Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers/Titans is a lot like Ravens/Titans, in that the games feel like college rivalry games even though the schedule does not permit an annual meeting. Last year’s Titans/Steelers game was a key measuring point for the season. The dominant Steeler D confused and literally dropped Vince Young on his head. Chris Johnson had an 85-yard TD that was called back, and ultimately his long 100-yard game streak came to a close. The Titans proved to be an illusion and the Steelers went to the Super Bowl.

A year later and the franchises seem to be going in opposite directions. The Steelers’ offensive line has suffered injuries. The running game hasn’t gotten on track. The defense seems slow and old. The Titans don’t lack for speed. The last time they played an annointed AFC favorite, the result was good. It’s still Pittsburgh and the black and gold means something.

I brought in my first Ask Your Fantasy Expert interview subject, Andy Miley. I knew that when it came to Steelers week, I would have no problems finding a member of Steeler Nation. Andy’s the kind of Steeler fan who can name-drop Cliff Stoudt and Mark Malone, so you know he’s no fair-weather fan. So welcome Andy, this week’s Know Your Enemy.

My questions will be in Titan victory formation blue and Andy’s in not blue.

How’s your feeling on the 2011 Steelers, not just based on Sunday’s performance but the entire season to date?

Content and happy are words you won’t hear from me. The o-line is scarier than it was last year. Roethlisberger is a year older and is more worn down by the constant hits. The defense looks old. I am thankful that the Steelers schedule is one of the easiest so they can have time to get better. I still believe they can win ten to eleven games total.

Will Roethlisberger survive behind an offensive line that makes Swiss cheese look like a brick wall?

Ben is a big dude and is tough as they come, but he needs a break. If Bruce Arians decides to go to a quick strike wide-open spread offense, he may have a chance to last the season. Otherwise, I think Batch and Dixon will see time if the onslaught continues.

Is the ongoing debate over Antonio Brown/Emmanuel Sanders as fantasy WRs going to have a clear winner?

I don’t see a winner between the two for fantasy, but I do see two losers for fantasy, i.e: Hines Ward and Heath Miller. Sanders can run block so he will get more series, however, Brown has the more long-term upside.

How does this defense shut down the red-hot Matt Hasselbeck? (yeah, words I did not expect to say this year)

They cannot stop him, they can only hope to contain him (lol as I always wanted to say that). Pressure will be applied and we know Troy likes to sky over your o-line to make plays. Clearly the Steelers focus will be on CJ199. They know Nate Washington well. Jared Cook will be the biggest chess piece for the Titans.

Are you sticking with your earlier pledge not to purchase any Steeler/NFL gear due to the lockout? What’s the game-day jersey you wear to honor the Steelers of the past?

I have not purchased any Steelers gear this year and have no plans to right now. I still wear my Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis jersys. Maybe next year I will throw some hard earned money down and get a throw back jersey for one of the great HOFs (Mel Blount/Jack Lambert/Mean Joe Greene).

What are you working on these days? Not much as usual, right? Plug your upcoming podcast guests and articles if you’d like.

I am truly streamlining these days. I write my weekly big Blitzkrieg article for draftbreakdown.com (when I say big I’m not kidding as I watch and detail at least 10 NFL games) every Tuesday. I also write two weekly articles for fantasyalarm.com. I write a Rookie Report for the week prior on Tuesdays and on Thursdays I write a Young Bucks article discussing 2nd to 4th year players that you should be acquiring in your dynasty/keeper leagues. My weekly Dynasty Blitz podcast is on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm EST on blogtalkradio.com and I feature a different weekly guest to talk about dynasty strategies, college players to watch, etc. [Zach note: As the season’s gotten busier, I keep Andy’s podcast on my must-listen list.]

Now it’s time to cross the streams, Ghostbusters style. Andy had some questions for me. I’ll pose his questions in the normal font color and my answers in blue.

How soon do you think Donnie Avery, if at all, will make an impact?

It was interesting that over the summer Avery swore that he retained his sub 4.3 40 speed after the ACL injury, but he couldn’t make the Rams squad (tons of future Jerry Porters in that group) and it took until week three for the Titans to pick him up. If Avery gets in the game, expect nothing but 9 routes and bubble screens. His impact will be minimal unless there are more injuries.

Who is the real Jared Cook? The underperformer or the superstar in the making?

He is both and neither. Cook can’t quite figure out where to line up half the time and teams know that it’s probably not a run when he comes into the game. As you saw in his 80-yard catch, he’s a tad athletic. He’s not going to be a consistent five-catch guy (six targets last week) but you might get a 3/100 line from him. For such a fast guy, he sure is developing slowly.

Will CJ get to at least 1.5K or you just hoping for 1k?

After week three he was on pace for 500 yards. After last week he’s on pace for 800 yards. How about 1.25k?

Can Will Witherspoon keep this up?

Kind of fluky performances in week 3 and 4. The interception was on a tipped ball by Jason Jones, and he was in coverage last week a lot since the Browns were down 31-6 early in the second half. He’s not going to be an IDP fantasy star and he’s kind of a liability in coverage. He has "veteran moxie" which means the Titans don’t have anyone better.

Thanks for the back and forth, Andy. I will refrain from drying my car with a Terrible Towel for one week. Find Andy and all of his associated fantasy football goodness on Twitter.

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