I hope you’re sitting down for this, but according to Pro Football Focus, Ben Roethlisberger has been the most valuable player in the AFC North over the course of the past five seasons. Of course, he is one of only two quarterbacks who have been in the division throughout that entire time, and it’s no surprise that four of the top five AFC North players in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) during that time are quarterbacks.
Roethlisberger has missed 21 games over the course of the past five seasons, though a couple of those were not due to injury, but rather rest. Of course, he missed 14 games in 2019 after suffering a season-ending elbow injury, from which he is continuing to recover.
During the last five years, he has completed 1494 of 2276 pass attempts for 17,488 yards, throwing 112 touchdown passes to 60 interceptions, and averaging 7.7 yards per pass attempt, and a quarterback rating of 94.2. He has posted an Approximate Value of 51 during that time, with 10 game-winning drives and nine fourth-quarter comebacks.
Second on PFF’s list of the players with the highest WAR over the past five years is Andy Dalton, and that should be no surprise, because he is the only other quarterback who has been here for that entire time, playing the most important position.
Interestingly, Baker Mayfield comes third, ahead of Lamar Jackson, who did not make the top five, and Joe Flacco, who was traded last offseason, at number five. The fourth position belonged to the only non-quarterback—former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who only played in one game last season.
While Brown really went off the deep end last year, his excellence, his exceptionalism, cannot be denied on the field. He made the Pro Bowl in every year since 2013 prior to last season, and the Steelers struggled to adjust without him.
During his final four seasons in Pittsburgh, Brown caught 447 passes for 5948 yards and 46 touchdowns. That works out to an average of 112 catches for 1487 yards and 11.5 touchdowns per season, which, let’s just say, is pretty damn good, and why he’s on this list.
While Roethlisberger has been looking good in his recovery from elbow surgery, the nature of his injury—which is still not fully known—and his age give pause as to whether or not he can come back and be the same player, or to stay healthy.
As for Brown, he just pled no contest to battery and burglary charges. He has been without a job since Week Two of last season after the New England Patriots released him following the revelation that he was actively intimidating a woman who accused him of sexual assault.
Dalton is now the backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, while Flacco is now the backup quarterback for the New York Jets. Mayfield is the only player on this list other than Roethlisberger who still has a future in the division or is even a starter.
Most valuable AFC North players over the last 5 years per PFF WAR
1. Ben Roethlisberger
2. Andy Dalton
3. Baker Mayfield
4. Antonio Brown
5. Joe Flacco pic.twitter.com/VvAGl4KY5t
— PFF (@PFF) June 15, 2020