In The Real World, Big Ben Roethlisberger is Big Time

Todd HayekCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2009

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 13:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers calls signals during the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on August 13, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers won 20-10.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Now that the National Football League preseason is finally over, fantasy football fanatics are in full swing, drafting their teams before the real games start next Thursday.


On Sept. 10, the NFL kicks off with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger trying to repeat their Super Bowl season, looking for their third championship in the last five years.


Fantasy players consistently rank Big Ben somewhere in the middle of the pack because he is not a flashy quarterback who lights up the box score with two or three touchdowns every weekend.


Here in the real world, where the games are actually played and have some meaning, Big Ben is arguably the most valuable player in the league.


Only one other active quarterback, Tom Brady, has led his team to more than one Super Bowl victory. Brady has one more championship than Roethlisberger, but Ben has two in the last four years.


Brady’s last Super Bowl was five years ago, yet Brady’s value is perceived as higher because of the stats he puts up. Matt Cassel looked pretty good with the same weapons and system last year in New England while Brady was out with an injury. The team still finished the season on the golf courses.


Brady has more impressive career statistics and is widely considered the best quarterback of his era and, by some, of all-time. Roethlisberger is considered a solid, gutsy, play-making leader who has remarkable consistency and shows occasional moments of brilliance.


Remarkable consistency has been the key to Big Ben’s success. In 2004, his rookie year, he threw 17 touchdowns. In 2005 he threw 17, 18 in 2006, 32 in 2007 and 17 in 2008.


At first, these stats seem considerably pedestrian for a quarterback who has won two titles in four years. However, as a team owner (NFL or fantasy football), which is more important, the number of touchdowns a quarterback throws or the number of games the team wins?


Ben Roethlisberger is 62-26 as a starter. That is a 70 percent winning ratio and would translate to 11 victories per regular season schedule.


Most quarterbacks in the NFL would be considered superstars if their team won 11 games just once. In most fantasy leagues, 11 wins would put the team in the championship.


The evidence of Roethlisberger's value is evident by the year when he was played through injuries and Pittsburgh was a .500 team.


The Patriots lost Tom Brady last year and still finished 11-5 in a very tough division.


Arguably the most successful and consistent franchise in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers know how important Roethlisberger is to the team.


They had a Hall of Fame running back retire and multiple Pro-Bowl players leave as free agents. The two Super Bowl teams also had different head coaches and Willie Parker has been injured for most of the last two years.


Roethlisberger was the one constant. Pittsburgh has been resilient and Big Ben should be given credit for their success through his leadership, consistency and ability to make a big play out of nothing.


Fantasy football team owners should take note and use the same philosophy as the Steelers. Ignoring a player like Roethlisberger could be the difference between winning and losing.


Tom Brady single-handedly carried fantasy teams to championships in 2007. Last year, those who expected the same output of statistics found their teams out of the playoffs as Brady went down for the year in the first game. Bye-bye first round draft pick.


Those who have relied on the lofty stats of players like Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson, LaDanian Tomlinson and Marvin Harrison over the last few years have been extremely disappointed with less-than-spectacular results.


In a sense, the NFL teams that have put the same emphasis on such players have suffered the same fate, as their team’s success has also been limited by their star players’ lack of production.


Fantasy translates to reality. Consistency is the key to Roethlisberger’s success. Consistency is the key to the Steelers’ success. A proven theory, consistency equals success.


It may seem easier to find a diamond in the rough and ride that player all the way to the championship, but there are many risks that could potentially ruin any chances for team success.


In fantasy, players like Brady, Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Peyton Manning have been coveted. These players have had success and moments of brilliance, but few have the consistency to take their teams to the championship.


In the real world, consistent players like Big Ben are the key to success and that makes them the most valuable players of all.