Saturday - Feb 23, 2019

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Emmanuel Sanders: Ben Roethlisberger’s New Toy

Lets play a numbers game.

199. That’s the numbers of passes Ben Roethlisberger has completed this season. Only three other quarterbacks have more than 10 more than Roethlisberger – Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, and, surprisingly, Tony Romo.

66. That’s how many targets Antonio Brown has seen this season, which leads the Steelers and is 28 more than Emmanuel Sanders.

1. That’s the number of touchdowns Brown has caught this season. It’s also the amount Sanders has caught.

As the old motto goes, if it’s not broke don’t fix it, but the Steelers have been winning despite Brown’s lackluster follow-up campaign. With the primetime lights shining down on Heinz Field, Sanders has his golden opportunity staring him right in the face.

Sanders is not a well-known name throughout the NFL, but teams are well aware of him. Roethlisberger has said he would start on any other team, and the Steelers have considered not bringing Mike Wallace back in large part because they believe they have an in-house replacement in Sanders. He’ll get to prove them all right Monday Night.

With Brown out, the focus of the defense will undoubtedly shift Wallace’s way. Brandon Flowers is a top of-the-line cornerback and safety coverage will constantly be rolling his direction to ensure he is not beaten deep. This extra attention will allow Sanders to work 1-on-1 with the even more undersized and less talented Javier Arenas.

The Kansas City Chiefs released Week 1 starter Stanford Routt earlier this week and are going to see what they have in this former special teams standout. Unfortunately, they’re in for a rude awakening as Arenas plays above the rim against inferior competition, but there’s good reason he has not been trusted with outside duties before, because against stronger competition, he gets eaten alive. Expect this matchup to be abused by Roethlisberger all game long as he mixes in the new underneath and quick routes that offensive coordinator Todd Haley has brought in, as well as getting Sanders a couple of times on top of the defense.

Worried about the Steelers hitting the breaks after getting a big lead against the inferior Chiefs?  Don’t be. Haley wants to send a message to his former team in which he’s still smarting off a bitter divorce just a year ago. What better way to do it then when the entire country is watching? If you’re in a jam this week, there is not a better one week filler on waivers. Wide receiver or flex, Sanders will deliver.

Additionally, there could be more to come from Sanders. Reports are hazy about what specifically is wrong with Brown, but a high ankle sprain has been rumored. Recovery time varies from as little as two weeks to as many as 6-8. Sometimes players don’t ever come back the same that season. There’s no way of knowing if Sanders has longevity, but for 2012 anyway, he has a great opportunity and the talent to earn it. Even if Brown returns 100 percent healthy, he has not done enough this year to warrant his job when he returns if Sanders rises to the challenge. Roll the dice now, ask questions later. Those in keeper and dynasty leagues – this is the kind of midseason buy that creates a long-term winner.

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