The Suspension: Last Sunday night, news broke that the NFL was going to hand out a five game suspension, Cincinnati LB Vontaze Burfict. The suspension is a result stemming from for a hit he laid on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman back on August 19th. Video of the play in question appears to show Burfict, with 7:58 remaining in the first quarter, blast Sherman after quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass intended for tight end Travis Kelce, who wasn’t even close to Sherman. According to Bengals front office others around the league and Sherman, the hit in question was legal. It shows Burfict colliding from the front, with a shoulder to chest shot. I don’t see anything that warrants a five game suspension, but Burfict is considered a repeat offender, which leads me to feel he is being judged based on his past.
Burfict appealed and rightfully so, with the result being a reduced suspension. In a win of sorts, the NFL reduced the suspension from five to three games. The Bengals, along with fantasy owners, now know how long they are going to be without their star LB.
The Impact: A five game suspension would have been a big chunk of the season to be without a star player. That is roughly a ⅓ of the NFL regular season and almost ½ a season in fantasy. So a three game suspension is much more manageable, for both the Bengals and fantasy owners. Luckily the solution to both could lie in the hands of one player, rookie LB Carl Lawson.
Lawson is a 6’2” 260 lb monster, who plays like his hair’s on fire. Head coach Marvin Lewis is on record comparing Lawson to former Bengal David Pollack. Lewis said, “We’ve been searching for this kind of guy again, and we found another one.” He also commented on how impressive Lawson has been, “It’s a hard thing. He’s trying to be impressive. Well, he’s impressed me enough.” He is currently slotted in as the backup SLB, but with the suspension looming, he, in my opinion, is the best suited to fill in for Burfict. With that said, if he can play well enough and keep impressing, who knows? He could potentially make Burfict expendable.
Fantasy: Fantasy Owners shouldn’t expect Lawson, to step in and pick up where Burfict left off. That would be a tall order for any player to take on. When Burfict is on his game and has his mind right, he is a top 10 player. What owners can expect is a high motor player that will be disruptive and a quality pass rusher. He is going to have the most value in leagues that place a premium on sacks. He has been going late in drafts, but that will surely change with this suspension looming. If you have already drafted and he’s still available, grab him now before it’s too late and someone else does.
Thank you for reading and follow me @DFF_DWIN and we can talk some IDP.
Photo: Steven Ruiz/ForTheWin http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/08/nfl-bengals-chiefs-vontaze-burfict-dirty-hit-suspension