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This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Roethlisberger, Ben: Value Notes

Sigmund Bloom 11/1/06: I'm surprised you didn't mention Roethlisberger - He didn't look like himself at all last week and right now he seems to have a big mental hill to climb. I'm still excited his possibilities as a fantasy QB if Cowher retires and turns the team over to Whisenhunt, but he looks like a shell of the 05 Big Ben right now.

Sons of the Tundra 11/1/06: I had already dropped him a couple of weeks ago with the slow start. I had him around #6 or #7 to start the season based on his grade A talent and possibly the most impressive start to an NFL QB career in history (you know, if you're concerned with things like wins and championships and such). I'm going to keep him right around #10 now. The OAK game was very odd. He lost that game for the Steelers, a game they had no business losing. The interceptions were season killers. The odd thing was that he really only threw about five bad passes the whole game, and he is throwing much better now than he was earlier in the season. And, seriously, anyone suggesting the Steelers should start Charlie Batch is a dolt, a dullard and a simpleton (and I used to like Sterling Sharpe).

Sons of the Tundra 11/12/06:
1. Ben Roethlisberger – The motorcycle accident, the interceptions streak, the string of losses and the Steelers’ offensive philosophy under Bettis & Cowher have dominated the recent conversation on Roethlisberger’s value. These negatives, however, all are transitory phenomena. They’ll be fading in the rear view mirror by next season. When the detritus of the '06 season is forgotten, what remains will be the ultra-talented young QB who entered the league a play-making stud, threw up 98+ QB ratings in his first two NFL seasons and began his career with a 27-4 record and a Super Bowl championship. If you’re lucky enough to have Roethlisberger on your roster, hold on tightly. He’s only going to get better.

Sons of the Tundra 12/9/06: OK, it's Mythbusters time on the dynasty rankings thread. It's well past time to debunk a doggedly persistent Footballguystalk myth. Whether this myth comes from the keyboard of a loud-mouthed newbie in his first fantasy football league or from well-spoken seasoned staff writers, it has enjoyed an astonishing staying power.

MYTH: Ben Roethlisberger will never be a fantasy football stud because the Steelers' offensive philosophy will always be run first. If Bill Cowher were to retire, this may be subject to change. Until that day, however, the Steelers' offensive tendencies will always put a damper on Roethlisberger's value.

Ben Roethlisberger pass attempts by season:
2004 - 14 games, 295 attempts
2005 - 12 games, 268 attempts
2006 - 12 games, 393 attempts

Carson Palmer
2006 - 12 games, 386 attempts

Philip Rivers
2006 - 12 games, 360 attempts

Peyton Manning
2006 - 12 games, 407 attempts

Eli Manning
2006 - 12 games, 398 attempts

Ben Roethlisberger is still the most overlooked QB property in dynasty leagues. Consider QB rating, yards per attempt, completion percentage, won/loss record and postseason success, and you're still looking at the most impressive beginning to an NFL career in history. I know, fat lot of good that's done for your weekly fantasy lineup. On the other hand, it is an indication of elite talent, which should be foremost in your considerations for long-term dynasty success.

While this has truly been a down year for Roethlisberger with the motorcycle accident, the emergency surgery, the fluke and not-so-fluke interceptions, all around spotty play and bad luck, the bright spots should not be overlooked. The Steelers' passing attempts have increased significantly this season, and it's not just a product of untimely interceptions, a shaky secondary, and Bettis' retirement. This team's personnel has dictated a move to a more passing friendly game plan. Take a serious look at Roethlisberger's weapons this year and for the future:

True #1 WR: Hines Ward. Always a high catch percentage, gets open, willing to go over the middle, makes plays, and a redzone weapon (not to mention consistently underrated in this site's dynasty rankings).

Up & coming 1st round draft pick: Santonio Holmes. Coming on strong the past 5-6 weeks, explosive after the catch, and looking like a significant 2007 improvement on recent #2 WR's Antwaan Randle El & Cedrick Wilson.

Dominant talent at TE: In 2005, Heath Miller had one of the top 10 rookie seasons of all time for a tight end. He remains a strong redzone weapon and will continue to develop going into his 3rd & 4th seasons as most TEs do.

Underrated playmaker at 3rd WR: Nate Washington has stepped into the WR void behind Hines Ward and made quite a few big plays this season. Outside of Chris Henry, he's been as good as any 3rd WR in the league this season.

At RB Willie Parker has 3 receiving TDs this season, which is above average for a running back and another clear sign of his homerun hitting ability. If he returns and is in good health, Verron Haynes is one of the better 3rd down backs in the NFL.

