Shark Bites

The Steelers nabbed Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs in the 4th round of the NFL Draft. The aerospace engineering major (yeah — he’s a rocket scientist) completed 61.5% of his college passes with 53 TDs vs. 29 INTs. He’s a project as a passer. But he obviously has the smarts. And he’s a plus athlete, clocking a 4.64-second 40 time and earning an 88th percentile SPARQ score. Pittsburgh will try to develop Dobbs into Ben Roethlisberger’s successor.

The Steelers selected Pittsburgh RB James Conner in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Conner missed the 2015 season while battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he conquered the illness to post 216-1092-16 in 2016. A high-character tackle breaker, Conner has a real shot to enter Week 1 as Pittsburgh’s #2 RB. For now, Le'Veon Bell is slated to play under the franchise tag, and his durability woes could open the door for Conner to see early-career touches.

The Steelers added USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster with the 62nd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. JuJu looked like a surefire 1st-round pick a year ago, coming off a big 89-1,454-10 line as an 18-year-old true sophomore. He wasn’t as productive this past year with a QB change from Cody Kessler to Sam Darnold. But he still led USC in catches, receiving yards and TDs — while posting similar market-share numbers as Chargers 1st-rounder Mike Williams. Smith-Schuster is a physical 6’1, 215-pounder. He won’t blow you away with athleticism (he posted a 65th percentile SPARQ score) but flashes a nice combination of ball tracking, body control and hands. He looks like a possession-type receiver at the next level — with upside considering he doesn’t turn 21 until November. Smith-Schuster joins a loaded Steelers offense alongside Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Capable of serving as a big slot receiver, JuJu could take Eli Rogers’ job. He’ll struggle for volume — at least in the short term — but could be uber-efficient with TD upside in a high-scoring offense.

The Steelers grabbed OLB T.J. Watt with the 30th pick in Round 1. Watt delivered just 1 year of big production at Wisconsin. But he followed that 11.5-sack season with a terrific Scouting Combine. Pittsburgh will have an interesting pass rush in 2017 between Watt and Bud Dupree. We'll see how quickly Watt can work toward a starting role.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has officially been reinstated from his indefinite suspension, GM Kevin Colbert announced on Tuesday. The decision took longer than expected, but it seemed to be heading this way for a while after Bryant has seemingly kept his nose clean for the past year. The last time we saw him -- back in 2015 -- he tallied 765 yards and 6 TDs in just 11 games, finishing 21st among WRs in PPR points per game. Still only 25 years old, he's capable of returning to that level of production on a high-octane Steelers offense.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger tweeted on Friday that he'll return for his 14th season in 2017. He had suggested earlier this offseason that he was considering retirement, although no one seemed to take it very seriously. Despite turning 35 last month and suffering an assortment of injuries, Roethlisberger remained effective last season. He ranked 7th among QBs in fantasy points per game -- albeit with some nasty home/road splits. Big Ben's return is obviously excellent news for RB Le'Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown and the rest of Pittsburgh's skill-position guys.

The Steelers have signed RB Knile Davis. It's notable if only because RB DeAngelo Williams remains a free agent. Another Le'Veon Bell injury could find Davis as the lead back in a high-scoring offense. We emphasize "could," though, because he's certainly no lock to win the backup gig. Davis has failed to top 3.5 yards per carry in any of his 4 NFL seasons.

The Steelers have signed WR Justin Hunter. The former 2nd-round pick has disappointed in Tennessee and Buffalo through 4 NFL seasons. Pittsburgh will be the best offense Hunter has played in, but he's still a long shot to emerge as a fantasy factor. If Martavis Bryant is reinstated, Hunter figures to battle with Sammie Coates for the #4 spot on the depth chart behind Bryant, Antonio Brown and Eli Rogers.

A decision on Steelers WR Martavis Bryant's reinstatement is expected to come by March 29. That's 60 days from January 28, when Bryant officially applied for reinstatement. Bryant has stayed clean over the past year, rehabbing, training and coaching high school football. We're expecting him to be reinstated, but we'll find out for sure within the next couple of weeks. Still just 25, Bryant is capable of re-emerging as a major asset for both the Steelers and fantasy football owners.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell underwent surgery on Monday to address his core muscle injury, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. He's expected to be sidelined for 6 weeks. It's unclear why he waited so long to go under the knife, but he should still be healthy in time for spring workouts -- and definitely for the start of training camp in July. Durability remains a concern for a guy who's been injured in all 4 of his NFL seasons. But Bell has also finished all 4 seasons among the top 10 RBs in PPR points per game, including #1 finishes in 2014 and 2016.

