USATSI Leveon Bell

 

How does Le'Veon Bell's injury affect your fantasy football draft?  Guest columnist Matt Schauf gives you the lowdown

 

 

How does Le'Veon Bell's injury affect your fantasy football draft?

 

By Matt Schauf, DraftSharks.com

 

Editors Note:  Matt Schauf was a 2011 finalist for Fantasy Sports Writers Association's fantasy football writer of the year. Besides being a regular writer for DraftSharks, Matt has had fantasy material published by Sporting News, Athlon, Rotoworld and Football Diehards, among others.

 

 

With a lot of drafts coming up this weekend, we wanted to get you some additional analysis on the fallout from the Le’Veon Bell injury. 

To begin, maybe we shouldn’t be too shocked that a guy who carried 382 times in his final college season looks like he’s starting to break down.  But the fantasy world in general was pumped this summer. We’ve seen Bell go as high as the 2nd round, and his ADP settled into Round 3.  Then came the Monday night Lisfranc injury in the 1st series against Washington.  Now we all have to alter our outlooks.

 

CBS' Jason La Canfora reports that Pittsburgh tentatively expects to miss Bell for 6-8 weeks.  That would keep him out of 3-5 regular-season games.  Throw in the possibility of a setback in his recovery and the likelihood that he won't be at full strength right when he returns, and you should probably expect to miss Bell for half the fantasy season.  Obviously, that has pushed him way down our RB rankings.

 

But what does it leave for the Steelers – and more specifically for fantasy owners like you?  Here’s a detailed look. 

 

 

 

 

Isaac Redman

 

Redman has been sitting 2nd on the team's RB depth chart, so he figures to be the next guy up.  Awesome.  Look at his career numbers, and you might come away impressed.  Redman averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2010, his de facto 1st season.  Then he went for 4.4 a carry in 2011 before a 3.7-yard average behind last year's craptacular O-line.  That all looks pretty solid, but let's dig deeper.  Redman started just 1 game in 2011 ... and finished it with 49 yards on 15 carries.  With Rashard Mendenhall out, he got the call the 1st 3 weeks of last season  ... and totaled just 72 yards on 32 attempts.  Over 3 seasons, Redman has reached 15 carries in a game just twice.  Plus, he’s run for 50+ yards in an outing just twice.

 

Jonathan Dwyer

 

Dwyer got his own shot at the starting gig last season after Redman got hurt -- and looked better than the guy he replaced.  Dwyer ran over the Bengals in Week 7 for 122 yards on 17 carries and then dashed for 107 more on 17 rushes against Washington.

But then he missed Week 9 with a quad injury and failed to reach 60 yards in any of the final 8 contests -- despite garnering 4 more starts.  Dwyer finished the year with a pedestrian 4.0-yard rushing average.  He probably brings more raw talent than Redman but has spent at least as much time disappointing Steelers coaches as impressing them.  Dwyer slipped to Round 6 of the 2010 draft on durability and effort concerns.  Then he commanded just 25 total carries through his 1st 2 years with Pittsburgh.  Even after finally becoming relevant last year, he reportedly entered Monday night's game still fighting for a roster spot.

 

LaRod Stephens-Howling

 

Let your league mates argue about whether Redman or Dwyer is the guy to own now while Bell is out.  We can't get excited about either one.  This guy, however, brings some draft-day intrigue.  We're not looking to LSH as "the handcuff" to Bell.  He's not going to step in and carry 18 times a week at any point.  But he's going to play a role.

The Steelers drafted Chris Rainey last year (before learning on his devotion to domestic violence).  Then they signed this former Cardinal in the offseason.  It sure seems like they want a change-of-pace type around to hit the edges on occasion and catch some balls.  The Hyphen can certainly do that.  And more.  Stephens-Howling averaged just 3.2 yards per carry over all of 2012, but that included a 104-yard effort against Minnesota in Week 7 and 127 yards against the Falcons in Week 11.  He also scored TDs in 3 of his 5 starts.  With Pittsburgh now cobbling together a running game, that's the kind of guy who could give you 1-2 usable fantasy outings.  Get that from your RB6, and you're in pretty good shape.  Consider LSH a late-round lottery ticket.

 

We'll see how Bell's recovery goes and if he can become a fantasy factor in the season's 2nd half.  In the meantime, don't expect any Steeler to figure prominently in your draft plans.  Both Redman and Dwyer have shown flashes of being legit fantasy starters in the recent past -- only to have the wheels come off.  And LSH might only be a viable roster option in PPR leagues.  In any event, we'll be keeping a close eye on the Steelers' week 3 preseason game against the Chiefs on Saturday night.

 

 

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