Fantasy Football is highly competitive by nature.
Gone are the days when you can win your league simply
by drafting well. To succeed in today’s game
you must use any tactic that you can discover by yourself,
or steal from someone else, which gives you even a
small advantage over your peers. During the season,
you look at future game matchups, injury return dates
and even practice squad transactions to determine which
players to start in a given week or trade for at a
bargain – anything to get you ahead.
One method often overlooked is the purposeful acquisition
of semi-star and stud players who are coming off
league-mandated or team suspensions. Week five in the NFL
saw the return
of three players from suspension that excelled in
their first game back in action. The production is not surprising
when you stop to examine the likely causes of the
A suspension forces a player to the sidelines. This
means the player is not subject to the thousand natural
shocks the flesh is heir to when tacklers are in
pursuit. The time off allows the player to heal and become
During the Patriots game against the Titans last
Sunday, you could see how fresh Mike Cloud was coming off
four-game suspension. The jukes he laid on Tennessee
made the spring in his step evident immediately.
Suspensions to start the season do not affect players
as much as they used to. Most players, particularly
skill-position players, keep themselves in shape
year-round now. They can be ready at the drop of a hat to
into a starting lineup. Jimmy Smith, a second returning
player, needed only half of his normal repetitions
in the game to post very good fantasy numbers (13
points in most leagues).
Lastly, players coming off of a suspension have a chip
on their shoulder. They want to prove, quickly, that
they are still able to do what is necessary to win.
Usually this translates into a huge one-game effort
or string of strong games for the lucky fantasy owner.
Let’s take a look closer look at week five’s
three returning players:
David Boston, Chargers – Boston has had
more than his fair share of controversy so far in his
career. Many people view him as a talented WR who has
maturity issues. He created his own issue again this
year, after starting the season slow with some injuries,
by breaking some team rules and entirely missing meetings.
Coach Marty Schottenheimer suspended Boston for a game
in week four as a disciplinary measure.
During the subsequent week, Boston said, “First
of all, I want to apologize to my teammates, the organization
and the fans for not being able to participate in this
Sunday's game. I'm anxious to get out on the football
field this week. I know I've made a lot of mistakes
in the past and I've learned from them and I'm moving
on. It was funny, I was watching the game and I ordered
some food and I couldn't even eat because I was too
very disturbed. And I let my teammates down and I want
to get back out there and play. So that's what I'm
here to do.”
This is exactly the type of chip-on-the-shoulder
situation I mentioned earlier. Boston was embarrassed
own behavior, and wanted to show he is worth what
the Chargers are paying him. He responded with 14 catches
for 181 yards and two touchdowns in week five. He
added a rushing attempt for 13 yards. Owners who
decided to start him after his suspension got a terrific
Jimmy Smith, Jaguars – After serving a four-game
suspension because he desecrated the league-instituted
substance abuse policy, playmaker Jimmy Smith returned
to success on the field last Sunday. He grabbed eight
passes for 137 yards, quickly re-establishing himself
as the go-to receiver in Jacksonville.
This kind of instantaneous production should not be unexpected
from a veteran like Smith. His statistics fall in line with
the idea that players who know
a system are able to pick right up where they have left off because they
are in such great shape physically. All Smith needed was
a few snaps to get into
the flow of an NFL game again.
Interestingly, like David Boston, we also find Smith exuding
gratitude and desperate to prove his worth. After his big
return, Smith said, “I was
very grateful to go out there and do whatever I could to help the team.”
Mike Cloud, Patriots – When it was announced
late last week that running back Kevin Faulk would
sit because of injury, that was a signal that Mike
Cloud might get some action in his return from suspension.
For a player like Cloud, who is talented, but was not
a starter before his suspension, it is necessary that
opportunity present itself. Antowain Smith was injured
in the game after putting up a respectable rushing
total, and that was Cloud’s chance to shine.
Remember, Cloud has been riding the pine a lot in Kansas
City the last few years, playing behind Priest Holmes,
which is not exactly an indictment of Cloud’s
potential, considering the damage Holmes has done statistically
during those campaigns.
Like Jimmy Smith, Cloud was returning from a four-game
substance-abuse suspension. Unlike Smith, Cloud is
a young player without a lot of carries in his career.
That fact, along with his down time this year, meant he was completely ripe
to rip off a few nice runs. He responded with 73 yards on seven carries,
two touchdowns, one a spectacular ankle-breaking dash.
Identifying the players ready to put up gaudy statistics
right after a suspension is another tool fantasy owners
can use to accumulate more points than their opponents.
Trading for these star players during the suspension,
when they are not worth as much, can bring you a bargain