Dynasty Football: Martavis Bryant Moving Forward[the_ad id=”58837″]Coming out of the University of Clemson, wide receiver Martavis Bryant was projected by NFL Draft experts and fantasy football pundits alike to be a potential, “diamond in the rough.” There was certainly no doubting the 6-foot-4 WR’s talent or athleticism, however there were red flags raised concerning his character. Bryant would eventually be selected in the 4th round, (118th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014.
After joining the Steelers, Bryant would be forced to sit out the first six games of his rookie campaign due to a mild sprain of his AC joint in the final preseason game. Head coach Mike Tomlin also made it clear that he wanted the rookie to show some fire before inserting him into the starting lineup.
In week seven, Bryant would see his first ever NFL regular season action against the Houston Texans – scoring a 35 yard TD on his first career catch. For the Steelers, and those lucky enough to have drafted Bryant in their fantasy leagues, it appeared as though the bet on his great height, crazy leaping ability and outstanding speed was going to pay off.
In his first four games Martavis Bryant would find the endzone six times, the most of any rookie starting off their career. The future seemed bright and those that possessed his talents in fantasy football were ready to reap the reward.
Then came the start of the 2015 season.
Bryant would once again find himself on the sideline looking in as the regular season kicked off; although this time due to a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
It was easy, and natural, to feel immediate disappointment. How could someone who flashed so much talent put something so foolish before the game and his team?
Unfortunately, the true gravity of Bryant’s off the field situation was yet to come to fruition, and many fantasy owners took yet another gamble on the former Tiger – continuing to hold on to him in their dynasty leagues, or drafting him in the later rounds of their season-long leagues. When Bryant eventually returned to the field in 2015, he didn’t disappoint. In just 11 games he caught 50 passes for 765 yards and 10 scores, thus reinserting himself as one of the premier up-and-coming WR’s in the fantasy world.
Early on this offseason, Bryant was poised as a potential solid WR3, or even a possible WR2 in the long-term. It felt relatively safe to count on at least a 50-800-8 stat line in 2016, and his potential beyond was sky high. That’s why when the news broke March 12 via Dejan Kovacevic of dkpittsburghsports.com that Bryant was facing a year-long suspension – fans of the Steelers and fantasy football voiced their opinions openly.
It’s natural to feel dismay in this situation, or to be letdown. There is also however reason to hold on to hope, and Bryant’s fantasy value. Shortly after the young WR’s drug related suspension was announced, one of his agents spoke to USA Today about the circumstances and shed some light on Bryant’s unpropitious situation.
[the_ad id=”61432″]While this statement may seeming damning to some, it gives hope to others – not only in regards to fantasy value, but for Bryant himself. This isn’t a situation similar to that of one Johnny Manziel, an individual who appears to not be ready to give up the college life for adulthood, but rather a young man who needs professional help to cope with a manageable issue.
“We’re all stunned, me included,” stated Brain Fettner. “We clearly miscalculated the issue. His isn’t a party issue. It’s a coping issue and a depression issue, and he’s got to take care of it.
“This is the biggest cry for help I’ve ever seen, and that hurts. It hurts us to see. He’s 24 years old, and he’s got to get right, whatever it is. If you talk to anybody’s family that has depression, they will be talking about these same things — the [despondence], the withdrawal, the head-in-the-sand despair — just trying to cope.”
Steelers announced Martavis Bryant officially suspended without pay for a minimum of one year Monday. He is also checking himself into rehab.
Sadly, Bryant’s indefinite suspension is the result of failing six drug tests.
Where Do Dynasty Owners Go From Here?
If you are a Martavis Bryant Dynasty owner, you have to ask yourself; are you prepared to hold onto someone who is poised to miss the entirety of the upcoming season? Or would you prefer to move him?
That decision is ultimately yours to make, and there obviously is no wrong answer.
If you decide to move Bryant you can likely expect a relatively low return. If you decide to hold onto Bryant for the time being however, you may be better off in the long run.
— Mike Rigz (@MikeRigz) March 13, 2016
Gridiron Experts head writer Mike Rigz got lucky with his deal. Although, Mike didn’t trade Bryant to someone one hadn’t heard the news of the suspension, Mike unloaded him to a Dynasty owner that believe’s Bryant can turn his life around. It’s a large risk, but a risk that may pay off down the road.
Just in case the tweet doesn’t appear in this article, Mike traded Bryant for a 2017 first round pick. I asked Mike how he got such a great return on his trade. Here was his reply:
[the_ad id=”58837″]I sent a league wide email and told people I was “trading Martavis Bryant today!” I made sure that the keyword “today” was a big part of the email. The fact that I made it seem like I wasn’t going to wait around and was annoyed by the suspension put a rush order in place.
I actually got emails from people in meetings at their day jobs saying they were interested. The buzz played in my favor. I made many counter offers but truth be told, I got lucky. The offers came in fast, but quickly stopped after people had time to process the suspension. Cooler heads prevail. I think the longer I waited, the less likely a deal was going to happen. Fortunately, I found a trade partner with a solid offer. However, rather than go back and forth trying to add more into the deal, I accepted the offer right away, as I felt the momentum slipping.
If I hadn’t of been able to move Bryant. I was planning on trading him during our 2016 Dynasty Rookie Draft. I would target a person taking their time while on the clock, unhappy with the available players present. If there was a rookie I wanted, I’d dangle Bryant to them and say something like “Why settle if you don’t want any of these guys, I can toss you Bryant for your pick.”
It may seem crazy to hold onto hope after a guy who is suspended two times in under three years, however with professional help we may see a different player return to the field – whenever that may be. Battling depression and substance abuse is a big deal, but it is also treatable. Bryant’s ability to recognize this and take action on it shows some maturity, and hope for all those that are a fan of the game of football.