A 6’4 211 pound receiver with 4.42 speed in the 40 yard dash and a 39 inch vertical is how you design a player in Madden. Put this player in an elite offense, with a great QB, and arguably the best WR across from him drawing coverage, you expect results. That player is Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a guy we haven’t seen in a year. His last performance tearing apart the elite Denver defense in the divisional round of the playoffs had many, including myself thinking the next young dynasty star had arrived. March 14th, 2016 put that dream on hold after the NFL announced his yearlong suspension. Let’s refresh ourselves with just how good Martavis really was.
The Beginning of Big Plays
An elite big play guy Bryant provided that in his rookie year averaging 21.1 yards a catch, and 8 touchdowns on only 26 catches. Quite a good sample size for a fourth round pick rookie, who only played in 10 games during the regular season. Add in another touchdown and 61 yards in his first playoff game, Martavis ended the year with a line of 31-610-9 in 11 total games for a 19.67 yards per catch.
With an expectation to further develop in his second year, he started it with a disappointing suspension through the first four games, and missed his 5th game while recovering from a knee injury. In the remaining 11 games, and 2 playoff games he became much more involved in the offense receiving 113 targets from Big Ben. The second most in a stout offense outpacing Heath Miller who had received 63 targets in that span. Antonio Brown and his ungodly amount of targets for comparison sake had 151 in the 12 games he played. This speaks pretty strongly to how important Martavis is to the Steelers offense, as their clear number 2 receiver. He would of ranked 34th in the NFL this year with that amount of targets in only 13 games. Quite a bit of targets for a player who has the potential to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He ended up with a line of 64-948-7 receiving and 8-121-1 rushing.
Stardom on hold
As well all know by now, Martavis was poised for a huge year in 2016. That dream was suspended for the whole 2016 season due to a positive drug test for Marijuana. According to Bryant’s agent Brian Fettner in an interview with USA Today, said that Bryant would go to rehab and be evaluated for depression. He stated that his use of the drug was not for partying but for coping issues. Early reports state that Bryant will be reinstated eventually and that he as a person has made progress. All signs pointing to his return to the gridiron for 2017.
An addition the Steelers offense needs, as it regressed in its passing offense. Below is a table showing the offensive stats with Bryant and without.
|Year||Team Passing Yards||Passing Touchdowns||Rushing Yards|
As you can see, the Steelers passing game without Bryant leads to a large difference. Even with Big Ben missing 5 games in 2015, the passing offense had 400 more yards with Bryant on the field; despite a combination of Landry Jones and Mike Vick running the offense. The rushing attack has stayed scary consistent throughout the three year run, despite Le’Veon Bell missing the large part of 2015. Martavis is on track to become a part of the killer B’s.
Assuming Martavis does get reinstated within the next few months, and is healthy enough to play 16 games, I fully believe we can expect a season of 70-1100-8. Scoring in PPR would give him 228 points and rank him at 16 for this past year. A high end WR2 with considerable more upside as he refines his game, makes him an attractive buy now. We can expect a bump in value as the season approaches and more buzz generates. His current ADP for March from our site has him at 82. Other receivers in that range include Kevin White, Perriman, and Treadwell. Three young receivers like Bryant, however none have had any significant production and likely contain lower ceilings. All are stuck in average to below average passing offenses with the likes of Glennon, Flacco, and Bradford. Something Martavis possesses a clear edge in with Big Ben at the helm.
Bryant is entering his last year of his contract, joining Eli Rodgers, Justin Hunter, and Colbi Hamilton as other Steeler receivers potentially hitting the market. Pending a productive season, Bryant seems inline for an extension, as both Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey will hit the market in 2019. Leaving the Steelers dangerously thin at wideout if they don’t manage to work something out. A deal in the range of Allen Hurns and Marvin Jones seems reasonable for the basis to work off of.
So if Martavis manages to find himself on the straight and narrow, we could be seeing a potential star in the making. I tried to find a player of comparable measure and statistics, and he’s a rare case. People like him don’t come along often. An athletic freak, with good hands, and ball skills. Benefiting from playing in a high volume offense, he’s someone worth taking a risk on without a doubt. If you’re willing to tolerate the risk of a potential star, and at worst could stomach a Josh Gordon situation he is a clear buy. A talent like Martavis is hard to find, let’s just hope his career doesn’t go up in smoke.
Stats taken from http://www.pro-football-reference.com/ and ESPN.com
Contract information from Spotrac.com