In case you missed the news earlier this morning, Le’veon Bell did not report to practice today. The former All-Pro back is in the midst of a holdout over contract disputes with the Steelers, but this is news. Bell did the same thing last year, but he reported to the team after the preseason ended. The question has to be asked: should fantasy owners be worried about him going into week 1?
Bell is obviously a generational talent. Missing a couple of practices should not hurt one of the best running backs in football, right? Well let’s take a closer look at Bell last season. He went over 100 yards on the ground just once in the first five weeks of the season. During weeks 1-3, he had a PFF grade of just 56.5, ranking 50th among eligible running backs. He got it going in week four, then after a poor performance against Jacksonville in week five, he turned it on and looked like his old self. If this trend happens again, u might not get true Le’veon Bell until after the first month of the season, over a quarter of the fantasy year. While Bell is a special player and has been working out on his own, he has not faced a true defense and taken punishment since the divisional round last year. That makes a difference no matter how talented a player is handling the football.
Another concern regarding Bell is his injury history. While he has gone relatively unscathed since the MCL tear in 2015, his monster workload is almost certain to take an effect on him. Of course the monster workload is also fantasy gold, but it is safe to assume that Bell is going to get banged up at some point during the year, considering he is not in football shape. Also, this has been confirmed his last year in Pittsburgh, meaning that after this season, the Steelers do not care what happens to him. They will run him into the ground, which again is great for fantasy, but tread lightly.
In conclusion, my concern level for Bell is a four on a scale out of 10. If I have him, I’m pretty confident, yet I am also entertaining trade offers. Most people will give up a king’s ransom to get a consensus top three overall player. That is the only deal I am making if I trade Bell.