The Backfield Report (2014): Week 4, Le’Veon Bell, and the NFL’s Toni Morrison

Le'veon Bell During the 2013 NFL season, I did Tuesday rundowns of all the NFL backfield situations, and I also put out a special Combine Edition of the Backfield Report in February and a Post-Draft Edition in May. Shortly before Week 1, I started the season strong with a 2014 Kickoff Edition, and now it’s just business as usual—if you can call what you’re about to read “usual.” Also, since these reports are quasi-actionable only in the loosest sense, check out RotoViz’s Buy Low Machine, RB GLSP Projections, and Efficiency App. By the way, thanks to Ramon Ramirez for doing the Week 3 Backfield Report. I was on bye last week. Here we go!

Pittsburgh Steelers

Even though his game-to-game rushing average isn’t consistent, running back Le’Veon Bell continues to be a “crusher” because of his predictable rushing volume and usage in the passing game. As I said a couple of weeks ago, “Bell might be the safest bet for 100 scrimmage yards and five receptions per game this side of Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, and Giovani Bernard.” On 72 rushes and 19 receptions Bell has 570 yards from scrimmage . . . and one touchdown. That projects to 2,280 scrimmage yards, 76 receptions, and four TDs for the season. If Bell stays healthy, I bet that he finishes with about 2,000 scrimmage yards, 70 receptions, and way more than four total TDs. When a RB who weighs above 225 lbs., continues to get touches and yards, the TDs tend to follow. I doubt that in most redraft leagues people are actually valuing him as a guy who will finish with more than a handful of TDs. His current market value may be high—but Bell is probably still undervalued. In another four weeks, he won’t be. Get him while you can.

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By Matthew Freedman | @MattFtheOracle | Archive