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How does the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy Affect My Fantasy Team?
I
n April 2007, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rolled out a new Personal Conduct Policy with stiffer penalties for player altercations outside of football.  Just over one year later, with the NFL brand as his focus, Goodell has attempted to bring order to league and discourage NFL players from tarnishing the league's image.  Last year's suspensions of Michael Vick, who plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges stemming from his involvement in a dog fighting ring, and the multi-game suspensions of CB Adam Jones (formerly known as "PacMan") and WR Chris Henry (formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals) for numerous violations of this new policy are prime examples of this new policy at work. However throughout the NFL season and offseason, the frequency of player altercations including domestic abuse, DUI's, assault, and hand gun possession seems to be on the rise.  As a fantasy owner, you'll want to remain abreast of the ongoing legal troubles plaguing these NFL stars so you can slot them appropriately on your draft board or if you select them, plan accordingly for an alternative strategy.  Based upon the suspension handed down by the league office, you'll want to steer clear of some athletes or handcuff a solid backup to your starter in the event of their multi-game, league imposed exile.

The NFL bye week trap, can really hurt a fantasy football team. If you select too many players with the same bye week that represent your top point scorers, you might be facing a loss as your fantasy stars are riding the bench. Compound that problem with player suspensions due to NFL Personal Conduct Policy violations and you have a real mess on your hands. The following is a summary of current pending legal situations that you'll want to consider when making your selections on draft day.

WR Brandon Marshall - Denver Broncos - In his second year in the league, the 6'4", 230 lb former fourth round pick out of the University of Central Florida, exploded onto the scene to take a firm grasp of the #1 receiver spot for the Denver Broncos with 1325 yard receiving a seven touchdowns. Poised for his breakout 3rd year at the wide receiver position and coupled with the emergence of Jay Cutler at the Quarterback spot, fantasy football owners should be salivating over the prospect of adding this guy to your roster. Unfortunately these lofty expectations come with some baggage.  Brandon Marshall is recovering from a serious arm injury that resulted in a severed artery, vein, and tendons to five muscles, along with a damaged nerve in his forearm.  All the result of putting his hand through a TV screen under curious circumstances.  But the main issue with Marshall is his alleged assault against his girlfriend and the details surrounding a physical altercation with her sister that's caught the attention of the Atlanta Police Department.  Marshall has been arrested three times in the past twelve months: March 2008 - misdemeanor battery charge, October 2007 - DUI, March 2007 - domestic violence charge that was dismissed.  He may face multiple game suspensions as a result.
June 30, 2008
Details concerning the March arrest for assaulting his girlfriend are coming to light. The Denver Post reports that Brandon Marshall has been involved in as many as eight incidents with 12 police reports filed concerning domestic disputes since June 2006. The newspaper has received reports that Marshall previously, “punched
his girlfriend, cut her leg with a knife, and threw a rock at a car in which she was a passenger.” What a sweetheart … if you’re planning to draft his guy, be aware that he may not last the season in Denver.
July 17, 2008
Brandon Marshall can’t seem to stay out of trouble as the Denver Post reports that he was ticketed on June 12 for making an illegal lane change, according to Denver County court records. Marshall was stopped after allegedly driving his Hummer H2 on the shoulder to pass two cars. He was also ticketed for not having his driver’s license and proof of insurance. Adding the alleged assault of his girlfriend and the DUI he is charged with, and it won’t take long for Roger Goodell to step in, especially is he’s found guilty on any counts.
July 24, 2008
Adam Schefter of the NFL Network states that Brandon Marshall could face a suspension of four to eight weeks due to his multiple arrests and recent trouble with the law. Marshall is scheduled to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell and soon afterward Goodell will announce whether or not Marshall will be suspended during the 2008 NFL season. We'll keep you posted on this one as it is sure to affect Marshall's draft status.
August 6, 2008
Brandon Marshall has been suspended three games for violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.  Marshall plans to appeal.
August 16, 2008
Brandon Marshall has filed an appeal with the league office to reduce his three game suspension. Fantasy owners will need to stay tuned, if he is successful in reducing his suspension to one or two games, he could be in for a monster year.
August 29, 2008
Brandon Marshall's three game suspension was reduced to one game by commissioner Roger Goodell. This is fantastic news for fantasy owners.  However fantasy draftniks should cautiously upgrade Marshall on their draft boards due to his history of off field issues.  Although a unique talent primed for a breakout year, I have to question Marshall's commitment to the NFL and his likelihood of staying out of trouble over the course of a 16 game season.


