In a day that may be remembered as “National Suspension Day” now, the NFL handed out four suspensions on Thursday. All the suspensions involved players violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. A majority of these players will miss four games, and another will miss just one game. I’ll talk about who got suspended, for how long, and the impact on those teams. Let’s jump in to see how each team will fare.
Sheldon Richardson, DL New York Jets:
I don’t feel bad for the Jets here. I know that his 144 tackles are the most amongst defensive lineman in history, and that he won defensive rookie of the year in 2013, and was a 2014 pro bowler while leading the Jets in sacks. Without Richardson, they still have Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and Damon “Snacks” Harrison. This line is quite stout, and will be the scariest upon Richardson’s return.
Antonio Gates, TE San Diego Chargers:
This is one of those situations I could see going either way for Gates here. For one thing, they’ll miss his red-zone presence and play making ability to score. On the other hand, they have Ladarius Green, who can certainly stretch the seam. For fantasy owners, this could be a disastrous hit if you own Gates. If Green plays well enough, he may get most of the work later in the season. Look what happened to Smith in San Francisco, or Montee Ball in Denver. At 35 years old, the end of the line is close for Gates. Keep an eye on Green if he’s available in your league, because he may turn into a great value pick.
Rolando McClain, LB Dallas Cowboys:
It’s been a busy offseason for America’s team. They lost the best running back of the league, are now locked in a tough running back position battle, and are trying to reel in star receiver Dez Bryant. Now, statistically, the Cowboys improved on defense last year, as opposed to 2013. They were also on the field a lot less. The Cowboys find themselves in a similar situation this year. You might remember linebacker Sean Lee tearing his ACL in training camp last year. The fact of the matter is, the Cowboys are a middle of the road defense that do well against teams who can’t take care of the ball, and struggle against those who can’t. I’m not drafting this defense, but I may look for a favorable matchup when the defense I draft goes on a bye-week.
Datone Jones, DE Green Bay Packers:
Jones had shown flashes of greatness last year, but never emerged as a true starter. This is not exactly an ideal spot for the Packers, but it could be worse. This would certainly be bigger news if say Clay Matthews or B.J. Raji was out, but it’s not. They still have those guys, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be present in the defensive backfield. Rodgers and company will take care of the ball. I have the Packers ranked ninth among defenses, I don’t move them down any spots because of this suspension simply because this isn’t exactly a detrimental loss.