Jets-Steelers fantasy breakdown

Posted Jan. 20, 2011 @ 10:28 a.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

Here is a look at how Sunday's Jets-Steelers AFC championship game could unfold from a fantasy perspective:

When the Jets have the ball: Like they did in their upset of the Patriots last week, the Jets will try their hardest to establish the run against the Steelers, as difficult as that may be. Pittsburgh has the league's best run defense, but New York was able to muster 106 rushing yards against them in Week 15 (the most Pittsburgh allowed in a game all season). It won't be easy for RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, but they will have to churn out some yardage to keep the offense from being one-dimensional. QB Mark Sanchez made huge strides last Sunday, throwing three TD passes and committing no turnovers at New England. Pittsburgh gives up some yards through the air, but it will make life difficult on the young signalcaller with its pass rush. Sanchez, who had a quiet last meeting with the Steelers, though he did score a rushing touchdown, will have to stay composed and make some plays with his arm for the Jets to win. WRs Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards give him two playmakers who can bail him out in tough situations; Holmes is going against his former club, and Edwards had 8-100-0 receiving at Pittsburgh in the last meeting. Jerricho Cotchery led the team with 5-96-0 receiving last week and could be an X-factor. TE Dustin Keller has fallen out of favor in the passing game and won't chip in with more than a few grabs.

When the Steelers have the ball: Just as they did last week vs. the Ravens, the Steelers will have to pick their poison Sunday against a Jets team that defends both the run and pass very well. Establishing the run to free up the aerial attack is ultimately what Pittsburgh would prefer. RB Rashard Mendenhall was able to put up 17-99-1 rushing vs. New York in Week 15, so the offense likely will try to get him going again. But after getting gashed by him just weeks ago, the Jets surely will focus on slowing him down. That's where QB Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' potent passing game come in. Big Ben had only moderate success against Gang Green in their last meeting, so he'll definitely have to be better this time around. Avoiding sacks is a key, as the Jets will be bringing the heat to take advantage of Pittsburgh's weak O-line. WRs Mike Wallace and Hines Ward will have their hands full with CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, although Wallace was able to post 7-102-0 receiving last meeting and can beat just about any corner in the league. If those two are locked down, however, Pittsburgh has a couple of secret weapons in rookie WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. That pair led the team in receiving yards last week, and Sanders had 7-78-0 in Week 15. TE Heath Miller hasn't been a big part of the passing game all season, but he did have a TD catch last Saturday and could be targeted around the goal line.