Fantasy Football Profile: Le’Veon Bell

Being a first-round pick in fantasy football is something we like to see as we spend hours debating who will be our squad’s top pick each fantasy season. It changes from year to year but no one has been in the first round of drafts since 2014 as much as Le’Veon Bell.

One of the most consistent players who week in and week out gets 20-plus touches and offers week-winning performances, you know what you are getting when you draft Bell, which is a reliable top-end option and a boat load of fantasy points.

Check out these numbers: 289, 373, 137, 336 and 406

These are not his fantasy points over the past five years, but rather his total touches for the season. In his injury-plagued season where he only played six games, if you would have calculated it out for all 16 games, Bell would have have finished with 365 touches. Simply amazing and something you love to see when making that first selection.

In mocks that I have done this offseason, I have had Bell fall to me as late as No. 4 overall. It’s pretty clear this season that no matter where you’re at if you hold one of the top-four picks, you can’t go wrong with one of the four running backs of Bell, Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson as they should all get their fair share of carries, catches and touchdowns.

Despite the quality options at the top half of the first round, Bell would be my choice with the first overall selection. With that being said, let’s take a closer look to help you with your top pick!

2017 Review

Coming in as the No. 1 or 2 overall (many flipped a coin between him and Johnson) pick, many may have been nervous of drafting Bell because he was holding out and missing training camp, in hopes of being one of the top-paid players in the league. Instead, Bell signed his franchise tag of $12.12M and reported to camp in time to be ready for the regular season.

Bell put up not-so-first-overall-pick numbers in the opener against Cleveland, but after that, he scored no lower than double-digit points in .5 PPR leagues for the remainder of the fantasy season.

Out of the 16 games that Bell played in he finished as an RB1 62.5% of the time in standard leagues and 68.75% in PPR leagues. Finishing as the No. 2 overall running back in BOTH scoring formats.

13 out of the 16 games that Bell was in he had at least 20 touches. That’s over 80% of his games. Volume is king when it comes to fantasy football and Bell was second to only Gurley in this statistic.

Want to know even more? Bell had 321 rushing attempts. The next closest was…. LeSean McCoy with…. 287. 34 carries might not seem like much but every little bit counts in fantasy here, folks!

Furthermore, Bell had 61 rushing attempts in the red zone. Although he only ended up with nine total touchdowns, don’t look at Bell as being inefficient as Gurley had 62 attempts and only pulled in three more touchdowns.

Bell’s not seeing action just as a rusher in the redzone either as he had 16 redzone targets as a receiver. That’s tied with A.J. Green, Michael Thomas and Kyle Rudolph. That has to be a surprise to more than just me!

Whats up for 2018?

2018 Preview

Here we are again, beginning of July and once again the franchise tag was applied to Bell and once again he’s missing from OTA’s, hoping to ink a new deal. Wait, I feel like I’m writing 2017 all over again…. Yep, I am, and once again Bell signed his franchise tag. This time it was for a whopping $14.54M!

Rumblings around Bell is that he is “optimistic” that a long-term deal will be done. He and the Pittsburgh Steelers have until July 16 to come up with a long-term deal or we have the possibility of going through the same thing as last year where he sat out all camp and pre-season and showed up in time for the season opener.

Are you nervous about this? I’m not. Look at what he did last year. He produced at an extremely high level while playing in all of your fantasy league’s relevant games! Sure he was a little rusty the first couple of weeks, but after that, Bell was back to being the same top-producing fantasy RB we’ve all come to love – if indeed you’ve had him on your team in the last half decade.

Final Advice

Do I really even need to give you any? Outside of injury *cough David Johnson* Bell’s the reliable amount of touches Bell should see each week should help him finish once again as a top-three fantasy running back.

I don’t like to use the term “safe” as I prefer the term of consistent. Bell has been very consistent year in and year out outside of 2015. He has had more up seasons than down and that is why I am choosing him over Gurley in 2018.

Why you ask? Easy. Just like I wrote above, consistency. His volume has been well above 300 touches three out of the last five years. Sure you can say Gurley has been over the same threshold two of the last three years, but what is there to say about his 2016 season? The touches were there but the fantasy production was not, causing quite a fall for Gurley in drafts last season.

I can see Bell getting another 375+ total touches this upcoming season. Ben Roethlisberger is another year older and how many more seasons is Antonio Brown going to be able to keep putting up his jaw-dropping fantasy numbers? When it’s all said and done for 2018, I think Bell remains the one consistent for this Pittsburgh Steelers team.

Go ahead and draft Bell with confidence. My advice is to take him with the No. 1 overall pick. If he falls to you at two, three or even four – don’t hesitate – take him and watch with me as the fantasy points just pile up!

I hope you all had a safe and happy 4th of July!

 

See all of our 2018 Fantasy Football Player Profiles here!

Ryan Miner is a featured blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast.  Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

 

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