Head to Head with Mike Tomlin and Michael Vick
Looking for that extra edge in Fantasy Football? It's doesn't get any better than speaking to the source itself. I was lucky enough to meet and interview Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and former NFL quarterback Michael Vick at the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation meet and greet. I played the interviews and broke them down in depth during my last On Target podcast, but here is some additional information and insights, as you get ready for the 2018 season.
Listen below for the interviews and more great fun!
Michael Vick Interview
No, there isn't a ton here Fantasy wise. It's fun to hear him talk about being an analyst and wanting to play with Ray Lewis. However, the biggest piece of info came in his advice to Lamar Jackson. Vick's advice to Jackson applies to you and Fantasy Football too… study! Even, "overdo it early," as was part of the advice. The more prepared you are before everyone else with depth charts, position battles, sleepers, etc., the more you'll be able to adjust on the fly when breaking news surfaces or someone throws a curve ball in the draft.
Mike Tomlin Interview
Grab a plate and get ready to dive in because this is where the real meat and potatoes are. Let's start with the question that Tomlin dodged the most: Ben Roethlisberger. Sure, Tomlin couldn't care less about Fantasy Football, and he corrected himself to accurately point out that they (Roethlisberger) were 7-1 on the road. Nevertheless, we care, and Roethlisberger struggles on the road.
Here is the breakdown from the past four seasons, and it's not even close.
There has been a season with a better completion percentage and one with a higher AY/A, but the FPPG never comes close with at least 8.0 more FPPG at home. Additionally, Roethlisberger had a significantly higher TD:INT ratio every year but last season and another wide game in yards per game. Every season has seen Roethlisberger attempt more passes at home with 2017 being the only year with the AY/A outlier, but it also came with the largest attempts gap.
It's clear that something is affecting Big Ben on the road, and no one has a true answer… Tomlin included. The best anyone has been able to surmise is that Roethlisberger can't use the no-huddle offense as much on the road due to crowd noise/difficulty of implementing away from home. Roethlisberger has regularly put up better numbers in the no-huddle, so it's worth speculating that could be the reason, but it's still just an assumption. No matter what, "Road Ben" is a real thing, and it's not spectacular.
As you heard, Tomlin acknowledged McDonald is a "significant contributor." Roethlisberger has shown a tendency to use his tight ends regularly… even when they weren't named Heath Miller. If McDonald is 100 percent for 2018, look for him to be a breakout candidate with low-end TE1 potential.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington
Not surprisingly, Tomlin is a big fan of Washington's talent. In fact, you hear him say, "I'm equally as excited about James as I was about Smith-Schuster." He can see a "similar impact" as JJSS had as a rookie. Smith-Schuster was WR21/22 in Non and PPR last year, so that's a ton to ask of a rookie receiver that's slated to be the third option… for receivers. With Le'Veon Bell around, that actually makes Washington fourth. However, there is still the potential for deeper value, as there will be another 550 or so passing attempts to go around this season. Additionally, after talking with Tomlin, I wouldn't be surprised to see JJSS and Washington form a timeshare of sorts as the Steelers second receiver. Using each in different scenarios/formations/matchups would mimic what the Seahawks did for years with Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Jermaine Kearse, et al, across from Doug Baldwin. Obviously, that's more of a knock to Smith-Schuster's value than it is a boost to Washington's, but this is a nugget to store away. Start drafting and stashing Washington everywhere you can. He could be one of the biggest surprises this year… and don't overpay for Smith-Schuster.
Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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