Week 10 sleeper option Emmanuel Sanders normally functions as Pittsburgh’s WR3, and has generally been effective with the opportunities that he has been provided with this season. He has been targeted 39 times, collected 24 receptions, and just scored his first TD of the year in Week 9. But with Antonio Brown unlikely to perform this week due to a high ankle sprain, Sanders should be presented with a sizable increase in targets. And there is an excellent chance that he will reward any owners who are willing to place him in their starting lineups. Now only does he have big play ability, which could translate into significant yardage and another TD, but he just happens to ascend into an expanded role just in time for a dream matchup.
Sanders will be lining up against a reeling Kansas City unit that currently ranks 30th in scoring defense, and is allowing 30 points per game. They have also permitted 17 TDs through the air, which is a total that is exceeded by only two teams. That number also includes seven in the past three games alone. The Chiefs would appear to possess talent in their secondary, but that just has not translated into success in neutralizing opposing passing attacks on the field. Brandon Flowers’ performance has been uneven, while Eric Berry is not the same player that he was prior to tearing his ACL in 2011. Stanford Routt was such a liability in coverage that he was cut this week. Now, burnable Javier Arenas will be replacing him. This vulnerable group will have extreme difficulty containing Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons, and that certainly includes Sanders. He possesses excellent speed, and should burst beyond defenders throughout the contest.
Plus, he will playing a significant role in an offense that will put a heavy emphasis on their passing attack. The myriad of issues that surround the Chiefs will be exploited repeatedly by Ben Roethlisberger, who is averaging 37 attempts per game this season. That is a number that will be surpassed in this contest, as current OC Todd Haley now has the chance to embarrass the team that fired him as HC with an aerial assault that Kansas City will be ill-equipped to neutralize. This aspect of the Monday Night matchup should not be dismissed. It is highly unlikely that Haley will eschew the chance to dial up an aggressive aerial assault against his former team, and should be unrelenting in that approach. Roethlisberger will launch a massive number of passes, and should operate with extreme proficiency. That will be true whether the Steelers decide to throw vertically, or choose to utilize a collection of shorter passes. And regardless of the strategy that is ultimately embraced, Sanders will be the beneficiary of sufficient opportunities to deliver a productive performance.
Expect Roethlisberger to generate around 400 yards, and four TDs on the Monday Night stage. With at least 80 of those yards being amassed by Sanders, who will also score for the second consecutive week.
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