On Saturday afternoon, Steelers reporter Dejan Kovacevic reported the news of Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant facing a one year suspension after what looks to be a 5th and 6th failed drug test in the NFL. The Bryant suspension will send shockwaves through the dynasty community and it will have a large impact on a Steelers offense that ranked third in total yards and passing yards in 2015. So let’s take a look at how the suspension impacts the dynasty value of the entire Steelers passing offense.
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Bryant had a breakout sophomore season in 2015 with 50 catches for 765 yards and six touchdowns in only 12 games. Bryant was 21st in PPR points per game among wide receivers and was an integral part of one of the best offenses in the NFL. March ADP mocks wrapped up just before this news broke and he was being drafted at WR16 and going off the board at 21 (20.8 avg) overall. During the ascension of Bryant’s value, the possibility of a future suspension was always on the minds of owners as he did miss the first 4 games of 2015 with a drug suspension, but many thought that the talent was worth the lingering risk. I would expect Bryant to have a huge drop in April mocks, likely to go around the WR50 range, maybe even lower.
Ben Roethlisberger was the QB6 in points per game in large part because of his plethora of weapons in the Steelers offense. Losing Bryant for the season will be a ding to his value, but fortunately for Roethlisberger, the Steelers did bring in tight end Ladarius Green in free agency which will help fill the void of a big playmaker left by the absence of Bryant. Roethlisberger is still expected to be a Top-six quarterback in 2016 and makes for a great buy for a win-now team in need of a quarterback, especially if he is being discounted at all with Bryant out.
Ladarius Green, who signed with the Steelers on Wednesday will likely be the main beneficiary from this news. The main worry detractors of Green had when he signed with the Steelers was that he was going to a situation with a lot of mouths to feed. Now, with one less player to get targets, Green should have a better opportunity to have a big breakout. The price for Green will be astronomical after the Bryant suspension, and if I can get one of those much coveted 2017 1sts for him, that is a move I am definitely making.
Another beneficiary from the Bryant suspension will be Sammie Coates. He caught only one pass for 11 yards in the regular season, but in the Steelers playoff game with Antonio Brown out, Coates caught two passes for 61 yards, showing big play ability against a Broncos defense that was the best in the NFL. It was speculated that Coates was drafted by the Steelers because of Bryant’s first suspension last offseason, so he will get a chance to fill in as the Steelers WR2 in the absence of Bryant. Coates is in a situation where he still hasn’t shown much on the field, so he could be a rare “buy high”, yes he is more expensive now than he was last night, but now we know he has an opportunity that he didn’t last night and buying now could make for a nice profit by midseason in the Steelers offense.
While many considered Bryant the Steelers No. 2 wide receiver in 2015, Wheaton was actually the one seeing more consistent snaps on a week-to-week basis. In the 2015 offseason, Roethlisberger predicted a breakout from Markus Wheaton, and while Wheaton wasn’t as prolific as Bryant, he did put up 44 catches for 749 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns, not too far behind Bryant’s end of season statistics. Wheaton will be a nice option in best ball leagues, but even with the Bryant suspension, it will be hard to put him in your starting lineup outside of deeper leagues.
The value of Antonio Brown will likely stay about the same, Brown was targeted 193 times in 2015 and we will likely see more of the same in 2016, and he will continue to be a Top 5 wide receiver in both redraft and dynasty.
Jesse James was a player who had some minor dynasty buzz during the time period in between Heath Miller retiring and the Green signing. The signing nearly killed all of his dynasty value, but he could become a sneaky buy here. With the Bryant suspension, I expect the Steelers to play Green at wide receiver on occasion, which will open up some opportunities for James at tight end. It certainly isn’t the most attractive situation for him at the moment, but this could give him some opportunity that he didn’t have before.
Whenever a player of Martavis Bryant’s caliber gets suspended for off the field issues, the question comes up whether this should change how we value other players with risks and off the field issues. The answer for me is no, each player should be valued individually, whether it be Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon, Dorial Green-Beckham or any other player that may have off the field issues. Everyone has a different amount of risk they are willing to take on, but it seems I am becoming more and more risk averse as these suspensions happen. So, while this suspension doesn’t change how I value Josh Gordon or any of the other guys individually, I am beginning to want to roster that type of player less and less. The one thing that seems to remain consistent in the dynasty community is after news like this breaks, the player will have their value fall drastically, and then as their suspension gets closer to being over and they get closer to playing football again, their value skyrockets almost all the way up to where it was before. So, if you know that you will want to be buying Martavis Bryant in March 2017, the time to buy is not then, it is now and over the course of the next few months. For me, personally, a 5th and 6th failed drug test shows a complete lack of care for the profession and I will not be buying Bryant unless he starts falling to around the 15th round of startups and that will be purely buying with full intentions to flip him this time next year.