A preseason concussion, his third in 10 months, already had Wes Welker’s status for the start of the season in doubt. He was able to return to practice for the Denver Broncos on Monday, which was a positive sign for a quick return to action, but Welker was suspended for four games on Tuesday for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Welker is surely on a roster in every fantasy football league, even those that have drafted since news of his suspension broke on Tuesday. But he actually won’t be available until Week 6, since Denver has their bye in Week 4, so those that drafted him are left with a dead roster spot for close to half of the fantasy regular season. Is Welker worth the wait?
Welker set a career-high with 10 touchdowns last season, despite missing the final three games of the season with his second concussion in a short time frame. Prior to that he was a stud in PPR leagues, with at least 111 catches in five of his six seasons with the New England Patriots, and Welker also had at least 1,100 yards in all five of those 100-plus catch seasons. As expected, Welker has been no lower than the 24th-highest scoring fantasy wide receiver every year since 2007.
There is an argument to be made for trying to trade Welker if you drafted him, but the potential return isn’t likely to be very good with his injury outlook fairly uncertain. Dropping Welker all together could also be something some owners consider, but that is not wise and is unlikely to happen in any fantasy league.
Let’s assume Welker’s extra time off allows him to fully recover from his most recent concussion, and let’s also assume he doesn’t decide to retire before returning to action. He will have a prominent role in one of the league’s best offenses, and he’ll miss what I see as two of the toughest matchups he’ll face all season (Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks, Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals).
Welker is a fairly risky fantasy option for sure, but he is still a viable starter when he takes the field. If you drafted Welker before his recent injury and suspension issues be patient, since he may reward you with notable production during an important stretch of the season. If nothing else, a few healthy and highly productive weeks after he returns could bring an opportunity to trade Welker at the peak of his value.