Game Predictions & Player Projections - PIT vs. NE

Game Predictions & Player Projections - PIT vs. NE


Game Predictions & Player Projections - PIT vs. NE

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Prediction: PIT 20, NE 27 (Line: NE by 3.5)

This game certainly isn’t going off like they planned. The NFL Champs get to use Tom Brady who had his suspension overturned at least for now but LeGarrette Blount is suspended for this game. His blunt buddy Le’Veon Bell is also suspended for two games and then Martavis Bryant is in the corner for four weeks. Somehow the NFL is opening the season with most of the suspended players missing the same showcase season opener. And Brady playing ensures that the suspension will be much discussed during the telecast. New England was 7-1 at home last year. They were undefeated there in 2013. The Steelers were just 5-3 away from home in 2014.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1 @NE —— 10 CLE ——
2 SF —— 11 BYE ——
3 @STL —— 12 @SEA ——
4 BAL —— 13 IND ——
5 @SD —— 14 @CIN ——
6 ARI —— 15 DEN ——
7 @KC —— 16 @BAL ——
8 CIN —— 17 @CLE ——
9 OAK ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 10 300,2
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 3-20
WR Antonio Brown 7-110,1
WR Markus Wheaton 4-60
TE Ladarius Green 3-40
TE Heath Miller 3-20,1

Pregame Notes: The Steelers are apparently where place kickers go to die. They’ve already spun through Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley and are now using Josh Scobee. The season has not even started. Not much changed for the Steelers on the offense where OC Todd Haley enters his fourth season. The team added DeAngelo Williams for depth and to help out during Le’Veon Bell’s suspension and they drafted Sammie Coates in the third round but otherwise this is the same offense that ended last year on a tear with a four game winning streak.

QUARTERBACK : After playing in the NFL for ten seasons, Ben Roethlisberger turned in a career best season in 2014 when he passed for 4952 yards and 32 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. Six-touchdown games against the Colts and Ravens helped along with the break out season for Antonio Brown who caught 129 passes. The same crew returns one year better and that bodes well for a schedule that will be tougher for 2015.

RUNNING BACK : Le’Veon Bell ended as the #1 fantasy back last year in reception point leagues. He ended with 290 carries for 1361 yards and caught 83 passes for 854 yards while scoring 11 total touchdowns. Bell’s production took a huge leap once LeGarrette Blount was gone and the schedule hit a softer stretch. From Week 11 to Week 16 he scored eight of his touchdowns and topped 200 total yards three times. His two game suspension hurts fantasy owners but he was good for five to eight catches every game so he never had a bad showing.

For this week, DeAngelo Williams will start but Dri Archer will also mix in. Josh Harris may also be called upon if he is healthy. Bottom line, the Steelers want to use a committee approach for the two weeks that Bell will miss.

WIDE RECEIVER : Antonio Brown led all NFL wideouts in fantasy points last year and not by a little. He caught an astounding 129 passes for 1698 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was thrown an astounding 189 targets. The next best was Markus Wheaton with only 53-644-2. Martavis Bryant was a better scorer from the slot when he only managed 549 yards on 26 catches but scored eight times. Wheaton has been talked up in the offseason but his second season was anything but special. The rookie Sammie Coates will look to replace Bryant while he is gone for a month. Darrius Heyward-Bey will also figure in.

It is especially troubling that Bryant has already had multiple violations when he’s only played in the NFL for one year. Next one up is a year-long vacation. Roethlisberger has tremendous chemistry with Brown and losing Bryant could be a problem if there is no other receiver to concern secondaries. Wheaton needs to step up and show he truly has improved. It was not apparent in preseason games.

