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‘Better’ Playbook Has Ben Roethlisberger Smiling

Could a happier ‘Big Ben’ lead to a more productive 2013?

Cleveland Browns  v Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is easily the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL; he just doesn't get any respect. With two Super Bowl rings and three appearances, Ben has done more than enough to prove himself in this league.

Yet he still gets no respect, even in the fantasy football world.

In 2012, 'Big Ben' played in 13 games and tossed a respectable 3,265 yards with 26 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. While not world-beater numbers, Roethlisberger did what he always did and put up steady numbers despite a weak rushing game and porous offensive line.

Oh, and he wasn't very happy with then new offensive coordinator Todd Haley either. The two of them never really seemed to click and the tension was noticeable on and off the field.

Enter 2013 and on the surface things continue to look rough for Ben as he lost his favorite deep threat in Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins. So why exactly is he all smiles in the early going of this offseason?

Seems like all fences have been mended between the franchise quarterback and his offensive coordinator.

"There's been some changes this offseason in some of the offensive philosophies, playbook and some things that I think are good," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review without mentioning specifics on the changes. "It's some compromise from all the different position coaches, the running back coaches, the line, and quarterback coaches. I think we've taken a little bit of everything and made it a lot better. … You can ask anybody on offense that, including coaches, and they'll tell you that we all like the way the offense is and where it's going."

With the loss of Wallace, Roethlisberger needs to be completely sold on the offense for the Steelers to have any hope of competing for another shot at the Super Bowl. From his mouth, that looks to be the case.

Though there is no direct link between happiness to productivity, one thing can be ascertained from Ben's comments; at least that's one less area to worry about going into 2013.

Fantasy Analysis:

Ben Roethlisberger has been widely considered a 'bubble' starter on fantasy teams. Basically that means he's either started due to injuries and bye-weeks or he's the starter on teams that front-loaded their teams up with premium talent at other positions. Nobody seems to trust him enough to use a high pick on him.

And you shouldn't either.

The key to fantasy football success, or at least one of them, is getting good value for your pick and if most drafts have Ben falling to the mid-rounds, then use that to your advantage. Draft wideout and running back early and snag Roethlisberger in the mid-rounds. He will be a steal there because despite the loss of Wallace, big things are in store for 'Big Ben' this season. With an improved rushing game, a healthy line and a more unpredictable passing attack, the numbers will be there for Roethlisberger and any owner who is smart enough to snag him at value.

James LeBeau is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @Jlebeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.

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