Other than denying NFL fans a true showdown of AFC powers between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s knee injury also significantly hurts the daily fantasy football value of most of the Steelers as we turn to Week 7 of the season.
Roethlisberger reportedly had surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus suffered in Week 6’s loss to Miami, and while he could miss a minimum of just a week, the All-Pro’s absence against New England in Week 7 drags down the value of regular DraftKings and FanDuel stars Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and DeAngelo Williams.
All are typically, and especially this year, proven players that rack up tons of fantasy points at the expense of costly hits to DFS salary caps. But owners often pick a Brown or a Bell for security and spread the rest of their cap across other positions.
It’s a solid strategy, but it’s possible it might not have worked against New England anyway if Roethlisberger was healthy. In the case of Brown, the Patriots have actually posted the sixth-best work against wide receivers this season, allowing 20.08 points per week combined to all receivers, according to Yahoo. Brown has averaged 90.3 yards and a touchdown in three career games against New England, but those aren’t exactly the dominant numbers DFS players have come to expect and there are better WR matchups in Week 7.
Bell and Williams, perhaps the best running back tandem in the NFL and fantasy, also face a difficult battle against New England. The Patriots have the third-best success versus running backs this year, allowing 14.24 points per week. Though it might be possible for Williams or Bell to break off a red zone score against New England (No. 29 in the league in red zone defense), that would require Roethlisberger’s replacement, Landry Jones, to put together a long drive or the Steeler defense to force a turnover for better field position.
Neither seems likely. The Steelers have generated only six turnovers this season (tied for 19th in the NFL), and New England’s No. 15 against fantasy QBs this season. Furthermore, while Jones does have a big arm that might give potential Brown buyers reason to hope, he’s tossed three touchdowns to four interceptions and completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 11 career games for a 76 passer rating.
Jones has also never faced the Patriots, and ask every other quarterback what it was like to face a Bill Belichick defense the first time and you’re likely to get a very sad shrug. Also, the Patriots are already listed as 7.5-point favorites.
Roethlisberger's return is probably the best time to re-add the Steelers best offensive weapons to your lineups.
Nevertheless, whether you employ DraftKings, FanDuel, or any other platform, here are our daily fantasy football rankings for Week 7 to mine your combinations and get over the lack of viable Steelers.
Byes: Carolina, Dallas
1.Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
2.Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
3.Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
4.Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
5.Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
After facing one of the NFL’s toughest defenses and still pulling out a victory, Rivers now gets the easiest D in fantasy for QBs: Atlanta. Cousins gets Detroit’s D, third-worst vs. QBs this season, though for his career Cousins can play poorly on the road, so Dalton at home against the Browns fifth-worst D vs. QBs might be a stronger pickup. With LeSean McCoy playing lights out, Taylor has the benefit of slightly less attention from opposing Ds and draws Miami’s 10th-worst success against quarterbacks. Bortles would be No. 1 if he wasn’t a turnover machine, but he does have the best matchup of the week against Oakland, who’s by far the worst vs. QBs in the entire league.
1.Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
2.DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
3.Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
4.Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
5.LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
Though his full debut this season wasn’t stellar, Charles may be a cheaper buy even though he has the best matchup vs. a New Orleans D letting up 29.9 points per week to RBs. Murray has the third-best matchup of the week and Freeman the second-best, but the former is No. 2 because it’s more likely Tevin Coleman steals attempts and catches from Freeman than Derrick Henry from Murray. While the Falcons haven’t been awesome against the run, they are only 11th worst in fantasy against RBs, making Gordon more of a sleeper pick since he's not getting a ton of targets. McCoy’s injury in Week 6, though he returned to the game, may mean a precautionary smaller workload, especially if Buffalo gets an early lead.
1.Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
2.Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
3.Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
4.DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins
5.Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
The Raiders are just as bad against WRs as they are against QBs so Robinson could return to his Week 3 and Week 4 form when he caught 12 balls for 112 yards and three scores. The Jags are fifth-worst in fantasy vs. WRs and Cooper’s red-hot, coming off his third 120-plus yard game of the season already. Jackson’s probably a cheaper buy than Jeffery, which is why he’s only slightly higher. Plus, Washington gets Detroit’s ninth-worst work vs. WRs, while Jeffery’s matchup is stronger with Green Bay allowing 26.08 points per week. However, with the Bears on only four days’ rest, Jackson might be the better selection.
1.Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
2.Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
3.Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
4.Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
5.Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller’s gotten eight or more targets in the last four weeks and he faces Green Bay’s seventh-worst output against tight ends. The yards or targets haven’t been there for Gates (20 targets for 12 catches and 81 yards and two scores) because of Hunter Henry, but Rivers will find him against Atlanta’s porous and third-worst D against tight ends. It’s been a disappointing stretch for Thomas in Jacksonville, but like many others on the Jags offense, he could jumpstart his season against the Raiders (10.84 points per week to TEs). Clay’s the second-leading receiver for the Bills, and Miami’s ninth-worst vs. TEs. James may be the only viable Steeler as Jones checks down to him time and again vs. New England’s 10th worst D against the position.
1.Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
2.Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions
3.Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
4.Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
5.Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills
In PPR formats, Coleman’s a must-buy and worth the price as injured San Diego’s coughing up 9.6 receptions for 75 yards per week to running backs, both the worst in the NFL. Same goes for Riddick with Washington allowing 23.84 points a week to RBs, and Hyde stares down a Tampa Bay D allowing 96.4 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, if Oakland’s No. 32-ranked secondary actually manages to cover Robinson, it will lose track of Hurns for big plays downfield. Woods is the Bills' best receiving weapon and leading pass catcher, and Miami’s fourth-worst against WRs.
Houston’s quite lucky to be 4-2 with Brock Osweiler under center, but Denver will rock the Texans this week even if Lamar Miller seems unstoppable. The Bills should continue to lead the NFL in takeaways (12) against Ryan Tannehill (7 picks), and the Bengals should recover from a poor loss in Week 6 to pummel their rival Browns. The Giants passing D is only No. 24 in the NFL, but it may be hard to believe Case Keenum can post two good games in a row. Plus, New York’s allowing 3.5 yards per carry, No. 6 in the NFL, which takes away Todd Gurley. Baltimore’s already tied for fifth with 11 turnovers forced, including eight interceptions (No. 2 in the NFL), and they’ll pad those stats against the Jets.