Sammie Coates earned two catches for 34 yards on five targets Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
Coates alligator-armed a perfectly-thrown deep ball by Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ opening possession. He had a few more chances and eventually hauled in a 30-yard catch for the Steelers’ longest gain of the night. It looked like Coates was onto something when he averaged 84.2 yards over his first five games this season but he faded quickly while battling finger and hamstring injuries. A boom-or-bust deep threat with suspect hands, Coates has a ways to go before he's back on the fantasy radar.
Jesse James delivered five catches for 48 yards on seven targets Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
James was busy in the first half but only caught one-of-three targets for six yards after halftime. It looked like he had a 19-yard touchdown late in the second quarter but replay showed that James was down about one foot shy of the end zone. The Steelers would eventually settle for a field goal. James was expected to take a backseat to Ladarius Green this year, but as usual, Green couldn’t stay healthy. The Penn State alum won’t be worth drafting in fantasy leagues this summer.
Eli Rogers snagged seven-of-10 targets for 68 yards Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
In a surprising turn of events, Rogers emerged as Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to target on Sunday. He led the team with 10 targets and did a nice job finding space against a Patriots secondary that was preoccupied with covering Antonio Brown downfield. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy put a damper on Rogers’ day by stripping him in the third quarter, leading to Pittsburgh’s first turnover of the game. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but Rogers definitely showed potential in his first season of NFL action after missing his entire rookie year due to injury. Look for him to maintain his role as the Steelers’ primary slot receiver in 2017.
DeAngelo Williams contributed 34 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while absorbing all seven of his targets for 51 yards Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
Williams took over as the lead back after Le’Veon Bell went down with a groin injury late in the first quarter. D-Will offered a handful of nice runs including a five-yard touchdown dash in the second quarter, but was mostly bottled up against a stout Patriots’ run defense. He fell flat in the second half, recording just 10 yards on six carries after halftime. Williams made up for his lack of rushing success by playing an important role in the passing game, though none of it was enough to top a New England team that came ready to play on Sunday. It’s unclear what the future holds for Williams. He’s the oldest back in the NFL at age 33, but showed he still has something left in the tank by rushing for 258 yards during Bell’s three-game suspension earlier this season. The impending free agent may have one year left in him.
Le'Veon Bell rushed six times for 20 yards and wasn't targeted in the passing game Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
Bell exited with a left groin injury late in the first quarter. He returned later in the half before leaving again on the same drive. Bell remained in uniform for the duration of the game, though it was pretty obvious he wasn’t coming back in. He ended up playing just 11 snaps while ceding workhorse duties to DeAngelo Williams. It was a disappointing end to a marvelous year for the fourth-year back. Bell is headed for free agency but the Steelers have made it clear they plan to give him the franchise tag if the two sides are unable to reach a long-term deal. You could make an argument for taking Bell first overall in fantasy drafts next summer, though Arizona’s David Johnson is also in that conversation.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 31-of-47 passes for 314 yards with one touchdown and one interception Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
Roethlisberger matched Tom Brady punch for punch in the first half, completing 16-of-22 passes for 136 yards before the break. New England pulled away in the second half, however, and Roethlisberger couldn’t do much to stop the bleeding. Roethlisberger didn’t have much success throwing deep, often settling for check-downs to Jesse James and slants over the middle to Eli Rogers. His fourth-quarter interception was nowhere close to his intended target. Roethlisberger redeemed himself by throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton on the following drive, but it was too little too late. It didn’t end the way he would have liked, but Roethlisberger was still pretty darn good this year, even with a relatively thin receiving corps. It would be a huge boost to Roethlisberger and the entire passing game if suspended wideout Martavis Bryant returns to start opposite Antonio Brown next season.
Antonio Brown pulled in seven-of-nine targets for 77 yards Sunday in the Steelers' AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.
As expected, Brown drew shadow coverage from Malcolm Butler whenever he was lined up outside. The Steelers were wise to shuffle Brown around the formation and he made a few nice plays out of the slot. Brown was a little sluggish in the first half but got going late with four catches for 51 yards after halftime. It wasn’t the ending he had hoped for, but the 2016 season proved once again that Brown is a rare talent and one of the most consistent receivers in all of football. He probably won’t go first overall like he did in most leagues last summer, but Brown remains a consensus top-five pick in all fantasy formats.
Dion Lewis tallied 11 yards on six carries while securing both of his targets for eight yards Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Lewis emerged as New England’s clear lead back last week but played fewer snaps than both LeGarrette Blount and James White Sunday against Pittsburgh. New England’s run game was nonexistent until the second half and at that point the Patriots mostly leaned on Blount to kill clock. No team is more game-plan-dependent than the shape-shifter Patriots. We’ll see what they cook up against Atlanta in Super Bowl LI.