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Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers, Sheldon Richardson of the New York Jets, Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys and Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers all return to their teams this week from being on the NFL's suspended players list who were unavailable to their teams for the first four weeks of the 2015 regular season.
While Richardson and Hardy are defensive players that rarely would get to shine outside of leagues with individual defensive players, both of their respective teams will be glad to have them to boost the production of their fronts. The Jets have been a likable defense to use in standard fantasy leagues, but now with another of their primary defensive lineman back in action, they can be even more of a force.
The real story here is in the return of two big receiving threats from 2014. Antonio Gates may be aging, but his 2014 season saw him score 12 touchdowns in 14 starts while totaling over 800 yards. Gates has been replaced by Ladarius Green in San Diego, but his return to the lineup most certainly will not go ignored by Phillip Rivers.
Gates has been one of the best receiving tight ends in the history of the NFL and last season showed very little signs of slowing down. The Steelers have given up some of the most fantasy points to tight ends in the NFL (albeit a very large portion of those points from the miscues against Rob Gronkowski in week one) and Gates gets his season debut against them on Monday Night Football. Start him this week unless you have Gronkowski.
Bryant is on the opposite side of the age spectrum when compared to Gates. He scored eight touchdowns in ten games during his rookie campaign last year and was one of the best waiver wire pickups of the season. If you're like me, you were able to snag Bryant late in your fantasy draft this season and have been waiting for this moment to come all season. The only problem is that now Bryant does not have his elite quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger to feed him the ball, which may scare some fantasy owners.
Fortunately, Pittsburgh secured Michael Vick, a quarterback that when comfortable is not afraid from throwing the deep ball. He delivered a perfect strike to Antonio Brown last week that ended in an unusual drop and even connected with Bryant during the preseason for a bomb down the field. Bryant should not start over any obvious starting receivers this week, but he definitely should be considered if you do not have a strong second wide receiver or are looking for a decent FLEX option this week.
After the first quarter of the season is over, if you were bold enough to draft one of these players waiting for their return, your time is now.