Stairway to Seven: Steelers Tomahawk the Chiefs

I will recap each of the Pittsburgh Steelers games this year to gain insight into trends that might help project the team’s fantasy performance. This week I take a look at the Week 6 road win against the (previously) undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

After the devastating loss to the Jaguars last week, the Steelers totally redeemed themselves on the road as 3.5-point underdogs against the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs. The last time the Steelers played the Chiefs was the 2016 Divisional round, when the Steelers won 18-16, buoyed by a 30-attempt, 170-yard game from Le’Veon Bell.

This game was almost a rerun of that game. Bell ended the game with a nearly identical 32 carries for 176 yards, and added a rushing touchdown and an extra reception, a performance that won him the AFC offensive player of the week award.  This is Bell’s third time winning the honor, which ties him for the franchise record with hall of fame back Jerome Bettis.

Ben Roethlisberger redeemed himself from last week’s performance with a 97.4 QB rating. This confidence-boosting win was crucial, putting the Steelers a game ahead of the Ravens for the division lead. The Steelers should continue the streak Week 7 as five-point favorites at home over the Bengals.




Total Plays

52  63

Passing Attempts

 34  25

Rushing Attempts

 15  37


 3  1

Time of Possession

 23:21  36:39
Average Scoring Margin  -0.052  0.052

This game was another fast one for the Steelers with 115 total plays. Over the past three weeks, the Steelers are number two, averaging 71 offensive plays per game.

The Chiefs might have known it was going to be a long game after the first drive.  On the second play, a Cameron Irving holding penalty brought the ball back to the Steelers 9-yard line. Zach Fulton snapped the ball out of the end zone for a safety. On the subsequent drive the Chiefs were only able to get close enough for a long 46-yard field goal.

The Steelers were able to burn a full six minutes off the clock on the next drive, resulting in a Bell touchdown. The Steelers defense were the MVP after that, keeping the Chiefs scoreless over their next six drives. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, with six minutes left in the game, when Steelers corner back Artie Burns blew coverage and let De’Anthony Thomas run an unchallenged wheel route. Alex Smith targeted Thomas for the first down, and Burns missed a tackle, allowing Thomas to take off for a 57-yard touchdown. Thomas gets all the credit, but he only registered three receptions for the game, this was blown coverage by Burns.

On the next drive Roethlisberger targeted Antonio Brown on a pass which was nearly intercepted by Phillip Gaines, but Gaines dropped the ball right into Brown’s arms and Brown ran it to the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown.


Player Comp Att Pct Yds TD Int QBR RuYds PPR
Ben Roethlisberger 17 25 0.68 252 1 1 97.4 -2 16.4
Alex Smith 19 34 0.56 246 1 0 88.6 13 17.6

Roethlisberger continues to struggle. His box score and QB rating hides that he was helped a lot by Brown’s 51-yard touchdown, which should have been an interception. Ben could have had a stat line of 16-25-201-0-2.

Alex Smith is in the same boat; his lone touchdown came off the crazy play with the blown coverage by Burns. To Smith’s credit, he didn’t throw any interceptions.




RuMS RuYds TD Targets Rec ReYds ReTD


Le’Veon Bell

32  0.86 179 1 6 3 12 0 28.1

James Conner


0.05 14 0 0 0 0 0


Kareem Hunt


0.60 21 0 6 5 89 0


Akeem Hunt 1 0.07 3 0 0 0 0 0


Keeping Bell involved helps the Steelers control the clock and opens up Brown for a few big plays per game while hiding Roethlisberger’s struggles. He got 86 percent of the carries this week.

Kareem Hunt got the lion’s share of the carries for the Chiefs, but they were unable to get much done on the ground. Hunt was able to get a respectable 89 yards through the air on six targets. Hunt is only averaging 18 carries a game, but an additional 4 targets per game puts him at 22 touches per game average.


Player Targets Target MS Rec Catch Rate ReYds ReTD Yards Per Target Yards Per Reception

Fantasy Points (PPR)

Antonio Brown

10 0.40 8 0.80 155 1 15.5 19.4 29.5

Martavis Bryant


0.12 2 0.66 27 0 9 13.5 4.7

JuJu Smith-Schuster


0.12 3 1.0 32 0 10.7 10.7 6.2

Brown continues to dominate targets, and with a solid day upped his catch rate to 64.9 percent on the year.  JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to gain some target market share off of Martavis Bryant. Smith-Schuster out snapped Bryant 67 percent to 52 percent. Bryant’s weighted opportunity rating (WOPR) has been declining each of the past three weeks, although this week it might have been explained by the game script.  Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals expects to be a high-scoring match up which would be a good game script for Bryant.



Targets Target MS Rec Catch Rate Yds TD Yds/Target Yds/Rec

Fantasy Points

Jesse James

0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Travis Kelce

7 0.22 4 .57 37 0 5.3 9.3 7.7

Jesse James was listed as a starter, played 86 percent of the offensive snaps, yet failed to see a single target. Vance McDonald only played 50 percent of snaps, but saw one reception for 26 yards on two targets. James has done very little since his his two-TD game Week 1, but is still TE14 in a season where very few tight ends are scoring touchdowns.

Travis Kelce was tied with Tyreek Hill for 22 percent of the target market share for the Chiefs. Kelce was held out of the end zone this week, but with two touchdowns, Kelce is the number four tight end for the year this far.


Last week I said that Roethlisberger would have to win this game to not look washed up. This wasn’t exactly a statement game, but he at least didn’t look washed up. Week 7 will be a challenge against the Bengals because the game script might make it tough for the Steelers to keep Bell involved. Even in negative game script the Steelers are best when Bell is rushing the ball.


2 3 4 5




Steeler Offensive Plays


69 59 73 77 63 65.8


Steeler Rush Attempts


32 17 42 20 37 27.5


Steeler Pass Attempts


37 42 31 55 26 38


Ben Roethlisberger PPR


17.5 12 10.5 15.7 16.4 14.6

234 (QB27)

Le’Veon Bell PPR


13.1 21.8 34.6 9.3 28.1 19.1

305.6 (RB2)

Antonio Brown PPR


11.2 27.0 7.4 15.7 29.5 23.3

373 (WR1)

Martavis Bryant PPR


18.8 5.0 7.8 3.4 4.7 7.2

115 (WR69)

Jesse James PPR


6.7 3.9 7.0 2.4 0 7.0

112.3 (TE21)

Author Details
Contributor and Podcast Host / Producer , RotoViz
Jeff Matson is a program manager and fantasy football enthusiast. Jeff holds a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA in global business. Jeff contributes to and has produced and hosted podcasts on RotoViz radio.

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