Freshly alone in first place in the NFC North, the Detroit Lions travel to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday for a 1 p.m. ET game against a Steelers team that has struggled so far this season. As might be expected based on that lede sentence, one team has far more fantasy relevant players than the other:
Bench: Kris Durham, Defense/special teams
So Stafford is third in fantasy points among quarterbacks. Sure, he is almost closer to tenth among quarterbacks (146 fantasy points) than he is to second (213), but that's mainly praise for Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, not an indictment of Stafford, who hasn't scored below 14 points in any game this season. ... Bush and Johnson are Bush and Johnson, c'mon guys. You aren't wondering if you're starting them.
Early in the season, Bell seemed like he was going to be a decent flex play, even with Bush, and especially in PPR leagues. But he's had one catch or fewer in three of his last four games, hurting that theory. There's always the chance that the oft-injured Bush has to leave and/or that Bell can find the end zone, but if you're starting him, you are pretty darn desperate. ... Pettigrew had only one total fantasy point through the season's first three weeks. Since then, he's averaging almost five a game. Still not impressive, and his one touchdown came in a game when he had only seven yards. Still, he's catching 3-7 balls a game, helping in PPR, and his numbers have been increasing. ... Akers has had a couple big games, but has struggled on occasion as well. He's tough to count on.
There was a point when it looked like Durham would emerge as a viable No. 2 to Johnson, but he has 100 yards in his last three games combined, and only his touchdown last week gave him any value at all. ... If the Lions' defense doubled its scoring output so far this season, it would still only be in eighth place in the league, behind all of the NFC West.
After missing the season's first three games, Bell is averaging better than 11.5 fantasy points a game, which ranks in the top ten in football. He has doublt-digit fantasy points in three straight games. ... Brown has only two hundred-yard games and only three touchdowns, but he's 11th among wide receivers in scoring, and is still a top-25 wideout even without his crazy outlier Week 3. ... Suisham missed two field goals in Week 8, but hasn't missed any other kicks all year. Tough to say he's likely to miss many more.
Roethlisberger has been solid, if unspectacular, this season. He has one game of more than 20 fantasy points and one of less than ten, with the majority hovering in the 10-15 range. Against a mediocre Detroit defense, maybe he has a big game, but it's tough to rely on. ... Sanders is the second-best receiver the Steelers have, no matter what Cotchery has done lately. He's not great, but he has a couple double-digit scoring games this year.
After a long period of irrelevance, Cotchery has 36 fantasy points in the last two weeks. Last week, he scored nine, though he only had two catches. His three-score game is the real outlier, obviously, and he can't be counted on for any real production. ... Miller has ten fantasy points since Week 6. Yeesh. ... The Steelers' defense is getting better, with two ten-point games in its last three outings, but had negative-7 in its other.