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FANTASY PLAYS: Big Ben dazzles on fantasy benches; owners start to question outlier status

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had the best fantasy performance of the year in Week 8, yet he was probably benched in your league.

Now fantasy owners are buzzing about whether they should drop passers like Tony Romo, Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler to roll with Big Ben or ignore the 522-yard, six touchdown performance entirely.

In CBSSports.com leagues Roethlisberger was only in one-fourth of starting lineups even though he's owned in nearly 90 percent of leagues.

If Roethlisberger was burning up your bench while others like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson were disappointing, here's a tip: Don't sweat it. And definitely don't chase after Roethlisberger expecting a repeat.

As with just about everything in fantasy, you have to learn to let go and evaluate decisions based on the information you had at the time.

Top fantasy players are backing that up: About five dozen experts compiled by FantasyPros.com have Roethlisberger behind all three quarterbacks in rankings for the rest of the season, in the middle of the pack among starting quarterbacks. Even with the 44 points in standard leagues, Roethlisberger has still been the seventh-best fantasy quarterback in standard scoring leagues this year.

Week 8 saw two other players put up the best performance of the year at their respective position. Their outings and other standout games in fantasy this year should tell you quite a bit about your team and the unpredictability of the game:


ARIAN FOSTER

Foster put up 35 points in Week 8, the best performance by any running back in a single game this year. If you have the Houston rusher on your team, congratulations. You're playing him every week and probably happy to have gotten him on your team in the back half of the first round or the second round of your draft.

Just be aware of the risks as the season continues: Foster has 170 total touches and has had injury issues in the past. Don't be in a position where you can't field a competitive team without him.

Foster is the second best running back in fantasy this year but has missed one game because of a hamstring injury and had a clunker against Buffalo in his comeback in Week 4. Besides that, he's been consistent in going over 100 yards and scoring touchdowns, including three games with 2 TDs each.


DEMARYIUS THOMAS

PHOTO: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) smiles during a timeout on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. The Steelers won 51-34, with Roethlisberger passing for 522 yards, and throwing six touchdowns. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) smiles during a timeout on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. The Steelers won 51-34, with Roethlisberger passing for 522 yards, and throwing six touchdowns. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Tough to find anyone who's been hotter than the Broncos wide receiver the past four weeks. He's been so good his 10-point game last week against San Diego looked underwhelming despite eight catches for 105 yards.

That's what happens when you get five touchdowns in three games. His streak started with a 34-point fantasy effort against Arizona on 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas will continue to thrive under Manning and is easily a top receiver. But 100 yards and a touchdown or two each week should be an either/or expectation at most. Don't expect another 30-point outing for him unless Manning decides to force the issue.


ROB GRONKOWSKI

You've heard it for a week: Gronk is back for the Patriots. He's the most targeted tight end in the game and now the position's top fantasy scorer after a huge 32-point game against Chicago last week.

No doubt, whenever he plays, Gronkowski has the ability to put up the best fantasy score on your team. But only half his games so far this year have yielded 10 or more fantasy points.

It's like that for most tight ends in the game this year, with Greg Olsen the only tight end to put up five games with double-digit fantasy points (he's fifth overall).

The last step for Gronkowski to have a truly superstar fantasy year is consistency.


ATLANTA FALCONS

The Atlanta Falcons defense scored 28 points under ESPN scoring against Tampa Bay in Week 3, during a 56-14 blowout that included two defensive touchdowns. It's the top showing by any defense in a single game this year.

The rest of the year, they've earned negative points. And they're the 29th best defense in the league out of 32 teams.

If the Atlanta defense has another breakout game this year, safe to say it'll be in your league's waiver wire and not in any starting lineup.


Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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