by Ray Kuhn
Buzz… At this time of year that fuels a lot of the fantasy football talk. We have young players looking to build on success from last season, players in new places as well as a fresh crop of rookies, but we can’t forget about Martavis Bryant despite the fact that the wide receiver was suspended for all of 2016.
As we entered 2016 there was that same word, “buzz”, surrounding Bryant. The wide receiver was coming off a season that saw him catch 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns, including three 100-plus yard games, and expectations were high. Instead he was suspended for the entire season due to drug use, and now it is something that will be hanging over Bryant’s head moving forward.
However, by all indications he appears to headed in the right direction and will come back stronger. With Marcus Wheaton no longer calling Pittsburgh home, Bryant is currently slotted in as a starting receiver opposite Antonio Brown.
It certainly looks like Bryant is poised to take advantage of the situation. Per Steelers’ beat report Dale Lolley of the Observer-Reporter, Bryant has gained 10 pounds during his time away and now weighs in at 225 pounds. While he looks good on the field, reports also are that he is saying and doing the right things.
While he is young, talented and athletic enough to bounce back, the issue is ultimately going to be how he is received by his teammates. Chief among them is his quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While Bryant’s future is under his control, Roethlisberger will ultimately have a say.
Roethlisberger had previously spoken about Bryant needing to earn back trust, and while it is only June and Roethlisberger is a leader, it appears that is currently taking place. After all, the quarterback used the word “stud” to describe Bryant:
“Good — learning some of the stuff we put in last year he didn’t know about, remembering things that we had in before. He looks like a stud, as usual, so we’re excited for him to be on the field this year and help us out.”
There is still a long way to go for Bryant, but he is someone the Steelers need to play a large part in their offense this fall. He has proven in the past that he could produce, and there will be an even greater emphasis on that in 2017.
In early drafts Bryant is currently the 27th wide receiver coming off the board, per Fantasy Pros, and that makes him a WR3. If I’m drafting him in that spot I’d likely back that up with a strong WR4, but there is the potential for him to finish the season as a WR2. The downside is that he turns into a boom or bust play, but that is a risk worth taking.