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NFL suspensions: How long are Kareem Hunt, Golden Tate, more fantasy stars out?

Sporting News — customerservice@sportingnews.com (Sporting News)

Suspensions in the NFL are a frequent nuisance to fantasy football owners, messing up everything from rankings to sleeper lists. They make certain spots on our cheat sheets a little tougher to navigate each season, and 2019 is no different, as key fantasy contributors like Kareem Hunt, Golden Tate, Chris Herndon, and Josh Gordon (remember him?) are all slated to miss time to open the season.

When you're in the middle of your draft and don't remember when a player is coming back, this list should quickly help you find the answer. We'll go over who's out, how long their out, and the impact it will have on their team -- and, most important, your fantasy roster.

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2019 NFL Suspended Players

How long is Kareem Hunt suspended?

Games suspended: 8 (Personal conduct violation)

The Browns signed Kareem Hunt knowing he wouldn't be available to begin the 2019 season. That didn't bother them, as they have an up-and-coming back in Nick Chubb along with a good receiving back in Duke Johnson, Jr. Hunt's talent is no secret, though. He played big roles in the rushing and passing attacks in Kansas City for two straight years. When he gets back, if he's in shape, he'll take value away from Chubb and Johnson. If you draft Chubb and have ample bench space, Hunt might be a worthwhile stash, as this situation could go a variety ways, but eating a roster spot for nine weeks isn't easy. Especially in a situation like this, where Hunt likely won't even be a featured back upon return, tread carefully.

How long is Golden Tate suspended?

Games supsended: 4 (PED violation)

It's worth noting that Golden Tate's suspension is in the appeals process, which is expected to be completed before the season. Tate has a compelling case on paper, claiming he only was using a fertility drug, but Robert Mathis didn't win his appeal in 2014 with the same argument, so that precedent is set. If Tate misses time, it might boost Cody Latimer for the season's opening weeks. Once Tate returns, he should remain at least a WR3 in PPR formats, even with an underwhelming Eli Manning throwing to him. Drafting and stashing Tate shouldn't hurt your team too much and could pay off in the long run.  (Update: Tate lost his appeal and will serve a four-game suspension to open the 2019 NFL season.)

2019 PPR RANKINGS:
Running back  Wide receiver  Tight end  |  Top 200

How long is Antonio Callaway suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (Substance abuse violation)

Callaway had a case to be the Browns' No. 3 WR this season in a pretty pass-happy offense, but that'll have to wait until at least Week 5. When he returns, there'll be tons of competition for targets in front of him as there would've been even if he wasn't suspended.

How long is Chris Herndon suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (Substance abuse violation)

Chris Herndon came on strong down the stretch of 2018, showing a good rapport with Sam Darnold as fellow rookies. That momentum hits a bump with the four-game suspension to start '19. There's no real competition at the TE spot in New York, so when Herndon returns, he should be the top option at that position. We'd have him ranked inside our top-15 TEs if he weren't missing four games, so stashing him late or picking him up in an early week could return value. 

2019 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback  Running back  Wide Receiver  Tight End  D/ST  Kicker  |  Top 200

How long is Benjamin Watson suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (PED violation)

Benjamin Watson returns to New England, the team that drafted him more than a decade ago, to try and finish off his career strong. With how Bill Belichek runs things, it's less of a sure thing that Watson will be the first-string TE upon his return, but he's only competing with Matt LaCosse. Someone has to take over at least part of the role Rob Gronkowski held in the red zone. Watson could be a borderline fantasy starter when he gets back.

How long is Roc Thomas suspended?

Games suspended: 3 (substance abuse violation)

The Jaguars recently signed Roc Thomas to help in their banged-up backfield. He could just be a camp body, or they're willing to wait out his suspension because they see a use for him.

How long is Taylor Lewan suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (Substance abuse violation)

The Titans have one of the worst offensive lines in football. That's when Taylor Lewan, their best lineman and Marcus Mariota's blindside protector, is active. It gets even worse without Lewan. When he returns, he'll take over the left tackle spot and give a boost to Tennessee. In his early-season absence, though, the Titans could struggle to establish much push on the offensive side of the ball.

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How long is Richie Incognito suspended?

Games suspended: 2 (Personal conduct violation)

The Raiders strengthened their offensive line in the offseason with the signings of Richie Incognito and left tackle Trent Brown. For the first two weeks, they won't reap that full reward with Incognito suspended. He'll be back soon enough, though, and an Oakland team that also majorly upgraded its receiving corps could have its best offense in years if everything clicks.

How long is Jarran Reed suspended?

Games suspended: 6 (Personal conduct violation)

Jarran Reed had a breakout 2018, tallying 10.5 sacks and 50 tackles while working on the interior of Seattle's defensive line. His six-game absence is a huge blow to a Seahawks defense that might be more name value than production at this point. 

DRAFT STRATEGY AND RANKINGS TIERS: 
Quarterback  |  Running back  |  Wide receiver  |  Tight end  |  D/ST

How long is David Onyemata suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (Substance abuse violation)

David Onyemata was slated to start at defensive tackle for New Orleans. His absence weakens their run defense a tad, giving boosts to the running backs the Saints face in the first four weeks: Lamar Miller/D'Onta Foreman, Todd Gurley, Chris Carson, and Ezekiel Elliott.

How long is Robert Quinn suspended?

Games suspended: 2 (PED violation)

Dallas signed the veteran pass-rusher Quinn in the offseason to boost its defense, but the Cowboys will be without Quinn for two games after he was suspended in early August. Quinn was already in the midst of recovering from a broken hand and may have missed regular-season action, anyway. Once he's back, he should slide into an edge-rusher specialist role.

How long is Randy Gregory suspended?

Suspended indefinitely (substance abuse violation)

We have Dallas as a starting level defense in 12-team leagues as is, but if Gregory is reinstated -- something the Cowboys clearly think will eventually happen based on the contract extension they gave him -- it would only strengthen a solid D/ST. 

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How long is Patrick Peterson suspended?

Games suspended: 6 (PED violation)

Patrick Peterson is one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, but a season that already wasn't going to be pretty for Arizona is worse with him missing the first six games. Upon his return, he'll immediately take over his role as lock-down corner. In the first six games against the Cardinals, all top receivers are easy plays.

How long is Nevin Lawson suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (PED violation)

The Oakland Raiders signed Lawson in the offseason and he'd stood out early in camp, per multiple reports. His most likely role was Raiders' third CB, although that was mostly backing up outside and not playing the nickel. Lamarcus Joyner remains Oakland's nickel back, so Lawson's absence would only hurt in the near term if another Raiders' defensive back was slated to miss time.

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How long is Morris Claiborne suspended?

Games suspended: 4 (substance abuse violation)

For a time, Claiborne was one of the NFL's best cornerbacks, but he remained on the free agent market this offseason as his suspension was announced. The suspension could delay his signing with teams further, although if he latches on somewhere midseason he could provide a weary secondary a boost. (Update:  Claiborne reached an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs on August 8.)