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Quarterback Ben by Committee

Finding a Quarterback to Pair with Ben Roethlisberger for 2017

This year's Quarterback by Committee article sparked a few great questions from the readers, and that led to this article where I could share the answers.  Sometimes the questions are so good, you have to share the responses to everyone as most anyone would be curious for the answer, and can stand to benefit from it in their drafts.  That's how some of the best articles are born.  A reader of the original QBBC article (Kevin Tabackman) posed a great question of whether it made sense to use Roethlisberger only at home and pair him with a different quarterback for a unique twist of QBBC.  I actually loved this idea, so I was anxious to see what the answer would be.  

First, there is the concern this year (and in recent years) about the unique performance patterns for Ben Roethlisberger. Our favorite Pittsburgh quarterback has a strange history of doing very well at home, while struggling on the road.  This has morphed into the infamous "Home/Road Split" debate for Mr. Roethlisberger, but there can be no denying of what the numbers have shown.  First, let's take a look at Roethlisberger's career numbers at home vs. the road, and then also since two significant changes have occurred during his Steeler career:

Time Frame 2007-2016 2013-2016 2014-2016
Category Home Road Home Road Home Road
Attempts 33.5 34.1 37.5 37.3 39.1 36.5
Completions 21.9 21.7 25.2 24.1 26.7 23.7
Interceptions 0.7 0.9 0.8 1 0.8 1
Passing Touchdowns 2 1.4 2.6 1.2 2.9 1.1
Passing Yards 272.40 255.50 313.82 271.73 339.85 269.90
Fantasy Points 18.2 14.9 22.2 14.7 24.4 14.2
Delta 3.3 16.5% 7.5 32.0% 10.2 39.4%

Table 1:  Ben Roethlisgerger's Career Performances - Home vs. Road

A special thanks to fellow Footballguy Ryan Hester (follow him on Twitter here) for pulling together this data!

The reasons for drawing the lines throughout his career at these intervals is that Pittsburgh changed to head coach Mike Tomlin in 2007 and then LeVeon Bell joined the team in 2013.  So as the tables above show, it really does not matter how you slice it - Roethlisberger has clearly been a better quarterback at home in comparision to on the road, with as much as 39% difference in performance.  That is definitely significant, no matter what the reason - be it a new head coach or the addition of a stud running back.  Numbers are numbers, and the numbers here tell us that we have to at least consider not playing Ben Roethlisberger when he is not in Pittsburgh.

Now, looking at the schedule for the Steelers, Week 1 takes Pittsburgh to Cleveland.  Surely, the Browns have to be the exception for Roethlisberger, right?  Cleveland has been terrible, so one would expect that Roethlisberger would have a better history against them.  Table 2 gives us a quick answer:

Years 2007-2016
Category at CLE All others
Attempts 28.5 34.2
Completions 17.1 22.1
Interceptions 0.3 0.84
Passing Touchdowns 1.3 1.74
Passing Yards 200.3 268.6
Fantasy Points 13.4 16.9
Delta -4.6 16.5%

Table 2 - Ben Roethlisberger's Career Numbers in Cleveland

 In two words - not good.  Roethlisberger has not done well even at Cleveland on the road.

So, in response to the question of whether or not to use Ben Roethlisberger as your fantasy starter on the road this season, I offer you three questions:

1.  Do you believe that history repeats itself?  If you answer "Yes", pass on starting Ben Roethlisberger and skip ahead to the next section.

2.  If there is any team you would consider starting Roethlisberger on the road against, it would be the lowly Cleveland Browns, correct?"  If you answer "Yes", please refer to Table 2 and try and get past Question 3.

3.  If you agree that Roethlisberger struggles in Cleveland (as Table 2 shows), would you also agree that any other road game will be tougher for him this year?"  If you answer "Yes", please continue reading to find out how to deal with this issue.

QB-Ben BY COMMITTEE

May I present to you a twist on the quarterback by committee, or QBBC approach to the position.  Enter in the "QB Ben By Committee", or "QB-BenBC" for short.  The plan here is to find out what quarterback(s) best complement using Ben Roethlisberger as your starting quarterback only when he is in Pittsburgh.  That required some thought, but I was able to re-use the QBBC tools that I have to find out the answer.  By plugging in a zero projected score for Roethlisberger for all eight of his road games, I forced the tool to give me the best options to use to replace Roethlisberger with a single alternative quarterback for my QB2.  The results are provided below:

QB1
QB2
Value
343.85
Dak Prescott
334.23
Philip Rivers
332.78
Andy Dalton
329.81

Table 3 - Quarterback Ben By Committee Options for 2017

Four names appear on the list to pair with Ben Roethlisberger, and all but Dak Prescott should fit the bill as QB2s available shortly after Ben Roethlisberger gets selected.   So how do these pairs stand up?    

