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NFL Draft 32 for 32 - Pittsburgh Steelers


The 2018 season was one of discord for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one that played out for all eyes to see. With Le'Veon Bell choosing to sit out the entire season due to a contract dispute, Ben Roethlisberger put together his best statistical season to date (5,129 yards and 37 total TD, 456.10 FP). Although the ever-consistent Antonio Brown put together another great season (he led the league with 15 TD), it was the breakout of JuJu Smith-Schuster (111/1,426/7) that added another level to the Steelers offense. But after the drama that led to the departure of Antonio Brown, it will be up to Smith-Schuster to take over the mantle as Roethlisberger's go-to receiver. When it comes to fantasy value, Roethlisberger will be viewed as a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 during draft time. Meanwhile Smith-Schuster may see his name hyped up enough to be one of the top three receivers off the board in the first round.

Even with Le'Veon Bell missing the entire season, the Steelers running game did not miss a beat. Holding down the fort was James Conner. He finished the season as RB6 in PPR formats (280 FP) and was a key part of many fantasy championship teams. If you were smart enough to handcuff Bell with Conner, kudos to you, but he was actually selected by a larger amount of owners as a dig to the Bell drafters. Going into 2019, Conner is now the man in the Steelers backfield and will be a player to look at in the early parts of the second round in fantasy. But keep an eye on his backfield mate, Jaylen Samuels. He showed late in the season that he could handle the workload if something were to happen to Conner.

Looking towards the draft, the Steelers are a team that will be looking to add players to the defensive side of the ball. The defense was in shambles last season and are in need of playmakers. But a potential replacement for the void left by Antonio Brown will be something the team looks to do as well.

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Top Three Projected Selections

First Round- Byron Murphy, CB Washington (20th overall)
Second Round- D'Andre Walker, LB Georgia (52nd)
Third Round- Kelvin Harmon, WR NC State (66th)

Remaining Picks
Third Round- 83rd
Fourth Round- 122nd
Fifth Round- 141st
Sixth Round- 175th, 192nd, 207th
Seventh Round- 219th

Attempting to solve the issues with the defense begins by adding Byron Murphy to the secondary. He fits the mold to start at corner for this team immediately. Murphy plays an aggressive man coverage style with great ball-hawking skills. He has the ability to process a quarterback while also keeping a receiver's route development in check. His short-area twitch and quick feet keep him in a position to win opposite most receivers. But if a receiver gets by him, his closing speed is not the best in this class. Murphy will give the Steelers some hope at corner opposite Joe Haden, but not enough to bring this defense to any fantasy relevance.

Going true to form the Steelers take a shot at the linebacker position with D'Andre Walker. The slightly undersized prospect will fit right into the team's 3-4 scheme. He has the edge burst that can get around blockers and get to the QB. He has some issue with his play strength, something that should get worked out with this coaching staff. If he can improve his run stopping abilities, Walker should easily project out as a three-down LB at the pro level.

In an attempt to find someone to take over Antonio Brown's role on the offense, the Steelers select Kelvin Harmon. A lot was expected of Harmon going into the offseason testing, but after some poor showings, Harmon's draft stock has fallen. He has average speed for the position but knows how to play to his strengths. He has trouble separating against tight man coverage, but he uses his frame well and ball skills to make plays. With James Washington also in the fold for the Steelers, Harmon will have to pick up the offense very quickly to earn the number of snaps he needs to provide value in fantasy.

In seasonal formats, he has some late-round appeal, much like Washington had just last season. He could add some value as a Flex play late in the 2019 season. When it comes to dynasty, he should be a player that you are targeting in the second round of rookie drafts. It may take a couple of years, but Harmon has the skills to be an effective option in fantasy for a number of years.

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