When one thinks of must-have and elite NFL quarterbacks in fantasy football, names such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are quickly the first to come to mind.
Is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set to join that exclusive club in 2015?
Some may choose to dismiss this notion, as other quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford play in more traditionally offensive-minded systems, but if you look closer at Big Ben and his production, this writer—who is also a life-long Browns fan, and STILL cringes over Cleveland passing on him for Kellen Winslow II back in 2004—and the two-time Super Bowl winning QB has some serious weapons around him to potentially win at least two more in Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Markus Wheaton and a potential breakout candidate in Martavis Bryant.
Oh, did I forget to mention Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller too? And the fact that Big Ben is coming off a MVP-worthy career year in passing yards (4,952) and tying his regular-season mark of passing touchdowns (32)?
Big Ben also set career highs in passing yards per game at 309.5, completions (408), attempts (608) and completion percentage (67.1), and this translates into Roethlisberger being drafted as high as the second or third round in standard leagues, and in the third and fourth rounds in deeper leagues.
Yes, he sometimes takes unnecessary sacks and throws bone-headed interceptions at the wrong time, that can cost fantasy owners a game here or there, but based on all the fore-mentioned stats above, I would take him over the likes of Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Eli Manning.
And if there is anything that I have learned in watching Big Ben torment my poor Browns is this; he is a monster in crunch time and has one of the best deep balls I’ve ever seen.
So, if you’re bold and in need of a big-armed QB who can come through for you in the clutch, look no further than Roethlisberger.
Here are my top ten quarterbacks that you should grab in your fantasy draft:
1.) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: They say that life isn’t fair and that the rich often get richer. Such as the case in reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who will light up NFL defenses once again with the likes of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb(no relation), Davante Adams. Projected fantasy stats: 48 passing touchdowns, 5 rushing touchdowns and 5,114 passing yards.
2.) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: The second-best quarterback in the league today behind Rodgers—yes, that is a BOLD statement—Luck has lived up to the hype of being the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft in passing for 12,957 yards and throwing 86 touchdowns in his first four years.
With the off-season additions of Frank Gore, Andre Johnson and speedster Phillip Dorsett in the draft, combined with current playmakers such as T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Donte Moncrief, Luck is a bona-fide first-round pick in all fantasy leagues. Projected fantasy stats: 50 passing touchdowns, 6 rushing touchdowns and 5,109 passing yards.
3.) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: See above. Thanks to the bevy of weapons in the form of Brown, Bell, Wheaton, Miller and Bryant, Big Ben makes the big leap from inconsistent second/third-rounder to top first-round consideration. Projected fantasy stats: 46 passing touchdowns, 3 rushing touchdowns and 5,003 passing yards.
4.) Tom Brady*, New England Patriots: The asterisk is NOT in protest of his alleged involvement in Deflategate, more like the fact that he may miss 1-4 games to start the season, thus putting fantasy owners behind the proverbial eight ball. Owners will be forced to go with get by with the likes of Cam Newton, RGIII, Jay Cutler or even Teddy Bridgewater. Once he comes backs, expect him to come back with a vengeance though! Projected fantasy stats: 44 passing touchdowns and 4,831 passing yards.
5.) Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: In what may be his last year in Denver, I see ol’ No.18 taking a step back due to the loss of Julius Thomas in free agency. People don’t know this, but the loss of a athletic pass-catching TE such as Thomas is bigger than you think. While Owen Daniels is a nice replacement, he ain’t Thomas. Manning will still have quality targets to throw to in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but the loss of Thomas will prove to be vital. Projected fantasy stats: 43 passing touchdowns and 4,623 passing yards.
6.) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: One of the perennial main-stays in fantasy football, Romo will once again benefit from having arguably the best offensive line in football in front of him, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and the emerging Terrance Williams to throw to down in Big D. Projected fantasy stats: 39 passing touchdowns and 4,517 passing yards.
7.) Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Another one of the perennial main stays in fantasy football, as long as Stafford has the likes of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate to throw to, he will always be a must-have QB in all fantasy leagues. Projected fantasy stats: 42 passing touchdowns and 4,489 passing yards.
8.) Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: One of the top QB’s in both the regular season and fantasy for well over a decade, Rivers will once again put up solid numbers in throwing to Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Kennan Allen: Projected fantasy stats: 37 passing touchdowns and 4,501 passing yards
9.) Eli Manning, New York Giants: What does a two-time Super Bowl MVP, who played in a new offensive system, minus one of the top slot receivers in Victor Cruz do for an encore?
Well, considering that Eli had one of his best years as a pro in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense in throwing to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in Odell Beckham Jr, Manning will have the luxury of throwing to former Patriots scat back Shane Vereen out of the backfield and emerging tight end Larry Donnell in 2015.
How does being a low-risk, high-reward first round pick sound? Good! Projected fantasy stats: 35 passing touchdowns and 4,618 passing yards
10.) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: One of the most perennially under-achieving QB’s in the game today, the man known as “Matty Ice” could be one cool customer for the lucky fantasy owner that grabs him, as he will have a healthy Julio Jones, Roddy White, tight end Jacob Tamme and PPR-point machine in rookie Justin Hardy to throw to out of the slot. Projected fantasy stats: 34 passing touchdowns and 4,714 passing yards
Just missing the cut: Drew Brees, Marcus Mariota (R), Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill,