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Training Camp 2-A-Days Pittsburgh / Cincinnati

Training Camp 2-A-Days Pittsburgh / Cincinnati

NFL teams primarily use two-a-days to get in shape for the upcoming season. NFL teams primarily use two-a-days to get in shape for the upcoming season. We continue our 16 Two-A-Day previews updating on training camp, roster battles and Dynasty relevance.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers finished last season with a 13-3 record and another AFC North Championship. The Steelers lost the Divisional Round contest vs the Jacksonville Jaguars in a shootout 45-42. The Steelers moved on from longtime Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley and promoted quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner into that role for the 2018 season.

Draft
1.28 – Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
2.28 – James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
3.12 – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
3.28 – Chuks Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
5.11 – Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
5.28 – Jaylen Samuels, RB, North Carolina State
7.28 – Joshua Frazier, DL, Alabama

Quarterback

 

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Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben returns to the Steelers for his 15th season despite rumors of his desire to retire. It appears that the retirement talk was more a leverage play to force the Steelers to deal with Todd Haley. Now that Randy Fichtner is the OC in Pittsburgh it has been reported that Ben would like to play for a few more seasons. This job is his unless he is injured. Ben has some of the best offensive weapons in the league at his disposal. I like Ben to finish inside the top 12 QB this season.

Landry Jones – With the addition of Joshua Dobbs last season, and Mason Rudolph this year, it would appear that Jones is a likely training camp release.

Joshua Dobbs – Dobbs has shown well in preseason action and likely has earned the backup role to Roethlisberger this season.

Mason Rudolph – The Steelers traded up in the 2018 draft to select their QB of the future, to the dismay of Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph has the skill set to challenge Dobbs for the backup position. He likely would need an injury to Ben to be relevant anytime soon. Rudolph is the QB in Pittsburgh to stash on your bench.

Running Back

Le’Veon Bell – For the second straight season, Bell and the Steelers were unable to come to terms on a long-term contract. As a result, Le’Veon will play the 2018 season under the franchise tag again. 2018 is almost a certainty to be his final season in Pittsburgh. I believe that this is likely the last solid season for Bell as a top end fantasy producer. Pittsburgh, in my opinion, will run Bell into the dirt this year and give him another 400+ touch season barring injury. Bell should land in the top 4 at RB again this season. If I am the Bell owner and not contending I am looking to sell sooner rather than later.

James Conner – I wasn’t that high on James Conner last season coming out of college. I was wrong. I did not realize that Conner suffered a torn MCL in the 2015 season opener. He was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during the rehab process and was finally cancer-free during the off-season. He came back for his senior year in 2016 and record a 1000 yard season with 16 TDS. Drafted in the third round of the 3rd round of the 2017 draft, Connor has gone from a player that I had little interest in, to a RB that I am targeting to own on my Dynasty rosters.

Fitzgerald Toussaint – Fitz has been a decent contributor on special teams since joining the Steelers in 2014. The addition of James Conner last season may have led to Fitz starting the season on the practice squad. Called up to the 53 man roster in December, Toussaint remained a bit part on offense and a member of the special team squad. He is likely on the roster bubble again this year. I would anticipate that he is likely going to miss out on the 53 man roster again this season. Fitzgerald Toussaint Holds no fantasy value.

Jaylen Samuels – Selected in the 5th round out of North Carolina State, Samuels has been described as a Swiss Army Knife type of RB. Samuels has been working as a running back with the Steelers, but he played everywhere during his time at NC State. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has mentioned that Samuels will be highly involved in the Steelers passing attack. Highly involved may be coach speak, but I do anticipate that Samuels makes some noise in his rookie season. Samuels is a great late round flyer in your rookie drafts and worthy of a stash on your bench or practice squad. It is very possible that Conner and Samuels make up the RBBC in Pittsburgh in 2019.

Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown – AB remains one of the top 3 WR in the game today. Obviously, a must add in all formats Brown has finished as the #1 WR each of the past 4 seasons. You have to go back to 2013 to find a season in which he wasn’t #1. AB finished 3rd in 2013. Brown will have some solid competition for his crown in 2018, don’t be surprised if he claims it once again.

 

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JuJu Smith-Shuster – Last season rookie JuJu Smith-Shuster finished as WR23. Primarily running as the 3rd WR in Pittsburgh, JuJu impressed those in management that he was ready for an increased role. The Steelers dealt Martavis Bryant to the Raiders at the draft for a 3rd round selection. JuJu heads into 2018 as the #2 option for Ben and the Steelers. JuJu is a must-own in all formats and has mid to high WR2 potential this season.

James WashingtonJames Washington was selected in the second round out of Oklahoma State in the 2018 draft. Washington received the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s top WR in 2017. He led the nation in receiving yards with 1549. Washington is certain to grab the #3 spot with the Steelers this season. Washington is my 7th ranked rookie WR, and the 15th overall rookie this season. He is likely to climb up my rankings before week one of the regular season.

Darrius Heyward-Bey – Known as one of the best blocking WR in football, DHB will be a member of the Steelers WR crew in 2018. In addition to his blocking skills, he is also a very solid member of the Steelers special teams. DHB holds no fantasy value, however.

Justin Hunter – Quite possibly a player who will be released this preseason, Hunter is not a player that should be owned in any Dynasty format

Tight End

Vance McDonald – McDonald is a TE that I have liked since his early days in San Francisco. He’s a big TE that runs good routes and has nice hands. He is also a rather injury prone TE and that has hampered his ability to stay on the field regardless of the uniform he wears. McDonald has currently banged up once again this preseason. I do feel as though this is a TE to own on your Dynasty Roster. I would ensure that you have some insurance to go along with him. If he can play the majority of this season he has top 15 potentials.

Jesse James – The Road Dogg is a very dependable TE for the Steelers. He likely will never be a top dog (pun intended) in Pittsburgh but he gives the Steelers a reliable every down TE if need be due to the inconsistent health of McDonald. James could be rostered on your Dynasty team, but should likely be your 3rd option at best.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were a team that seemed to make the playoffs every year and subsequently loss their first matchup for years. The last two seasons they have been a train wreck. Somehow after last season Head Coach, Marvin Lewis was not only retained after a 7-9 season but he was given a two-year contract extension. Lewis holds a 0-7 playoff record. The Bengals made some moves to upgrade the offensive line this offseason. They had the worst offensive line in the league last season and the entire offense suffered as a result.

Draft

1.21- Billy Price, C, Ohio State
2.22- Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
3.13 – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
3.14 – Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas
4.12- Mark Walton, RB, Miami
5.14 – Devontae Harris, CB Illinois State
5.21- Andrew Brown, DE, Virginia
5.33- Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan
7.31 – Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
7.34- Rod Taylor, OL, Mississippi
7.35 – Auden Tate, WR, Florida State

Quarterback

 

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Andy Dalton – Dalton finished last season as QB17. His play was inconsistent and he threw for a career-low 3200 yards. He struggled behind a terrible offensive line with only one viable passing option at WR and TE the majority of the season. The Bengals have upgraded the offensive line in 2018, and have high hopes for John Ross and Tyler Boyd to compliment AJ Green. Regardless of the upgrade, Dalton continues to be a QB that should not be rostered in 1 QB leagues. He is a low-end 2nd QB in Super-flex and 2QB leagues at best. I anticipate that Dalton finishes in the 18-25 range at Qb in 2018 at best.

Matt Barkley – If AJ McCarron couldn’t get some regular playing time in this offense, then barring injury to Dalton, Barkley won’t either. Marvin Lewis seems hell bend to stick with Dalton and this season with his options that is likely the best course of action.

Running Back

Joe Mixon – Mixon showed at times last season why he was a 2nd round draft choice of the Bengals last season. Mixon possesses first-round talent and slid in the draft due to his off-field situation. Jeremy Hill is gone, and the Bengals addressed the offensive line by drafting C Billy Price, and trading for Cordy Glenn. Mixon is a three-down talent and at times this season will be used as one. Mixon is my breakout RB in 2018 and a RB that I fully expect to finish in the top 12.

Giovani Bernard – Gio is the Bengals third down back. He possesses the skills to be more but in this offense with Joe Mixon in tow, that is his role. Gio is an excellent pass catching RB and when pressed into more of a workload can handle his own. Gio is a RB I love to have on my Dynasty team. He is in a contract year and likely his final season in Cincinnati. I look forward to his 2019 landing spot, it very well may be a spot that leverages his talents more than Cincinnati.

