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Monday, March 2, 2009
Marshall's value tumbles with latest incident


Brandon Marshall has been in trouble on too many occasions since joining the Denver Broncos, enough that the NFL suspended him at the start of the 2008 season for repeated offenses. The suspension was originally supposed to be for three games but was later reduced to one game. That one missed game turned out to be a minor inconvenience for fantasy owners, who viewed him as sleeper material in 2008 drafts.

However, Marshall spent Sunday night in an Atlanta jail on a disorderly conduct charge, capping off a wild weekend for the Broncos that saw them revamp the running game and secondary, while allegedly engaging in trade talks with their now very bitter Pro Bowl quarterback.

Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall caught 104 passes for 1,265 yards and six TDs this past season.
By Monday morning, the charges against Marshall had already been dropped, but the trouble may not be over for him. The league's personal conduct code gives commissioner Roger Goodell the authority to punish players, regardless of a legal conviction. If Marshall was to be suspended for three games less than a year ago, then erred again, it stands to reason this punishment could be far worse. Violating the league's personal conduct code is a big deal, and history tells us eight games might be the next level. Just ask Chris Henry or Pacman Jones.

Marshall is immensely talented, having caught more than 100 passes during the 2008 season, despite missing a game and dealing with the after effects of an injured right arm, which he hurt hitting a television set in the offseason. Marshall was ranked the No. 12 wide receiver for 2008 drafts, downgraded a bit due to the suspension, and finished ranked 12th in standard leagues. When Matthew Berry unveiled his preseason top 200 recently, Marshall was -- surprise! -- the No. 12 wide receiver on his list, No. 39 overall.

Now consider the fantasy impact of a lengthy suspension. Missing three games in September would cover roughly a quarter of the fantasy regular season in most leagues. Do the math on a player missing eight games, and you might have him available for action for just four or five weeks before your playoffs.

It's safe to say that, with the specter of a significant suspension hanging over Marshall's head, fantasy owners can no longer view him as a top-25 wide receiver right now. Eddie Royal might be, though, and newcomer Jabar Gaffney could become a valuable No. 3 fantasy wideout if he replaces Marshall.

Finally, I don't have major concerns with Jay Cutler's value. Sure, he was involved in trade talks, but he'll get over it. We don't know which running back will be the lead dog, nor what the post-Mike Shanahan era will be like offensively, but that all seems premature to me. It all changes based on personnel, including Marshall.