Seattle Seahawks (2-3, 2-3 ATS) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3, 2-3), 8:20 p.m., SNF
Brolley’s Seahawks Stats and Trends
Seattle is 1-4 towards unders this season, and they’re 6-1 toward unders in their last seven road games.
The Seahawks are 2-7 ATS in their last nine road games.
Russell Wilson’s quarterback-best 149 consecutive starts will end this week after he needed surgery to repair a torn tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand. Geno Smith is the next man up for the Seahawks, and the nation found out on Thursday Night Football that Geno is indeed still in the NFL. He played well in a tough spot against the Rams, completing 10/17 passes for 131 yards, one touchdown, and one INT, and he added 3/23 rushing in the final quarter. Smith had attempted just five passes since he arrived in Seattle back in 2019, but he moved the ball well through the air in a small sample size against Los Angeles in Week 5. Geno averaged 20.7 rushing yards per game with seven scores in 29 starts when he first broke into the league with the Jets in 2013-14. The Steelers have allowed 18+ FP to every quarterback they’ve faced this season, and Teddy Bridgewater posted 288/2 passing last week.
D.K. Metcalf dominated on his three targets from Smith (18% share) last week, catching all three for 54 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 5/98/2 receiving against the Rams, which gives him 4+ catches and 50+ yards in every game with five touchdowns overall. Courtland Sutton went off for 7/120/1 receiving against the Steelers last week.
Tyler Lockett saw a team-best four targets from Smith (24%) in his one quarter of play, but he turned those looks into just a seven-yard catch and a back-breaking INT late in the game came when Lockett fell on his route. Lockett hasn’t reached 11+ FP in three straight games, totaling just 13/112 receiving in that span. The Steelers have given up double-digit FP to slot WRs in every game, including 5/69/2 receiving to Randall Cobb in Week 4.
Gerald Everett had his best game of the season in Week 3 (5/54 receiving) before missing the last two games, and he’s played on a healthy 77% of the snaps when in the lineup. Geno did target fellow TE Will Dissly three times (18% share) when he came into the game in Week 5. The Steelers haven’t allowed a TE to reach 12+ FP in a game this season, and Noah Fant managed just 3/20 receiving against them last week.
Chris Carson sat out Week 5 after he suffered a “flare up” of a long-term neck condition. He had played on 45% of the snaps or less in both Weeks 3-4 with Alex Collins working his way into the mix. Collins took over the backfield with a 71% snap share with Carson out of the lineup, and he finished with a solid 15/47 rushing and 2/25 receiving on three targets in their loss to the Rams — DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer combined for 8/57 scrimmage behind him. Carson has been capped between 13-14 touches in Weeks 2-4 after seeing 19 touches in the season opener. The Steelers haven’t allowed a RB to reach 12+ FP in a game this season, but Javonte Williams came a yard short of a long TD on his way to finishing with 11/86 scrimmage.
Brolley’s Steelers Stats and Trends
The Steelers are 4-1 toward unders this season, and they’re 5-1-1 toward unders in their last seven games as a home favorite.
Pittsburgh has failed to cover in six straight games as a favorite.
Ben Roethlisberger has yet to reach 18+ FP in each of his first five games, but he’s coming off his best performance in their victory over the Broncos in Week 5. He completed 15/25 passes for 253 yards (10.1 YPA) and two touchdowns for a season-high 17.0 FP against Denver. The Seahawks are giving up the second-most passing yards (321.6) and the 10th-most FPG (21.5) to QBs this season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Broncos in Week 5, which means Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are going to be even bigger target hogs moving forward. Johnson saw just two targets against the Broncos in Week 5, but he turned them into an efficient 2/72/1 receiving. Claypool erupted for 5/130/1 receiving on a team-high six targets (24% share) after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury. Claypool has run just 19% of his routes from the slot, but he’ll play more big slot when James Washington is on the field. Washington has a 25% slot rate to open the year and Claypool ran 40% of his routes from the slot last week with JuJu leaving early and Washington out of the lineup with a groin injury. Ray-Ray McCloud is likely to rotate with Washington and he’ll be the primary receiver when he’s on the field with Diontae and Claypool. No matter what happens, Diontae and Claypool are going to see even more targets moving forward. The Seahawks are giving up the second-most receiving yards per game (212.2) and 14.3 YPR to WRs this season.
