Ben Roethlisberger is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he shouldn’t be returning to the top of your fantasy football draft boards.
The Pittsburgh Steelers for the past few years have always been one of the premier teams in the NFL. They’re one of those special kinds of teams that might go on a slight losing streak, but out of nowhere get back on track and on the winning course. When it comes down to it, much of their success has been due to the play of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger had been flirting with the idea of retiring this offseason. However, he confirmed this weekend that he plans to return for the 2017 season. But, when it comes to his fantasy football value the upcoming season, what should owners expect?
Well, for starters, Roethlisberger comes with a lot of warnings signs. He’s missed a lot of games the past two seasons and is breaking down, despite posting some strong numbers. Of course, father time catches up to everyone as it’s hard to believe or even expect Roethlisberger to play another full season replicating such numbers.
Last season, Roethlisberger totaled 3,819 passing yards, 328 completions, 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He did his part in taking the Steelers all the way to the AFC Championship Game, but fell to the New England Patriots, who would then go on to win Super Bowl 51.
Fantasy owners shouldn’t put Roethlisberger on another pedestal this upcoming season since injuries, age, and the Steelers keeping him durable all season long will undoubtedly factor into the equation. With the rise of offensive stars like Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell, don’t expect Roethlisberger to continue having to do everything on his own.
Since the Steelers know that 2017 could very well be Roethlisberger’s last season in the NFL, they’ll want to ensure he’s healthy and kept upright all season long. Expect a heavier focus on establishing their potent ground game.
The Steelers have no real backup plan to replace Roethlisberger since they’re going to be a playoff-contending team this upcoming season. It’s imperative they do whatever it takes to keep him under center, which won’t bode well for his fantasy football output. Owners are better off heading into a different direction for their QB1 and maybe even QB2. It’s hard to predict if Roethlisberger’s stats will take a deep plunge at this point in time, but the writing is on the wall.
The Steelers are serious about getting one more Super Bowl victory out of Roethlisberger before he officially retires. If it means limiting the passing game in favor of running the football to make it happen, expect to see things to be run differently on offense for the Steelers. Fantasy owners, it’s time to move on from Roethlisberger. He’ll either have a decline in his production or, unfortunately, not make it through the full year healthy. Neither are something you want to deal with.