By Christopher DiMarino
Steelers Versus Broncos Recap:
After a tough end to a 2011 season, Pittsburgh Steelers fans were spectators to an equally tough opening game loss to start the 2012 season. I think the game played out how many predicted it would with the exception of course being the ending. We all knew it would be close and that the Steelers would focus on the run. The run had limited success and I think predictability was the culprit. Where the run game did succeed for the Steelers was in limiting how much time Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had on the field.
My stat predictions were pretty close for the most part and I\'ll chalk it up to rookie luck. Steelers wise, I was pretty close but over valued the totals. My numbers for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were spot on with the exception of a fumble becoming a game ending interception. Running back Isaac Redman was not able to get going and his numbers were much lower than expected. Wide receiver Mike Wallace was able to quell offseason and preseason contract issues by hauling in a touchdown.
On the Broncos side, a few players did better than I expected, but the overall yards were right around what I thought they would be. Running back Willis McGahee stole some yards from Knowshon Moreno, but Moreno ended up with the sole rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had slightly inflated receiving yards due in part to his big 71 yard touchdown. Tight end Jacob Tamme didn\'t explode like I thought he would, but had a great first game and detracted any concerns that fellow tight end Joel Dreessen would steal catches from him.
You can reference my week 1 fantasy projections following the link below:
What We Learned: Pittsburgh Steelers
- As advertised, the Steelers are hell bent on rushing the ball. This is great for game and clock management, but as shown last year it can hurt them too. In close games, the Steelers fail to put enough points on the board to ease the amount of heroics required late in the game.
- The Steelers need Rashard Mendenhall. I know this sounds ridiculous because it\'s far too early, but the longest rush on the night was 11 yards on 24 attempts. Mendenhall\'s explosive carries are needed to get the ball down the field.
- For all the talent and speed that the Steelers have at wide receiver, they still have a tough time getting enough separation from defensive backs. While most of the passing attempts on the night were successful for Roethlisberger, I felt that he had to thread the needle too often and that will eventually lead to mistakes. This also limits these receivers who are lethal after the catch in space.
- Manning might be Manning, but the Steelers defense will need to be better going forward. In the limited amount of time the Broncos offense was on the field, they looked very comfortable. The Steelers weren\'t able to stymie the Broncos run game. While they contained it, the Broncos still averaged 4 yards per carry. The Broncos wide receivers were getting plenty of separation on a consistent basis. While pressure was on and off, it will need to be dialed up a few notches in the coming games.
- Roethlisberger is still himself in this new offensive scheme. Aside from a late game slip, he had a very efficient game. Wallace looked a little out of place at times, but the passing offense was effective for the most part. I still believe the Steelers were just that one bad decision by Roethlisberger away from coming back to win that game.
What We Learned: Around the League
- Tony Romo looks poised to have monster statistical year. While Kevin Ogletree had a big game, but I would not reach for him yet unless you have a player you want to throw away. The New York Giants secondary struggled heavily and will give up plenty of yards through the air this season.
- Andrew Luck will be good, but his first start wasn\'t exemplary. The entire Chicago Bears offense looks really good. Michael Bush is trying to push to be fantasy relevant without an injury to Matt Forte, but I would want to see another game or two like this one before I give him that credit.
- Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden both struggled. Vick will find a way to get fantasy points as long as he’s healthy, but the Cleveland Browns fantasy options are still a risk to start at this point.
- The St. Louis Rams secondary will improve the defense overall, but the offense is still struggling. Detroit isn’t going to pick up where they left off, but they are still elite on offense.
- Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have weapons. Daniel Thomas is a throw away player at this point. Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson still works, and all other weapons except Owen Daniels are risky starts. Ben Tate is not being featured as heavily in this offense as predicted.
- Atlanta has a very dangerous passing attack. Michael Turner might get touchdowns because he is a bull on an effective unit, but he has lost a step or two. The Chiefs have the offense to compete in close games. Matt Cassel looked sharp at times but needs his weapons to play better.
- Blaine Gabbert is as good as he looked in preseason. Cecil Shorts isn’t relevant unless he beats out Laurent Robinson and Gabbert has multiple big games. Toby Gerhart again has no fantasy implications unless Adrian Peterson goes down again. Christian Ponder is efficient, but this is Peterson’s offense.
- The Saints defense is going to struggle a lot this season. Robert Griffin III had a great game but I want to see more before I anoint him as a top player. Alfred Morris should be the biggest waiver option this week. The New Orleans offense is good, but the run game gets thrown out to easily.
- I chose the Bills and Jets as candidates for terrible seasons. The Bills look more likely to struggle but C.J. Spiller could be a breath of fresh air for them. The Jets still can’t stop the run. Stephen Hill emerged after issues with drops and he\'s worth consideration because Mark Sanchez looked good.
- New England is a tough team to grab weapons on. The tight ends and running backs got theirs, but the receivers underperformed. Jake Locker will give Nate Washington and Kenny Britt big gain potential, while Chris Johnson really needs to get his act together.
- Both the Seahawks and Cardinals defenses looked good. Russell Wilson may be a surprise, but he’s not worth picking up yet because his receivers were underwhelming. The Cardinals quarterback situation had another twist, and Larry Fitzgerald owners suffered the most.
- The 49ers may have the best defense in the league. Starting any players opposite them is a gamble, especially running backs. Cedric Benson looked slow and lacked luster. The Packers received a blessing in disguise as they won’t have to worry about the undefeated mentality like last season.
- Cincinnati might be better than a few years ago, but there are still some growing pains. Meanwhile, the Ravens look as tenacious as ever even without Terrell Suggs. The Ravens are passing often and vertically. Accordingly, Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith might be smart starts this season.
- The Raiders looked confused and out of it. They will struggle to find rhythm and they need to get the run game going to have success. San Diego had a good night but had issues scoring touchdowns. If Nate Kaeding is still a free agent in your league, and you hate your kicker, he’s a smart choice.
If you have any fantasy questions, feel free to post them as comments on these articles (I will check them as often as I can) or for a speedier answer, ask me on twitter.
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