Much gets lost in the shuffle during the typical week to week (mostly manufactured) storylines of a NFL season. Among the storylines lost and/or completely misrepresented during the course of this season has been the promising future of the Steelers' offense, both in the passing game and the running game. Ben Roethlisberger already had the individual NFL-level talent as evidenced by his historic first two seasons. What's exciting for his fantasy future is the already changing offensive philosophy to suit the impressive young talent comprising the Steelers' passing game. While the Steelers' vaunted defense slips a bit with age in the coming seasons, the up and coming offense will pick up the slack and mandate a different breed of Pittsburgh play calling.

Going into 2007, this is a top 5-7 dynasty quarterback. If your league's Roethlisberger owner is still caught up in the myth, go ahead and steal him while his value is at its lowest.

Sons of the Tundra 5/3/07: One of my favorite dynasty league secrets is to let the other owners in the league develop my QBs & WRs for me. If you’re tempted to use a high draft pick on JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn, trade for Big Ben instead…right before he hits his fantasy prime.

Sons of the Tundra 8/2/07: Players rising in value since May/June:
Ben Roethlisberger – Bounceback candidate. Finished last year as the #10 fantasy QB in a poor season. Arians’ offense will give him more room to grow as a QB and enhance the passing game's production this year.

C.Dowling 12/11/07: If I were looking for a potential top-5 QB and didnt' want to pay top dollar, I'd go for Big Ben, Brees, and Bulger. The last two should cost a lot less then they are worth, especially Bulger.

Sons of the Tundra 12/11/07: Roethlisberger is the best bet to stay elite. Talent-wise, he stacks up with any QB in the NFL, and now he's put it all together with fantasy production as well. I should probably move him up to the top tier as it is. The problem is everybody knows he's elite now, so you're going to have to pay top dollar to get him. If you believed in his talent, you should have bought low before the season.

SSOG 12/11/07: Agreed. Roethlisberger's value was INSANE this last offseason. I played in 5 leagues this year, and wound up drafting him in every one- not because I intended to, but because he just kept falling and falling. I got him as my QB3 in one league, as the 15th QB off the board (I would have taken him earlier, but I had intentionally passed on him twice because I owned him in every league so far. Eventually I just couldn't say "no" anymore).

I don't think anyone else presents quite the value of a Roeth right now (we don't have any supremely talented players whose numbers are repressed by their offensive systems), but Brees and Palmer are both pretty good buy-lows. I think Palmer is a top-3 dynasty guy and Brees is top-6, but they can both be had for a bit cheaper. Barring either of them, I'd rather focus on acquiring a lot of the guys in the 6-12 range, instead. You could probably get a Hasselbeck *AND* a Schaub for the cost of a Palmer or a Brees, and you'll wind up with similar production and upside between the two of them.

Sons of the Tundra 12/13/07: I've always liked Roethlisberger as a NFL QB better than Palmer myself. I think he's the 3rd best QB in football and still vastly underrated.

SSOG 12/13/07: I'd talk Roeth over Palmer, but I think Palmer has a better chance of being the next Brady/Manning than Roeth does. Roeth just strikes me as a guy who's almost certain to remain in the top 5 for a long time, while Palmer's got a much better chance of becoming the consensus best QB in the league. The difference between the two is pretty negligible, anyway. I suppose you could argue that Palmer has a better chance of becoming Manning, while Roeth has a better chance of becoming pre-2007 Brady. I think we both agree that both are ahead of Romo, regardless of the year that he's having, right?

Sons of the Tundra 12/13/07: As a NFL QB? Oh, yeah. I like both better than Romo....but Romo is definitely gaining on Palmer. I'm not sure Palmer is the same QB since his knee injury, but maybe he's still working up to it.

As an almost life-long Cincinnati resident and both a former lover and loather of the franchise, I still keep fairly close tabs on the team. One thing I know Palmer and Roethlisberger have shared for the past year and a half that Romo has not is poor protection from the O-Line. Palmer has had both of his pro bowl caliber tackles injured off and on, and it's affected his play. Not to be forgotten (and I know I've beaten this drum quite a bit) is the importance of Chris Henry in the Bengals' offense. As a poor man's Randy Moss, he might be the most physically gifted Bengals skill position player, and he really takes the offense to another level when he's in there. I think Palmer closes out the rest of this season with a fury the next three games. Just a hunch.

I liked your comparison of Palmer to Manning and Roethlisberger to Brady. That makes sense to me.

