The four players suspended as part of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal have had their suspensions overturned by a three-member appeals panel, according to reports. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith are now eligible to play Week 1 of the regular season, as are Cleveland Browns defensive end Scott Fujita and free agent defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove. The Saints face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in Week 1 of the regular season. The Browns take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Analysis: This is shocking news to say the least. Smith, especially, becomes a viable fantasy option as an IDP as a result. He recorded 6.5 sacks and 35 total tackles in 14 games last season. Vilma recorded just 54 tackles last season while missing six games of the regular season due to knee issues. He had recorded 100-plus tackles in each of his previous three seasons, though the presence of Curtis Lofton hampers Vilma's fantasy value. While Smith could play Sunday, Vilma likely isn't physically ready and could wind up on the PUP list to start the year.
While the news certainly doesn't help the Redskins' offense, you shouldn't downgrade Griffin much if you were planning to deploy him this week. Considering the tight turnaround from the decision to kickoff, Vilma and Smith will likely be very limited if they do see the field. The same goes for Michael Vick and the Eagles. Fujita may have been in line for a limited role this season anyway considering his age and recent injury problems.
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