Statistically speaking, Big Ben Roethlisberger is a top-five fantasy quarterback. He has thrown for 24 touchdowns (tied for fourth in the league), only six picks, and 3,270 yards (third in the league). At his service, he has arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown, and one of the finest pass-catching backs in the NFL in Le'Veon Bell .
Yes, Big Ben is a top-five fantasy quarterback with some incredible stats, but unfortunately, this is all very misleading. Aside from two—maybe three games—Big Ben has been a very average, ordinary fantasy QB.
In a week-four loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Steelers quarterback threw for three touchdowns and 314 yards. He added a fumble, but came out with an acceptable fantasy stat line. Four weeks later, Roethlisberger erupted for six touchdowns, 522 yards, and no turnovers against the Colts. He followed that unbelievable performance with another six touchdowns and 340 yards against the Ravens the very next week. These are really his only good fantasy games so far this season.
Only because of these three games is Ben Roethlisberger a top-five fantasy quarterback; if you were to take them out of Roethlisberger’s game log, Big Ben has a so-so 9-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio with an average of about 262 passing yards per game.
Perhaps part of the reason that Roethlisberger has been just OK in his other eight games is because of Pittsburgh’s weak receiving corps. Behind Antonio Brown, there is Markus Wheaton, who has been terribly ineffective all season. Rookie Martavis Bryant came on strong in his first four games, scoring six touchdowns (the first player to ever do so), but fell flat against Tennessee this past Monday night. Thirty-two-year-old tight end Heath Miller, like Ben Roethlisberger, has had sporadic swings of success, but has been on a steady decline ever since injuring his ACL in December of 2012. Aside from Brown, tailback Le’Veon Bell is Pittsburgh’s only consistent receiving weapon.
On that note, it is also worth noting that the Steelers have one of the best running games in the NFL this season—the best they have had since the 2010 season in which Rashard Mendenhall led the Steelers to 120.2 rushing yards per game and a Super Bowl appearance. With a run game to lean on (the Steelers currently average 119.5 rushing yards per game), Roethlisberger has been less productive than he has been the past four seasons.
From the outside looking in, Big Ben is an excellent fantasy player, but his owners have undoubtedly noticed his unreliability in most weeks. It is totally impossible to predict when Roethlisberger is going to have one of his random six-touchdown explosions. The Colts and Ravens—the two teams against which Big Ben had his best games—do not have exceptionally bad secondaries. They are certainly no worse than those of the Jets, Panthers, Jaguars, Texans, and Titans—all teams against whom Roethlisberger has been average at best.