Ranks reax: Big Ben lower than usual 

December, 7, 2011
One of the risks a fantasy owner must deal with when it comes playoff time is that a potentially lopsided real-life matchup will change what we have come to rely on as the normal course of statistics. For example, I think the Pittsburgh Steelers will demolish the lowly Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. If you're a Browns fan, I apologize, but then again, you can make fun of my favorite Dream Team (ahem, the Eagles, ahem) as they sadly tank their remaining games. The Steelers should roll in a mismatch, and it has me a bit worried about Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace and the team's passing game, which was reflected when I ranked those fellows for Week 14.

The Browns don't do a lot well, but only two teams have been better at preventing fantasy points to quarterbacks than Cleveland. Against wide receivers, no team is in the same neighborhood; the Browns allow a mere 11.7 fantasy points per game there, a full two points fewer than the next team (which is, oddly enough, the Steelers). When the Steelers jump out to a two-touchdown lead, what impetus will there be for Roethlisberger to throw the ball 40 times? I just don't see it. The Steelers have won eight of their past nine games, including embarrassing the contending Cincinnati Bengals 35-7 in Week 13. The Browns are 4-8, and that record could easily be even worse. The Steelers have won 14 of the past 15 in this series, and the last three in Pittsburgh by an average of more than 20 points. This game is going to be a blowout, and fantasy owners should be prepared for the outcome statistically.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Jason Bridge/US PresswireHow will Ben Roethlisberger do against a D that has allowed a league-low 173 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks?
I don't think it's overthinking things to be a bit wary of Roethlisberger, Wallace and perhaps Antonio Brown. Big Ben didn't get a top-10 rank by any of the four rankers (I had him 13th) despite the fact he's No. 10 for the season. Last week Roethlisberger was held to 176 yards by the Bengals -- though he did find Wallace for a pair of touchdown passes -- because the game's winner wasn't in doubt. If the game was close, perhaps the Steelers throw more. Do you think this Browns game will be close? Last season the Steelers edged the Browns by a combined score of 69-19. Oh, and these same two teams close out the season, as well. We might see reserve Charlie Batch handing off to Isaac Redman after halftime in that one.