How Does Rashee Rice’s Potential Suspension Impact His 2024 Fantasy Value?

It's always difficult navigating player suspensions. How should fantasy managers approach Chiefs WR Rashee Rice if he misses half the season?

Kansas City Chiefs WR Rashee Rice was in the news this offseason, but not for anything positive, unfortunately.

Rice is facing six counts of collision involving bodily injury, one count of collision involving serious bodily injury, and one count of aggravated assault.

Legal issues in the NFL result in much discussion around suspensions, and that has been the same for Rice since the incident occurred.

Let’s assess the fantasy football ramifications of an extended Rice suspension.

Should Fantasy Managers Draft Rashee Rice in 2024?

With the exception of extremely rare instances where a player is completely not worth drafting at any price, the decision to draft a player in fantasy comes down to cost.

On May 1, James Palmer indicated the Chiefs are expecting Rice to be suspended for at least half the 2024 season.

Let’s assume Palmer is correct and Rice gets suspended for half the season or more.

If his ADP fell to the 12th round, of course you would draft him. If Rice were still going in the fourth round, you would never even consider him.

Naturally, his cost will land somewhere in the middle. That’s the challenge we face as fantasy managers.

We know what Rice’s upside is. He was a WR1 over the second half of last season.

Let’s say he can most replicate his production and average around 16 fantasy points per game. At what point do 6-8 games of 16 points per game become worth it?

Any player missing half the season has to fall out of the top 24 at his position. Does Rice fall out of the top 36?

The typical WR3 averages around 12-13 fantasy points per game. Fantasy managers must ask themselves if a full season of that is better than half a season of 16+ points per game.

There’s also the matter of having to burn the roster spot. Especially early in the season, roster spots are immensely valuable. We are going to drop half our rosters by midseason. Early in the year is when the Puka Nacuas and Kyren Williamses of the world are the most valuable.

Suspended players are not IR eligible. If you draft Rice, for all intents and purposes, your bench size is now one less than the rest of your league.

I like Rice. There is a point at which I would draft him, even if he were missing 12 games.

With that said, I have a pretty strong policy against drafting players who aren’t playing football.

Every year, fantasy managers have to endure injuries and guys missing time. It’s inevitable. We don’t need to intentionally put one of those players on our rosters.

If Rice gets suspended for eight or more games, I would not touch him until at least the eighth or ninth round. And even then, I would have to really not like any of the other guys available. It’s a headache I don’t want to deal with.

Is Rice a Lock To Get Suspended This Year?

During the 2024 NFL Draft, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport echoed the likelihood that Rice will be suspended. However, he indicated there’s a chance it won’t come during the 2024 season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that it is expected Rice’s suspension will be multiple games, similar to the report from Palmer.

We saw a similar scenario play out two years ago with Alvin Kamara’s incident that occurred during the 2022 Pro Bowl.

Everyone knew a suspension was coming, but Kamara played the entire 2022 season before being suspended for three games to start the 2023 season. It’s not impossible something similar plays out with Rice.

By the time the heart of fantasy draft season rolls around in late August and early September, we will have clarity on Rice’s situation. That means for those drafting sooner, it might be possible to take advantage of the fear.

The earlier you draft, the more justified you are in taking risks, as you can create rosters that won’t be possible to construct closer to the season.

If Rice is being priced based on the worst-case scenario, the farther away we are from the season, the more worth it he becomes.

What if Rice Only Gets 2-4 Games?

It’s fascinating how suspensions impact player values. Half a season is a big deal, but 2-4 games wouldn’t really even move the needle.

We should reasonably expect every player we draft outside of quarterback to miss 2-4 games. Plus, with a suspension, we know which games they will be.

If Rice is only hit with a 2-4 game suspension, his price drop will be minimal. If he falls a round below where he would normally go if not suspended, I’d be scooping him up everywhere.

How Does a Rice Suspension Impact Hollywood Brown and Xavier Worthy?

We should expect Hollywood Brown to open the season as the Chiefs WR2. There is a chance he and rookie Xavier Worthy share the role. However, Andy Reid’s history of handling rookie wide receivers suggests Worthy may be brought along slowly.

Well, at least, that would be the plan. If Rice is out an extended period of time, that pushes Brown into the WR1 role and would force Worthy into extended action early on.

The Chiefs do not have any other competent wide receivers outside of Rice, Brown, and, we assume, Worthy. After what the Chiefs dealt with last season, it’s hard to envision Reid being stubborn with the rookie if Rice is out.

The combination of Brown and Worthy is still better than anything the Chiefs rolled out last season. Reid is one of the greatest coaches of all time. I am sure he knows this. We could see Worthy hit the ground running.

Much like with Rice, we want to maximize our leverage. If Worthy is being priced as if Rice is getting a short suspension, scoop him up. There’s a ton of upside. If and when Worthy’s ADP starts to spike, it will depend on how expensive he gets.

Is Rice a Player To Target in Dynasty Leagues?

Absolutely, 100% yes.

If you have a moral conundrum with rostering players who do bad things, I completely get it. But purely in terms of fantasy production, any suspension should be viewed as a buying opportunity, especially for rebuilding dynasty teams.

Given Rice’s poor prospect profile, it’s very possible he was taken later in your rookie drafts. Thus, he could be on contending rosters. Those managers likely can’t afford to be without him for half the season if they are chasing a championship.

Rice is 24 years old and tethered to the most talented quarterback in NFL history. He’s the underneath guy. He’s the volume guy. I’m not concerned about Brown and Worthy squeezing Rice out of targets. When Rice returns, he should get his WR1 job back.

Plus, Brown is on a one-year deal. It’s highly likely he’s a bridge to Worthy being the primary Z receiver and will be gone after this year. Rice is poised to be Patrick Mahomes’ WR1 for at least the next three years.

Do not let a few games in Rice’s second career season deter you from rostering what should be a high-end WR2 for the next half-decade.

As we look ahead to the 2024 fantasy football season, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

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