Detroit Lions (0-8, 4-4 ATS) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3, 3-5), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Lions Stats and Trends
The Lions are the league’s last winless team.
Detroit is 5-1 toward unders in its last six games.
Jared Goff owns an 0-15 record without Sean McVay as his head coach.
Goff has failed to reach 20+ FP in six straight games after doing it twice to open the season. He completed 25/34 passes for 222 scoreless yards (6.5 YPA) and he got pulled late in an embarrassing loss to the Eagles in Week 8. Lions’ quarterbacks absorbed six sacks and the offense averaged 3.9 yards per play. The Steelers let a struggling Justin Fields top his previous career-best in passing yards by 82 yards with his 291/1 passing performance in Week 9.
T.J. Hockenson is doing the best he can with his quarterback play with double-digit FP, 9+ targets, and 6+ catches in three straight games. He’s pacing the team with 22% target share, and his 32% target share since Week 6 is pacing the position. Cole Kmet roasted the Steelers for 6/87 receiving last week.
Detroit’s WR corps is a complete mess coming out of their bye. Amon-Ra St. Brown was the only Lions’ WR to record a catch the last time out with 3/46 receiving on five targets. Kalif Raymond posted 12 catches in Weeks 7-8 before seeing just one target against the Eagles. The Steelers are giving up the 10th-most FPG (38.0) to WRs this season.
D’Andre Swift flopped with Jamaal Williams out of the lineup in Week 8, managing just 12/27 rushing with a lost fumble and a season-low 5/24 receiving in their blowout loss to Philly. Swift is averaging just 3.2 YPC and Williams will likely be back this week to take some work away as a runner, but Swift is still leading all RBs with 47 catches coming out of his bye. The Steelers are giving up the eighth-fewest catches per game (4.1) to RBs this season.
Brolley’s Steelers Stats and Trends
The Steelers are 2-6 toward unders this season.
Pittsburgh is 2-5 ATS in its last seven game
The Steelers have dropped eight straight games ATS as favorites.
Najee Harris is coming off his worst fantasy performance since the season opener, but he still scored 16.1 FP after scoring 19+ FP in six straight contests. Harris has 25+ touches in four straight games and touchdowns in five consecutive contests. The Lions are giving up the second-most FPG (30.1) to RBs, and Jordan Howard and Boston Scott combined for 117/4 rushing in Detroit’s last game.
Ben Roethlisberger has yet to score more than 17.0 FP in eight tries this season, and he’s coming off just his second game with multiple TD passes. The Lions are giving up by far the most yards per attempt at 8.8, and they’re allowing the fifth-most passing TDs per game (1.9) to QBs.
Diontae Johnson is coming off his worst fantasy performance of the season with just 5/56 receiving on six targets against the Bears, which was just the second time in seven games that he’s failed to reach 10+ targets. He could easily get back to double-digit targets this week with Chase Claypool (toe) out for the next couple of weeks. The Lions are facing the third-fewest targets per game (16.5) from WRs, but they’re giving up 2.07 FP per target.
Chase Claypool picked up a toe injury in Week 9, which is going to keep him out multiple weeks — he dealt with foot and hamstring injuries earlier this season. He’s been a massive disappointment since JuJu Smith-Schuster left the lineup despite seeing 81% of the snaps or better in each game. He’s posted just 9/92 receiving on 17 targets and 4/29 rushing in those three contests. James Washington is the new #2 WR for the time, and he’s failed to make an impact the last two weeks with more playing time with just 2/46 receiving on four targets. The Lions are giving up an extremely generous 15.3 YPR to WRs
Pat Freiermuth has 12+ FP and 6+ targets in each of Pittsburgh’s last three games. He had his best two games as a pro with Eric Ebron (hamstring) inactive in Weeks 8-9, posting 9/87/3 on 13 targets. Freiermuth has been TE1 by a wide margin over the last two weeks with 35.7 FPG. Ebron should be back this week but the Steelers would be foolish to cut back on his usage. The Lions have given up 9.6+ FP to individual TEs in three straight games.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.8 (26th)
Plays per game: 68.6 (9th)
Pass: 66.2% (4th) | Run: 33.8% (29th)
Pace: 28.4 (21st)
Plays per game: 67.1 (15th)
Pass: 63.5% (11th) | Run: 36.5% (22nd)
As Brolley alluded to above, the Lions have been a dead under team because they can’t sustain offense. Over their last six games before the bye, Detroit scored a TD on just 8-of-59 drives (13.6%) and punted or turned the ball over on downs on 31-of-59 possessions (52.4%)… Yikes. I’m not sure that’s going to reverse here against a Steelers defense that is giving up a TD on just 18.4% of their opponents possessions (fourth-lowest).
