Week 8 and a rematch with the Cleveland Browns is finally here. Fresh off an early bye week, the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cleveland for their second AFC North matchup of the year and look to continue to build off the offensive success they started to have in Week 5 and 6. The Browns defense is currently allowing 23.5 points per game and their fantasy D/ST is 16th in scoring, but we can basically throw numbers out of the window when two division rivals square off, especially after meeting in the playoffs the previous year. So what does this mean for Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers offense / fantasy players? Let’s dive right in.
Must Starts for Week 8
- Diontae Johnson
Dionate Johnson has stayed matchup proof. As we’ve said before in weekly fantasy previews, he is absolutely Roethlisberger’s favorite target and WR1. In the Wild Card game in Pittsburgh last season, Johnson had 11 catches on 16 targets, granted the Steelers were playing from behind the entire game and we don’t expect them to throw nearly as much as 68 attempts again. The volume should still continue to be there even in a tough road division game. Johnson remains a set it and forget it in all fantasy formats.
- Najee Harris
Harris remains a set it and forget it as well. Heading to Cleveland to play a tough d-line and Myles Garrett is never ideal for your fantasy backs, but just like for Johnson, the volume and production is way too high to consider benching Harris. The Browns defense was stingy last week, however the Denver Broncos only ran the ball 14 times. Harris has gotten at least 14 carries himself in all but 1 game this season, which was Week 2 vs the Las Vegas Raiders.
- Chase Claypool
Chase Claypool finds himself in the Optimistic Play category for Week 8 after struggling a bit in Week 6 vs a poor Seahawks secondary. Claypool only reeled in 2 catches from his 7 targets for 17 yards. The feeling here, with no JuJu Smith-Schuster for the rest of the season, is that this Steelers passing attack can’t succeed with only Johnson and Harris catching balls. Look for the Steelers to try and get Claypool not only more involved, but I believe early and often as him and Roethlisberger try to fix their timing once and for all.
- Pat Freiermuth
Muuuuuuuuth is an optimistic TE play with upside for Week 8. Coming off a season high 7 catches and 7 targets, Freiermuth seems like a sneaky good candidate to fill your TE spot for the week if need be. Mark Andrews and Darren Waller both on bye weeks and some streaming options like Jared Cook or Robert Tonyan having tough matchups, Freiermuth is a nice streaming option for Week 8 and worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
- James Washington
Washington continues to be a fantasy player to keep an eye on for potential depth. He only had the 1 target Week 6 vs Seattle, but expect an uptick in snaps and probably even targets for Washington in Week 8 and moving forward. He has Roethlisberger’s trust in the 3rd and longs and crucial moments in the game. Don’t be too surprised if Washington has a massive fantasy output in the coming weeks.
- Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben Roethlisberger continues to live in the “Not Yet” category. He’s only had one game with 15 fantasy points or more, and only one game all year without a single turnover. While Ben and the offense seem to be hitting their groove together on the field, in fantasy lineups, he continues to be a streaming option in deeper leagues or two QB leagues.
Now everyone’s favorite part, let’s get to the actual projections:
My Projections (PPR):
(QB) Ben Roethlisberger – 12.8 pts
(RB) Najee Harris – 16.4 pts
(WR) Diontae Johnson – 15.5 pts
(WR) Chase Claypool – 14.0 pts
(WR) James Washington – 6.5 pts
(TE) Pat Freiermuth – 7.0 pts
(TE) Eric Ebron – 1.5 pts
(RB) Anthony McFarland – 1.0 pts
See any projections you disagree with? Let us know or give us your projections below in the comments!