Why You Shouldn’t Draft Julian Edelman or Mark Ingram (Fantasy Football)

by Ryan Newman | Featured Writer
Jul 16, 2018

Julian Edelman and Mark Ingram are both facing suspensions in the upcoming year for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) policy. This clearly will have an effect on both player’s ADP, but shouldn’t we take it a step further? Beyond the obvious that these players will only be available for 3/4 of the season, have you ever wondered if these guys were taking something illegal to gain an advantage on the field, and then stop using that thing, shouldn’t their performance drop? Well, the answer turns out to be a resounding YES.

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There are likely many other players using PEDs that won’t/haven’t yet been caught, but for players that are popped for a PED, there is rarely talk about, but the high likelihood, that the same player will no longer take PEDs. Why? Well, there is the “unofficial” possibility of increasing the times you get tested moving forward and longer suspensions when you get caught the second and third time (pretty much a death sentence for your third with a minimum two-season ban). However, I would argue the most likely reason a player won’t continue down the road, the branding of being a “Steroid User.” What I mean by this, is whether its reality or fan’s perception, when you get popped the first time, it’s a “one-off/diluted substance/some type of accident.” But when you get caught twice, it’s hard to make your fans and peers believe you are not a “Steroid User.”

We hear lots of talk about the effects of the suspension itself (to the team and player), but little about the fact that this player is no longer going to be taking something that has been giving them an advantage for at least one season, if not their whole career. Follow the logic with me. If a player actually gets caught and suspended it’s hard to argue the player was NOT actually taking a banned substance. With all that goes into getting caught, and weighing the risks vs. the rewards, that player’s performance (whether physically or psychologically with placebo effect) benefited from taking the substance. Now, if that player is not going to take the same substance that he’s used before, clearly his performance will dip, yes? That was my thought process and the logic behind putting this to the test. In terms of fantasy relevant players, since 2010 there isn’t a large sample set of players that have been popped for PEDs BUT every one of them had a significant drop in production.

Alshon Jeffery 2013-2015
2013 16 5.6 88.8
2014 13.3 5.3 70.8
2015 14.9 6 89.7
2016 13.8 3.6 49.3
Antonio Gates 2003-2014
2003 16.2 1.6 25.9
2004 11.9 5.4 64.3
2005 12.4 5.9 73.4
2006 13 4.4 57.8
2007 13.1 4.7 61.5
2008 11.7 3.8 44
2009 14.6 4.9 72.3
2010 15.6 5 78.2
2011 12.2 4.9 59.8
2012 11 3.3 35.9
2013 11.3 4.8 54.5
2014 11.9 4.3 51.3
2015 10.3 3.8 39.1
2016 10.5 1.9 19.8
Wes Welker 2005-2013
2005 15 1.8 27.1
2006 10.3 4.2 42.9
2007 10.5 7 73.4
2008 10.5 6.9 72.8
2009 11 8.8 96.3
2010 9.9 5.7 56.5
2011 12.9 7.6 98.1
2012 11.5 7.4 84.6
2013 10.7 5.6 59.8
2014 9.5 3.5 33.1
2015 7.8 1.6 12.8
Doug Martin 2012-2016
2012 4.6 90.9 3.1 29.5
2013 3.6 76 2 11
2014 3.7 44.9 1.2 5.8
2015 4.9 87.6 2.1 16.9
2016 2.9 52.6 1.8 16.8
2017 2.9 36.9 0.8 7.6

As you can see, the sample set is not very large, but it’s a theory that’s hard to intuitively debate. If a player was using PEDs (for a reason, they worked), gets suspended, and is likely to not use the PEDs again (at least in the following season), shouldn’t that player’s performance be impacted? It’s of interest to note as well, with at least one case, getting popped for PEDs likely contributed to ending a player’s career. This would be Wes Walker, who’s often the compared to Julian Edelman. Hence, I will not be drafting Julian Edelman or Mark Ingram and neither should you.

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Ryan Newman is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive and follow him @Ryannewman20.

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