We have made it past the bye week, and we are entering the most exciting week of the season thus far: Steelers week. But that is no reason to neglect your fantasy teams. Somehow, we are at the halfway point in our fantasy seasons already. In my opinion, these upcoming weeks are the most important. Your league-mates that might be struggling or losing confidence are going to get lazy. But not us. We are gonna hammer the waiver wire harder than Haloti Ngata hammered Big Ben Roethlisberger and broke his ginormous nose in half years ago. This is the year we take home the gold Ravens flock and I got you covered on our Ravens & Steelers plays as well as sleepers and my fantasy fire & ice picks at each position for the week.
First, lets look at our divisional matchup with the Squeelers.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown
Brown has struggled thus far to become the consistent, high-upside receiver that many of us had expected. After the bye week, that changes. Hollywood has been targeted at least six times in every single game this season (26% target share). In fantasy, opportunity is king. You know what else is king? Exposing fantastic matchups. Yeah, Pittsburgh has one of the league’s best defenses. But the Steelers are 25th in the league vs fantasy wide receivers and there is no one in their secondary that is gonna be able to keep up with Hollywood’s wheels. The high probability that the Ravens will play from behind at some point in the game makes for a good game script for Hollywood as well.
Fire him up with confidence as a rock solid WR2 this week with top 15 upside.
The Ravens are a stout defense all around, ranking 1st in overall rush defense and 4th overall vs fantasy running backs. But like I said: in fantasy, opportunity is king, and Conner gets loads of it. Since Week 2, Conner has gotten at least 15 carries and averages three targets per game. While the Ravens will make it difficult for him, we have seen that the Ravens, for whatever reason, are susceptible to giving up random long runs. Bet on him to break off at least one of them. Conner also gets the large majority of goal line carries and if they are within the five-yard line, you can cash it that Conner is gonna run it in. Conner should get at least 65 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
He is the most reliable option for the Steelers in this game where fantasy points will be tough to come by.
Ravens Running Backs
Mark Ingram is still questionable to suit up from an ankle injury that occurred in Week 6. Even if he doesn’t go, that still leaves fantasy managers a tough choice between J.K. Dobbins or Gus Edwards. Both should be equally involved, with some Justice Hill sprinkled in here and there if he is activated for this game. On top of that, the Steelers are the 3rd best rushing defense and are 2nd best against opposing fantasy running backs. Between the tough matchup and the Ravens RBBC approach, there is just too much uncertainty for my liking. Sit ‘em this week.
We all know that the Ravens defense is not one to play around with. They are the 3rd best passing defense and 8th best against opposing fantasy wideouts. Part of their success comes from help by the big boys up in the trenches. (Oh and by the way, welcome to Baltimore Yannick Ngakoue!)
Big Ben will not get too much time in the pocket for his receivers’ routes to develop. On top of that, JuJu seems to be more like the 3rd fiddle on the offense when Dionte Johnson is healthy and to make matters worse, he will likely see future DPOY Marlon Humphrey in the slot most of the day. Look for other options at WR this week.
Like I talked about in the sit ‘em section, ideally, you avoid the Ravens backfield this week. If you have no other options or are looking for a contrarian play, The Gus Bus is the way to go. Between Gus and Dobbins, it is more likely that Edwards reaches the end zone this week on a goal line carry.
If there is one piece of the Baltimore defense that can be somewhat exploited, it is the tight end position. The Ravens are 15th vs opposing fantasy TEs and an oversized Ebron matches up well against rookie LB Patrick Queen. As a bonus, Ebron has received nearly 22% of the team’s red zone targets. There is some upside here.
Streamin’ Around the League
Let’s look at some streamers outside of the Ravens matchup.
Baker surpassed 18 fantasy points for the first time this season in last week’s shootout against the Bengals, with 30.8 fantasy points. He has a great opportunity to follow that performance up with a tasty matchup against the Raiders, who are 30th against opposing QBs and 30th in pass defense. The Browns’ implied point total is at 28, so there should be plenty of points to go around. Most people will be off of Baker this week with the crappy (yeah we are still making these jokes) season-ending injury to Odell Beckham Jr. but he still has Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins. On top of that, Austin Hooper should return in time for this game, David Njoku is healthy, and rookie TE Harrison Bryant had a break out performance last week.
Not even sure if he can be considered a streamer anymore, but the Eagles are starting to get their act together just in time for a juicy matchup with the Cowboys (who are competing with the Jets for the worst team in the league in my opinion). The cowboys have allowed the 29th most fantasy PPG and rank 29th in pass defense and dead last in overall defense. This matchup is just too nice to pass up.
Bell is slated to make his 2nd start with the Chiefs this weekend and the matchup is fantastic. The Chiefs are going to get ahead of the Jets very quickly and it will stay that way, which will result in a ton of opportunities for the running backs. He looked like the Bell of old last week when he rushed six times for 39 yards. The Jets are 25th against fantasy running backs and with an incredible 34 implied point total, I’d be shocked if Andy Reid doesn’t try to get Bell his first TD as a Chief this weekend.
Last week when Jeff Wilson left the game due to injury, Hasty handled the majority of the work for the 49ers. With Raheem Mostert out and Wilson on IR, that leaves Hasty and Jerrick Mckinnon to compete for touches. Mckinnon was completely left out of the game plan last week “for rest.” I don’t believe it. I don’t think they have confidence in him and I think Hasty remains the lead back until Mostert or Coleman returns. The 49ers get the Seahawks poor defense this weekend. While the Seahawks are 13th against RBs, Hasty has excellent potential to reach the end zone and catch a few passes as Jimmy G exposes their cornerbacks to get down the field
Were going back to the 49ers again. With Deebo Samuel sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Aiyuk will see the majority of targets outside of George Kittle. This season, the golden rule is you play wide receivers when they play against the Seahawks (they give up the most fantasy points to wide receivers by a large margin). So that’s what were doing. Start Aiyuk with absolute confidence.
Agholor has quietly scored a touchdown in three consecutive games and you can expect more of the same this week against the Browns who allowed three Bengals wideouts last week to all score double-digit fantasy points. The Browns are 30th vs fantasy wide receivers and 28th in pass defense.
Joe Burrow throws like a thousand passes per game and the Titans are 23rd vs fantasy TEs. The Bengals should see the red zone often against this middle-of-the-pack Titans defense and Drew Sample holds a 20% red zone target share. You are mostly betting on a touchdown or two here with a few receptions for 20-50 yards.
This is a deep sleeper with Jonnu Smith healthy to take the majority of TE targets. But while Jonnu was sidelined with an injury, Firkser made a case for himself as a solid TE option for Tannehill. The Bengals give up the 3rd most points to fantasy tight ends so there might be enough points to go around this week. And if Smith goes down, Firkser is gonna pop off.
Fire & Ice
Might come up with a new name for it by next week. My fire squad are my picks (outside of the obvious elite players) to most outperform their projections this week. Ice squad are players that will bust and I would consider benching this week. (PPR)
QB Teddy Bridgewater
RB Kareem Hunt
RB Le’Veon Bell
WR Brandon Aiyuk
WR Travis Fulgham
TE Jonnu Smith
QB Josh Allen
RB D’Andre Swift
RB Joshua Kelley
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR Amari Cooper
TE T.J. Hockenson