There won’t be anyone congratulating you if you draft quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the 2014 fantasy football league, but feel free to give yourself a high-five.
Other than A.J. Green, Josh Gordon and Giovani Bernard, the AFC North isn’t known for flashy, exciting playmakers. The division is filled with solid talent, but fantasy stars can sometimes be far and few between. The lack of big-name recognition, however, will let you find some steals on draft day. One of those steals is Big Ben, and I will provide you with several reasons to join his fan club this NFL season.
With a no-huddle offense more of a staple in 2014, the 32-year-old quarterback should continue to build on the success of last season. Roethlisberger was only averaging 1.14 touchdown passes by Week 8, but he went on a tear and averaged 2.2 touchdown passes the rest of the season when the offense started to play at a faster pace. After his Week 9 rejuvenation, Big Ben recorded four touchdown passes in two separate occasions, as well as three games with 300 or more passing yards. Not too shabby.
To go along with this faster attack, the Pittsburgh Steelers are filled with weapons to execute the playbook. The 26-year-old Antonio Brown is in the prime of his career, and he is in line for another season with 100 or more receptions. There is also optimism that second-year receiver Markus Wheaton, who ran a 4.4 forty at the 2013 Combine, can make his mark on the offense. Veterans Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bay will bring their experience to the passing attack, and tight end Heath Miller should be at full health to start off the season. The rushing attack will be headed by bruisers Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, and rookie speedster Dri Archer could become an explosive playmaker.
Now that you are starting to fall in love with Roethlisberger as your starting quarterback, his offseason improvements should be the final icing on the cake. If you have ever seen Big Ben in the preseason from years past, it doesn’t appear that he was a big believer in staying in shape before the season starts. Not only has he been working with a personal trainer and nutritionist, but Roethlisberger said he has been working on adding zip to his passes and wants to make this his best year ever.
Roethlisberger will never put up Drew Brees or Peyton Manning-like numbers, but that isn’t who he is. He is, however, a top-10 quarterback contender in 2014.