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Le'Veon Bell - Deal Him or Deal With Him?


When it comes to fantasy football, there are a few names that we think of when we think of guys with risk. We all know the upside that comes with players like Josh Gordon or Martavis Bryant. The ones that offer big-time upside, but also come with some major risk. Possibly the guy with the biggest risk/reward factor in all of fantasy football is none other than Le'Veon Bell.

The Steelers running back AKA "Juice", is known for putting up some of the most ridiculous numbers we've seen for fantasy in recent years. I'm not saying that Bell has as much risk as Gordon or Bryant, but I think it's safe to say we all know the risk that he brings to the table. As far as self-awareness goes, it's very clear that Bell knows just how good and valuable he is on the football field. His holdouts for big-time money and skipping training camp are basically expected by this point. Until the Steelers come to their senses and pay them what he deserves, he'll have leverage if nothing else. Clearly, the Steelers are willing to pay him on a yearly basis as they've tagged him to keep him around, but there's a good chance he is playing for another team next year.

So the real question is this: "Are the Steelers doing the right thing by holding off with the guaranteed money and should dynasty owners follow suit?"

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Dynasty Outlook

According to RotoBaller's current dynasty ADP, Bell is the third running back and the seventh overall player off the board. Bell is currently 26 years old, and he turns 27 in February. When you're looking at the shelf life for a running back in the NFL, it's pretty safe to say he has roughly 2-3 years of elite production remaining. From a dynasty standpoint, Bell's value is undeniable. Whether you own him or not, everyone in your league is well aware of the advantage a team gets from owning him. If you own him or you're looking to buy him, there are several factors you need to consider, and I'll cover each of the scenarios for you.

Dealing Him
When you're looking to trade Bell, there are two sides that you're approaching this from. The first side is buying him. If you're the team that is looking to make a run in 2018, I have no problem with going out there and making some offers for him. Buying Bell for the 2018 season offers some upside that nobody can deny. You're looking at a guy who is going to put up 15-20 PPR points per week, and give you a chance to make a run in the playoffs. The upside that Bell offers for the 2018 season is undeniable. You're talking about one of just a few guys that has the chance to finish the year as the number one overall running back. If you're looking to win-now, don't hesitate to make a deal for him despite concerns about his future in Pittsburgh.

The other side of dealing with Bell is selling him. If you've got a dynasty team that you don't feel great about this year or the next, this is a great time to sell him and capitalize on his value. Being a running back that will be 27 heading into next year, there is a good chance that this is the peak of his value. When you look at the players going around him at his current ADP, there are several that pop out as good trade targets for someone that's looking to gain youth and take advantage of Bell's value. Mike Evans and Davante Adams are two names that immediately jump off the page. I've always been one to value the wide receivers heavily for dynasty purposes. Making a deal for Evans or Adams and a pick would be something I'd be happy to sell Bell for. Don't go out there and sell him for the first offer you get, but weigh your options, find the best trade candidate you can, and capitalize on the value while you can.

Dealing With Him
For a team that's looking to compete this year or next, I'd say your best bet is to suck it up and hold Bell. Deal with the holdouts, the rap songs, and the possible suspensions, and get the weekly double-digit fantasy points, and potentially the best running back in fantasy. Dealing with Bell can be frustrating at times, but when he's healthy and on the field, he's a nightmare for your opponents. He's a threat to put up 200 total yards and a couple touchdowns every week. Bell has put up games where you're getting upwards of 30+ points in PPR leagues, and essentially, winning you that week. Don't fret about the off-field issues and if you're looking to win now, there is nothing wrong with holding on to Bell and reaping the benefits that he brings your fantasy team.

The Steelers
One of the biggest things that makes Bell so appealing for fantasy football is playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the best receiver in the game on the outside, likely a Hall of Fame quarterback running the show, and a coaching staff that loves involving the running back, Bell has been set up for success. We've seen just how valuable someone like DeAngelo Williams was when Bell was out with injuries, and it's hard to deny the upside that comes from that offense. Year in and year out, the Steelers are viewed as one of the most high-powered offenses in the league, and the running game is a major part for that.

Don't get me wrong, Bell is one of the most talented backs in the game, and I'm not questioning his talent at all. But an offense that loves involving the running back in the rushing game and the passing game is likely to put up good fantasy numbers. Fantasy is all about volume, and a running back that puts up good numbers in the rushing and passing game, almost by default, puts up good fantasy numbers. Whether it be just a bonus that Bell is so talented or not, there is no denying the volume that whoever is in the Steelers backfield, is putting up good fantasy numbers. Hence, the debate over his handcuff that has been on social media recently between James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. Everyone knows just how valuable that running back is for fantasy purposes.

On the flip-side of the Steelers, there is the idea that Bell ends up playing for another team next year. The biggest question to me at that point would be whether or not he gets the same volume that he's had in recent years. Is it just the Steelers offense that gives such a great boost in volume to the running back position? Or is it Bell and his talent that requires the volume? Let's say Bell ends up on the Texans or the Jets next year. Does he still get the same volume? Or does the Steelers offense alone give him the volume that we covet so much?

Bottom Line
When looking at your current dynasty roster, there are a few things that you need to take into account when determining what to do with him. Most people look at running backs with a 2-3 year window, and Bell's current age and situation makes him a very intriguing player moving forward. Teams that are looking to compete should have no problem sticking with him or making a trade for him. You're looking at a guy that can give you the chance to make a deep playoff run, or even win you a championship. At the end of the day, that's the goal with dynasty leagues - winning championships. Don't be afraid to go out and make some offers for Bell if you're competing, or holding onto him if you're making a run this year.

For teams that aren't looking to win now, your best bet may be to sell him while you can get max value. Trade for a young stud wide receiver like Evans or Adams for him if you're looking to gain some youth and rebuild. There will always be the risk that comes with a guy of Bell's caliber, but the upside is undeniable. Take some time to evaluate your roster and don't be afraid to deal him, or deal with him.

 

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