Ben Roethlisberger might be finally returning to the football field after almost a month-long absence, but he will not help your fantasy football team this week.
The veteran quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been out since a Nov. 12 game against the Kansas City Chiefs with an injured shoulder and dislocated ribs.
However, his time on the bench might be coming to an end for the Week 14 game against the San Diego Chargers. Head coach Mike Tomlin previously said his quarterback would not come back until he is ready, but he sounded encouraged after seeing him in practice (via ESPN):
I thought it was a positive day for Ben. He threw the ball around both vertically and horizontally. I thought the ball had good velocity, particularly in a few instances. So, it was positive.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes this means that Roethlisberger will be on the field for the team's next game.
Interpreting Tomlin, it appears Ben Roethlisberger will start Sunday for #Steelers.— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) December 5, 2012
This is good news for the team after watching Charlie Batch for the last couple of weeks (even though he did beat the Baltimore Ravens). Still, the big man should stay out of your fantasy lineup for the time being.
Prior to the injury, Roethlisberger was struggling for production. He was consistent enough to avoid a single-digit fantasy performance, but only twice all year was he able to top 20 points in standard leagues.
Due to the team's attempt to focus on the run, the quarterback has only two 300-yard games all season. Comparatively, most top-level fantasy quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Matt Stafford have around seven games of that nature.
The trend should continue when Big Ben returns to the field as the team eases him back from injury. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman should be given plenty of carries to keep the pressure off the quarterback.
Even if Roethlisberger does pass the ball, it will not be easy against a Chargers' defense that has played well lately.
Last week, Andy Dalton threw only one touchdown with two interceptions. In the three games prior, he threw nine touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Joe Flacco hurt the team statistically the week before with 351 passing yards, but he needed 51 pass attempts to reach that mark and only got into the end zone once.
In addition, Corey Lynch has played very well as a replacement for Atari Bigby at safety and he could create problems in the Chargers secondary.
On the field, the Steelers should welcome Roethlisberger back with open arms. He is a great leader and he comes up big in key moments.
Unfortunately, this does not help your fantasy team and he should remain on your bench for this key week of games.