For yet another season, Razzball will be interviewing local NFL beat writers for some in-depth actual football knowledge to sway some insight in our fantasy football knowledge.  Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team through the summer and check out each one on the “2012 Fantasy Football Team Previews” link.  This installment comes courtesy of Neal Coolong and staff writer Adam Baliatico from the Pittsburgh Steelers blog Behind The Steel Curtain:

1) Ben Roethlisberger is a hard name to spell and even when I’m right, autocorrect tells me I’m completely off. Hrm, I guess that wasn’t a question…ok, my real question is that Ben has been pretty dinged up over the last couple of years and he’s coming into camp with a torn rotator cuff and a freshly sprained left ankle. As fantasy owners, should we be concerned or is this just Big Ben being Big Ben?

The injuries to Ben Roethlisberger would be concerning to me if it was anyone but Ben Roethlisberger who suffered them. This year, Ben is playing with the most firepower he has ever had and he has the best offensive line in a long time. While we all know he will suffer some big hits and take some beatings still because Ben will be Ben, he is poised to have a huge fantasy year and with his ADP in the 60-70 range, he could be a huge steal. To answer your question, there is really no reason to be concerned until he actually starts missing games. 

2)  Mike Wallace, as of this typing, is still a hold out.  Is there a legitimate concern that he won’t be in a Steelers uniform game one of the season and if so, is it because he’ll be traded, sitting a la Vincent Jackson, doing crunches on his porch while talking to media, etc…?

Some people do believe that Wallace will hold out until week 10. However, I am not one of those. Recently, Ben Roethlisberger was quoted as saying he thinks Wallace will be back soon and I take his word to that. I would not be surprised if he is back by the team’s second preseason game (vs. Indianapolis Aug. 19). If he is not back by then, I would start getting concerned and then I would probably back off of him in fantasy drafts.

3)  If Wallace DOES sit it out, we at Razzball are a little excited to see what Emmanuel Sanders can do as the ‘X’ receiver for Pittsburgh.  What is your take on Emmanuel and will he be fantasy football relevant for 2012 even if Wallace re-signs?

I am extremely pumped up to see what Manny Sanders can do this year. Last year was supposed to be his breakout year but injuries in camp derailed that and allowed Antonio Brown to have a breakout season. This year, he is healthy and apparently has a great connection with Ben Roethlisberger throughout camp.  I think Sanders will be relevant no matter what happens with Wallace. If Wallace holds out until week 10, I could see Manny breaking 1000 yards. If Wallace returns and is playing from week 1 on, I see a season more like 650-900 yards. He should be a solid #3WR (possibly a #2 on some teams) without Wallace and with Wallace I see him as a flex/#3 WR on most fantasy teams.

4)  The defense is getting older and yet like a fine wine, they were still near the top of the league in points against last year.  However, they didn’t do much in the sack and turnover department for us fantasy owners.  Are they on the decline or is the Pittsburgh defense totally Diane Lane when it comes to getting better with age?  And did that last question put Troy Polamalu in Unfaithful and totally require mind bleach for you too?

The defense last year was extremely impressive in my opinion. Despite the fact that they were unable to force turnovers, they still were, as you said, near the top of the league in points and yards. However, in a fantasy prospective, they were pretty mediocre because of the lack of sacks and turnovers. This year, don’t expect the same. With a healthy Woodley and a healthy Harrison (although he is currently on the PUP list), the outside linebacker tandem is back. Plus, replacing Casey Hampton with Steve McLendon dramatically improves the pass rush. In terms of interceptions, having Cortez Allen playing significant snaps will lead to more interceptions because he is a ballhawk and will make some big plays.

5)  The Steelers finally came out of the ground and pound closet and called themselves a passing team for 2012 and there’s even talk of mixing no huddle into the offense.  That said, someone has to run the ball and we think Isaac Redman will do a fine job of it with Mendenhall most likely out for the season.  What is your take on Isaac for 2012 and what type of season do you see him having?

For me, the answer is not so clear with regards to Redman. I think Redman will get significant carries and can probably put up 600-900 yards and 7-10 touchdowns if he remains the starter while Mendenhall is out. If Mendenhall is placed on the PUP, he must sit through Week 6, and be back for Week 7.  However, I believe that Jonathan Dwyer will be the Steelers starter at some point in the season and I believe that he will have a big year once he does start. The issue with Dwyer has always been conditioning and he is reportedly in the best shape of his life. So, I think it is a risk to draft Redman where he has been getting drafted (between 80-100 in most drafts) and I would rather go for Dwyer with my final pick.