IDP Projection Marking: Pittsburgh Steelers

Tom Kislingbury

Hi everyone and welcome to the fantasy off-season. It was a wild ride in 2017 and I’m still recovering, but there’s no real off-season in the dynasty world. In the summer I made projections for every IDP in the league I thought would be relevant. You can go back and read all of the 2017 IDP Projections here.

I was right in some places. I was wrong in some places. But either way, it’s important to be accountable and honest so I can figure out why and make adjustments in the future. I’ll be going through every team and noting where I was right and where I was wrong. To do that I’ll show what my projections were, how players actually performed, and how big the discrepancies were.

Any season where a team loses twice at home to the Jaguars is, by definition, a bad season. The Steelers not only did that but conceded huge numbers of points to the Jags. My voice is not part of the chorus that anoints the Steelers as amazingly talented, although from a defensive point of view, they’re a lot better than a couple of years ago.

pit team

Defensive Tackle

The Steelers leave their nose tackle on the field remarkably little most seasons and 2017 was no exception with Javon Hargrave playing just 454 snaps. Although, admittedly, the big man did play almost every snap there. It’s just that in this scheme they often line up with the nominal ends inside and no nose tackle on the field.

In securing a high percentage of the total snaps available, Hargrave ensured he came a bit above predictions with six additional solo tackles. He had two more assists, an extra sack, and a batted pass too but overall this was good accuracy. However, I wouldn’t recommend rostering him in any but the deepest league.

Defensive End

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Cameron Heyward has been a good player for a while but this was his real breakout season with 12 sacks. That doubled the figure expected of him – to put it into context. Only seven players in the entire NFL had more than 12 sacks and they were all true edge players. Aside from the sacks, he came in just four solo tackles and two assists under.

Stephon Tuitt on the other side is also a very good player, but injury restricted him to just 571 snaps. Given I only expected him to play 577, that didn’t hurt his accuracy at all. He was very close to all projected stats. This is a good example of historic injury rates being able to predict missed time.

Tyson Alualu played a decent amount behind Tuitt. Good luck to you if you used him at all. It’s not something I ever considered worthwhile.


Ryan Shazier’s nasty injury dominates the season as we look back on it. Given he was finally playing like we wanted to him all along, it was even tougher to see than normal. He was playing phenomenally against in coverage in particular. He played 344 fewer snaps than I expected, but given how much better he was (and more efficient) than anyone expected, it balanced out. He finished just three solos short of the prediction. Admittedly, his assists were way lower than expected and he failed to record a single sack.

Vince Williams was a popular breakout pick ahead of 2017 and he delivered. His 68 solos (61 predicted) were very impressive as were his eight sacks (four predicted). Note the number of sacks was correct between Williams and Shazier – it was just that Williams had them all. When dealing with eight data points across a full season, this sort of thing happens quite a lot. It’s tough to predict low-volume events.

Outside linebacker

T.J. Watt was a big, positive surprise. He had that enormous game in week one and then quietened down a bit but overall was fairly impressive. He was around average in terms of tackle efficiency and sack efficiency. For a rookie OLB that’s excellent, as most find it a very tough transition. Watt smashed my solos prediction by 22 but finished very close on assists (just two over) and sacks (three over). His eight PDs and interception were also extremely impressive.

Across from him, Bud Dupree had a quietly excellent season too but never really got much hype. In terms of accuracy, he was just one solo, five assists, two sacks, a batted pass and a single interception out.

James Harrison was originally on my list but given how little he played for the Steelers I’ve just left him off here. It was a disappointing way for a great relationship to end.


The only player in this position group I’m really satisfied with was Artie Burns. He finished in the right ballpark against all statistics here.

However, Joe Haden and William Gay were significantly short against all stats due to limited playing time. Mike Hilton played a lot more and put up the respective numbers to prove it.


Sean Davis impressed in his second season, especially after Shazier was injured. Davis managed 24 of his 68 solos and 11 of his 21 assists in week 12 and after (when the Shazier injury occurred). He managed to come in ten solos, three assists and three PDs above target.

Mike Mitchell, however, disappointed in a big way. Although he seems to be a leader on this team, I think it’s extremely likely he’s not a Steeler next season given his contract. Cutting him would save approximately $6.4m against the cap.

In summary

This was a pretty good team for me overall. The accuracy was mostly pretty good with some standout players (Heyward, Tuitt, Shazier, Williams, Dupree, Davis). That was balanced out by poor performance against the corners, not predicting T.J. Watt’s breakout and Cameron Heyward’s huge sack total. On the whole I’m pleased with it as a body of work.

Thanks for reading.


tom kislingbury