Passer Appraisals Week 6: Ben Roethlisberger and C.J. Beathard
Each week at TwoQBs.com I will post an article on two notable quarterback performances over the prior week. This week I will be looking at Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and C.J. Beathard of the San Francisco 49ers
The Steelers beat the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 19 to 13 in an away game last week. Roethlisberger accounted for 252 passing yards, completing 17 of only 25 attempts with one touchdown and one interception to go with two rushing attempts for two yards. In his career since 2004, the 35-year-old Roethlisberger has a 64.1% completion percentage and 308 touchdowns to 168 interceptions. Notably in this game, the team’s running back, Le’Veon Bell, had 179 rushing yards and three catches for 12 yards.
The first time Roethlisberger was sacked occurred with about nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. In the second-previous play, he had taken a snap and handed off the ball to Le’Veon Bell who seemed surprised by the handoff. Afterwards, Roethlisberger had wandered toward his sideline holding out his arms as if to say, “what happened?” On the next play, Bell was taken off the field and the ball was handed to rookie running back James Connor who ignored two openings up the middle and ran the ball outside to the left. Then on a 3rd-and-3, Bell was back on the field. Roethlisberger took the snap, dropped back three steps and dropped his shoulder like he was prepared to throw deep, while Bell chip-blocked Kansas City linebacker Dee Ford and circled out to take a short pass, rather than staying in to block. The linebacker circled around outmatched tackle Alejandro Villanueva and dragged Roethlisberger to the ground. Moments later the camera caught Roethlisberger speaking animatedly to his offensive coordinator and former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley. There are some BIG red flags for the quarterback if the offense of the Steelers can’t get on the same page. I understand it’s Arrowhead Stadium and “loud” is an understatement, but that shouldn’t disrupt the strategy and cohesiveness of the team – just the timing and maybe a false start or two. Keep in mind that in the previous week Roethlisberger gave up five interceptions to the (understandably good) Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense.
The lone touchdown for Roethlisberger this week came on a 3rd-and-2 play at the Steelers’ 49-yard line. Le’Veon bell was already up to 170 rushing yards. However, rather than running the ball for another two yards, Roethlisberger took a snap from the shotgun and eyed down Antonio Brown. As the safety came over, and with the cornerback tight on Brown’s heels, Roethlisberger threw the ball anyway. Cornerback Phillip Gaines reached up for the easy interception, however he bobbled the ball up into the air and into Brown’s hands. Safety Daniel Sorensen didn’t expect Brown to stop in the middle of the play so he missed tackling Brown, who then ran the remaining 20 yards down the field for the score. It’s imperative to overstate that this was a failed interception, rather than a good passing play from Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh has the ninth-best remaining strength of schedule for a QB, but with division rivals Cincinnati coming to Pittsburgh for an upcoming grudge-match game, I’m not looking to start either Roethlisberger or Dalton. It seems like there’s some back-room problems with the team where someone isn’t talking to someone. I hope this can be worked out soon as Roethlisberger (who had hinted at retirement this past offseason) needs to be the captain of the team and on the same page with all his players if he is going to be successful.
In a one-quarterback league I would be hesitant to think of “Big Ben” as my QB1, but in two-quarterback redraft or dynasty leagues, he’s a perfect buy-low streaming candidate right now. As a matter of fact, I just traded a mid-second round pick plus Tennessee rookie wide receiver Taywan Taylor (seven receptions through six games on the year so far) for Roethlisberger in a deep one-quarterback dynasty league where my only other starting options were Andy Dalton and Brett Hundley. I think Roethlisberger will be around a few more years and the team will work out their coaching and/or organization issues in the next few weeks. I have no fear at all that the problems of early this season will continue through the rest of the year. For your two-quarterback leagues, I might hesitate to start him this coming week, but consider him a QB2 streamer option going forward and don’t hesitate to throw out a second or third round pick to see if you can take advantage of this buy-low opportunity.
Midway through the second quarter of the 49ers and Washington game this week, the 49ers sat their starting quarterback Brian Hoyer and switched to third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard. Beathard, (who looks like a 6’2 red haired and mustachioed extra from the Blues Brothers movie) made 28 starts at Iowa and compiled a 21-7 record with 40 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He had a 56.5 completion percentage as a senior. In Sunday’s contest against, Beathard completed 19-of-36 passes (52.5 completion percentage) for 245 yards with one touchdown and one interception, also taking two sacks. Beathard will turn 24 in November and stands 6’2 with hands a little over 9 inches. With an 0-6 record, it would be easy analysis to say that the 49ers have officially decided to tank the rest of this season and look forward to a good draft pick and a better year next season. But in our 2QB universe, the option of picking up a starting quarterback midway through the season raises an eyebrow.
On the first series with Beathard at the helm, he showed he still needs coaching. From the time the ball was snapped he was staring at the target and his throws were either five yards short or off from where the target was. Matt Breida and George Kittle dropped what would be considered easy catches, but they could also have been thrown better. One of the incomplete passes was nearly picked off as Beathard’s short pass on a 2nd-and-10 was slow to come out and his staring down Aldrick Robinson caused DJ Swearinger to jump in front of Robinson.
It seemed like every time Beathard targeted a player it was either Matt Breida, Aldrick Robinson, or George Kittle. Nearing the two-minute mark at the end of the fourth quarter down 17 to 26, on a second and six, Beathard got the ball and dropped back seven steps, but the pocket collapsed behind him and he stepped up to run the ball 14 yards, getting in a few steps past the first down marker as he went out of bounds. On the next play at Washington’s 45-yard line, he took another snap from shotgun and moved up. Washington had adjusted to the prior play, however, and two defenders moved up to prevent him from gaining yards with his feet. Two yards before he got to the line of scrimmage he lofted a wobbly pass to Robinson who had shaken free of his coverage at the 10-yard line. He dodged past one player and jogged the rest of the way into the end zone.
There was nothing overly special or unusual in C.J. Beathard’s play Sunday, other than he didn’t do anything overly wrong to lose the game. He would be considered replacement level talent in the NFL, but has since been declared the starter for the 49ers moving forward. For that reason he would be a good third quarterback on a 2QB team.
In a 2QB league where two quarterbacks are required to start each week, Beathard would have value as the bye week fill-in or injury insurance for a starter quarterback (like Aaron Rodgers, for instance). Time will tell if he continues to start the rest of the season, but I would expect Hoyer to take back that job at some point. In 2QB dynasty leagues I wouldn’t buy him, but if I had him or got him in a waiver wire pickup I would take this opportunity to sell him at peak value. I would be expecting a late second round pick in return, and would probably take an early third. I wouldn’t spend more than 20% of my FAAB on him just to pick him up and sell him to a needy owner in 2QB or superflex redraft, expecting a WR2 or RB3 in return.
Non-Quarterback Thoughts of the Week:
I couldn’t help but note while watching the 49ers game that Matt Breida (and not Carlos Hyde) got the plays near the end of the game in comeback mode. You would think that a team would put what would be their idea of their best players out there. Your window to buy Matt Breida is closing soon.
Aaron Rodgers going down with a broken clavicle was a true gut punch to teams. What may be the best player in football (and my own Scott Fish Bowl first round pick) was a top selection in every format everywhere. Expect Brett Hundley to be passable, but to have a negative effect on Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Davante Adams. Sell Martellus Bennett while he still has any value.
I’m so glad I picked up Justin Simmons, safety for the Denver Broncos, early on. He’s not Keanu Neal by any stretch, but for the price I paid (uh, free!!), the Boston College rookie will look great in my lineup each week in IDP dynasty.
I keep thinking Maxx Williams will be a thing someday. He can’t seem to stay healthy for more than a few quarters, though.
In my Fantasycares best-ball league my quarterbacks were Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer, and Mitchell Trubisky. I got a snarky remark from another owner when I drafted Trubisky in the 16th round to back-up Glennon. Guess who will be my only starting quarterback this coming week in that league?
The buy window is also closing for Josh Doctson. Get a few shares of him in your dynasty leagues.
Grooving to the voice of Nina Osegueda in her band’s rendition of the Catalonian anthem. Wow.
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