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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two for Tuesday: Roethlisberger and Warner

In the list of the best keepers at each position we published in this blog, the top 10 quarterbacks didn't include either of the Super Bowl signal-callers.

All Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger did in one of the best Super Bowls we've ever seen was complete a combined 52 passes in 73 attempts (71.2 percent) for 633 yards and four touchdowns.

None of which means I would insert the two QBs in the top 10 if I had to do it over again, which might sound crazier than seeing Bruce Springsteen's lower half slide directly into your big screen in HD.

Let's break it down in our weekly list.

1. Warner will be a top-seven QB next season.

Assuming the 37-year-old doesn't retire this offseason and assuming the Cardinals appease Anquan Boldin, Warner, if healthy, should throw for 4,000-plus yards and 25 or more TDs next season.

Keep in mind, however, that, prior to 2008, Warner hadn't played 16 games in a season since 2001. Also consider that in keeper leagues, owners are usually looking for players they can hang on to for two or three years at a time. If that's the case, Warner can't rank ahead of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady/Matt Cassel.

In leagues that start over every year, Warner should enter 2009 ranked sixth or seventh at QB -- behind Peyton Manning, Brees, Cutler, Rivers, Rodgers and possibly Brady, depending on the health of Mr. Bundchen's knee. Some owners might also prefer Romo over Warner, but that's a move I'd probably only make in keeper leagues.

Regardless, Warner, who has accounted for 58 touchdowns (57 throwing, one rushing) in 30 games the last two seasons, is still a top-10 quarterback. But keeper leagues favor the younger stars, excepts for ones named Ben ...

2. Roethlisberger will be a top-10 QB next season.

There's your first bold prediction for 2009.

OK, that sounds as daring as questioning why Anheuser Busch paid so much money to tell us a Clydesdale love story on Sunday night.

Remember, though, that our fantasy world differs wildly from the real thing. If you had to pick a QB for a game-winning drive in the final two minutes, Roethlisberger might be your first selection. If you had to pick one to throw for 3,500 to 4,000 yards and 30 to 35 touchdowns, he would be pretty far down the list.

Big Ben has won two Super Bowls in five seasons. From a fantasy perspective, he's had only one big year -- 2007, when he threw for 3,154 yards and 32 TDs, and ran for two scores in 15 games.

From 2004 to 2006, Roethlisberger threw a combined 52 touchdown passes and 43 interceptions in 41 games.

In 2008, he had only two more TD passes (17) than interceptions (15) in the regular season, making him a fantasy backup.

That should change next year, when Santonio Holmes likely takes over as the Steelers' top wide receiver, Hines Ward returns to health, and Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall serve as a decent 1-2 punch for a revived running game.

You'll continue to hear countless analysts refer to Roethlisberger "managing the game," and they'll all rave about his play in the clutch.

They should also be able to cite Big Ben's stats.

Let's throw some numbers out there: 3,500 yards passing, 25 touchdown tosses and three rushing TDs.

Bold? Maybe. But that line isn't going to cost me $3 million.


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