I’m not sure about the rest of fantasy football enthusiasts, but nothing makes me more happy than a victory by your favorite team, coupled with a standout game from a fantasy football player on your roster. This happened for me many times over during the 2014 season, as running back Le’Veon Bell, my second round pick, basically carried me into the championship game, with his superb combination of rushing and receiving totals, and the league wasn’t even the PPR (points per reception) format where points are awarded for catches.
It was no coincidence then that Bell was awarded the 2014 NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year at the 4th Annual NFL Honors Awards earlier this year, as he set a franchise record for scrimmage yards, with 2,215 to go along with 11 touchdowns. He is a true three-down back, capable of doing it all, and it’s a major reason why, despite a looming suspension, he’s in line to be the number one overall pick in fantasy drafts later this summer.
Much like with the Browns’ Josh Gordon last year, losing a crucial offensive piece can be devastating to an offense, both in reality and in fantasy leagues. But Gordon’s suspension was for the majority of the season, and Bell’s is three games at most, possibly less if his appeal is positive. His numbers last year were just too good to completely ignore him being worthy of that top spot, and with a strategic draft, the first three games of the season won’t matter when, barring injury, Bell is carrying you into the fantasy playoffs late in the season in the remaining 13 games
Last season, Bell and the Philadelphia Eagles newest addition, running back DeMarco Murray, were the best backs in the league, as both proved their workhorse statuses, but Murray didn’t come close to the receiving yardage that Bell put up. Plus, in Philadelphia, Murray will now be running behind a less formidable offensive line than he had last year in Dallas. Also to consider, the Eagles signed Ryan Mathews, who will likely eat into some of Murray’s workload. Behind Bell for the first three games is DeAngelo Williams, who despite his age should still have plenty of gas in the tank for a few games. After that, it’s the Le’Veon Bell show.
I personally think it all boils down to planning for the long-term goal, which should be a league title. There isn’t, in the eyes of many, a clear-cut number one pick like there was last season, when the Vikings Adrian Peterson was coming off an amazing 2,000 yard campaign only months removed from ACL surgery on his knee.
With a schedule like the one the team is facing next season, they’ll need Bell to perform even better than he did last year, including keeping some of the top quarterbacks the team will face, off the field and shorten games. There was a place and time when the team would get the ball back with about 7 or so minutes to go in the game, and with Jerome Bettis in the backfield, you just knew the game was about to be put on ice. The team will need some of that from Bell in 2015 and it’s exactly why I’d choose him over anyone else, suspension or not, with the number one fantasy selection.