No receiver has been better than Antonio Brown over the past three seasons. It really isn't all that close. Le'Veon Bell has been, on a per game basis, the most productive running back in football.
To be clear, Bryant has been a Steeler for three years already. Unfortunately he was suspended for one of them, as he missed all of the 2016 season. In fact, due to suspensions and injuries, we haven't seen the combination of Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown and Bryant on the field together since 2014.
But it was magical when we did.
Over the course of the final 10 games of that season, Roethlisberger threw for more than 3,300 yards and 24 touchdowns; Bell totaled more than 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns; Brown topped 1,000 yards receiving and had eight scores. Even Bryant scored eight times and had over 500 yards.
All of that in just 10 games. Can you even imagine a 16 game season with all four healthy and active? We're gonna try.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
Breaking down the touches
Despite the injuries and suspensions, the Steelers have been remarkably consistent with their pass/run split over the past three seasons. They've thrown the ball between 596 and 612 times each of the past three years. They've run the ball right around 400 times each year as well. I don't really see a reason to expect much different in 2017. One question that may pop up is whether the return of Bryant will affect Bell or Brown's targets. I don't think it will.
In 2016 the Steelers distributed 184 targets to the formidable group consisting of Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Markus Wheaton. There are plenty of targets available for Bell, Brown and Bryant to be dominant in Fantasy at the same time.
- While it might seem unlikely that all of these guys produce this much in the same offense, this isn't even the upside. I've set these expectations well below their 16 game pace in 2014.
- Jesse James is a sneaky low-end tight end option. This team is going to spend a ton of time in the red zone and those targets can be hard to predict. Low-end No. 1 production is possible if he catches a couple extra scores.
All this, and the Steelers still have other people to talk about. Rookies James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are both just an injury away from being thrust into roles in a high-powered offense. If Conner performs well in the preseason he'll become one of the most sought after handcuffs in Fantasy, given Bell's injury history.