The Fantasy Impact of Ben Roethlisberger’s Injury
How does Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury impact fantasy football?
If you are part of the many that had Ben Roethlisberger on your fantasy roster, then you already know the news. Big Ben sustained an elbow injury on his throwing arm just minutes before the end of the first half in the Steelers week two matchup against the Seahawks. After getting a second opinion, it was determined that he will require surgery and thus ending his 2019-2020 campaign.
However, there may be some light to this story. After Big Ben went down, Mason Rudolph, the Steelers 2018 third-round draft selection, picked up the start and almost surprisingly brought his team back into contention. The Steelers organization loves this kid. His nickname in the locker room is “Mad Man,” which refers to his “first one in, last one out” attitude in regard to game preparation.
In terms of fantasy football, there is a huge domino effect for the rest of the team. Rudolph did well as a substitute for Roethlisberger, completing 64.2% of his passes for two touchdowns and one interception. This was also done using the game script that the Steelers had prepared for Roethlisberger. It will be interesting to see how they change to adapt to Rudolph’s strengths. However, if you had Ben on your team, my suggestion would be to look for other QBs, such as Jimmy Garoppolo or Josh Allen in free agency. Both of those guys can be quality starts with upside, but if you’re in a deeper league, then Rudolph needs to be rostered.
Going forward, it would make sense for the team to be more run-heavy and thus utilize James Conner a lot more. Unfortunately, Conner also suffered an injury (knee) during the game. Current reports say he is day-to-day with the presumption that he’ll suit up and play on Sunday. Nonetheless, the Steelers will look to utilize their backs much more to take the pressure off second-year Mason Rudolph. With the injury to Connor, guys like Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell need to be on your waiver radar. Currently, Samuels is the handcuff to Conner, and if Conner were to miss a significant amount of time, Samuels could be a top-15 running back.
The receiving core is an interesting play now. JuJu Smith-Schuster would more than likely continue to be a must-start every week, however, his ranking is lower now with Rudolph at the helm. This could all change if Rudolph comes out and plays the way he is expected to. An interesting player to keep in mind is Rudolph’s old go-to target while at Oklahoma State, James Washington. The two already have the sort of connection that JuJu and Ben had that resulted in top-ten receiver play by JuJu last year. Therefore, there could be some upside to Washington’s stock. Although I believe the Steelers will utilize their backs more often, that will not impede them from passing as they have been top ten in pass attempts the last three years. Keep an eye on Washington, especially in this week’s waivers.
In terms of their tight ends, Vance McDonald saw a huge swing when Rudolph came in. McDonald caught two touchdown passes from Rudolph in the fourth quarter. There is a saying, “the tight end and good running back play is a rookie (young) QB’s best friend,” and Vance proved to be just that for Rudolph. For now, there is a good chance that Vance can be that go-to safety valve for Rudolph and be the valuable tight end many had hoped he would be. I 100% concur with this, however, we need a full game of Mason Rudolph to see who he will favor. Nonetheless, you should be optimistic about McDonald considering the scarcity of quality tight end play.
This is a terrible loss for the Steelers, who now sit at 0-2. The organization has high hopes for Rudolph, but it is easy to say that the future is very uncertain.
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