2018 NFL Suspensions – Fantasy Impact
This offseason, not unlike previous ones, has had its fair share of suspensions handed down by the NFL. Together with Dan Faucett, we look at those suspended and the impact on the fantasy landscape.
Aaron Jones RB Green Bay Packers – 2 games – Violating league’s substance abuse policy.
Destined to be part of the three-headed monster attack in Green Bay this season, Jones will need to wait until week 3 vs. the Washington Redskins to start his 2018 campaign. Jones’ ban will give Jamal Williams and Ty Montgomery an opportunity to see increased touches in hopes of taking a grasp of the lead back role. It appears at this stage of the offseason that Williams will be the early downs back and Montgomery will mix in on passing downs. I envision the same three-headed monster running approach in week 3 when Jones returns unless Williams or Montgomery go off in the first two weeks. Jones will be permitted to attend training camp and play in preseason action. As a result, Jones should arrive week 3 with fresh legs ready to produce. Aaron Jones continues to be an RB I’m targeting in startups and a back I would seek to buy.
Robert Turbin RB Indianapolis Colts – 4 games – PEDS
In a crowded backfield, it looked like coming out of the OTA’S and minicamp that Turbin was going to have a roll. Coach Frank Reich talked up the RB which may or may not have been coach speak, but coming from Philadelphia has the experience utilizing many different RB’s. Regardless this 4 game ban likely confirms that Turbin barring an injury to the Colts other three RB’s will return to the lineup as his team’s RB4 with little fantasy value. If you own him, I would hold and wait to see what shakes out for the Colts in the first three weeks of the season.
Jameis Winston QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 3 games – Violating league’s personal conduct policy
Jameis Winston’s 3 game suspension comes as somewhat good news for his fantasy owners. The news was coming out prior to the NFL’s announcement, that Winston could receive as many as 6 games as a result of the Uber driver incident. The trickle-down effect on this suspension hits numerous members of the Bucs offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely to be the starting QB and is a value-add in 2QB and Superflex leagues. The entire running game takes a step back for me. The schedule is tough these three games (Saints, Eagles, Steelers) and they are games I see Tampa chasing points in. I see teams challenging “Fitzmagic” and stacking the box early. This downgrades Ronald Jones and to a lesser extent Peyton Barber. Cameron Brate is a RedZone favorite of Winston’s, not so much for Fitz. Look for him to take a step back. OJ Howard gets a slight upgrade, as he seemed to have some chemistry with Fitzpatrick last season. Fitzpatrick appeared in 6 games last season, posting 96 completions (58.9%) for 1103 yards and a 7:3 TD: INT ratio. Fitz will be a decent place card holder for Tampa in these three games. The entire passing game in Tampa Bay will be modestly downgraded with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, seeing a decline in fantasy production. Jameis Winston will be relevant in the final 13 games this season and should produce as a QB2 by season’s end. Jameis had the potential to break out and slide into the QB1 conversation prior to this suspension. I’m holding my Bucs in all formats and hoping for the best come week 4.
Julian Edelman WR New England Patriots – 4 games – PEDS
Julian Edelman will miss the first four games of the 2018 season after testing positive for PEDS and having his recent appeal denied. Jordan Matthews goes from roster bubble to relevant option as the likely man in the slot for these four games. Rex Burkhead, Rob Gronkowski, and Chis Hogan will also likely see an increase in target share. Tom Brady won’t be overly affected but there is a potential for the Patriots to be a more run-heavy offense this season let alone these four contests. Edelman will miss games against; Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit, and Miami. With the possible exception of week 1 vs. Houston, I don’t see a scenario where the Patriots will be forced to throw to score points. Edelman will come into this offense in week 5 with fresh legs and extra recovery time from his season-ending injury in 2017. Edelman will push Matthews out of relevance and become a target hog WR2 upon his return. Hold Edelman in all formats and if possible try and buy if you are contending for a championship.
Victor Bolden WR San Francisco 49ers – 4 games – PEDS
Bolden primarily used as a kick returner for the 49ers holds no fantasy value and if on your roster should be cut. If your league scoring includes return yards and you have a deep roster, you may choose to hold although I would not. His return numbers were pedestrian at best last season averaging 20.8 yards on kick returns and 5.8 on punt returns. This suspension has little to no fantasy relevance.