TIGHT END : The aging Heath Miller hangs on to the starting job but he hasn’t been that relevant in fantasy terms since 2012. Miller ended 2014 with 66-761-3. Two of the scores and 197 yards came from just two games.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Patriots at home always play very tough and while the cornerbacks are back to being average, this is always a stingy defense. Only four rushing scores happened for opponents in Gillette Stadium and without Bell this is likely to be a bad rushing day. Roethlisberger is a great start every week as well as obviously Brown. This game shows if Wheaton really has improved but it’s hard to trust him with a fantasy start this early. With the chance that the Pats get a lead and hold it, the Steelers will need to throw though. Wheaton has a chance here given the attention that the Pats will give Brown since they no longer have a shut down corner.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 6 4 17 7 8
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 9 16 4 23 15 1

New England Patriots

1 PIT —— 10 @NYG ——
2 @BUF —— 11 BUF ——
3 JAC —— 12 @DEN ——
4 BYE —— 13 PHI ——
5 @DAL —— 14 @HOU ——
6 @IND —— 15 TEN ——
7 NYJ —— 16 @NYJ ——
8 MIA —— 17 @MIA ——
9 WAS ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
RB Brandon Bolden 20,1 2-20
RB Dion Lewis 30 2-10
RB James White 10 3-20
WR Danny Amendola 3-40
WR Julian Edelman 6-70,1
TE Martellus Bennett 7-80,1
TE Rob Gronkowski 5-90,1
TE Clay Harbor 4-40
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: For a team that was just given able to pull out a Super Bowl win, the Patriots have been less about patting each other on the back and more about answer the same questions over and over for the last six months. DeflateGate took center stage and that overshadowed what should be a celebratory time. The offense is not changed much this year aside from letting Shane Vereen and Stephen Ridley leave. Playing at home in the season opener should be plenty of motivation for the Patriots to play well after all the distractions of the offseason. It doesn’t hurt that the Steelers defense has looked horrible in the preseason as well.

QUARTERBACK : Jimmy Garoppolo loses his chance to start with the recent overturn of the suspension for Tom Brady. But it makes the Patriots obviously better. Brady has only been a marginal fantasy starter any way – he ranked 11th last year and 14th the previous season. At home Brady should shine and in particular will want to look good in front of the national audience.

RUNNING BACK : This is always a mess and it will be even worse now. LeGarrette Blount is out this week and Jonas Gray was released. The third down back seemed to be James White’s job (maybe) but Brandon Bolden has been in the mix and may be the guy (possibly). Dion Lewis is another unknown speculated to either be on the bench or the leading the team in running back receptions. Sadly just because this backfield will finally be on display this weekend doesn’t mean that there will be any reliable information for the next game. It is too often just a weekly case of musical chairs and even the backs are not certain what their roles will be.

For week one, the best assumption is that Bolden and White are mixed in some unknown ratio. Once Blount returns, it probably gets worse since he should handle most of the rushing and nearly none of the receiving. This is a backfield to avoid at least until Blount is back and there is at least some reasonable consistency.

WIDE RECEIVER : The ultra-secretive Patriots have said little about Brandon LaFell who had a career best 74-953-7 in his first season there but his foot has some unnamed injury. He was not seen during the preseason and now will open the season on the PUP list.

Julian Edelman remains the primary receiver and turned in 92 catches last year but only 972 yards and four scores. He continues to provide the “Wes Welker” role of going over the middle, catching the perfectly thrown ball and then getting tackled immediately. Danny Amendola will see more with LaFell unable to play. Aaron Dobson has fallen from favor and some speculate he may not make the roster.

TIGHT END : If anyone seemed to have the most fun in the offseason, it was Rob Gronkowski. He comes off a big season with 82-124-12 and is simply the most dominant tight end in the NFL and perhaps the most elite player considering how much better he is than the rest of his position.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Steelers defense was bad last year and doesn’t look any better for 2015. The new defensive coordinator is Keith Butler who was the LB coach. The Steelers always allowed multiple passing scores on the road last year and have become the antithesis of what they once were. Now they are a high-powered finesse offense with no defense. That’s a big plus for Brady and the boys. Avoid the backfield from the lack of certainty. Edelman and Gronkowski are must starts and even more so at home against a bad defense. First week games are always a challenge to forecast but at home after all the turmoil the Patriots will be extra motivated to show up and take advantage of the below average defense of the Steelers.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 10 15 18 1 1 7
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 27 13 23 20 25 15

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