Not so fast, ambitious fantasy owners.
Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich may seem like a Week 11 steal after it was announced midweek that starting signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger would miss Sunday night's showdown with the Baltimore Ravens, but perception is far from reality.
Leftwich completed just 7-of-14 passes for 73 yards after Roethlisberger went down on Monday night vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. So, what can fantasy owners expect in Week 11?
Let's take a look.
Week 11 Projection
While many have been calling out the Ravens defense this season because of the plethora of yards it has surrendered through the air, few have (but I will) commended Baltimore for its ability to keep opposing passing attacks out of the end zone.
Consider this: While only six NFL teams are giving up more passing yards per game than the Ravens (258 per game), no team has allowed fewer passing touchdowns than Baltimore (eight) this season.
So, it would seem that we are exaggerating the Ravens' secondary struggles. Therefore, fantasy owners should avoid starting Leftwich on Sunday night. Not only will he find success hard to come by against Baltimore's defense, but the rust factor alone will hold Leftwich back in Week 11. He has been a journeyman backup for the past five seasons.
Leftwich hasn't started a game under center or even thrown a touchdown pass since September 2009, when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was more than three years ago, and that's why I'm projecting the Washington DC native will fail to score a touchdown in Week 11 against Baltimore.
I still think Leftwich will have success in Todd Haley's dink-and-dunk style of offense, likely completing around 20 passes for 200 yards. But to expect Leftwich to make his first start in Pittsburgh and light up the Ravens' secondary is insane.
Expect at least one interception from Leftwich as well. Baltimore is tied for sixth in the league in interceptions with 10 and is averaging around one per game this fall.
Don't be fooled by Baltimore's poor defensive numbers in terms of yards allowed, there's more to being a dominant defense than just preventing yards. The Ravens prevent points and that's why they will get the better of Byron Leftwich on Sunday night.
And if you're still not convinced, there's this: Baltimore has won 11 straight regular-season division games dating back to 2010.
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