RB Marshawn Lynch - Buffalo Bills - On the heels of a fantastic rookie season that saw Lynch post 1115 yards and seven scores, his offseason has not been so fantastic. Lynch was involved in a hit and run incident that resulted in him pleading guilty for failure to exercise due care (a lesser charge) and an apology to the victim. With a civil lawsuit sure to follow, this situation is not over for Marshawn. Roger Goodell will also probably weigh in with some form of suspension.  Fantasy owners interested in Lynch should make sure that backup running back Fred Jackson also appears on their roster before the draft concludes.
July 28, 2008
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided not to discipline Marshawn Lynch for his involvement in a hit-and-run accident that left a woman injured. Lynch pleaded guilty to a traffic violation as part of a plea deal with prosecutors which according to Goodell does not violate the league's personal conduct policy. This is fantastic news for fantasy owners, with no repercussions or pending suspensions on the horizon Marshawn Lynch should resume "Beast Mode" in Buffalo and terrorize NFL defenses for the full 16 games.



WR Chris Henry - waived by Cincinnati - Chris Henry is a fairly talented #3 receiver that should not be on anyone's draft board. Henry is currently on indefinite suspension from the NFL pending the outcome of his trial. Henry has been accused of punching a man in the face a breaking his car window with a beer bottle.  He is currently being charged with assault.
July 17, 2008
Prosecutors have dropped the assault charges filed against former Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver Chris Henry, paving the way for his reinstatement by the NFL. Henry has shown flashes during his brief career as a Bengal, but he’s also proven he can find trouble. Upon reinstatement it will be interesting to see who will give this guy another shot. Henry has already stated that he is open to returning to the Bengals.
July 31, 2008
Former Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry was reinstated to the league, but must first serve a four game suspension once signed by an NFL team. The speedy 6'4" wide receiver was very productive as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. I'm sure some team will be willing to give him a shot.
August 19, 2008
The Cincinnati Bengals have officially re-signed wide receiver Chris Henry.  After serving a four game suspension, he should be back on the field for the Bengals. This is excellent news for the Carson Palmer and Co. who have been dealing with injury issues across the board at the wide receiver position the entire preseason.


RB Travis Henry - cut by Denver - Following the lofty expectations of a 1500 yard season behind the zone blocking scheme of Mike Shanahan, Travis Henry now finds himself on the unemployment line, largely due to his off-field transgressions.  These include several violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy and the threat of jail time for failing to pay child support on his nine illegitimate children by nine different mothers.  Henry was also close to a one year suspension for a failed marijuana test.  However, after appealing and the test with the support of Shanahan, the league reconsidered.  Denver apparently grew tired of his antics and sent him packing.  If intrigued by the multi-headed running back by committee situation in Denver, draft Selvin Young, but keep close tabs on Michael Pittman and Andre Hall as the training camp starter in Denver rarely finishes the year in that position.
August 31, 2008
Travis Henry was suspended by the NFL for a minimum of one year, according to NFL.com for violating the leagues' substance abuse policy.  His release from Denver this summer probably signified the end of Travis Henry's career in the National Football League.


RB Cedric Benson - cut by Chicago - The tired act of this former first rounder finally grew to be too much for the Chicago Bears, as he was given his walking papers after his second alcohol-related arrest in five weeks.  Benson alleged police misconduct on both situations, but nothing was ever proven.  If he does catch on with an NFL team, Benson will probably face multiple game suspensions for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy.  The Chicago Bears are apparently comfortable moving forward with rookie Matt Forte at the runningback position, however until Forte begins facing NFL defenses, it will be difficult to rate very high on any fantasy draft board.


