This is the first in a series looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers and how they will fare not just on the field, but more importantly what type of fantasy football value they will offer during the 2015 season.
I will start with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
I usually play in 10-plus larger leagues a season along with having a lot of DFS action and Roethlisberger was one guy I targeted a season ago. I had a ninth-round value placed on him, but was willing to grab him in the eighth as a QB2.
That turned out to be very accurate as for the most part Roethlisberger went right in that range. Sadly enough though he went the pick before me in most season-long leagues so I didn’t end up with many shares of Big Ben, but was able to reap the benefits of some big Roethlisberger games in DFS during the 2014 season.
Coming off a season in which he completed 67.1 percent of his pass attempts for 4,952 yards and 32 touchdowns, there’s very little chance that he will be drafted that late again as Big Ben should be targeted as a QB1 this season.
On average this year, Roethlisberger has been consistently the sixth quarterback off the board behind Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees.
His ADP has been at 51.2, which pushes him into the upper portion of the fifth round of 12-team leagues.
Should you be comfortable drafting Roethlisberger there?
Let’s take a look.
Pros- I mentioned that Roethlisberger is coming off a big season and at 33 he is playing the best football of his career. He also has been healthy for the past two seasons and has a very good offensive line around him, which should lessen the amount of hits he should take.
Then there is the fact that Roethlisberger has a ton of weapons around him, presenting ample opportunity to put up big numbers. As a team the Steelers offense is coming off one of their best seasons in history with Roethlisberger at the helm and bigger things are expected in 2015.
Finally, and more importantly, there is the Todd Haley factor.
Quarterbacks put up big numbers with Haley as their offensive coordinator.
Over the past three seasons, only one team (San Diego Chargers) have scored a higher percentage of its touchdowns through the air than the Steelers. Throughout his career, wherever Haley has been, that team has scored twice as many touchdowns through the air.
Haley has taken that approach to a new level with the Steelers as Pittsburgh has averaged 29 touchdown passes throughout the past three seasons to only nine rushing touchdowns. These are the things you need to look at to draft a successful team.
Play calling means a lot when drafting a quarterback and the Steelers led the league by throwing the ball 68 percent of their plays inside the 10-yard line. That is with having perhaps the NFL’s best running back standing behind Roethlisberger.
That led to Big Ben throwing 32 touchdown passes last season and I believe you will see something similar this season.
Cons- There’s not much not to like about Roethlisberger leading the Steelers offense, but there are some things to be concerned about if you are willing to use a fifth-round pick to grab him.
Everyone remembers Roethlisberger throwing six touchdowns in back-to-back games last season. If you were lucky enough to use him those weeks in DFS like I did, you certainly won’t forget it.
But while those two performances were historic, it also skewed Roethlisberger’s overall numbers to make them look better than they really were. Take away those two big weeks and Roethlisberger threw only 20 touchdown passes in the other 14 regular season games. Half the quarterbacks in the league put up better numbers in that span.
Also if you take those two big games out of the equation, Big Ben has averaged only 26 touchdown passes per 16 games over the past four seasons. That puts him middle of the pack at best.
Projections- 4,400 yards, 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Verdict- I like Roethlisberger a lot and he will be a QB1 on a lot of fantasy teams this season. But I don’t recommend taking him at his current value.
While there is a lot to like, there are also some concerns, including the fact that the Steelers settle for a lot of field goals in the red zone. Then there is the injury risk. Roethlisberger hasn’t missed a snap due to injury in two seasons. How long will that streak continue?
I still have Roethlisberger putting up very good numbers, but they are a pretty big step back from last season and likely outside the Top 10 fantasy signal callers. He doesn’t have the benefit of a cake schedule this season and will face much better competition.
If you aren’t getting Luck or Rodgers early on, you can likely wait a little longer on a quarterback as most of the current Top 10 quarterbacks are interchangeable.
The bottom line is Roethlisberger is a much better NFL quarterback than a fantasy quarterback. If he slides a round or two later than I would pull the trigger, but I can’t recommend reaching for Roethlisberger at his current ADP.
Check back on Tuesday as I will break down the fantasy impact of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
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