Demetrius Harris TE Kansas City Chiefs – 1 game – Violating league’s substance abuse policy.
Harris received a one-game ban after being arrested and charged with marijuana possession in March 2017. The suspension should have little to no effect on Harris’ fantasy value. Serving primarily as the back up to Travis Kelce, the one game ban will have little to no impact on this TE who has averaged 11 catches, 110 yards, and .75 TD per season. If you own Harris your decision to roster or not likely won’t change due to this suspension.
Mark Ingram RB New Orleans Saints – 4 games – PEDS
Mark Ingram touched the ball 288 times in 2017, (18 times a game) and finished as RB6. The common reaction to the Ingram suspension is that Alvin Kamara will see an increase in touches. I do think this will happen but in reality, those 18-20 touches are going to be spread all around in this offense. The Saints brought in Terrance West to compete for RB touches with Boston Scott and Trey Edmonds. I’m not sold that West makes the team and I’m even less sold on rostering him if he does. In the end as a result of this suspension, I see Kamara getting some more touches but also see the passing game increase some. The Saints threw the ball 56.37% in 2017 vs. 60.22% in 2016 and 64.86% in 2015. As long as Drew Brees is the QB in New Orleans, increasing the passing attack will always be an option. Ingram may slide down draft boards in startups this season and would be a nice addition based on the reduced price. In a 12 game season, he stills holds significant value. Ingram scored 44.5 of his 278 points in weeks 1-4 last season and in the final 12 games, he posted the remaining 233.5. Removing the first four games of 2017 and Ingram would have finished as RB 8. Ingram remains a high end RB2 with the potential to be an RB1 in a 12 game same size.
Cayleb Jones WR Minnesota Vikings – 4 games – PEDS
Jones spent all of 2017 on the Vikings practice roster and after signing a futures deal looked like he may have pushed for a roster spot in 2018. As a result of this suspension, Jones now has little to no value on your roster. Its been an interesting offseason for Jones and his brother Zay.
Kent Taylor TE Carolina Panthers – 4 games – PEDS
Taylor, an undrafted free agent signed a futures deal with the Panthers this offseason. Seen as a long shot to crack the 53 man roster, Taylor was waived two weeks after his suspension was announced. Taylor should not be rostered in any format.
Mark Sanchez QB Free Agent – 4 games – PEDS
Sanchez was rumored to be in the mix for the Seattle Seahawks back up role this offseason. This suspension has all but ruled that out. Sanchez the 3rd QB in Chicago last season has not had a start since 2015. Sanchez has no business being on a fantasy roster in any format.
Josh Huff WR New Orleans Saints – 2 games – Violating league’s substance abuse policy.
Huff was arrested for DUI, speeding, and marijuana possession in November of 2016, Huff will be in tough to crack the roster in New Orleans this season, and not being available for Weeks 1-2 won’t help. The Saints won’t miss a beat without Huff and as a result, this suspension has no fantasy relevance. I see no reason to roster Huff on your dynasty teams.
Vadal Alexander RT Oakland Raiders – 4 games – PEDS
Alexander has appeared in 24 games with the Raiders including 9 starts over the past two seasons. Donald Penn is locked in as the starting LT for the Raiders and they recently drafted Kolton Miller with the 15th overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft. Alexander will be eligible for action in week 5 and will likely be in a backup role. Alexander’s suspension holds little to no fantasy relevance to the run or passing game in Oakland.
Martavius Bryant WR Oakland Raiders
Earlier this off-season there was news that the Oakland Raiders were concerned that WR Martavius Bryant may be facing some discipline for a failed or missed drug test. There hasn’t been any news on that front since. I would suggest that this is one of those situations read wrong by a beat reporter and that for now, this story is dead.
LeSean McCoy RB Buffalo Bills
Earlier this week news broke that McCoy’s ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence, animal abuse, child abuse and steroid use. As expected LeSean and his lawyers have released a statement denying these allegations. The situation is being investigated by the authorities and monitored closely by the Buffalo Bills and the NFL. This likely is far from over.
