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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fantasy football: Start and sit for Titans-Steelers

Vegas oddsmakers — and we’ve learned to never mess with them — predict Thursday’s Titans-Steelers game will be the lowest-scoring of the NFL’s opening weekend, with the over-under set at 35 points.

Pittsburgh led the league a year ago by allowing only 13.9 points per game, followed by Tennessee at 14.6.

Does that mean you should bench Chris Johnson or Hines Ward?

To quote Chad Ochocino: Child please (or would it be kiss the baby?).

On to the first start and sit of the season ...


-- Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, WRs, Steelers:
Holmes was the Super Bowl hero, but Ward is the better player and fantasy option. Both had productive games in the Steelers’ 31-14 loss at Tennessee in Week 16 of last season. Ward caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Titans, and Holmes had five for 93 and a score.

-- Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: The Steelers had the league’s No. 1 overall defense and were No. 2 vs. the run last season, allowing only 76.9 rushing yards per game and 3.3 per carry. Still, I wouldn’t sit Johnson, a first-round pick in fantasy who had 69 yards and a TD last year against the Steelers.

-- Pittsburgh’s defense and special teams: The unit that ranked first overall, first against the pass and second vs. the run returns almost intact.

-- Tennessee’s defense and special teams: Don’t expect the Titans to shut down the Steelers in their home opener, but if you drafted their defense, which ranked sixth vs. the run and ninth vs. the pass in 2008, there’s no need to acquire another just for one week.


-- Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers:
He’s a fringe fantasy starter, but there are much better Week 1 matchups than this.

-- Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: He was disappointing in 2008, when he scored only five times and finished nine yards short of 800 on the ground, and I wouldn’t expect a huge game here, even with Albert Haynesworth in Washington.

-- Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: He was effective last season at Tennessee (eight catches for 69 yards), but his biggest value to the Steelers is his blocking.

-- LenDale White, RB, Titans: He’s only of much use when he reaches the end zone, and I wouldn’t expect that tonight. Considering he drew the Steelers’ ire by stomping on a Terrible Towel after the Titans’ 2008 rout, I’d say it’s a safe guess that — Patron-less offseason diet or not — he will be a target of Pittsburgh’s defense.

-- Justin Gage and Nate Washington, WRs, Titans: Washington left the Steelers to sign with the Titans in free agency, but he will be a game-time decision because of a hamstring injury. Gage is a better fantasy player, one who had five receptions for 104 yards and a TD against Pittsburgh last season, but I wouldn’t anticipate a repeat at Heinz Field.

-- Bo Scaife, TE, Titans: He is an effective tight end in point-per-reception leagues, but he scored only two TDs last season and shouldn’t get anywhere close at Pittsburgh.

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