It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, so the idea of having an elite RB1 like LeVeon Bell for the price of a second round pick, or an elite QB like Tom Brady for an eighth round pick, or a potential elite WR1 like Josh Gordon for a pick in the 7th-10th round range is enticing. If you hit on your other picks, you will lock in an advantage over your peers who didn’t mine as much late season value from their picks.
If you do target one or more of these suspended studs, you’ll have the knowledge that you are taking them to help you prepare for their four-game absence, which can cushion the blow of getting nothing from a core pick for the first four weeks of the season. Which players are the best targets to pair up with Bell, Brady, and Gordon?
Note: Remember that number of bench spots is a key variable to consider when determining whether taking these players are wise for your team. In a 14 or 16-man roster league, taking a suspended player necessarily (especially in Brady’s case) means you have to carry an extra player than can’t contribute and therefore clogs up a roster spot that can be used in the all important early waiver wire runs. In 20-man roster leagues, you should easily be able to carry replacement candidates without limiting early season roster flexibility. Just make sure you don’t take too many other “late bloomers” like rookies or injured players that you will feel reluctant to release early in the season.
DeAngelo Williams, PIT - Cost: 6th-8th round - Duh. Williams gives you the direct replacement of RB1 projected games while Bell is out. If your leaguemates don’t try to punish you by reaching for Williams, this should be your plan A. By taking Williams, you preserve your lock on the Steelers starting running back, which gave fantasy players far and away the RB1 in 2015 season. Williams was a league winner in 2015. Bell was a league winner in 2014. This isn’t difficult. This is not a range where you are passing on essential pieces or potential league winners at other positions, outside of possibly Gordon or Brady…