Suspended: When to draft Le’Veon Bell and Tom Brady
Ten years ago, fantasy football players only had to worry about on field issues for the most part like how effective a player was or if he was injured. Today, the off field element of getting arrested and/or suspended is almost as important in selecting players and inheriting risk. For the 2015 season, two big time NFL and fantasy starters are facing suspensions to open the season and their fantasy draft stocks are feeling the effects.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell was arrested in August of 2014 for possession of marijuana and DUI when he and then teammate LeGarrette Blount were driving to get on a team flight. He was sentenced with 15 months probation and a rehab program. The NFL hit Bell with a 3 game suspension to open the season where he will miss games against the Patriots, 49ers, and Rams. After racking up over 2,200 total yards and catching 83 passes, Bell would be the consensus #1 overall pick in fantasy drafts if he wasn’t suspended for the first 3 games. Even with the suspension, Bell should be a top 3 pick. If you are hellbent on drafting a Rb high, Le’Veon Bell is likely safer than 28 year old Jamaal Charles or 30 year old Adrian Peterson. Bell can easily be replaced for a few weeks by drafting a veteran in the late rounds of your draft (even handcuff him with DeAngelo Williams who will start in his place and is going very late,) and reap the benefits when Bell returns. Plus, with Bell’s injury history, it may be better for him to be more fresh and play 13 games instead of 16. I would still take him #1 overall.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has gone through the DeflateGate scandal and was hit with a 4 game suspension. After a slow start last year when many considered Brady to be “done,” he turned on the juice and his final ¾ of the season were great. Brady ended the 2014 season as QB4, but he is being drafted in 2015 as QB12 in part due to suspension and in part due to fear of the weapons around him not being quite as good as advertised. In actuality, Brady will likely come into this season angry and ready to prove the dissenters and those raving “Cheater!” wrong. QB12 is a bit too late for the upside he brings to the table and can likely be had in the 8th-9th round of your fantasy draft, which is fair. Don’t reach for Brady though because not only do you lose the 4 games, but the QB position is so deep that a player like Eli Manning or Ryan Tannehill could prove just as effective. If Brady hits double digit rounds and you haven’t taken a QB yet, take the chance and draft him. There is the possibility that Brady’s suspension is ultimately reduced or removed which would immediately shoot him up 2-3 rounds higher.