This is the second in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at PFWstore.com.
I paid one dollar for Ben Roethlisberger in an auction draft the Pro Football Weekly and Yahoo! Sports staffs held for our Fantasy Football Guide 2010. I brought him up for the minimum bid, and there were no takers.
Why did I do it? Roethlisberger is exceptionally talented, and his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy can be shortened to four games. I'm banking on that happening, and I'm expecting Roethlisberger to be a productive fantasy starter for the balance of the season. At the time I drafted him, I believed him to be the best quarterback left on the board, even considering the downside risk.
I'm comfortable with my thought process. Even in the unlikely event Roethlisberger doesn't play this season or loses his starting job, I wagered just a dollar. I've made worse one-buck gambles. (Note: we're not playing out the 12-team league, but the draft results are in the magazine.) And, from a value standpoint, it was an easy call to make.
Roethlisberger is likely to last beyond the midpoint of most drafts, and he could last until near the end of some. Some owners aren't going to be comfortable taking Roethlisberger as a backup passer when he's going to miss, at a minimum, one quarter of the Steelers' regular-season games. The earliest Roethlisberger can enter the lineup is Week Six, as Pittsburgh's bye is the previous week.
Roethlisberger is my backup quarterback, with the Bears' Jay Cutler my starter. I understand the risk of such a move — if Cutler was hurt early, I would have to be hitting the waiver wire for a replacement (there were a good number of starting quarterbacks who went undrafted) or making a trade for a passer in a situation where I would lack ideal leverage.
The safer play would have been to draft Roethlisberger as a third quarterback, a strategy I strongly endorse for owners in 10-team leagues. If using such a strategy, perhaps consider taking another passer with upside (Chad Henne, Matthew Stafford, etc.) as your backup; if that quarterback pans out and Roethlisberger returns in Week Six, you will be in strong position to move one of your passers for help at other positions.
Yes, I gambled on Roethlisberger, and it was a slightly risky move. But in smaller leagues with no roster restrictions on the number of quarterbacks you can carry, the risk is minimal, and one that could pay dividends later in the fall.
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