If you drafted Ben Roethlisberger last season, chances are you were thrilled with the numbers he produced between the white lines.
After a disappointing 2008 campaign, Big Ben rebounded to record a career bests 4,328 passing yards and 28 total touchdowns. That was good enough to finish ninth in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com, and made him an attractive option in 2010 drafts.
That is, until his recent off-field issues put his status for the start of this season in jeopardy.
According to NFL insider Jason La Canfora, a one or two game suspension appears likely for the recently troubled quarterback. An announcement on such disciplinary action isn’t expected for a few weeks.
Missing a game or two alone is enough to drop Roethlisberger a few spots at the quarterback position, but other factors are in place that could make him even more of a risk on draft day.
First off, Big Ben will be without one of his top two receivers, Santonio Holmes, who was traded to the Jets earlier in the week. So instead of a receiving corps that includes Holmes, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, Roethlisberger will now have Ward, Wallace, Limas Sweed, Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle.
As much as I like Wallace, the potential decrease in production is apparent.
Secondly, team president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in January that he wants the Steelers to get back to running the football. With Holmes out of the mix, I think that’s almost certain to happen (and why I’ve moved Rashard Mendenhall up to No. 8 among running backs).
It’s also hard to ignore the fact that Roethlisberger has one of the worst FPA (fantasy points allowed) ratings among quarterbacks for next season, as he’ll face tough games against the Ravens (2), Bengals (2), Patriots, Bills, Jets, Panthers, Saints and Raiders.
Many things are still up in the air when it comes to Big Ben, but one thing seems pretty clear — he’s destined to see his numbers fall in 2010.