The case for taking Le’Veon Bell first overall in fantasy

Most of the rankers in our Fantasy 101 opted for a wide receiver first overall, but as Ross Miles says, don't sleep on the big-name RB.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The case for taking Le’Veon Bell first overall in fantasy

We’ve recently concluded posting our staff consensus top 101 fantasy players for 2016, and it was the wide receiver duo of Antonio Brown and Julio Jones who grabbed the top two spots. My personal selection for No.1, Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell, ranked third, but I’d suggest you might want to reconsider passing on the top running back if you do have the first overall selection in your fantasy draft.

The primary reason for taking Bell over your preferred stud wideout? Positional scarcity. It’s well-understood among fantasy gamers these days that a player’s value in a fantasy draft isn’t solely about their raw scoring power. This gives additional value to the running back position, where there are only a handful of elite-scoring options. The number of running backs playing three-down roles in the NFL seems to shrink each season, and a quick look at our projections shows that if you miss on the top-12 running backs that Danny Woodhead and Dion Lewis are suddenly viable options for you as a RB1. That’s a huge step back from the true bell-cow backs, like Bell.

If you’re an owner who doesn’t like the pressure of the number-one pick, then Bell also makes sense in my mind, because as far as selections go, he’s a pretty safe one. Now before you bite my head off regarding his injury and suspension history, that’s something you have to be able to overlook as a fantasy owner at times. Any player can get injured, and trying to factor that into your rankings can lead to you getting burnt. What fantasy analysts can project is a player’s production, and on that basis Bell is a safe pick based on his usage in the Steelers offense. He had 372 touches in 2014 and lead all backs in PPR scoring, and in his six games played in 2015 he has 137 touches (second most in that period). Bell is sure to get his in 2016 when on the field.

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Ross Miles is a lead fantasy writer on PFF Fantasy. He contributes IDP content to the site. He was the 2011 winner of the FantasyPros IDP Expert Rankings contest for both weekly in-season rankings and also for pre-season rankings and finished second in IDP rankings in 2012 and 2015. Ross is also a member of the FSWA.

  • James Winslow

    I chose leveon bell first overall last year, it was a “great” decision.

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  • LostAlone

    I don’t even think you need to make an argument for Bell as first pick. He should be first pick. That’s the end of it. He missed time last year, sure, but not because he was a bad player. He had 92.7 YPG in the game he actually played last year, including games with no QB where opponents sold out against the run. What more do you need?

    In a new season where the Steelers have no injuries to anyone else then he’ll dominate. Absolutely dominate. With the Steelers passing attack potentially even more dangerous than Bell running he’ll be in favorable match ups all year long. He’s been great when DTs and LBs have to tackle him; he’ll be insane when he’s running into nickle and dime sets and can just run through CBs.

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