Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It's just a couple of weeks until your draft and one of the primary questions you must ask yourself is what to do about the suspended players who have fantasy value. How do you evaluate their worth and when do you draft them?
There are four skill position players, with fantasy value, who have been suspended this year. They are: Ben Roethlisberger, Vincent Jackson, Santonio Holmes and LenDale White.
Three of the four, excluding White, are starters in almost every league under normal circumstances. But what are you supposed to do when they have been suspended for from three-to-six games? In a 13-game fantasy regular season, we are talking about missing from 23%-to-46% of the season.
In the case of Roethlisberger, the suspension could be reduced from six to four games if he completes all of the commissioner's demands. But if you are planning on picking "Big Ben" then you have to do some preparation. There are two strategies that you can use.
1) Pick a "backup quality" quarterback who has an easy first-half schedule and doesn't have a bye in the first six weeks. This strategy allows you to draft your other positions as normal and not be dependent upon a mid-season trade to solidify your starting lineup. My No.1 candidate for this strategy would be San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith. Smith and the 49ers will face Seattle, New Orleans, Kansas City, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Oakland in their first six contests. Smith is being chosen in the 12th round (RapidDraft ADP 136.6) as the 19th quarterback off the board. Together with Roethlisberger in the 11th round (ADP 131.7) you can survive at the quarterback spot and beat the other guys because you didn't use an early pick on a QB.
2) Pick two starting quarterbacks at the draft and when Week 6 or Week 8 rolls around (depending on the length of his suspension) you trade one of them for a running back or receiver which you will likely be a little short at because you took two top quarterbacks. Since we know the high rate at which quarterbacks in the NFL get hurt, this strategy can work. It's a riskier strategy because it's dependent on your ability to trade and the willingness of finding a trading partner.
It's a lot easier to replace Jackson or Holmes than Roethlisberger. It simply requires you to plan ahead and give yourself depth at the receiver position.
Jackson had a RapidDraft ADP of 63.2 last season and is currently going at 67.7. It's interesting that he hasn't fallen very far despite the three-game suspension and all the trade rumors. The question is whether he can produce enough in nine weeks as the other wide receivers in 12?
The three games he'll miss include contests at Kansas City (ouch!) at Seattle (ouch!) and at home against Jacksonville (ouch!). Those three teams rank in the bottom third of the league in pass defense, 22nd, 30th and 27th, respectively.
Based on this information, I believe picking Jackson in the sixth round is too high and I'd pass unless he drops to you later in the draft.
Holmes is tougher to evaluate because in addition to the four-game suspension, the former Steelers wideout is with a new team (Jets) and a less experienced quarterback - Mark Sanchez. Although the Jets will allow Sanchez to throw a bit more than in his rookie season, he's still not going to get in passing duels the way Roethlisberger has done in the past. The Jets were 60.7% rushing, 39.3% passing in 2009 and they'll likely be around 55-45 in 2010 in favor of the run. Therefore, Holmes will have to battle with Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith and Dustin Keller for a limited amount of opportunities. The two factors explain why Holmes has a 2010 RapidDraft ADP of 124.7 versus a 58.3 in 2009.
As an 11th-round selection, there is very little downside to taking a "flyer" on Holmes, just don't expect his Steelers numbers to be duplicated in the Big Apple.
And finally, barring season ending injuries to Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, I see no value in drafting White.
|Suspended Skill Position Players