The Steelers are serious about running more no-huddle. They're working on it extensively in OTAs compared to past years when they didn't touch it until camp. That's seriously good news for Ben Roethlisberger.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found Big Ben thrived in the hurry-up attack last year, when he called most of the plays at the line of scrimmage. On 239 no-huddle plays, Roethlisberger hit 102 of 163 passes (63 percent) for 1,221 yards and 10 touchdowns with one interception, the paper said.
Pittsburgh used the no-huddle on 23 percent of its plays. The no-huddle produced 36 percent of Big Ben's passing touchdowns and 29 percent of his passing yardage.
The Steelers went 6-3 in their final nine games – the stretch when they ran at least 15 no-huddle plays each week and averaged 28.2 points, compared to 17.9 over the first seven games.
CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer Dave Richard notes Big Ben averaged 22.2 Fantasy points over the final nine games, 15.1 over the first seven.
More no-huddle means more shotgun, and Big Ben was the league's sixth-best passer out of the shotgun last year, per Pro Football Focus.
He was accurate on 76.3 percent of his shotgun throws, a stat that accounts for 29 drops. He posted a 97.3 passer rating, above his season average of 92. He averaged 7.5 yards per attempt, above his season average of 7.3.
With continuity up front, Pittsburgh will be able to run more no-huddle. The offensive line returns every starter, plus Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is back from his torn ACL and practicing without restriction.
"That's a big part of being able to run the no-huddle because those guys are up there and they're comfortable, they're familiar," Roethlisberger said.
The Steelers lost receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. But they expect big things from second-year wideout Markus Wheaton and rookie Martavis Bryant, who will see single coverage thanks to Antonio Brown. The addition of veteran Lance Moore will help immensely in the no-huddle.
Big Ben ranked 10th among Fantasy QBs last year, the third time in the past five seasons he's finished 13th or better.
At the moment, Richard and Jamey Eisenberg rank Roethlisberger outside their top 12. With Big Ben available in the late rounds of every draft, Richard "loves the idea of pairing him with Russell Wilson since he has a good matchup the week of Wilson's bye (and could replace Wilson if he gets off to a slow start)."
It sounds like the Steelers want to run the no-huddle 40 percent of the time. If that happens, Big Ben is a definite top-12 quarterback, ahead of guys like Cam Newton and Philip Rivers.