WR James Hardy - Buffalo Bills - This rookie second round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills is slated to start opposite Lee Evans in Buffalo if he can manage to keep his nose clean.  However, in May 2008 Hardy reportedly brandished a firearm during an argument with his father.  A situation he explained as a misunderstanding.  Hardy was also indentified as being inside the vehicle driven by Marshawn Lynch during his hit and run incident.  Considering his questionable past that was debated on draft day, Hardy is not doing such a great job endearing himself to his new team.  


RB Kevin Faulk - New England Patriots – Kevin Faulk pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession. At this point it is unclear whether or not Faulk will face any form of suspension from the league.


WR Matt Jones - Jacksonville Jaguars - According to FirstCoastNews.com, Jacksonville wide receiver Matt Jones was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance, which was cocaine. The site reported that when Jones was approached by policemen, he was sitting in the back of a car and had a card with a white powdery substance on it. Athletically, Matt Jones never lived up to the promise that made him a first round pick of the Jaguars in 2005. He was in danger of being released before this incident as he sat low on the depth chart at wide receiver. Depending on how this shakes out, he may find himself on the NFL unemployment line.
July 22, 2008
Strangely enough, the Jacksonville Jaguars have announced that they will be retaining the services of Matt Jones ... for now. On the heels of his arrest for felony cocaine possession, this is good news for Jones. It may also be an indication that the Jags are feeling a bit vulnerable at the wide receiver position. We'll continue to monitor this one.
July 25, 2008
Matt Jones apologizes for his arrest in which he was found in the back of a car with cocaine in his possession. "I'm embarrassed for Mr. and Mrs. Weaver, coach Del Rio and my teammates, and even the fans of Jacksonville," Jones stated. For now he remains a Jaguar, but this guy should be on nobody's draft board even for deep fantasy football leagues.
August 11, 2008
Matt Jones pleads not guilty to felony drug charges (possession of cocaine) according to Sporting News. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. With the situation at wide receiver in Jacksonville, this may we worth keeping an eye on a Jones has experienced somewhat of a resurgence on the field this preseason. The trial is set for October 10.
 

WR Marvin Harrison - Indianapolis Colts
July 23, 2008

According to Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison should see no repercussions from the league in regard to his connection to the April shooting in his hometown of Philadelphia. "I've been given reason to think that Marvin's part of it will not be anything that will come up for us during the year," Dungy said. It appears that things are a go for Marvin Harrison for fantasy football this year with his recovery from last year's injury well underway.


T Bryant McKinnie - Minnesota Vikings
August 14, 2008

Bryant McKinnie, the massive bookend tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, will likely be suspended four games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  McKinnie has been involved in several off-field incidents and was arrested in February after a brawl. Teaming with Steve Hutchinson on the left side, the two linemen form one of the more formidable left sides in all of football. If McKinnie is suspended, one can expect a dip in the production of running back Adrian Peterson.


WR Brandon Jones - Tennessee Titans
Aug 25, 2008
Brandon Jones accepted a conditional guilty plea regarding his June 13 arrest for unlawful possession of a gun, according to the Tennessean.   Jones has been less than impressive in Tennessee after showing flashes of potential over the last couple seasons.  He should not be on the radar of any fantasy owners this year.


RB Fred Taylor - Jacksonville Jaguars
August 30, 2008
The Miami Herald reports that Fred Taylor has been arrested outside a Miami Beach nightclub on charges of disorderly conduct.   Taylor was eventually released on his own recognizance with a promise to appear in court.  At this point it's difficult to tell whether commissioner Roger Goodell will weigh in on Taylor's situation, but if Fred Taylor were suspended the value of Maurice Jones-Drew would get a lift. 

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