Dan Faucet takes us through the defense and the impact on those who play in IDP leagues
Reuben Foster LB San Francisco 49ers – 2 games – Violating league’s conduct and substance abuse policy
I’m just going to start with the one that burns the most for me and that’s the Reuben Foster suspension. After being irrelevant the first half of the season Foster broke out in a big way with a 13 tackle, 1 tfl and 1 ast game on week 9 against AZ. From there he never looked back scoring in double digits the rest of the way out. The young star that had talent that some evaluators deemed top 10 in the NFL draft fell to the late 1st rd, where the 49ers traded up to get him. The bright side of this suspension is it is only 2 games. The troubling thing about it is in his young career he has already had his 2 major issues now that make you question his character. To me, in situations like this, it’s very hard to ignore high-end talent, especially when you’ve already seen a player like Foster show it off on the field. At the same time though you only want so many guys like that on your roster. I obviously love Foster’s upside when he is on the field. I believe he has a chance to be a legit LB 1 in all formats for years to come, assuming he can keep his name out of the news for off-field issues. I’m certainly not rushing out to acquire Croyle or Toomer (guys next on the depth chart after Foster). They brought Croyle back on a 3-year deal but that just seems like a band-aid if needed type situation. So, I would say my biggest take away from the suspension is if you are a Foster owner I wouldn’t be selling him, but I am forced to face the fact that he really could have started a downward spiral of his career if he can’t keep his act together. While I feel LB is probably the deepest position in all of fantasy IDP leagues the high-end guys are always nice to own, cause they’re consistently blowing up.
David Irving DT Dallas Cowboys – 4 games- Violating league’s substance abuse policy
This was a stinger for me as an owner. I picked this guy up off the waiver wire last year after posting a nice string of games for DAL in the 2nd half of the season (averaging 14.8 ppg in a high scoring sack league). He’s really screwed himself over here though after starting last year with a 3-game suspension and now the 4-game suspension this year. He was on a 1-year deal and now it looks like DAL is over the headaches he has brought along with his talent. I’m pretty sure someone still takes a shot on him but given the sample size and the off-field issues, I’m nowhere near as high on him as I was. He is a guy I’ll be targeting if he can somehow turn it around and prove he can stay on the field though. As far as what’s behind him on the depth chart. There isn’t anyone that jumps out on me to make a point to run out and get. Irving plays DT and lets’ face it there just aren’t a whole lot of guys that produce from that position. Last year no DTs finished in the top 10 in scoring. The two years prior to that only 2 DTs scored in the top ten. Both years one of them was name Aaron Donald and he is now labeled as an end.
Thomas Davis LB Carolina Panthers – 4 games – PEDS
The end is near for Thomas Davis. At 35 years old and now starting the season with the 4-game suspension it must be close. I still believe he could have an impact when he comes back from his suspension and it seems to have generated some talk that he may have more of a desire to play in 2019 when he had been talking about hanging it up after 2018. If I own him I’m cutting my losses. The only way I would see him as an intriguing option is if I’m getting him very late as a depth option or even better picking him up off the waiver wire either right after his suspension is up or shortly after if I’m battling injury or suspension issues. The guy this news gets me excited about is Shaq Thompson. This guy was brought in as a first rd pick in 2015 and has gotten better every year with more opportunities presenting themselves. This is a guy that is in prime position to take a huge step forward and live up to the talent that made him a first rd pick.
Corey Liuget DT Los Angeles Chargers – 4 games -PEDS
I think it’s safe to say this guy has seen better days. When you go back the last few years and see his fall off production wise it is no surprise that LAC gave him the option to either restructure his deal or be cut. This will not help his already depleted value either. He used to be a guy you could count on as at least a solid bench option but even when he has been on the field now he rarely can get you a double-digit performance. At best he is going to be a guy that I might keep an eye on assuming he lands on the waiver wire.
Vontaze Burfict LB Cincinnati Bengals – 4 games – PEDS
Alright, I’m going to try my best to not get off on a tangent here going off about Goodell’s double standards. As far as the impact goes from a fantasy point of view. If you own Burfict you should probably have a backup plan in place for this sort of thing by now but, if you don’t the one I would suggest is Vincent Rey. In the last 3 years Burfict has missed 14 games in those games Rey has averaged 15.4 ppg. He managed to get double digits in all but 2 of those games. I highly doubt that the Bengals are going to roll out week one with Malik Jefferson a rookie 3rd rd draft pick labeled as a project when they know they can just plug and play Rey. It sounds like Jefferson is going to be mostly a special teamer unless they end up having to play him at this point.