Fantasy football owners have a Big Ben-sized hole to fill in their lineups this week.
The news that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly will miss 4 to 6 weeks with a sprained MCL is significant, not just for Roethlisberger owners but also for those who own any of Pittsburgh’s talented group of skill players.
So who’s still a viable option to start in Thursday night’s AFC North clash against the 0-3 Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field? Glad you asked.
Here’s who we would start and sit in Week 4’s installment of “Thursday Night Football.”
Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Ravens: If you’re desperate and need a quick replacement for Roethlisberger, you could do a lot worse than Flacco. He’s owned in just over half of standard leagues and gets a solid matchup against a Steelers defense that’s already been torched by Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick.
Steve Smith, Wide Receiver, Ravens: Smith has gotten a massive workload over the last two weeks, making it clear he’s Flacco’s favorite target in the passing game. Pittsburgh’s secondary is nothing special, so you should feel confident firing up Smith.
Le’Veon Bell, Running Back, Steelers: This should go without saying. Bell figures to be even busier with Roethlisberger out, and while the Ravens’ defense likely will key on him, Pittsburgh still will find ways to get him the ball, whether in the running or passing game.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver, Steelers: See above. Brown’s stock definitely takes a hit without his starting quarterback, but he’s too talented to leave on your bench under any circumstance.
Justin Forsett, Running Back, Ravens: You might be forced to start him if you don’t have any better options. But Forsett has been incredibly frustrating to date this season, and we have a hard time believing this is the week he’ll get off the schneid against a Steelers defense that’s allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs in standard-scoring leagues.
Ravens defense: It might be tempting to fire up Baltimore here with Michael Vick on the other side of the ball, but this is a Ravens defense that’s allowed 51 points to Derek Carr and Andy Dalton over the last two weeks. No thanks.
Michael Vick, Quarterback, Steelers: If you’re in a two-QB league and need a fill-in, go for it. But don’t expect the 35-year-old to throw the ball all over the place, especially with Bell in the backfield. Plenty of other quarterbacks out there are much less risky than Vick.
Heath Miller, Tight End, Steelers: Miller always was one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets, and his stock falls significantly with Big Ben on the sideline. The Ravens also have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends in standard leagues this season.
Thumbnail photo via Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) warms up prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium.