 4) and Ed Dickson (Week 1) have produced double-digit days this season. Moore scored 9.8 points with a late TD last week, but that came after three straight weeks under 1 point and no weeks above 9.8 since Week 1; Watson has scored above 7 points just once since Week 4.
It is unlikely any Browns got you to the playoffs, so there’s no reason now to plug them in if you’ve made it to the postseason.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter