Quarterback Ben by Committee - Footballguys

Finding a Quarterback to Pair with Ben Roethlisberger for 2018

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
2007-2017
2013-2017
Category
Home
Road
Home
Road
Attempts
34.3
33.9
38.6
36.3
Completions
22.5
21.5
25.9
23.3
Interceptions
0.8
0.9
0.9
0.9
Passing Touchdowns
2.0
1.4
2.5
1.3
Passing Yards
276.3
255.4
315.5
267.7
Fantasy Points
19.1
15.2
27.1
18.5
Delta
3.9
16.5%
8.6
32.0%

Table 1: Ben Roethlisberger'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 (same as last year). 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:

Time Frame
2013-2017
Category
at CLE
All others
Attempts
36.8
36.3
Completions
22.8
23.4
Interceptions
0.8
0.9
Passing Touchdowns
1.6
1.2
Passing Yards
244.8
271.2
Fantasy Points
18.5
18.5
Delta
0.0
0.0%

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:

Quarterback 1
Quarterback 2
Value
Ben Roethlisberger
Alex Smith
343.6
Ben Roethlisberger
Matt Ryan
335.4
Ben Roethlisberger
Philip Rivers
331.4
Ben Roethlisberger
Dak Prescott
327.9

Table 3 - Quarterback Ben By Committee Options for 2018

Four names appear on the list to pair with Ben Roethlisberger, and all four options 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 2018? Going back to the original QBBC article this year, we can fall back to Table 4 for the projections for the Top 17 QBs in standard scoring:

ADP
QB Rank
Quarterback
Team
FanPts
36
1
Aaron Rodgers
GB
354.2
59
4
Tom Brady
NE
336.9
56
2
Russell Wilson
SEA
335.1
58
3
Deshaun Watson
HOU
328.6
68
5
Cam Newton
CAR
332.6
75
6
Drew Brees
NO
322.6
139
18
Alex Smith
WAS
311.8
104
11
Jimmy Garoppolo
SF
310.2
100
9
Kirk Cousins
MIN
311.1
101
10
Matthew Stafford
DET
315.1
77
7
Carson Wentz
PHI
312.1
98
8
Ben Roethlisberger
PIT
308.7
129
16
Jared Goff
LAR
303.1
113
14
Matt Ryan
ATL
304.2
111
13
Philip Rivers
LAC
302.2
121
15
Patrick Mahomes II
KC
300.4
148
20
Dak Prescott
DAL
302.0
109
12
Andrew Luck
IND
302.6

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

Based on Tables 3 and 4, we see that the top option (Roethlisberger-Smith) yields a projected total of 343.6 points, or not far off of Drew Brees all season long and a bye week replacement of 18-22 points (Brees at 322.6 + 18-22 gives a 340.6-344.6 range) - which means playing Alex Smith when Ben Roethlisberger is either on a bye or on the road should give you Top 6 QB-type production. So taking Ben Roethlisberger in your draft and quickly following up with Alex Smith 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 Smith:

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
1
Alex Smith
at Arizona
2
Ben Roethlisberger
Kansas City
3
Alex Smith
Green Bay
4
Ben Roethlisberger
Baltimore
5
Ben Roethlisberger
Atlanta
6
Alex Smith
Carolina
7
Alex Smith
Dallas
8
Ben Roethlisberger
Cleveland
9
Alex Smith
Atlanta
10
Ben Roethlisberger
Carolina
11
Alex Smith
Houston
12
Alex Smith
at Dallas
13
Ben Roethlisberger
Los Angeles Chargers
14
Alex Smith
New York Giants
15
Ben Roethlisberger
New England
16
Alex Smith
at Tennessee
17
Ben Roethlisberger
Cincinnati

Table 5: Suggested QB-BenBC Schedule Plan - Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith

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 7-16 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 6 quarterbacks not available:

