Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The hammer has come down on Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith after his practice field assault of cornerback Ken Lucas and Brandon Marshall will probably get his suspension notice officially on Monday.
Now it's up to fantasy owners to determine how much this will effect their draft positions.
For Smith, the No.1 receiver on the Panthers, it was a two-game team suspension. Marshall on the other hand is expected to receive a three-game "benching" from the NFL, although sources say it could drop to two games if he seeks counseling.
Two games is not the end of the world, although in a normal 13-game fantasy schedule, it amounts to about 15% of the season. It would hurt no more than a two-week injury which comes up all the time and you draft for depth to be able to survive such injuries.
Remember in 2007 some very fine performances were put in by players who didn't start off fast. Ladainian Tomlinson had just 134 total yards rushing and receiving and one TD in the opening two weeks. Drew Brees had just one TD and nine interceptions in the first four weeks and finished with 4428 yards and 28 touchdowns. Greg Jennings didn't have any catches in the first two tilts and finished with 920 yards and 12 TD. Marques Colston had 117 yards and one TD over the first two weeks and finished strong.
Smith was contrite after the incident and it may get him to focus when he returns to the lineup. Smith played 14 of 16 games in 2006 and totaled 83 catches for 1166 yards and eight scores. He also ran for 61 yards and another TD. So he could still be a productive player particularly with Jake Delhomme back at quarterback.
Marshall is a different sort of problem, because his numerous off-field incidents may continue to interrupt his on-field play. He had a breakout year in 2007 catching 102 ball for 1325 yards and seven scores. Marshall had an amazing 170 passes thrown his way and caught a very average 60% of them. He also dropped a league-high 15 balls.
More important, Marshall has a September 24th DUI court date that could have him sitting for more time.
A smart fantasy owner would probably drop both players off his/her list as a No.1 receiver. But here is where the problem lies. While you have rightfully dropped both players to a No.2 receiver there will be owners who will keep them at the top level because they do not follow things as closely as you do. In a 12-team league there is always at least one owner who just prints out "cheat sheets" before the draft and goes strictly by last year's totals. He may not even know that the receivers are suspended! It means that you will have no chance to draft either player as a No.2 receiver.
So you are left with a dilemma if you still like either receiver. Draft them too early and live with the suspension or lose the chance to draft them at all.
For me, I might take the chance with Smith (if Delhomme stays healthy in pre- season), but I'll pass on Marshall.