By now you’ve heard the news that LeVeon Bell has been suspended for four games.
So the questions now are “Is he still worth a high draft pick” and “if so, when do you pick him?”
I won’t drag this out. The answer is yes, early second round. Maybe end of the first.
Sound too high for a guy that will likely miss 25% of the season? It’s not.
Let’s do some simplified math first…
Where Should You Draft LeVeon Bell now?
Projecting LeVeon Bell’s 2016 numbers
Bell played six games last year and saw 113 carries, 24 receptions, and three touchdowns. Assuming he loses his appeal, he will play a maximum of 12 games. So, let’s double his numbers to six touchdowns, 226 carries and 48 receptions. The temptation might be to use his gaudy 4.9 yards per carry average from last year. After all, he is much likelier to be healthier this year. Instead, we will use the 4.7 from the year before.
Some quick multiplication comes to 1,062 rushing yards. That would have given him the sixth most rushing yards last year. But those aforementioned 48 receptions are more receptions than any other of those other Top 6 RBs had last year. Those two factors put him in the Top 5 RB conversation, or right around where guys like Lamar Miller or Ezekiel Elliott are being drafted.
I would actually take him before those players too.
For one, not playing those four games will actually help Bell with his recovery from his knee injury, meaning he might play even better. Secondly, with the suspension being announced now, you can prepare accordingly. You can alter your RB draft strategy accordingly, perhaps grabbing one of the better RB handcuffs out there in DeAngelo Williams.
Also, I’ll remind you that Le’Veon Bell is in a contract year if you are the type who believes in that phenomenon. One last point: Pittsburgh’s first four games include games against Kansas City and Cincinnati, two of the tougher defensive match-ups Bell would have seen. But not now.
LeVeon Bell is not a Top 5 pick anymore, but he is still a Top 15 pick.
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