Rank
Quarterback 1
Quarterback 2
Value
1
Carson Wentz
Kirk Cousins
360.3
2
Kirk Cousins
Matthew Stafford
359.8
3
Carson Wentz
Matthew Stafford
355.5
4
Patrick Mahomes II
Carson Wentz
355.5
5
Matthew Stafford
Ben Roethlisberger
354.1
6
Carson Wentz
Ben Roethlisberger
353.8
7
Matthew Stafford
Jimmy Garoppolo
353.0
8
Dak Prescott
Carson Wentz
352.9
9
Carson Wentz
Jimmy Garoppolo
352.3
10
Alex Smith
Carson Wentz
350.5
11
Andrew Luck
Kirk Cousins
350.4
12
Philip Rivers
Carson Wentz
350.0
13
Philip Rivers
Alex Smith
349.8
14
Jared Goff
Carson Wentz
349.8
15
Matt Ryan
Kirk Cousins
349.6
16
Alex Smith
Dak Prescott
349.4
17
Patrick Mahomes II
Matthew Stafford
349.2
18
Alex Smith
Kirk Cousins
349.0
19
Kirk Cousins
Jimmy Garoppolo
348.7
20
Philip Rivers
Matthew Stafford
348.5
21
Dak Prescott
Jimmy Garoppolo
348.5
22
Alex Smith
Matthew Stafford
347.9
23
Alex Smith
Andrew Luck
347.7
24
Andrew Luck
Ben Roethlisberger
347.3
25
Alex Smith
Ben Roethlisberger
347.1
26
Patrick Mahomes II
Andrew Luck
347.0
27
Jared Goff
Matthew Stafford
346.6
28
Andrew Luck
Jimmy Garoppolo
346.4
29
Patrick Mahomes II
Alex Smith
346.0
30
Alex Smith
Jimmy Garoppolo
345.9
31
Philip Rivers
Jimmy Garoppolo
345.5
32
Matt Ryan
Ben Roethlisberger
345.4
33
Jared Goff
Andrew Luck
345.4
34
Kirk Cousins
Ben Roethlisberger
344.5
35
Jared Goff
Jimmy Garoppolo
344.1
36
Philip Rivers
Ben Roethlisberger
343.9
37
Andrew Luck
Matthew Stafford
343.8
38
Dak Prescott
Ben Roethlisberger
343.7
39
Dak Prescott
Matthew Stafford
343.2
40
Philip Rivers
Kirk Cousins
343.1
41
Matt Ryan
Matthew Stafford
343.0
42
Dak Prescott
Kirk Cousins
342.9
43
Jared Goff
Kirk Cousins
342.9
44
Philip Rivers
Jared Goff
342.8
45
Jared Goff
Alex Smith
342.1
46
Matt Ryan
Patrick Mahomes II
342.0
47
Philip Rivers
Andrew Luck
341.9
48
Matt Ryan
Alex Smith
341.8
49
Matt Ryan
Jared Goff
341.5
50
Ben Roethlisberger
Jimmy Garoppolo
341.3
51
Jared Goff
Ben Roethlisberger
340.9
52
Patrick Mahomes II
Ben Roethlisberger
340.4
53
Matt Ryan
Carson Wentz
340.3
54
Matt Ryan
Jimmy Garoppolo
340.2
55
Patrick Mahomes II
Kirk Cousins
340.0
56
Dak Prescott
Andrew Luck
340.0
57
Patrick Mahomes II
Jimmy Garoppolo
339.7
58
Patrick Mahomes II
Dak Prescott
338.5
59
Philip Rivers
Patrick Mahomes II
337.6
60
Matt Ryan
Andrew Luck
337.0
61
Jared Goff
Dak Prescott
336.2
62
Carson Wentz
Andrew Luck
331.2
63
Matt Ryan
Dak Prescott
324.9
64
Philip Rivers
Matt Ryan
322.5
65
Philip Rivers
Dak Prescott
322.4
66
Patrick Mahomes II
Jared Goff
319.1
67
Matthew Stafford
n/a
315.1

Table 6: Top 60+ QBBC Pairs Also Including QB7-QB16+

Table 6 worked out quite well, with over 50 pairs coming in above 340 points, which again is close to the target for Drew Brees and a bye week replacement. Getting any two quarterbacks in the upper half of Table 6 to pair up from this list represents a projected QB6 value including an 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.