Ben Roethlisberger: Breaking Down Full Fantasy Impact of Return from Injury
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news of the quarterback's return to the field via Twitter:
If there was a doubt, there's not anymore. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will start Sunday vs. San Diego.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 6, 2012
This will be the first time that Roethlisberger will play since hurting both his ribs and shoulder in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his time out, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch had turns running the offense. While they both have their strengths, neither of them are close to the skill level of Roethlisberger. This means that things will be quite different this week.
Here is how each fantasy-relevant player will be affected by the changes.
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver
Stock: Way Up
No one on the team has been hurt by the loss of Ben Roethlisberger more than Mike Wallace.
He was not having a great season, but if he kept his average of 66 yards per game, it would have gotten him a solid 1,000 receiving yards on the year. However, he only has 77 yards total in the three full games since the starting quarterback went down.
It is obvious the coaches were trying to get him the ball with 22 targets in that time, but he was only able to haul in 10 of those passes.
In the last game, Wallace was wide open in the end zone but was badly overthrown by Batch.
With Roethlisberger back, the receiver should once again be a solid fantasy starter who should get at least 10 points every game.
Jonathan Dwyer, Running Back
If you are going to own a running back on the Steelers, it better be Jonathan Dwyer. At this point, he is the only one getting consistent carries.
Against the Baltimore Ravens, he had a team-high 16 carries and scored his first touchdown of the year. Unfortunately, he was only able to average 3.1 yards per carry.
Ordinarily, this would improve with a better pass game, as the defense is forced to back off the line of scrimmage. However, that has not made a difference for Dwyer this year.
He actually has been less efficient than this on three occasions with Big Ben under center.
The running back would be a risky start regardless of who is playing quarterback, and that does not change this week. However, you cannot start any other running back in this backfield if you want to win.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver
Now that Antonio Brown is healthy, the team wants him to have as much of an impact on the game as possible.
In his first game back from an ankle injury, he was targeted 10 times as a receiver, was given one rush for four yards and even threw a pass (it was ugly).
While he did not have to deal with any other games playing with a backup quarterback, he should still be happy about the Roethlisberger return. Any passer that can find his receiver and hit him in stride is a good thing for a receiver.
He should be a solid start in most leagues going forward.
Heath Miller, Tight End
Heath Miller might be the one player that benefited from Charlie Batch at quarterback. He was a capable safety net when the quarterback was in trouble and there were no options deep.
In two games, Miller totaled 160 yards and a touchdown. This was by far bigger than any two-game stretch with Roethlisberger this season.
The two-time Super Bowl champ is more likely to take shots down the field than either backup, and that means decreased production for the tight end.
To make matters worse, the Steelers have to make a bigger effort to protect their ailing quarterback. Just because Roethlisberger is playing does not mean he is not still injured.
In order to prevent further problems, Pittsburgh is likely to call for extra protection within the offense. This means that Miller will have to stay in and block more often than usual.
This all adds up to some bad games ahead from a fantasy standpoint.
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