On Friday, Oct. 4, the Cleveland Browns were 3-2, a half-game in first in the AFC North. At the same moment, the Pittsburgh Steelers were 0-4 and it looked like their 2013 would be a disaster. Since then, the Browns have gone 1-9 and fallen to their normal Browns levels, while the Steelers have gone 7-4, and, while they need substantial help, could find themselves as the AFC's sixth playoff team at the end of Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game against the Browns in Pittsburgh. Here's a look at the fantasy players of note:
Start in every league: Josh Gordon
Start if you're desperate: Edwin Baker
Bench: Jason Campbell, Chris Ogbonnaya, Billy Cundiff, Defense/special teams
Week 16 was Gordon's worst game since Week 9, and he went for 119 yards from scrimmage and had 11 fantasy points. Dude's been incredible for a while, and he's a must-start in any matchup.
The truth is, Baker probably isn't going to be anything special. There's a reason he hadn't gotten any carries on his other teams before joining the Browns. But he's getting plenty of touches in Cleveland, and he's scored a touchdown in both of his games. He's only a flex, but there's upside.
After putting up a season-high 29 fantasy points in Week 14, Campbell has put up only 16 fantasy points in the two games since, with only one touchdown to go with four interceptions. The wheels have come off. ... The team has completely gone away from Ogbonnaya in its offense. ... Cundiff has only scored double-digit fantasy points once all season, and recently had a three-game stretch with a missed field goal in each. ... The Browns' defense is only a shadow of its former self; after averaging 11.4 in its first five games, the unit has averaged only 4.3 since; this is its new reality.
Start in every league: Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown
Start if you're desperate: Ben Roethlisberger, Shaun Suisham, Defense/special teams
Bench: Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Heath Miller
It's been 10 weeks since Bell scored fewer than seven fantasy points, and it's the only time he's done it all season. He's been as reliable as running backs come, even if he's topped out at 19 fantasy points. He's an every-week start. ... With Joe Haden likely out for Cleveland, Brown's stock is high, though as the No. 5 fantasy receiver, he'd be a must-start either way.
After a super-hot stretch earlier in the season, Roethlisberger has totaled 28 fantasy points in his last two. Part of that is because the team called off the dogs in Week 15 once the win was pretty clear, and that is at least within the realm of possibility Sunday. You're probably starting him, though. ... Suisham missed two field goals in Week 8, but hasn't missed any other attempts all season. Ont he downside, he's had one or zero field-goal attempts in three of his last four games. ... The Steelers' defense has played better of late, and the Browns' offense isn't anything special. But the Pittsburgh unit still comes in at only 17th in fantasy scoring.
Sanders is dealing with a knee sprain, and could miss this game. Even if he's on the field, he's completely untrustable. ... If Sanders missed the game, maybe Cotchery sees his stock rise, but he has two catches and 11 yards total in his last two games. ... Miller is still looking for his first double-digit fantasy day all season. Stay away.