2013 Outlook: Brown's body type doesn't fit a traditional "No. 1 WR" mold. He's 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds. But in Todd Haley's short-passing offense, Brown is a pretty strong fit. He's an accomplished route-runner, he's got good hands and he's lightning-quick after the catch. Mike Wallace left for Miami, which means Brown is the most dangerous receiver at Ben Roethlisberger's disposal. His 2012 campaign was disappointing, but remember that Brown was dealing with a high-ankle sprain for much of the year. We're at least optimistic he'll dramatically improve on last season's pedestrian numbers.
2013 Outlook: The Steelers have a well-earned reputation for smash-mouth play calling; over the past three seasons, they're fifth among all teams in rushing attempts inside an opponent's 3. But is Bell the right guy to assume this mantle? At 244 pounds, he's got the body for it, but sometimes at Michigan State, Bell wasn't agile in the hole and took a while to get moving forward. Even worse, he suffered a Lisfranc injury in a preseason game, and should miss time to begin the '13 season. Bell is a better player than backfield mates Isaac Redman, La'Rod Stephens-Howling and Felix Jones, but he won't help you if he stays injured.
2013 Outlook: Big Ben's toughness is unquestioned, but it keeps getting the Steelers in trouble. For the second straight year, Roethlisberger missed crucial time to injury during a playoff push, victimized by a shaky O-line and his tendency to hold the ball. Before his Week 10 shoulder and rib woes, however, he was on pace for 4,406 passing yards, 32 TDs, eight INTs and a 67 percent completion rate. Coordinator Todd Haley's quick-release, inside-the-numbers attack suited Big Ben fine. The concern for '13 is continued upheaval in Roethlisberger's blocking, and the removal of playmakers Mike Wallace (free agency) and Heath Miller (torn ACL) from Pittsburgh's attack. Add the likelihood he'll miss games because of injury, and Roethlisberger looks more like a fantasy backup than a starter.
2013 Outlook: Sanders' self-esteem has to be at an all-time high. When the Patriots signed him to an offer sheet this spring, Ben Roethlisberger convinced Pittsburgh management to match the offer, and so Sanders returns to Steel Town coming off his best season. With Mike Wallace gone, Sanders joins Antonio Brown as a starter in two-WR sets, though neither man has Wallace's big-play potential. Quicker than he is fast, Sanders can thrive in Todd Haley's short-passing offense, and hopes to make major strides in his yards-after-catch average. Still, he's never topped 44 grabs in a season, so keep those expectations in check.
2013 Outlook: At 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Redman is a grinding power runner who does his best work late in games against worn-down defenses. But he blew a chance to run away with the Pittsburgh RB job last year, and by now it's obvious he doesn't have difference-making talent. The Steelers drafted Le'Veon Bell this April, but Bell injured a foot in camp, so the team may be right back where they started, as Redman appears to be the Week 1 starter for Pittsburgh
2013 Outlook: The Steelers were 25th in takeaways last year and only managed one scoring play. So how did this D/ST finish a respectable 12th in fantasy points? No one moved the ball on them. The black-and-yellow allowed only 19.6 points per game and a league-low 275.8 yards per game. And to be fair, losing Troy Polamalu for half the season factored into the lack of takeaways. This group will move forward without James Harrison and Casey Hampton. What's crucial is that younger players like Jason Worilds, Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward and Jarvis Jones show they're ready to step up. We think they will.
2013 Outlook: The Human Hyphen finally got a chance to be a feature back in his fourth pro season, after Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells both went down with injury and everyone else on the Cardinals depth chart stunk it up. LSH broke a couple long runs, but mostly proved that at 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds without true breakaway speed, he's best suited for a reserve job. The Steelers signed him to play a role when they go spread, and we think he'll be more of a factor than Felix Jones will in the passing game.
2013 Outlook: Under Todd Haley's quick-fire offensive system in 2012, Miller put together the best statistical season of his eight-year career. But he badly injured his right knee in Week 16, tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL. Incredibly, he won't begin the forthcoming season on the PUP list, meaning the Steelers anticipate him being able to contribute in the first six games of the year. Clearly, you need to see Miller out there before you can consider starting him in your fantasy league, but his impressive recovery makes him a factor, which we wouldn't have believed just nine months ago.
2013 Outlook: Even as he bid adieu to his former first-round pick this offseason, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones insisted that Jones wasn't a bust. Tell yourself whatever you need to, Jerry, but Felix never panned out in Dallas. Sure, he started 23 games there and managed 800 rush yards in 2010. But Jones also fumbled 10 times as a Cowboy and quickly lost his job to DeMarco Murray in '11. Now Jones will fight to make an impact in a crowded backfield in Pittsburgh, after the Eagles traded him in late August. But he's a fragile player whose raw speed has never translated to on-field breakaway ability. At this point, he's nothing more than added depth for the Steelers.
2013 Outlook: Wheaton fits the mold of a Todd Haley receiver: He may be undersized, but he's electric in the open field and can break away from defenders if given a sliver of daylight. In fact, Wheaton is basically a clone of the two guys at the top of Pittsburgh's depth chart, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. It wouldn't be a surprise to see an all-Smurfs lineup of wideouts on the field at times in 2013, though it's also likely that Wheaton was drafted as a potential replacement for Sanders, who's operating on a one-year contract this season.
2013 Outlook: We try not to get carried away worrying about stadium environments when considering fantasy kickers. But we'll make exceptions, and booting in Heinz Field is one of those. As winter approaches, the Pittsburgh wind is just tough. For years, longtime Steelers kicker Jeff Reed was undervalued because his conversion rate tended to be low and he simply didn't get many long-distance attempts, and Suisham will likely receive the same fate. Seen through that light, Suisham's 90.3 percent success rate in '12 is impressive, but he only had three attempts of 50-plus, and only made one.
2013 Outlook: Paulson played mostly special teams as a rookie last year, though he did catch seven passes. But Heath Miller suffered a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in his right knee in Week 16, and it's unlikely that he'll be ready to go Week 1. For a few games, at least, that likely means Paulson is the starter. But Miller was able to avoid the PUP list, meaning the Steelers expect him to return within their first six games. Odds are that Paulson doesn't become a fantasy force in Miller's absence.
2013 Outlook: Gradkowski has only thrown 29 regular-season pass attempts the past two years, and the Steelers will be his fifth NFL team. But Ben Roethlisberger gets hit and hurt regularly, having missed seven games over the past three years, which means provided he beats out rookie Landry Jones for the backup job, Gradkowski could find himself in a starting role for multiple games in '13. We're not promising that will go perfectly; after all, Gradkowski has an ugly career 21/24 TD-to-INT ratio. But it couldn't go much worse than it did for Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich over the past few seasons.