Opportunity is everything in fantasy football, and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Dri Archer has been given a chance to become a star this season.
While the rookie out of Kent State has been listed third on the depth chart during the preseason behind Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, recent events could make him more important.
Colin Dunlap of CBS Pittsburgh reports that both Bell and Blount were arrested for marijuana possession:
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell & RB LeGarrette Blount charged by Ross Twp Police today w marijuana poss. Bell also charged w DUI after stop today.— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) August 20, 2014
Former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch connects the dots:
If reports are true, both players will be suspended. Can you say Dri Archer as #Steelers opening day starter against Cleveland!— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) August 20, 2014
While it is unknown whether a suspension will be coming for either player, commissioner Roger Goodell usually does not respond well to this type of off-field activity. It seems almost certain both Bell and Blount will be forced to miss at least a few games this year.
As a result, Archer should be asked to have an expanded role within the offense.
The 5'8" running back has already showcased his playmaking ability in the preseason, most notably as a receiver. He had a 40-yard catch-and-run against the Buffalo Bills, which was came after a 46-yard reception against the New York Giants.
He has shown the ability to provide the Steelers with something they have not had in a long time, according to Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders:
Steelers have had 7 receptions of 40+ yards by a RB since 1998. Dri Archer has one in each of his first two preseason games. @EdBouchette— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) August 17, 2014
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com believed this would give him a role in the offense, even before the news of the arrests:
Dri Archer is going to be a nice package player in this PIT offense. He destroys pursuit angles.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 17, 2014
Archer was the fastest player at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.26 40-yard dash, and this speed can make a big difference on the football field.
When asked about where he is going to play in the offense this season, the young player responded, "It’s going to be a big role, but I’m just going to do whatever I’m asked to do. Play receiver, play running back, helping special teams. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it," according to August Fagerstrom of the Akron Beacon-Journal.
The versatility and big-play ability makes him worthy of a late draft pick in fantasy football regardless of what happens to Bell or Blount.
Unfortunately, his size will prevent him from ever being a featured back. Even in college, Archer was limited, as he never topped 159 rushing attempts for a season. He is better suited as a change-of-pace player who can also contribute as a receiver or returner.
If the Steelers are forced to play without their top two running backs, look for them to find another player capable of handling the load. Do not expect Archer to be carrying the ball 20 times in a game.
As a result, fantasy owners can still use a late pick for the dynamic player, but make sure you do not reach too much for someone who will get limited opportunities.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.