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QB Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton had a fantastic regular season in 2013 only to see it come crashing down in the team's lone playoff game - a home loss to a Wild Card San Diego team. Dalton had his best statistical year by far last year under Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden. This season, however, he'll be under Hue Jackson as Gruden left the team for Washington's Head Coach position. Jackson is far more run-heavy than Gruden. Between that and the general doubt surrounding Dalton's future, it will be difficult for the fourth-year player to approach the success he had in his fantastic 2013 campaign. Jackson's commitment to the run game at every one of his NFL stops so far doesn't have Dalton's arrow pointing up.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers are looking to Ben Roethlisberger to lead them to the playoffs again. Fantasy owners are doing the same thing. It may not seem like it to some, but Roethlisberger was a top-10 fantasy quarterback (8th) in 2013. We could see him improve slightly on those numbers this season.
The Steelers have worked to improve the offensive line play in recent years. Getting a player like center Maurkice Pouncey back will greatly upgrade the protection for Roethlisberger. Pouncey was knocked out in Week 1 with an ACL/MCL tear, and the offensive line gave up the 5th-most sacks (42) in 2013.
Roethlisberger did a good job in his second year running Todd Haley's offense, but his production was not consistent. In eight of 16 games last year, Roethlisberger failed to score 20 or more fantasy points. This makes him an unreliable starter even though his season totals look good.
The team will have a more consistent ground game this year, and that should help Roethlisberger. Having Le'Veon Bell as the primary back will help keep defenses honest, and this will allow Roethlisberger to set up play-action passing. Last year, Bell missed a portion of the season due to injury and the team struggled to move the ball on the ground without him.
The Steelers lost Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos) in free agency, and they will replace him with second-year pro Markus Wheaton. How guys like Wheaton, Lance Moore and Martavis Bryant perform will help determine how productive Roethlisberger is in 2014.
Things are looking up for Roethlisberger. The offensive line and ground game are improved for the Steelers, and he's well-versed in the Haley offense. Roethlisberger may once again finish as a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year, but this season he could be more consistent on a week-to-week basis.
QB Carson Palmer
QB Ryan Tannehill
With a new offensive coordinator, quarterback Ryan Tannehill enters his third year having to learn at least part of a new playbook and needing to get used to new OC Bill Lazor's speedier tempo as well. It's a lot to ask in some ways of a guy who was erratic and held the ball far too long last season. On the other hand, former Mike Sherman looked a bit overwhelmed last season, and Lazor is a very creative play caller. The offensive line has been improved, there is another weapon in the backfield in Knowshon Moreno, and the team added some receiving help in the draft. Tannehill knows he needs to take a big step and has the talent around him to do it. We saw signs he was settling down at the end of last year before he imploded against the New York Jets. Prior to that three interception, one touchdown game, he had thrown eight touchdowns and just two interceptions over four games. Ultimately, Tannehill has as much to prove to fantasy owners as he does to the Dolphins, and while he has upside, he's a just a safe QB2 right now.
QB Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco has been consistent in one regard throughout his six-year career. That thing is inconsistency. Flacco always ends the season as a middle statistical quarterback, but his seasons are marked by peaks and valleys. He can throw for 350 yards or 150 yards in any given week, and neither outcome would be surprising. Flacco had a great playoff run of elite statistical production in 2012, but the larger sample size of the five regular seasons before that (and one since) show that he is likely to remain that middling, inconsistent player.
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