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that we have four possible quarterbacks to pair with Ben Roethlisberger, how do those compare to a QB1 option for 2017?  Going back to the original QBBC article this year, we can fall back to Table 4 for the projections for the Top 12 QBs in standard scoring:

ADP QB Rank Player Team FPs FP Rank
19 1 Aaron Rodgers GB 387.84 1
28 2 Tom Brady NE 380.16 2
38 3 Drew Brees NO 362.88 3
55 5 Andrew Luck IND 357.94 4
52 4 Matt Ryan ATL 352.48 5
62 6 Russell Wilson SEA 346.56 6
83 10 Marcus Mariota TEN 344.87 7
78 8 Jameis Winston TB 342.24 8
76 7 Cam Newton CAR 339.75 9
86 12 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 332.57 10
85 11 Kirk Cousins WAS 327.76 11
88 13 Dak Prescott DAL 324.16 12
100 14 Philip Rivers LAC 322.72 13
123 17 Andy Dalton CIN 321.48 14
82 9 Derek Carr OAK 319.58 15

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top 12+ ADP QBs

Based on Tables 3 and 4, we see that the top option (Roethlisberger-Stafford) yields a projected total of 343.85 points, or not far off of Ben Roethlisberger all season long and a bye week replacement - and just a few points behind the QB1 target of Cam Newton with a similar replacement quarterback for Newton's week off.  So taking Ben Roethlisberger in your draft and quicklly following up with Matthew Stafford can provide you with exactly what you wished for - a quarterback committee with Roethlisberger at home for eight games and another quarterback to use when Pittsburgh is on the road

Table 5 summarizes the combined schedule for Roethlisberger and Stafford:

Week Suggested Player Opponent
1 Matthew Stafford Arizona
2 Ben Roethlisberger Minnesota
3 Matthew Stafford Atlanta
4 Matthew Stafford at Minnesota
5 Ben Roethlisberger Jacksonville
6 Matthew Stafford at New Orleans
7 Ben Roethlisberger Cincinnati
8 Matthew Stafford Pittsburgh
9 Matthew Stafford at Green Bay
10 Matthew Stafford Cleveland
11 Ben Roethlisberger Tennessee
12 Ben Roethlisberger Green Bay
13 Matthew Stafford at Baltimore
14 Ben Roethlisberger Baltimore
15 Ben Roethlisberger New England
16 Matthew Stafford at Cincinnati
17 Ben Roethlisberger Cleveland

 Table 5: Suggested QB-BenBC Schedule Plan - Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford

QBBC for AUCTIONS

As a small bonus, another reader (Mike H.) emailed me and mentioned that he was in an auction league, so while the QBBC approach was still valid, he wished that I had not drawn a line at QB12 and only considered players under that line.  The reasoning is valid, as quarterbacks 7-13 should be in similar price ranges in auctions, so a strong QBBC may exist by taking two from this group or one QB from the group and another later value option.  To help with this scenario, I am providing another table below that shows the Top 100 quarterback pairs with only the Top 5 quarterbacks not available:

