Pittsburgh wide receiver Martavis Bryant’s recently announced four-game suspension could have a larger fantasy impact than teammate Le’Veon Bell’s two-game sentence. Bryant was a big playmaker for the Steelers alongside All-Pro Antonio Brown last season. With his pending absence, it leaves a large hole on the opposite side of the field.
Bryant is of course appealing the suspension which could impact when the suspension is actually upheld, and for how long. Either way, Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey stand for more targets, but neither is the downfield or playmaking threat Bryant was.
Wheaton will likely remain in the slot, and without Bryant could see more targets. His value should bump up slightly, but I would not be rushing to the waiver wire, or vaulting him up draft boards to snag Wheaton. I can’t imagine needing to start him in place of Bryant, or if you do you will be in trouble.
Ideally your fantasy squads have adequate depth to replace Bryant with a receiver from another team. Whenever the suspension begins, however, it will greatly impact the Steelers, namely Brown and Ben Roethlisberger. Brown will still remain an elite option and his targets should uptick significantly, but defenses will have an easier time to hone in on Brown without a legitimate deep threat on the other side.
Rookie Sammie Coates is another appealing option, and has looked solid in camp so far. The issue is he is a rookie, and is unlikely to immediately step in to the Bryant role immediately. If Bryant’s suspension is delayed then it is a possibility. Once again though, Coates is unlikely to be worth a spot on your bench in seasonal redraft leagues.
Keep tabs on the news and developments related to Bryant’s suspension, and either way do not overreact by boosting the value of the Steelers’ remaining receivers to fill the void. Their impact is unlikely to be significant.
— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.