Heading into your fantasy football drafts, we bring you a recap of some of the more relevant news across the NFL, and how it could affect your fantasy football team. This news is specifically non-Bengals related, as we have exclusive posts dedicated to our beloved Bengals.
Le’Veon Bell suspension:
When he has been on the field, Le’Veon Bell has been a good fantasy football producer thanks to the high volume that the Steelers saddle him with (about 23 touches per game for his career). But in three seasons, injuries have limited Bell to only 35 out of a possible 48 games, and now a suspension for a missed drug test(s) threatens to keep him off the field yet again.
If the four game suspension holds up, he could still produce top 15 numbers by the end of the season. Unfortunately with a Week 8 bye, drafting Bell could mean grabbing a running back that you know will miss a minimum of five of your 14 regular season games. Assuming he stays healthy, that’s still a big chunk of your season lost, and will require an unusable roster spot for a month while you wait for him to return. He drops from a top five pick to somewhere around the LeSean McCoy, DeVonta Freeman, C.J. Anderson, and Eddie Lacy range.
Josh Gordon’s presumptive return:
Assuming Gordon remains in the NFL’s good graces, he is slated to return in Week 5. In 2013 he was named a First Team All-Pro behind an 87 catch, 1,646 yard, nine touchdown season, and that was in only 14 games played. And the reason he only played in 14 games – suspension.
He followed up that great season with another suspension, which cost him much of the 2014 season. He was reinstated for the final part of the 2014 season, but failed to generate much production. After spending all of 2015 suspended, a path has been cleared for him to return to the league this year after a four game suspension to begin the season.
The upside is clearly there, as he is still young, enters a team with no incumbent receivers to steal targets, and is a former fantasy stud. He enters a bad Browns team with no quarterback, but in 2013 he was catching balls from Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden, so don’t let RGIII behind center dissuade you from feeling the Gordon hype. If you want to be cautious about Gordon, it should be based on the fact that he’s been out of football for almost two years, and will be on an incredibly short leash with the league. If you can spare the roster spot for a month, he’s a reasonable risk for a second or third receiver on your team.
Ryan Fitzpatrick rejoins the New York Jets
Fitzpatrick finished 2015 as a top-12 FFL quarterback, meaning he qualified as a low end starter. He had a career high in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and rushing yards. WIth Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and a good receiver in new running back Matt Forte, his value should be higher than his current draft spot as the 21st quarterback drafted overall, making him a great value. His return also means no deduction to Marshall's or Decker's stats due to Geno Smith throwing the ball at them. If you can get past Fitzpatrick's subpar season in Cincinnati, he's worth a look, especially at his low draft spot.
Arian Foster joins the Miami Dolphins
After losing Lamar Miller to the Texans, and failing to land C.J. Anderson from the Broncos, Jay Ajayi looked poised to hold some fantasy relevance in Miami’s offense. But then the Dolphins muddied the waters by signing Foster.
Foster was fantasy gold from 2010 through 2012, averaging about 2,000 yards from scrimmage each season, and scoring 12 to 18 touchdowns each year. But injuries have since wrecked Foster’s dominance, reducing him to 25 of 48 games over the last three years. In 2014 Foster had a resurgent season sandwiched between two dismal seasons. If the Dolphins get the healthy Foster, expect him to be a solid starter in Miami and something of a steal in your draft. If the dismal Foster from last year appears, expect more of a committee, making Miami a bleak destination when looking for FFL running back production.
A.J. Green in elite tier of NFL fantasy football players for 2016
A.J. Green should be right there near the top when you need a wide receiver in fantasy football after being so-so a lot in 2015.
Atlanta Falcons using a committee at running back?
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has hinted at this, and if you remember the 2015 season very well, this makes sense for several reasons. First off, it was Tevin Coleman who entered the season as the starter, and Devonta Freeman only got the starting job following Coleman’s injury.
Freeman had a great run from Week 3 thru Week 7 against some horrible defenses, but was rather dreadful for the other ten games, averaging 48 rushing yards on a 3.1 average. Expect some sort of time share in the Falcons’ backfield, to the chagrin of the person in your league who reaches for him in round one.
Jordy Nelson’s return not set
Apparently Nelson suffered a "hiccup" in his recovery process, whatever that means. He should be ready for Week 1, but could likely miss the entire pre-season. Barring any further setbacks, he should be ready to be a low end WR1 this year, but as his recovery affects both his production and Aaron Rodgers’, it’s one to follow
Isaiah Crowell status unchanged after twitter post
Expectations are that Crowell’s recent twitter post will not diminish his status as the Browns' starting running back entering training camp. The biggest threat to his role in the offense will be Duke Johnson, and not twitter. With both running backs projected for some type of committee in an offense that projects to struggle, meaning that neither player holds much fantasy relevance at the current time other than that of a backup role.
Sammie Coats starting opposite Antonio Brown?
With Martavis Bryant suspended for the entirety of the 2016 NFL season, the FFL community has treated Markus Wheaton as the beneficiary of Bryant's targets, and production, and have been drafting him accordingly, in the 8th and 9th round. But recent reports have second year receiver Coats, who only has one career reception and a reputation for bad hands, starting outside. If Coats takes over for Bryant's work, that would leave Wheaton topped out at his production from last year, with Coats as prospect for huge upside based on his current draft position in the 13th round.
Martellus Bennett to reprise Aaron Hernandez's role in New England?
Take anything that comes out of New England with a grain of sodium chloride, as it seems their sole mission in life is to frustrate the heck out of fantasy football teams. Hernandez averaged over 50 yards and about 1/2 a touchdown per game, in the Patriots' "12" personnel as the second starting tight end. The buzz is that Bennett could be starting and playing many offensive snaps alongside Rob Gronkowski. On a pass-heavy team that lacks great receivers, Bennett could bring some Hernandez value as a TE1, despite being drafted as a backup.
Do you have any FFL questions? Leave them in the comments section below, and we'll try to cover them in next week's update!