Typically when we see a player age, their numbers decline. That’s not the case with Ben Roethlisberger. We witnessed him play all 16 regular season games in two consecutive years for the first time ever. Are we seeing a new Big Ben? If so, when is the big injury or the big decline coming? I’ll answer those questions, and give some insight to how fortunate the Steelers are this year, compared to other teams.
I don’t know if we are seeing a new Ben Roethlisberger as opposed to seeing the Steelers become more of a pass first kind of team. In 2011, Pittsburgh finished 19th in pass attempts with 539, the next year they were 12th with 574, in 2013 they finished 13th, but went up to 586, and last year they finished second with 612. I don’t think we are seeing a new Roethlisberger, I think we’re seeing him play more games and get more attempts. Consequently, his fantasy numbers are increasing slowly.
The big injury? Your guess is as good as mine. Big injuries can happen at anytime to anyone, it’s just the nature of the game. Missing one to four games is nothing new to this guy, but that’s why you select a backup. With quarterback being a talent rich pool in fantasy football, you can still find a nice backup without a huge drop off in points. If the attempts increase, you can throw out any thought of Roethlisberger declining. An injury eventually may occur if he plays long enough, but certainly not this year. In his 11th season (last year), he hit career highs in attempts, completions, and yards. He also tied his season record for touchdowns with 32.
The Steelers have had their bumps this offseason, obviously with losing Le’Veon Bell. This is a plus for guys who draft Roethlisberger. Those first few games, the Steelers will have to rely on his arm to help them win those games, especially against a tough Rams defense in Week 3. One thing that jumps out to me is the fact they don’t have any stars sitting out of OTA’s holding out for more money. The Broncos, Cowboys and more notably the Vikings, all have stars missing OTA’s in an effort to get more money. The Steelers have their offensive stars in attendance and they’re getting in rhythm better than most NFL teams. Rothlisberger also has one of the most productive receivers in the NFL, Antonio Brown, so that can’t hurt. I have Roethlisberger ranked at No. 6 among quarterbacks, and if he sees an increase in attempts for the fifth year in a row, he could be flirting with the top five among quarterbacks.