Pair No. QB1 QB2 Value
1 Russell Wilson Jameis Winston 385.66
2 Russell Wilson Philip Rivers 381.72
3 Jameis Winston Kirk Cousins 379.88
4 Russell Wilson Marcus Mariota 379.14
5 Russell Wilson Kirk Cousins 378.79
6 Jameis Winston Philip Rivers 377.1
7 Jameis Winston Dak Prescott 377.09
8 Marcus Mariota Philip Rivers 374.29
9 Russell Wilson Ben Roethlisberger 373.48
10 Russell Wilson Derek Carr 373.27
11 Russell Wilson Cam Newton 373.05
12 Marcus Mariota Jameis Winston 372.72
13 Marcus Mariota Kirk Cousins 372.59
14 Russell Wilson Carson Wentz 372.24
15 Russell Wilson Matthew Stafford 371.11
16 Jameis Winston Andy Dalton 370.59
17 Dak Prescott Philip Rivers 370.57
18 Jameis Winston Derek Carr 370.36
19 Jameis Winston Matthew Stafford 369.83
20 Jameis Winston Eli Manning 369.68
21 Cam Newton Philip Rivers 369.53
22 Jameis Winston Ben Roethlisberger 369.28
23 Russell Wilson Blake Bortles 368.75
24 Philip Rivers Derek Carr 368.26
25 Jameis Winston Blake Bortles 367.94
26 Jameis Winston Carson Wentz 367.67
27 Marcus Mariota Dak Prescott 367.46
28 Marcus Mariota Cam Newton 367.33
29 Kirk Cousins Dak Prescott 366.78
30 Cam Newton Kirk Cousins 366.49
31 Jameis Winston Tyrod Taylor 366.16
32 Dak Prescott Derek Carr 365.92
33 Marcus Mariota Andy Dalton 365.78
34 Russell Wilson Joe Flacco 365.45
35 Russell Wilson Carson Palmer 364.96
36 Russell Wilson Sam Bradford 364.78
37 Philip Rivers Andy Dalton 364.75
38 Russell Wilson Jay Cutler 364.72
39 Russell Wilson Alex Smith 364.18
40 Jameis Winston Joe Flacco 363.95
41 Russell Wilson Eli Manning 363.15
42 Marcus Mariota Ben Roethlisberger 363.04
43 Kirk Cousins Andy Dalton 362.95
44 Andy Dalton Derek Carr 362.36
45 Kirk Cousins Philip Rivers 362.04
46 Russell Wilson Dak Prescott 361.59
47 Marcus Mariota Derek Carr 361.47
48 Jameis Winston Sam Bradford 361.41
49 Jameis Winston Carson Palmer 360.46
50 Marcus Mariota Matthew Stafford 360.25
51 Cam Newton Derek Carr 360.1
52 Jameis Winston Alex Smith 360.05
53 Philip Rivers Matthew Stafford 359.72
54 Kirk Cousins Matthew Stafford 359.44
55 Kirk Cousins Derek Carr 359.19
56 Philip Rivers Eli Manning 359.04
57 Kirk Cousins Eli Manning 358.86
58 Dak Prescott Matthew Stafford 358.42
59 Ben Roethlisberger Dak Prescott 357.85
60 Dak Prescott Carson Wentz 357.72
61 Cam Newton Dak Prescott 357.64
62 Cam Newton Ben Roethlisberger 357.49
63 Ben Roethlisberger Derek Carr 356.38
64 Ben Roethlisberger Kirk Cousins 356.14
65 Derek Carr Eli Manning 355.78
66 Dak Prescott Eli Manning 355.53
67 Marcus Mariota Tyrod Taylor 355.51
68 Cam Newton Carson Wentz 355.27
69 Marcus Mariota Carson Wentz 355.05
70 Cam Newton Eli Manning 354.33
71 Philip Rivers Tyrod Taylor 354.26
72 Cam Newton Andy Dalton 354.23
73 Russell Wilson Andy Dalton 353.57
74 Kirk Cousins Carson Wentz 353.23
75 Cam Newton Matthew Stafford 352.98
76 Jameis Winston Cam Newton 352.76
77 Ben Roethlisberger Matthew Stafford 352.52
78 Philip Rivers Carson Wentz 352.33
79 Ben Roethlisberger Andy Dalton 352.1
80 Marcus Mariota Joe Flacco 352.08
81 Derek Carr Matthew Stafford 351.95
82 Cam Newton Blake Bortles 351.93
83 Philip Rivers Carson Palmer 351.85
84 Ben Roethlisberger Eli Manning 351.5
85 Dak Prescott Carson Palmer 351.49
86 Dak Prescott Blake Bortles 350.73
87 Philip Rivers Alex Smith 350.72
88 Philip Rivers Blake Bortles 350.62
89 Andy Dalton Matthew Stafford 350.52
90 Andy Dalton Eli Manning 349.87
91 Kirk Cousins Tyrod Taylor 349.29
92 Marcus Mariota Sam Bradford 349.27
93 Andy Dalton Blake Bortles 349.07
94 Russell Wilson Tyrod Taylor 349.07
95 Philip Rivers Joe Flacco 348.77
96 Eli Manning Matthew Stafford 348.7
97 Cam Newton Tyrod Taylor 348.59
98 Kirk Cousins Blake Bortles 348.03
99 Cam Newton Joe Flacco 347.6
100 Andy Dalton Carson Wentz 347.39
101 Russell Wilson n/a 347.18


 Table 6: Top 100 QBBC Pairs Also Including QB6-QB12

Table 6 worked out perfectly, as the Top 100 pairs are all above QB6 by himself, Russell Wilson.  Getting any two quarterbacks in the upper half of Table 6 to pair up from this list represents a projected QB6 value including a 18-20 point bye week replacement. 

The committee approach is not a perfect one, but having this knowledge prior to your fantasy draft can prove to be invaluable if you decide to adopt this approach.  If all the players on your starter list are gone, going with a committee can save your team and help you deal with the loss of bigger names.  The method is also a big help in "Best Ball" leagues, where lineup decisions are not necessary every week.  That's exactly where a committee can do the best, as either player can count for you each week.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.