Mark Walton – The 4th round selection out of Miami has struggled thus far in training camp. Slowed by ankle surgery in his junior year at Miami, Walton has shown flashes of feature back talent. At this stage, I would anticipate that Walton is a spare part in Cincinnati in 2018. In 2019 I anticipate Joe Mixon to take over as a three-down back and that Walton is the change of pace guy off the bench. He is worthy of a bench or practice roster stash spot on your Dynasty team. My desire to own him has been declining as the preseason progresses. Walton is my 36th ranked rookie in 2018.

Wide Receiver

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AJ GreenAJ Green is a great WR. The unfortunate part for Green is he has been the only one in Cincinnati for quite a while. He struggled in 2017 due to inconsistent QB play, a terrible offensive line, and consistent double coverage. Green had only 3 100 yard games in 2017 and failed to score a TD in the final month of the season. He still managed to finish the season with over 1000 yards and as WR10. Green has finished with over 1000 yards in every season of his career with the exception of 2016. He finished that season with 964 in 10 games. The Bengals are hoping that the improved offensive line, as well as the potential increase in productivity out of John Ross, Tyler Boyd, and Tyler Eifert, will result in a bounce-back type of season for Green. He’s 30 years old now and still possesses the talent to be a top 12 WR. I would anticipate that Green finishes as a mid to high WR2 in 2018.

John Ross – Ross’ 2017 was a lost season. It’s not often that a first-round selection enters his second season looking for his first career reception but that is what Ross is about to do. Ross was selected 9th overall in the 2017 entry draft. Limited by injury, Ross appeared in 3 games last season and has 1 rush for 12 yards and a fumble to show for it. If you are keeping score at home, that’s negative fantasy points. Ross enters 2018 healthy and as the Bengals #2 WR. I struggle with my expectations of Ross. I see Ross with a WR4 finish to the season as his ceiling. He absolutely should be owned in Dynasty, when to start him though is anyone’s best guess.

Tyler Boyd – Boyd the 2nd round selection in 2016 is another WR the Bengals are looking to get more out of. Boyd was limited to 10 games last season, after appearing in all 16 as a rookie. Boyd is in great shape to be a third-year breakout receiver in my opinion. If I can’t own AJ Green, then Tyler Boyd is the Bengal WR I want to have on my Dynasty roster.

Josh Malone – Malone is quietly a WR to keep your eye on. A favorite of Rick Butts this WR is likely to see an increase in targets and catches on 2018. His stats from last season don’t suggest it though. Six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown during his rookie year isn’t much to get excited about. Malone played just more than 25 percent of the Bengals offensive snaps last season, which was the fourth most among Bengal receivers. Still, Malone has some things working in his favor in 2018, maybe enough so that he could become the Bengals’ No. 2 WR if things go his way. He is big, fast, runs solid routes and has good hands. If Boyd and or Ross stumble, look for Malone to be the WR Cincinnati turns to along with AJ. Josh Malone’s performance thus far in camp led to the release of Brandon LaFell in my opinion. Malone is an excellent bench stash on your roster.

Tight End

Tyler Eifert – In 2015 Tyler Eifert caught 13 touchdowns. In the last two seasons combined, he has caught 5. In 2015 he appeared in 13 games, in the last two seasons he has played 10. Clearly, the area of opportunity here is his health and ability to suit up for Cincinnati. If he can stay healthy, I have no doubt that he will bounce back into the high TE2 low TE1 conversation. I do feel that Eifert plays this season and plays somewhere in the 8-12 game range. He won’t likely sustain the TD catch rate of 2015 or 2016 he will, however, remain a sold RedZone option.

Tyler Kroft – If Eifert struggles to stay healthy again this season, Kroft will once again be the TE of choice in Cincinnati. Kroft caught 7 TDS on 62 targets last season. Kroft is a nice TE to pair with Eifert and should be on your bench as your 3rd or 4th TE depending on your league’s roster size.

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About The Author

Rob Sullivan

Started playing fantasy in a work league in 2007 and have been an active player ever since, engaging in multiple leagues annually, including a league I’ve commissioned since 2012. My passion for fantasy was triggered after entering my first dynasty league in 2016; building a team retained for years to come became an obsession. As an active waiver wire participant, who loves the art of the deal as much as I do, dynasty is the perfect match. Dynasty humbles you, teaches you something each and every season, and I just can’t get enough.