1. Ben Roethlisberger’s roads woes have officially become an issue
167 passing yards and 0 TD passes against Cleveland? Really, Big Ben? Really? The Browns entered Week 11 having allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to the QB position, so to say Roethlisberger’s meager totals on Sunday were a disappointment is a massive understatement. And now we have to look at his issues in road contests as a lot more than just an anomaly. In his past four road contests, Big Ben is averaging just 219.3 passing yards and has a 2:4 TD-to-INT ratio. This is a particularly disturbing trend for Roethlisberger owners as the Pittsburgh QB has road games in three of the next four weeks, with the one home game coming against a New York Giants defense that has allowed just 3 TD passes (compared to 8 INTs) in its past five games.
For Roethlisberger, the road issue is something that has been in the making for the past couple years, as he ranked just 29th in fantasy points per game among QBs that made at least four road starts in ’15. He wasn’t a whole lot better in 2014, ranking 21st at the QB position in road fantasy PPG. We now have a 19-game road sample to go by that has produced results well outside the top 20 QB range. And with all the injuries in the Steelers receiving corps ( Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey on the IR, and Sammie Coates dealing with two broken fingers), it only exacerbates the problem.
Big Ben owners are going to want to carry a second QB over the next month – Colin Kaepernick is not a bad way to go, or just stream the position – and give serious thought to benching Roethlisberger in road tilts against Indy (Week 12), Buffalo (Week 14) and Cincy (Week 15). True, the Colts and Bengals have been among the most generous fantasy pass defenses to this point, but neither were as generous as Cleveland and that was little consolation for Roethlisberger.
2. Allen Robinson, fantasy’s biggest stretch-run conundrum
In Detroit on Sunday, Robinson had one of those ugly fantasy days (7 targets, 3 catches, 18 yards) that was salvaged by a touchdown. The game marked the seventh time in 10 games that Robinson has topped 7.0 fantasy points, despite averaging a mere 56.7 receiving yards per game. He can thank a league-high 2.5 red zone targets per game for keeping him in the fantasy black. It makes him hard to bench even as he is about to embark on the toughest rest-of-season schedule at the wide receiver position, with a particularly brutal run against the three toughest defenses against wideouts from Weeks 13-15 (Denver, Minnesota and Houston). We’ve already seen Robinson thrive in a matchup with Houston in Week 10 (9/107/1). And his physical talents and role near the goal line make him a defensible dice roll against the Vikings and Broncos. But, as is the case with most of Jacksonville’s skill position players, you probably won’t want to watch these upcoming performances from A-Rob because they won’t likely be pretty. That said, you have to feel good about the potential for a TD to bail him out in the end.
A couple key points about the Buffalo backfield were reiterated on Sunday. First, this is one of the most potent running games in the league, as was evident once again against Cincinnati – the Bills running backs combined for 133 rushing yards and a rushing TD. Second, featured back LeSean McCoy’s health cannot be trusted. He has spent much of his time in Buffalo flying under the questionable flag, missing four games last season and seeing his playing time cut short twice this season (including on Sunday because of a thumb injury).
McCoy’s latest health issue is not expected to keep him out of Week 12 action, but it could curb his usual workload. And even if it doesn’t, backup running back Mike Gillislee needs to be owned in a lot more than the 25 percent of Yahoo leagues in which he’s currently employed. This run-oriented offense can support two running backs. Both McCoy and backup Karlos Williams were top 20 among running backs in fantasy points per game last season. And Gillislee, who picked up 72 rushing yards on Sunday with McCoy out, has five touchdowns and a 5.8 YPC mark serving in a relief role this season. His upside would shoot into the RB1 neighborhood if McCoy were to be sidelined at any point down the stretch. And the road for Buffalo should be smooth over the next month as the team won’t see an above average fantasy run defense in its next four games (JAC, OAK, PIT, CLE).