Why You Need to Buy Martavis Bryant in Fantasy Football

With Darrius Heyward-Bey playing a big role in the Steelers offense, fantasy owners should target Martavis Bryant aggressively.

Week 2 of the NFL season is the books, and whether your fantasy team is 2-0 or 0-2, you should be looking to upgrade your roster however you can.

The waiver wire is a great place to start, but acquiring players who may be on a downswing right now through trades could be a smart way to get more out of panicking fantasy owners. 

One player that you should be trying to acquire right now is Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

High-Octane Offense

During this offseason, much was made about Martavis Bryant's insertion into the Steelers offense in Week 7. 

The numbers don't lie: Bryant brought an explosive element to the Steelers offense that helped the entire unit thrive. In the first six games of the 2014 season without Bryant, the Steelers passing game, according to our schedule-adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which compares a team's performance to expectation level, was near the bottom of the league.

Their Adjusted Passing NEP sat at 0.85, a mark that ranked 26th in the NFL and just barely better than Tennessee and Oakland.

With Bryant in the lineup over the final 10 games of the season, the Steelers raised their Adjusted Passing NEP to 135.51, which was good enough to finish the season 4th in that all-important passing metric. 

Ben Roethlisberger was better, Le'Veon Bell was better, and yes, even Antonio Brown added another full reception per game when Bryant played. 

So, no doubt that the Steelers offense would take a big step back early in the season without Bell and Bryant, right? Not so fast. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is indeed humming along once again early in 2015 without two of their best offensive weapons. 

After dismantling the 49ers at home, the already scary good offense will get back running back Le'Veon Bell in advance of their Week 3 matchup with the St. Louis Rams. 

Through the first two weeks of the NFL season, the Steelers offense ranks first in Adjusted NEP per play. Pittsburgh's current 49.63 Adjusted NEP mark would have finished ranked 14th in the entire league at season's end last year.

Put another way, Pittsburgh's current offense has added more points above expectation than 19 teams did all of last year. Remember, this is a cumulative, season long metric. 

We know that the Steelers offense is brimming with talent at the skill positions, but the line has only given up two sacks so far this season as well.

Keeping Ben clean has allowed him to climb to the top of the charts in in our Passing NEP metric (43.67). 

Brown leads all wide receivers according to our Reception NEP metric (31.59), while DeAngelo Williams (7.94) is second behind only Carlos Hyde (8.84) in Rushing NEP.

This offense is good. Really, really good. 

Acquire Bryant Now

In two more weeks, the Steelers will get back suspended second year wide receiver, Martavis Bryant. 

Why should you target him now through a trade?

At this point in the season, owners who have been holding Bryant may be more likely to sell him to get a player or two that could help them win right now if their team needs immediate help. Forward-thinking fantasy owners should pounce on the opportunity to get a piece of the high-powered Steelers offense at a discount. 

Another key part of this equation is how Bryant's replacements Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey have performed so far this season.

Journeyman Heyward-Bey has played surprisingly well while filling in for Bryant. The "Martavis" role in the offense is clearly the role that will thrive for fantasy purposes. 

Heyward-Bey has received 12 targets through two games, turning those into a Reception NEP mark of 10.47, good enough for 25th among receivers that have been targeted at least 10 times this season. 

But, despite what Roethlisberger or the media has been selling, Wheaton does not have the look of a breakout player. 

Wheaton is 37th according to our Reception NEP metric, with only 5 receptions in 2 games. 

Another note that works in Bryant's favor is Roethlisberger's efficiency on deep throws. Bryant averaged 21.1 yards per reception as a rookie. Ben already has 10 completions this season of 25 yards or more, easily the best mark in the NFL. 

Get ready to run that 9 route, Martavis.

Off-Field Concerns

In Mike Tomlin's press conference on Tuesday, he noted that Martavis Bryant is not with the team during his suspension. This is certainly an area of concern for the young receiver.

Even though he did not play early in the season last year, he was able to get timing down with Roethlisberger in practice. 

The hope within the Steelers organization is that he can turn things around, but it is certainly no guarantee. And, as a reminder, his next failed drug test will result in a 10-game suspension.

Still, the reward of having Bryant, whose .349 fantasy points per snap last year paced the position, on your fantasy team in December could far outweigh the risk that it will take to acquire him right now in your fantasy leagues.