The Steelers and WR Antonio Brown have agreed to a 4-year, $68 million contract extension. It makes Brown the highest-paid WR in the league -- a distinction he's certainly earned. He's tallied 4 consecutive 100+ catch seasons and has finished as the #1 WR in PPR scoring in 3 straight years. Turning 29 in July, Brown should still have a few elite seasons in the tank. He's now locked up with the Steelers through the 2021 campaign.

The Steelers have used their exclusive-rights franchise tag on RB Le'Veon Bell. It means no other team can make him an offer this offseason. He'll make about $12 million from the Steelers in 2017. The 2 sides still have until July 15 to agree to a multi-year deal, although we haven't heard any signs of progress toward that so far. That creates some uncertainty with Bell's long-term dynasty outlook, but he's locked in as a top 3 RB in redraft leagues.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell has yet to schedule groin surgery and isn't expected to, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. We'll chalk that up as good news, although it remains unclear when Bell will be back to 100%. Durability remains a concern for a guy who's had the past 3 seasons ended by injuries.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell has yet to schedule groin surgery and isn't expected to, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. We'll chalk that up as good news, although it remains unclear when Bell will be back to 100%. Durability remains a concern for a guy who's had the past 3 seasons ended by injuries.

Steelers WR Sammie Coates recently had sports hernia surgery, according to ESPN.com. The issue never appeared on 2016 injury reports and reportedly didn't affect his practice participation at all. It shouldn't inhibit his preparation for 2017 either, given the timing of the operation. Coates' biggest issue heading into next year figures to be the return of WR Martavis Bryant, who plays the Coates role better than Coates does. Expect a diminished presence from Coates in his 3rd season, especially after he saw his playing time dip late in 2016. We'll be surprised if he shows up as a worthwhile fantasy football factor in the coming year.

Steelers WR Sammie Coates recently underwent surgery to repair fractures and tendon damage in his left ring and index fingers, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. The injuries are believed to have occurred in Week 5 against the Jets. Coates racked up 19 catches, 421 yards and 2 scores in his first 5 games but just 2 catches for 14 scoreless yards the rest of the way. It's safe to assume the finger injuries were an issue. Coates still needs significant work on his route-running and ball-tracking. And his 2017 role will be impacted by whether WR Martavis Bryant is reinstated. Turning just 24 in March, though, Coates remains an intriguing dynasty stash and potential 2017 redraft flier.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in a radio appearance on Tuesday wouldn't commit to returning for 2017 and implied that he's open to retirement. Big Ben turns 35 in March and has taken a beating throughout his 13-year career. We'd ultimately be surprised if he hung up his cleats now, but it's a reminder to dynasty owners that he's nearing the end.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell injured his groin in the 1st quarter of Sunday's loss to the Patriots. He re-entered for 1 carry but obviously wasn't comfortable and exited for good. It's a disappointing end to a marvelous season. In 14 healthy games, including the playoffs, Bell averaged 114.6 rushing yards, 5.6 catches, 44.2 receiving yards and .79 TDs. Arizona's David Johnson was the only RB to average more PPR points per game. This is, though, the 3rd straight season that ended with an injury for Bell. He hyperextended his knee in 2014 and tore his MCL and PCL last year. The good news is that Bell turns just 25 in February, so he still has age on his side. He's set to hit free agency in March, but it'd be a surprise if Pittsburgh let him get away.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has applied for reinstatement, according to insider Tom Pelissero. Bryant was suspended last March for the entire 2016 season after failing 6 drug tests. He subsequently checked into rehab for both the drug problem and depression. Sports Illustrated recently posted an interview with Bryant, though, that showed him in good spirits and seemingly rededicated to football. If reinstated, Bryant will return for the 2017 at still only 25 years old. There's time for him to turn his career around. He remains a dynasty hold.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger isn't listed on the final injury report. The foot injury that had him in a walking boot after last weekend's win doesn't look like it'll be a major issue in Kansas City on Sunday. The bigger concerns are Roethlisberger's extreme home/road splits and a ball-hawking Chiefs defense.

 
 
 

Turn your phone into a draft weapon with our FREE APP

Download on the App Store Download on Google Play