Will the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately place the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell in the coming weeks? It’s hard to say for sure, but if we’ve learned anything about Bell’s 2017 season it’s that it wasn’t as successful as his 2016 season was even though he did register more yards rushing and receiving than he ever has during his career.
Below is a quick look at the rushes and receptions registered by the top 10 running backs in total yards from scrimmage during the 2017 regular season and they are sorted as such (TYDS). While Bell’s 4.0 YPR stat in 2017 wasn’t awful, other running backs such as Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara all easily bested him.
Yards per rush doesn’t tell the whole story, however, so it’s important to look at run success rates. Bell registered a run success rate of 40.2% during the 2017 regular season and once again, Gurley and Kamara bested him in that stat along with Ezekiel Elliott with Hunt and Ingram both well within striking distance.
By now, you should already know that Bell isn’t a running back that’s likely to register many explosive runs of 20 yards or more. He had just 3 such runs during the 2017 regular season with produced a lowly 0.9% rate. If that’s not bad enough, only 5.9% of Bell’s 85 total receptions during the 2017 regular season produced explosive gains of 20 yards or more.
If there’s one thing that Bell is still relatively solid at it’s his ability not to produce zero yardage or less gains on runs. During the 2017 regular season only 15.3% of Bell’s 321 total carries resulted in either no gains or lost yardage.
Bell’s average yards per reception was down in 2017 from 2016, however, as was his average yards per touch.
Below the table of 2017 running back stats is Bell’s 2016 numbers and as you can clearly see, he went backwards in most of those categories outside of yardage.
So, is Bell still one of the top running backs in the NFL? Absolutely he is, but is he that much better than fellow NFL running backs Gurley and Kamara? Is he worth $14.54 million or more a season? That’s the question the Steelers will answer very soon.
2017 NFL RUNNING BACK STATS
Le’Veon Bell 2016 Stats