Martavis Bryant just got suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season and now you need to know what to do about it in fantasy football. If you already drafted him, you suck it up. It’s just four weeks. If you’re heading into your draft, he absolutely still needs to be on your radar, albeit dropped down a notch or two.
#Steelers WR Martavis Bryant’s looming 4-game suspension is for multiple failed marijuana tests, source said. Appeal is in the latter stages
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 27, 2015
Let’s face it, Martavis Bryant is really good. He missed the first six weeks of his rookie year, but once he was active he dropped 8 touchdowns on the league like it was nothing. That will happen when you’re a size/speed freak and defenses are more worried about containing Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Bell is the best argument for still drafting Bryant, too, since Bell is still a top-5 pick to many, yet he’s going to miss the first two games of the year due to his own suspension.
Four games is a lot, but Bryant will still be around for the fantasy playoffs and he’s still going to put up big numbers. In hindsight, all of that Markus Wheaton love the Steelers were dishing out seems a bit forced. Wheaton is definitely talented and may now get in the way of Bryant having as massive of a 2015 campaign as some originally hoped for, but this is a potent offense that is going to need all of their weapons. When Bryant returns for Pittsburgh’s 5th game, he’s going to carry just as much value as he did before.
It’s no different than where Bryant began his rookie season, and now he’s more experienced and should be ready for a sizable leap. Missed time and disrupted chemistry are concerns. So is the presence of Markus Wheaton. But I’m not enamored with Wheaton after a weak 2014 showing and once Bryant returns, I have a feeling the Steelers aren’t going to hold back on using him.
Of course, I see the red flags and you absolutely have to scale back expectations. The four missed games are big, plus it’s natural to think Bryant’s upside takes a hit – especially if Wheaton does end up crushing it. That all works together to keep Bryant right around the WR3 range. But he’s about as high-level of a WR3 as it gets, so much so that he’s still probably worth drafting as a WR2.
His rookie production says it all. He played in 10 games and finished 42nd overall in the wide receiver ranks. He did that on 26 catches. He’s going to be better in 2015 and if he can keep his head on straight he’ll get two more games, as well. Duplicating his rookie year touchdown rate may not necessarily be a lock, but it’s not crazy, either.
Truth be told, when figuring out where to draft Martavis Bryant, the process is simple. Guys like Allen Robinson, Mike Wallace and Michael Floyd have too much talent and upside of their own to give Bryant the nod. Julian Edelman is too safe and reliable. Going much higher, and then it’s just crazy talk. Bryant is an explosive talent that could carve up the league in the final 12 games, though, so he’s not far behind. The upside is probably too good to refrain from rolling the dice when guys like Anquan Boldin, Kendall Wright, Larry Fitzgerald or Marques Colston come into the discussion. Those guys are solid enough and in the right light may even carry a little upside for 2015, but none of them were inside the top-20 a year ago and they’re certainly no locks to be there now. That has me rolling the dice a little earlier than some may (and hey, a little later than others, too) and targeting Martavis Bryant as the 32nd best wide receiver on the draft board. Who you pass on to get Bryant depends on your own value assessment and how your draft goes. But with that ranking, you’re only spending about a 7th round pick on Bryant in 12-team leagues and an 8th in 10-team leagues. That’s not too bold for a guy that could be a key cog in getting you to the fantasy playoffs.
Now, the later you can get Bryant, the better. If you think my ranking is a bit rich, I don’t exactly blame you. If you can wait another round or two and still land him, more power to you. I just think there is still value in about round 7 and Bryant projects as a steal.