Scouting Notebook: Bell boosts Steelers backfield

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

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It didn't take long for Le'Veon Bell's NFL career to take flight. . (Getty)

The big news in a terrible slate of Week 4 games is that Le’Veon Bell seemed good enough and healthy enough to help frustrated owners overcome a weak running back crop. When you somersault into the end zone after your first career touchdown, I have to assume your are not playing in severe pain. And the Steelers offense has put up 920 yards the last two weeks. They’re not likely a bad team, despite their record, and clearly can move the chains. In a re-draft today, Bell is easily a second-round pick.

The RB position took another hit with the loss (shocker) of Darren McFadden (hamstring came up on the wheel this time).

You watch Dez Bryant manhandle defenders on his first touchdown and then explode on his second and you have to scratch your head about how he is not fed more targets. How does Jason Witten get more targets than Bryant in San Diego? Terrance Williams had one less target than Dez. And the deep sideline pass is the league’s lost weapon. The receiver can go up and get it, interference is always in the cards and the under-throw, purposeful or not, simply cannot be defensed. But teams won’t throw it because why? They’re worried about an interception? If defensive backs could catch sideline passes, they’d be wide receivers.

A couple of things about Montee Ball. First, do not lecture me about mock draft selections I made in May. Those are completely speculative and you're mainly trying to start conversations. But it’s fair to hammer me for thinking in August that Ball was a great bet to be a real factor by now, or that Knowshon Moreno was unsuitable. Anyone is suitable in this offense. Ball, even at his revised, August RB3 price I advocated paying is a bust and can be waived. But be fair and remember I told you all to get Bilal Powell as a RB4, too (knowing he really was a RB2).

If the Jets troubles in Tennessee open up the trade window for Powell at anything less than a RB3 price, jump to the head of the line and pay up. Powell will be the featured back for as long as he’s healthy. People are worried about Mike Goodson now? Please. Powell’s yardage and rate stats are all very solid and he’s been the Jets' best player since camp opened.

Stephen Hill’s concussion that knocked him out after the second play needs to be monitored. If healthy, I still think he has WR2 upside, at least.

I don’t want to be lectured about fading Wes Welker. I'd still take Eric Decker over him. I don’t understand why Peyton Manning is treating him like he’s his little brother by just handing him these easy, goal-line touchdowns. Welker is averaging 7.5 yards per target, too, which is ho-hum for any receiver and just terrible in this Peyton passing tsunami. Those who own Welker should stop snickering and start selling high. (Welker for Le’Veon Bell?)

Fred Jackson is playing too well for the Bills to revise their carries split. Plus, as I said in the summer, guys with body mass as low as Spiller’s have not been able to hold up to heavy workloads (except for Chris Johnson). Yes, there could be selection bias here (the small guys are not given the chance). But that’s the same difference for us.

Speaking of low BMI, when Reggie Bush is healthy, he’s capable of being the best back in fantasy football any given week. While Joique Bell’s playability is going to rely mostly on short touchdowns, which are random, team-based events, the higher-than-average likelihood of a Bush injury puts Bell in the do-not-drop category.

Brian Schottenheimer is not the offensive coordinator for an edge player like Tavon Austin, whose speed is just being completely wasted. But Schottenheimer isn’t really the coordinator for any player.

The Rams' 189 rushing yards are the lowest in NFL history through four games since the 1946 Lions had minus-1.

Frank Gore became the 24th running back since 1960 to rush for 150-plus yards past the age of 30. That is a sell signal unless you think Gore is going to be like Walter Payton and Tiki Barber, who each did it five more times.

Joe Flacco almost survived five interceptions but teams are 2-22 since 1980 when a QB throws five picks. This illustrates the need for a steep interception tax in fantasy leagues. But I hate devaluing quarterbacks because it’s silly how the players who matter the least (running backs) are the most valuable in our pretend game. I’ve always wondered why we don’t help them by aggressively scoring QB wins, since they’re the only players who have records sometimes included in their stats.

The Bengals aren’t going anywhere with Andy Dalton. In the long run, this loss may be really good news for Giovani Bernard owners. BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s 142 yards are the fourth-lowest through the first four weeks since 2000 among backs with at least 50 carries. A loss maybe sharpens Cincy’s senses enough to realize that BJGE is a slug.

Victor Cruz’s 38.8 yards per touchdown is second to only DeSean Jackson among receivers on NFL rosters (minimum 20 touchdowns). It’s also 14th in league history. Cruz scores TDs twice as frequently as Jackson, too.

Alshon Jeffery has a lot of size and athleticism but the opportunities are hard to project. He is on pace for 128 targets and the Bears defense is all name brand now. So there will be other games where Chicago gets blown out.

The Seahawks in Houston combined a lack of playmakers at receiver with in inability to pass block and still won, thanks to Matt Schaub.It doesn’t matter if Ben Tate deserves more carries. He’s not getting them. And 171 total yards and a TD seems pretty vintage Arian Foster, against a top-shelf defense, too.

I keep looking at the coaches tape and tweeting signs stills that show ample reason to doubt Trent Richardson’s true skill level. Yet people ask for more. How much do you have to see? If Richardson was a random fourth-round pick, his work between the lines would get him benched and maybe released.

It’s going to be really tough sledding for Doug Martin in this Tampa Bay offense and Martin is not exactly Adrian Peterson when it comes to overcoming a terrible setup.
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