Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known for their defense for years. This season is no different, with the new addition of Myles Jack to the defense’s interior and adding Larry Ogunjobi to the defensive line. Pittsburgh has worked to get younger across the board, keeping key veterans in place to bring them along throughout the season. Let us dive into the IDP players that will be most useful this season.
Ogunjobi is coming off a career year with Cincinnati with seven sacks, 49 tackles, 12 TFL, and 16 QB hits. He failed a physical. Otherwise, he would be a Chicago Bear getting paid, but he signed a one-year deal with the Steelers. With the caliber players around him on this defense, it will be hard-pressed not to see him providing a steady number of fantasy points weekly. If I need depth, I will target Ogunjobi, but don’t go over the top for him. He is an excellent DL3 and bye week filler throughout the season.
Heyward is an essential piece to the defensive line. Despite his age of (33), he averaged 17 points a game. The big pass-rushing defensive tackle is coming off a ten-sack season and an outstanding 89 tackles, unfounded among the DT position. Now the hard part. He IS 33 years old, and age eventually will catch up with him. He is a must-start on your DL, but for how long is where you need to figure out when to dump him for max value.
The reigning Defensive Player Of The Year, Watt, has made the Pro Bowl four seasons in a row and has been named to first-team All-Pro each of the last three seasons. Watt tied the single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks and also recorded 64 tackles, which was the second highest total in his career. He forced five fumbles and recovered three, all while missing two games.
Devin Bush/Robert Spillane
These two are vying for the left inside linebacker starting position. As of right now, it seems that Bush is the starter, but after the latest pre-season game, he may be concerned about keeping his place. Spillane has a good camp and is doing an excellent job inside, fighting off blocks and finding the ball. Bush has been quite the opposite. He lost snaps late into the 2021 season, and the Steelers didn’t pick up the fifth-year option. All signs are if you own one of the linebackers, go and get the other to be safe that will have low-end LB2 or high-end LB3 to start in your lineups. As for trading for them, I wouldn’t touch either until I know who the true starter will be.
Jack is the best overall linebacker since Ryan Shazier, and the Steelers feel like they finally found his replacement. He is an all-around linebacker who can cover the pass and the run, and his playmaking ability is what the Steelers have been needing. As for trading, I would make a move for him if you need/can afford to go after him in your leagues. He is going to LB1/LB2 without a doubt.
Highsmith has locked in the outside linebacker starting opposite of TJ Watt. He has improved in the last two seasons regarding sacks and tackles: rookie season, two sacks, 42 tackles, and six sacks and 74 tackles in 2021. I prefer to be able to plug him into my DL position since he has dual position eligibility and is a minor cheat code if you will.
Edmunds is the starting strong safety for the Steelers after returning from testing free agency on a one-year prove-it deal. He has missed one game in his first four seasons. Edmunds was coming off a campaign of 89 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass deflections through 17 starts in 2021. Edmunds is a high-end DB3, low-end DB2, but the Steelers don’t need help from the secondary in the blitz in the game, so do not expect many QB hits or sacks.
Fitzpatrick had a superb 2021 season playing in 16 games and amassing a career-high 124 tackles (84 solos), two interceptions, seven pass deflections, and FF/FR for good measure a number four rank among DBs. Fitzpatrick looks to make a significant impact again in 2022, and fantasy managers should make him a priority when the DBs start to come off the board. As for trading, he is worth going after if you need a DB1 or want to boast the position in the lineup.
Pittsburgh will have a lot of opportunities with their schedule as they face the Bengals, Patriots, Browns, Bills, Tampa Bay, Miami, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. This schedule tells me there will be high-octane offenses slinging it, which means we should see some shootouts, which makes for a high-scoring IDP.
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