Meanwhile, the Steelers are the same team every week. They’re fairly pass-heavy when the game is within a score (60.3%, 12th-highest) and lean on the run when they have a lead (48.8% run, 15th-highest). This is an absolute smash spot for Najee Harris against a Lions team that is facing 26.4 RB carries per game (fourth-most) because their defense has been in so many negative game-scripts thanks to their inept offense.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Significant targets could be up for grabs in Pittsburgh this week. Chase Claypool is likely facing a doubtful tag after picking up a toe injury in Week 9. The Steelers were already dipping into their wideout depth with JuJu Smith-Schuster done for the year. James Washington kicked inside to work out of the slot the last two weeks. If Claypool does miss time, as expected, Washington would revert back outside, and Ray-Ray McLoud III would see a featured slot role. OC Matt Canada has already kicked the tires on McLoud. His three games with a featured role resulted in 0.63 YPRR (111th-best, if qualified) and 0.139 FP/Rt (112th, if qualified). Rather than relying on McLoud — who has always proved his worth is on special teams, Canada may decide to feature a much higher rate of two-wide sets, and field both Pat Freiermuth and Eric Ebron.
Either way, Baby Gronk has shown enough during Ebron’s absence to maintain his featured role. In addition to posting a 16/145/3 line the last three games, Freiermuth is clearly the better of the two in run blocking. That is a massive advantage in Freiermuth’s corner.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
From my perspective — my Vantage Point (see what I did there) — this game is as simple a breakdown for season-long players as I have seen all year.
The Lions are coming off a bye and an embarrassing loss to the Eagles in which QB Jared Goff was atrocious. Still, he got the ball to TE TJ Hockenson (11 targets, 10 catches), and it’s against a Steelers defense that has allowed TEs to catch 17 passes over their last two games. With LT Taylor Decker expected back to protect Goff’s blindside, I’m starting Hockenson with as much confidence as I can muster for a Detroit Lion.
I know that D’Andre Swift had a rough game in Week 8 against the Eagles, but it isn’t a good sign that Jamaal Williams couldn’t get practices in early in the week as he comes off a quad injury and a bye, so I would expect Swift to be a heavy favorite for bell cow work this week. He had 17 touches to 5 for other Lion RBs before the game got out of hand and Detroit pulled him from action. And, what’s more, he’s now healthy.
With Williams out, I think Jermar Jefferson would be the next man up for the Lions, but in a tough matchup, Swift is the only guy I can trust here. He’s an RB1.
The Lions got more depth at WR this week, and it’s someone with whom Goff is familiar, but it’s not like you can trust any of these WRs here, even in a good matchup.
With Chase Claypool (toe) likely to miss some time, the Steelers become one of the most “narrow” teams in all of fantasy football.
Some relatively good news for #Steelers WR Chase Claypool: His toe injury is not considered season-ending. There was some fear of that originally, but he’s now considered week-to-week, source said. May miss some time, but will be back.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2021
First, there’s Najee Harris. Harris hasn’t had fewer than 20 opportunities since Week 2, and hasn’t had fewer than 15 all year. He is in play to be the fantasy RB1 this week.
Rookie RB PPR points per game all-time:— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) November 9, 2021
1. Marcus Allen (25.4)
2. Saquon Barkley (24.1)
3. Eric Dickerson (23.7)
4. Edgerrin James (23.1)
5. Ezekiel Elliott (21.7)
6. Billy Sims (20.5)
7. Fred Taylor (20.4)
8. Alvin Kamara (20)
9. Najee Harris (19.9) 👀
10. Clinton Portis (19.8)
There’s a question about how much Ben Roethlisberger will have to throw this week with the Steelers heavy home favorites, but when he does throw it, the ball is going to Diontae Johnson and new red-zone star TE Pat Freiermuth. The Steelers can’t possibly take Freiermuth off the field even when Eric Ebron (hamstring) returns. Our Greg Cosell compared Freiermuth to Heath Miller after watching his Penn State tape… and so did someone who carries a lot of weight with Ben.
Ben was out to dinner when Steelers drafted Pat Freiermuth— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) November 10, 2021
Saw the alert on his phone
"I don't know who this guy is"
Minutes later,the phone buzzed again. Was Bruce Arians
"Ben, he's the closest thing to Heath Miller I've ever seen. You'll love this kid.'
"That was enough for me"
As for Diontae, he’s long been a staff favorite, and he should rebound after a slow game last week. Still, his schedule will toughen up after this week’s cushy matchup. Maybe any absence for Claypool will offset it. Here’s Scott Barrett from the Week 10 XFP Report:
“Diontae Johnson had maybe his worst healthy game ever last week, earning just 6 targets and scoring only 11.7 fantasy points. Chicago was a mostly neutral matchup, but Johnson has had the league’s 3rd-worst strength of schedule this season, worth in real terms -3.1 FPG off of his average. He gets a softer matchup this week, against a Lions defense that ranks 11th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+1.8).”