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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: LE'VEON BELL RB PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The annual summer reality hit "Will Le'Veon Bell get a new contract extension" just finished up its second season on Monday and the public reaction centered mostly on annoyance aimed at both running back Le'Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers for not coming to agreement on a new deal.  As a result, we once again have to deal with rumors and speculation that Bell will hold out for all of training camp and preseason games as he did a year ago and as a result, be susceptible to injury or a slow performance in September as he gets his legs under him.  This was the exact same scenario Bell and his fantasy football owners found themselves in a year ago as he held out all summer before reporting right before the opener.  While Bell did go on to have another insanely good year, the start was slow in September and he is now a year older with much more mileage on his tires.  With all this said, let's dig in a bit deeper on the guy who is considered to be the consensus number 2 pick in all 2018 fantasy football drafts.

As far as the particulars are concerned, Bell is still young at the age of 26 but he is also not spring chicken like a Dalvin Cook or a Kareem Hunt either.  Also, Bell has had nothing but a massive workload both in the running and receiving game since coming into the league back in 2013 and he comes off a 2017 where he ran the ball an insane 321 times and caught as just as ridiculous 85 passes.  Typically what we see when running backs come off a 300-plus carry season is a "bounce" the following year where the rushing average and overall yardage decrease.  There is also a much higher risk for injury and this is particularly scary with Bell who has missed 17 games in five NFL seasons due to health woes.  This is an issue not to be taken lightly and it becomes more stark when you consider he will not be in top shape if he does in fact hold out for training camp and preseason games like he did a year ago.  Keep in mind that under the same situation last summer, Bell averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and 60 rushing yards per game last September which was his lowest monthly total by far.  No doubt this is a big issue as you never want to be digging out of a slow start to your fantasy football season since the regular season is just 13 games in most leagues and a listless or injured Bell in September is a potential negative.

Now on the positive side, there is not a single more awesome player in all of fantasy football outside of maybe the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley in terms of Bell's uncanny ability to dominate both as a runner and a receiver.  He has caught 75 or more balls in three of his five seasons and has averaged 4.3 yards per carry with 35 rushing scores during the same span.  You simply can't find those numbers anywhere else and so Bell is still deserving of at worst the number 2 pick in all 2018 fantasy football drafts.  With that said though, just keep in mind there is still some decent risk involved.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,241 rushing yards 9 TD, 73 receptions 644 yards 2 TD  


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