I'm not exactly sure what's going on with the valuable and currently injured right foot of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but I didn't take this situation into much account when updating my Week 13 rankings on Friday morning. At first it was announced Roethlisberger had a sprained foot, then the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the fifth metatarsal was broken, then the team said there was no new fracture but rather aggravated scar tissue at the site of an old injury. Regardless, there doesn't seem to be a major question about his availability for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
I ranked Roethlisberger seventh at quarterback earlier in the week and, for now, will stick with that. I couldn't help but notice his staff rank dropped a few spots, to where his overall rank is now behind Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and Matt Cassel. Colleague Matthew Berry discussed Roethlisberger in his love/hate column and focused on the tough matchup. I see that as somewhat an impediment to a big statistical performance. Now we've got a foot that is hurting, too.
The thing is, I haven't lost confidence here. I see a major divide in the quarterback tiers and Roethlisberger doesn't belong in the class below him, at least in my mind. The quarterbacks at the back of my top 10 are the resurgent Cassel, steady Manning, road-challenged Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, who has to face Roethlisberger's just-as-difficult Steelers. Even on one good foot and against a really good defense, I trust Roethlisberger. No, he didn't light up the Buffalo Bills in Week 12, but he did have 26 and 34 fantasy points in the two games prior. Mike Wallace is an emerging fantasy monster. Hines Ward is probably injured but remains productive and, after some interesting comments this week, motivated. I don't want to overrate the Ravens or Roethlisberger's history in their stadium -- the quarterback has actually played in Baltimore once the past three seasons, getting 246 passing yards and a touchdown in that game.
I'll be keeping an eye on news out of Pittsburgh -- or make that Baltimore -- the next few days, and if reports on Roethlisberger's health start to appear more menacing I could change my mind. For now I can't overreact to an injury few can put their finger, er foot, on.
Here are some other players I either adjusted ranks on or certainly thought about it.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: He's been practicing this week and to that I say kudos to the rookie, but Mike Tolbert has performed so well that I fail to see how his touches are in serious jeopardy. I hadn't ranked Mathews earlier in the week, but now he's in that backup range, kind of where Tashard Choice and Justin Forsett reside. Don't shy away from Tolbert, even if Mathews factors in. I reiterate my weekly plea that fantasy owners shouldn't view Mathews -- or fellow rookies Jahvid Best and C.J. Spiller -- differently because of preseason expectations since unfulfilled.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: He's not in a similar position to Mathews, but injuries have taken their toll. I'll believe it when I see it. Thomas was a limited participant in practice this week, and while he's a proven player fantasy owners should not rely on him, even if he suits up. Chris Ivory has done a nice job. I'll rank Thomas, who last played in Week 3, when I'm sure he's going to play.
Ben Obomanu, Seattle Seahawks: It's such a tantalizing matchup, at home against the Carolina Panthers, but I admit if I thought Mike Williams was going to play, Obomanu wouldn't get a strong rank from me. Obomanu, with touchdowns in three of four games, moves up to become my No. 25 wide receiver. After ranking Williams earlier in the week, I've removed him.
Best of luck to everyone the rest of Week 13 and beyond, and have a great weekend!