SSOG 12/15/07: A thought occurred to me about Ben Roethlisberger. I'd been targeting FWP as a buy-low because I thought Pittsburgh's TD breakdown this year was a fluke, but I wasn't penalizing Roeth for the same thing. I decided to look a bit more in-depth into this.

So far this season, Pittsburgh is on pace for 32 TDs passing and 8.6 TDs rushing. In previous years, that ratio has been 23:16, 21:21, 20:16, 19:10 (the 6-10 pass-heavy season), 26:15 (the year Maddox came out slinging which led to the 6-10 pass-heavy season), 16:17, 12:19, 19:14, 13:8, 22:19, 15:18, 21:17, 17:15, 16:13, and 15:13. That covers the entire Bill Cowher era.

Now, I realize two things. First off, we have a new head coach this year, so any shifts in breakdowns could very possibly represent a fundamental philosophical shift (in this case, passing more in the red zone). Second off, Pittsburgh hasn't had a QB as talented as Roethlisberger since Terry Bradshaw, and that's probably a big reason why the passing TDs were so low before. With that said, this year's pass:rush TD breakdown still strikes me as an extraordinary aberration. The only seasons that even come close to this year's 3.7:1 ratio are the two Tommy Maddox years (which clock in at 1.7:1 and 1.9:1, respectively, which means it's a stretch to claim they're even in the same ballpark). Basically, Ben's TD totals are almost guaranteed to come back down to earth next season. Hard. He might be lucky if only 8 of those passing TDs become rushing TDs in the future.

I still like Ben in the long-term, because he's supremely talented and, most importantly, in an extremely stable situation (how many other QBs are you as confident will still be starting for the same team 8 years from now? 4? 5?). Still, it's possible that now might be the time to start trying to move him, because I question whether his value will be this high again for a long time to come.

Sons of the Tundra 12/15/07: This is on opinion that comes solely from watching games, but Roethlisberger has always been a great redzone QB. When the Steelers had Bettis and Cowher, you knew they were going to try to pound it in more often than not. But on the times when they chose to mix it up, Big Ben was Favre-ian in his redzone ability. He has the mobility, creativity, size, arm strength, and decisiveness to get the ball to great redzone weapons like Hines Ward and Heath Miller.

Now that Bettis and Cowher are gone, Parker is less than ideal for the Steelers inside the 10; meanwhile, Big Ben is more experienced, and I think they've become a redzone passing team like the Packers have always been. They'll pound it in when they have to, but a QB that can pass inside the 10 like Manning, Brady, or Favre gives the offense a much better chance to score TDs instead of settling for field goals (as opposed to a Marc Bulger who is poo inside the 10 yard line).

I'd be careful buying low on Willie Parker. It isn't simply the statistical variation that has him scoring fewer TDs, it's also in the way they're using Najeh. It's kind of like saying that Fred Taylor is due to score more touchdowns because the yardage is there. Are you sure about that?

SSOG 12/15/07: Like I said, I understand that Ben and Tomlin have something to say on the subject, but when a team that has never had so much as a 2:1 pass:run ratio suddenly posts a 3.5:1 pass:run ratio, I just have to believe that it is to some extent a fluke. Even if Pittsburgh's new true mean is at 2:1, that still means a 26:14 breakdown, which still represents a 6-TD drop. I'm not talking about starting a firesale, but if I could find someone who right now values Roeth comparably to Palmer (or if it would only require a pittance to upgrade to Romo), I'd be all over that. Roeth's value is probably peaking before regressing a little bit and settling into a nice, stable, long-term second-tier level.

SSOG 12/17/07: For RBs, anything more than 3 years is pointless, but for a good QB, barring injury, you can pencil in upwards of 8 to 10 years. For instance, the reason a guy like Roethlisberger is so valuable is because I'm almost certain my league will fold before I'm no longer able to start him (barring injury, of course). Once a guy proves a certain level of talent over multiple years, you can pretty much just expect him to keep on keeping on. His year-by-year production might change with system and supporting cast, but he's going to be starting for the same franchise for the rest of his career. As of right now, I'd say that these "Franchise QBs" are Brady and Manning (although obviously you aren't going to get 10 years out of them, but 6 is fully reasonable), Carson Palmer, and Ben Roethlisberger, with Cutler and Romo both being poised to make the jump (obviously Romo is closer than Cutler, but I'd like to see him start out hot next season, too, before I move him into that "no-brainer 10-year starter" category). After that you've got the dynasty guys who are more than good enough to win with, but for one reason or another I don't feel comfortable projecting more than 3-4 years in advance (Bulger, Hass, Brees, Favre, McNabb).

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