First things first, you have to imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers have the mental edge over the Baltimore Ravens heading into Thursday Night. Not only is it a short week, but the Ravens have the headache and distraction of the Ray Rice drama. Must be hard to focus on football when the team is surrounded by all this negative attention.
But hey, there's a game to be played
The Steelers are coming off a win against the Cleveland Browns, but they blew a 24 point second half lead. A Shaun Suisham 41 yard field goal as time expired won the game.
The Ravens overcame a 15 point second half deficit but that lead lasted just 48 seconds and they lost to the Bengals 23-16.
Just a reminder the last 5 times the Steelers and Ravens played the scores have been 23-20, 13-10, 23-20, 19-16, 22-20. So usually these games do not produce a lot of fantasy points as the defenses and special teams control the games.
Baltimore was picked apart by Andy Dalton who threw for 301 yards and a touchdown. That's a bad sign for their defense but good news for Ben Roethlisberger owners because Big Ben is coming off a big game as well. Roethlisberger burnt the Browns defense for 365 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens defense will have their hands full with Le'Veon Bell who nearly totaled 200 yards last week (109 rushing, 88 receiving). Expect the Steelers to feed Bell early and often in this game as he should easily total over 100 yards, especially since he is so heavily involved in the pass game. But of course there is a good chance LeGarrette Blount steals a goal line touchdown.
You can never sit Antonio Brown, but the Ravens have shut him down over the past 3 games. In those 3 games, Brown has only mustered 16 catches for 167 yards and has failed to score. If the Ravens focus on taking Brown out of the game, then Markus Wheaton could be in line for a big game. On the other hand, Heath Miller is a guy you might want to give a look this week. Over his last 4 games against the Ravens, Miller has totaled 17 catches for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns.
In week 1 Joe Flacco threw for 345 yards and a touchdown. Impressive right? No. He threw the ball 62 times. I would never advise you to start Joe Flacco unless you need a BYE week filler, which isn't this week, so avoid Flacco in all leagues.
Baltimore's run game will be interesting. We all know Ray Rice is no longer with the Ravens (he would have been suspended this game anyways) and Bernard Pierce was benched last week, which allowed Justin Forsett to make some noise. Forsett racked up 70 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and might start against the Steelers but that doesn't mean much. You can expect the two running backs to split carries and the team will roll with the hot hand. Neither is an ideal fantasy option this week.
A lot of people might be excited to have Steve Smith after week 1, but don't. His 7 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown was nice, but he'll never see 15 targets in a game again. Remember Flacco threw the ball 62 times! Smith is the third option in this passing game behind Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta.
Pitta is coming off a 10 catch game thanks to his 15 targets, but he has never had success against the Steelers. He faced them twice in 2012 and in both games he was held to just a single catch. However, this will be the game he breaks out of his shell against Pittsburgh. With no real run game, Pitta should be a big part of the Ravens game plan.