Le’Veon Bell will be the best running back in fantasy football from week 3 through 17, and according to his current ADP, you can draft him outside of the first round of your draft. How do you know where he should be drafted, and how do you survive the first three weeks of your season with your top pick out?
Where Should You Consider Drafting Le’Veon Bell?
Bell is currently the 11th rated player in our 2016 cheat sheet, and the 5th rated running back. These are PPR rankings, but our standard rankings wouldn’t be too different at the top. This is how we currently have our RB’s ranked:
- David Johnson
- Todd Gurley
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Jamaal Charles
- Le’Veon Bell
- Lamar Miller
- Adrian Peterson
Is this the right spot to consider drafting a player that will be suspended for the first three games of the season? Let’s look at Bell’s production to decide. Bell scored 111 points in 5.5 games last season, roughly 20 PPG which would have tied him with Jamaal Charles and Keenan Allen for 6th most PPG amongst flex players.
Impressive, but not the full story. The 6 opponents that he averaged over 20 PPG against? St. Louis, Baltimore, San Diego, Kansas City, Arizona, and Cincinnati… All 6 were in the top half of the league in rush defense and bottom half in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
In addition to the tough matchups, Bell only played less than one game with Big Ben on the field for the entire season. His five of his six starts came with either Landry Jones or Mike Vick behind center. We would argue that his numbers could have been as high as 24+ PPG with Roethlisberger at QB.
For those worried that DeAngelo Williams will eat into his playing time once he returns from supsension, Bell came back from his suspension last season and had 22 touches to Williams’ 1.
How do You Survive the First Three Weeks if You Draft Bell?
There are really only two things you can do to survive the first three weeks of the season:
- Draft DeAngelo Williams
- Draft a second and third RB with favorable matchups in weeks 1-3.
The first part is easy on paper… DeAngelo’s current ADP is 63 (and dropping) which means you need to draft him in the 6th round, but that’s too rich for our blood. There is still starting running backs on the board at that point, and remember Williams is useless to your once Bell is back.
I would lock Williams in as a late 7th round, early 8th round pick. At that point you should have 4 WR’s and 1 or 2 RB’s in addition to Bell.
However, every league has a dick, he will probably ask if you knew that Bell was suspended when you pick him, then draft DeAngelo in the 5th. When that happens, you should feel relief that you don’t have to burn a 7th round pick on a handcuff, and transition into plan B.
We are looking for running backs in the 4th – 8th round that we want to roster and have favorable matchups in the first 3 weeks of the season. Some names that we think you should consider:
Rashad Jennings – Cowboys, Saints, Redskins
Ameer Abdullah – Colts, Titans, Packers
Matt Jones – Steelers, Cowboys, Giants
The goal should be to construct your roster the way you want it, but to add one addition RB to get you through those three weeks. For instance, if you are drafting 10th in a 12 team PPR league, we would want our draft to look something like this:
Round One (10) – Le’Veon Bell
Round Two (15) – Keenan Allen
Round Three (34) – Randall Cobb
Round Four (39) – CJ Anderson
Round Five (58) – Donte Moncrief
Round Six (63) – Marvin Jones
Round Seven (82) – Rashad Jennings
Round Eight (87) – James White
Round Nine (106) – Zach Ertz
Round Ten (111) – Michael Thomas
Round Eleven (130) – Matthew Stafford
Round Twelve (135) – Bruce Ellington
Round Thirteen (154) – Tyrod Taylor
Round Fourteen (159) – Eric Ebron
Similar to just ensuring you have your byes covered, you still want to draft players that you want to roster, but will just lean towards a RB3-5 with an easier schedule in weeks 1-3. Make sure you have those weeks covered, and you are good to draft Bell anywhere in the back half of the first round or front half of the second.