Najee Harris could see more targets funneled his way with JuJu’s 25 short aDOT targets (6.9 yards) going elsewhere. The Steelers have also used 11-personnel at the third-highest rate (79%), and they could veer into more two-TE sets with Pat Freiermuth, Eric Ebron, and Zach Gentry seeing the field more. Harris has topped 4.0 yards per carry in each of the last two weeks against the Packers and Broncos, and he could have more success as a runner if the Steelers get more big bodies onto the field to help out their weak offensive line. Najee has reeled off 19+ FP in four straight games since his Week 1 dud, and he had his first 100-yard rushing game of his career last week. It was Pittsburgh’s first 100-yard game for a back in nearly a calendar year since James Conner did it on Oct. 18 in 2020. The Seahawks are giving up the second-most rushing yards per game (126.6) and 4.4 YPC to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.5 (18th)
Plays per game: 57.4 (32nd)
Pass: 59.4% (18th) | Run: 40.6% (15th)
Pace: 29 (20th)
Plays per game: 64.8 (20th)
Pass: 68.6% (3rd) | Run: 31.4% (30th)
Obviously, no Russell Wilson (finger) takes the juice out of this game for fantasy. The Seahawks implied team total over the last three weeks have been 28, 25, and 27 and they are sitting at 18.5 right now with Geno Smith. That basically means that the markets believe Wilson is worth around 8-10 points to Seattle, and honestly, it should be more. The Seahawks are inexplicably the ninth-most run-heavy team in neutral situations (44.5%) even with Wilson so we’re just going to see Pete Carroll push this offense to play even more conservatively with Smith at the controls. Even though Pittsburgh is the third-most pass-heavy team in the league despite Ben Roethlisberger’s obvious limitations, this sets up as a huge spot for Najee Harris as huge home-favorites over a Seattle defense that is giving up the most carries (29.2) and the fourth-most yards (126.8) per game to RBs.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
It sure does seem as though Ben Roethlisberger took notice to calls for his status as Pittsburgh’s starter to heart. His Week 5 performance still fell short of providing reasoning for Big Ben exposure, but he at least avoided throwing an INT, and finally fed Chase Claypool with a big game with Diontae Johnson on the field. Watching Roethlisberger pepper Diontae, and only Diontae, with solid games as though it’s normal for an offense to only support a single receiver really turned the stomach. Looking back to last season, it’s truly a shock that Pittsburgh played as well as they did under the exact same circumstances, and without Najee Harris.
Do I have any confidence that Roethlisberger will manage to fuel consistent production for both Johnson and Claypool? Absolutely none whatsoever. But I am confident that he’ll continue to target Diontae at a top-five rate. The Steelers closed down shop on the pass after 15 completions last week to eat up the clock on the ground. One of those hookups resulted in a 50-yard TD strike to Johnson. In each of Diontae’s other three games, he was provided with double-digit targets.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The big news from Pittsburgh this week was the loss of JuJu Smith-Schuster for the season with a shoulder injury. It will test the depth of what is still one of the deepest WR rooms in the league.
Effectively, it means Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are going to be even bigger target hogs moving forward. Johnson saw just two targets against the Broncos in Week 5, but he turned them into an efficient 2/72/1 receiving. Claypool erupted for 5/130/1 receiving on a team-high six targets (24% share) after missing Week 4 with a hamstring injury.
Based on usage last week, Ray-Ray McCloud will take over as the team's primary slot receiver, but James Washington — who missed Week 5 with a groin injury — could see an uptick in snaps, as well. Claypool has run just 19% of his routes from the slot, but he’ll play more big slot when Washington is on the field, who has a 25% slot rate to open the year. Ben Roethlisberger currently isn’t playing well enough to lift Diontae and Claypool into elite fantasy WR territory, but both players have a chance to be volume-base low-end WR1s moving forward.
It is worth noting that the Seahawks have allowed 67.8% of the WR production against them to come from the slot, which is the highest rate in the NFL. They’re also giving up the 6th-most FPG to opposing WRs overall, so it’s a great spot for all the receivers here. I also wonder if TEs Pat Freiermuth or Eric Ebron will play more slot receiver as well, but neither has done enough to be a fantasy option at this point.
Oh, you probably want to start Najee Harris.
The Seahawks are a major downgrade across the board with Geno Smith filling in for Russell Wilson (finger). I don’t really know what to say beyond that, even though I thought Geno looked pretty good when he came in against the Rams last week.
It’s also distressing to me that WR DK Metcalf caught a midweek downgrade to a DNP with a foot injury. He’s clearly not 100%, though the good news is that he doesn’t carry an injury designation into Sunday night’s game. Geno and Metcalf did hook up for a TD last week at least, if Metcalf does go, as expected.
Tyler Lockett has been playing through injury the last couple weeks, and with Smith in there, he’s likely a WR3 at best. But his upside is so high that it’s hard to bench him even with a backup QB. If Metcalf doesn’t go, Freddie Swain would get some run.
It’s looking like Chris Carson (neck) will miss again, which opens things up for Alex Collins to lead the backfield again after a 71% snap share last week. But the Steelers haven’t allowed a single RB to reach 12.0 FP this year, so while I think the Seahawks will want to run it to protect Geno, it’s not enough for me to rank Collins as more than an RB2.
And obviously that's becoming a big concern with Carson, who was not spotted at practice on Thursday, a day when coach Pete Carroll had said the team hoped he would be able to practice. Carroll said Monday Carson had a big, positive turn in his recovery from a neck issue.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) October 15, 2021