Le’Veon Bell’s reported suspension took the fantasy football world by storm last week, and it presents a conundrum to fake-football owners going forward. Do we still ring the Bell in the early rounds? Two Yahooligans are here to talk it out, on opposite sides of the argument. Brad Evans takes the pro side, Scott Pianowski the con side.
Noise to Open: No one should be shocked by Bell’s anticipated four-game hiatus. After all, the man logged studio sessions with Snoop this offseason. Secondhand defense? Despite the looming suspension, the rusher is sure to pack plenty of fantasy buzz for those willing to invest.
Coming off major knee surgery, the additional missed time is a blessing in disguise. Instead of pushing himself too hard in August, he can take his time to ensure all is structurally sound. Once activated for Week 5 (vs. NYJ), it’s easy to assume he’ll overtake his customary workhorse role, no matter how spectacular DeAngelo Williams may perform.
And let’s not forget what Bell brings to the table as an on-field contributor. Equipped with eagle eyes, remarkable patience, intimidating power (3.4 yards after contact), evasiveness (0.20 tackles avoided/attempt) and sure hands (92.3 catch percentage), he is arguably the game’s most complete running back, operating behind an above average offensive line and in one of the game’s most explosive offenses. Outside another positive test, there are few risks attached when he’s healthy.
Let the naysayers flap their gums. Even 12 games of Bell will outpace all but five or six fantasy rushers this year. He’s that special. He’s that good. Invest confidently in Round 2, PPR or standard, #TeamHuevos. You can always find productive stopgaps late on to fill the four-game void. Melvin Gordon anyone?
Pianow to Close: In any fantasy football season, you don’t have to go looking for trouble — trouble will find you. Injuries are inevitable, along with other pesky things (suspensions, underperformance, role changes, etc). It’s a reshuffle league, a snow-globe league.
Why seek out problems with your big tickets?
Bell has an extensive injury history to begin with — he’s coming off a major knee blowout and has been dinged in all three of his NFL seasons — and if this suspension happens as reported, it’s his second offense. We’re supposed to assume that Bell is a lock to play 12 games when he returns, with no additional mishaps? This is someone still going in the first or second rounds of drafts?
The 13 weeks before the fantasy playoffs are precious — those are your qualifying weeks. You’re looking to gain leverage as quickly as possible, work towards that valuable bye in Week 14 (no one loses when they’re automatically advanced to the next round). It’s an easier game if you can play from ahead, play from leverage; roster management becomes easier if you can do things you want to do as opposed to things you need to do. The four immediate (and minimum) games you forfeit with a Bell pick are too valuable to me.
Once you spend that early Bell selection, it’s all about catchup. You’re a wide receiver behind, for sure. You have to start thinking about a possible DeAngelo Williams handcuff, and that no longer comes at a cheap and friendly price. You need some steak in your backfield for the first four weeks — again, probably at the expense of your wideouts.
I know it’s cute to be building your perfect playoff beast now, several months away from the money weeks of fantasy football. But the one thing you can be sure of in the NFL is change, chaos, randomness. I want to make the best decisions I can today, with the idea that I’ll solve the November and December puzzles when it’s time to do so, when I can look at that landscape and get something resembling a clear picture. Right now, November and December is a faint and fuzzy siren.
I don’t expect to own any Bell shares, because I’m not willing to make the assumptions that other owners will. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the wideout line.