By Christopher DiMarino
The season is underway and the excitement that\’s been culminating all summer will be quelled in only a few days. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a big opening game matchup against the Denver Broncos this Sunday night. To get a chance at redemption early will be big and the returning Steelers will look to put their anger from last season to rest. From a fantasy football standpoint this is a huge game. Early fantasy games are closely monitored to see if sleepers will emerge and who the real deal is. With a player like Peyton Manning set to start his first game in a long time, this will be a telling game that the entire nation will be tuning in for.
You can reference my competition analysis to learn a little more about the Broncos by clicking below:
Analyzing the Broncos defense from 2011 may shock many fans. Most will remember low scoring games where Tim Tebow was able to make a miracle comeback late. However, the stats show a weak defensive unit that didn\’t do well in many categories. They will be able to put pressure on the edge with Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The Steelers will look to run often to tire them out, subside the pressure and keep themselves out of 3rd and long plays. The flip side to this is that the Broncos biggest weakness on its defense is its secondary. While Champ Bailey has had a great career, he is old and Tracy Porter has been torched over the years. When you add in the fact that neither safety is close to elite, you are begging for deep attempts to the many Steelers speedsters.
I think that Bailey will start in coverage on Wallace, but will quickly switch to Antonio Brown. Wallace will get a few deep looks, but it will be Brown cutting up the underneath that will set the tone. Secondary targets like Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller will have opportunities to soar as well due to a weak coverage unit. The Steelers could easily blow this game wide open, but the key to the Broncos defense is its line. If this line can cause pressure and help stymie the run than the Steelers offense will have its hands full.
The Broncos don\’t seem to have a great stable of weapons to attack the 2011 top rated pass defense. However, a quick look at the stats from the playoff loss last season has to create some doubt. Eric Decker will look to attack the linebackers in zone coverage and Demaryius Thomas will try to continue his prowess over Ike Taylor. However, the key to their success is the run game. The Steelers will try to attack this offensive line both to create pressure on Peyton and stop the run game. Accordingly, the Steelers will be slaves to their play at outside linebacker. There are plenty of question marks surrounding James Harrison and Jason Worilds before you even begin to consider the youngster Chris Carter.
On Denver\’s roster, it shouldn\’t be surprising that Manning will be the main impact player. How quickly he can reacclimatize himself to regular season football will directly impact how successful the Broncos will be in all phases on offensive. He will probably force passes early to avoid hits, and for those who forget, he does take his fare share of chances. So even if the Steelers are subjected to good ol\’ Peyton, they can tip the scales their way by hauling in some turnovers, which they struggled to do last season.
The fantasy points projected below are educated guesses meant to be used with other inputs to influence your decision of who to start and what each player might be capable of. Unlike the statistical sites, I rounded each stat to clean up the numbers and avoided unrealistic divisions (like 0.2 TDs). There are players that will contribute in the game that I didn\’t cover, but these players aren\’t typically expected to do much.
|QB||Ben Roethlisberger||250||2||0||1 FUMB||16|
|QB||Peyton Manning||275||1||0||1 INT||17|
|RB||Willis McGahee||45||1||1||1 FUMB||9|
The projections above are pretty sane but I\’ll comment on a couple of spots where I differ from the norm. I think that Brown will get more receptions than some figure now that Wallace is back to run deep routes. I don\’t think that Knowshon Moreno will be a big factor and Ronnie Hillman will give him a run for his reps later in the season. I don\’t think Manning will toss multiple TDs, but he will get plenty of yards. Matt Willis and Jacob Tamme will become more involved if Denver drops behind early and attempts to spread out the Steelers defense to catch up.
The above point totals are based on the following scoring convention:
Quarterback - Yards: 25 = 1 pt TDs = 4pts Fumbles = -2pts INTs: 1 = -2pts
Rushing - Yards: 10 = 1 pt TDs = 6pts Fumbles = -2pts
Receiving - Yards: 10 = 1 pt TDs = 6pts Receptions = 0.5pts
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