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Player showdown: Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger?

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers changes the play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As we inch closer to drafts, you’ll be reminded of a rather popular theory in the fantasy community called the late-round quarterback. In essence, it promotes the practice of loading up on running backs and receivers early and waiting to draft your quarterback(s) until later. The theory says there’s a larger disparity between the upper and lower tiers among running backs compared to quarterbacks. Two of the quarterbacks who are going in that range have spent their careers in regular competition, both having started as 2004 first-round picks. Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers are currently 14th and 15th among quarterbacks in MFL ADP and are likely to be one of those late-round options. So which one should you draft?

The players

When comparing the 13-year careers or Rivers and Roethlisberger, it’s eerie how similar they have been, statistically speaking.

  Philip Rivers Ben Roethlisberger
Completion Percentage 64.4% 64.1%
Passing Yards 45,833 46,814
Passing Touchdowns 314 301
Interceptions 156 160

They’re practically the same player. Of course, Roethlisberger has won two more Super Bowls, which will, no doubt, beef up his Hall of Fame credentials, but that’s a whole other conversation.

But how have the 35-year-olds done in recent years? Roethlisberger last threw for 4,000 yards in 2014, primarily due to missing six games over the previous two seasons. That was also the last time he threw for more than 30 touchdowns. However, it’s not as if 30 touchdowns and 4,000 yards is even the norm for Roethlisberger. He’s only thrown for more than 4,000 yards four times in his career and 30-plus touchdowns just twice.

Meanwhile, Rivers has thrown for over 4,000 yards in four straight seasons and nine of this last 10 overall. He’s thrown for more than 30 touchdowns in three of his last four seasons as well, and the one season he didn’t, he had 29. The bottom line is that it’s not uncommon for Rivers to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season, including last year, when he threw for 4,386 yards and 33 touchdowns. It’s actually quite common. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger’s only achieved that feat once. That’s surprising because he’s supported an elite running back who uses the passing game effectively (Le’Veon Bell) and, lest we forget, maybe the elite-est of the elite receivers the last three seasons, Antonio Brown.

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