Fantasy Injury Worthiness: Le’Veon Bell


The fact that Le’Veon Bell went down to injury is noteworthy. Now that it has been classified as a mild sprain, fantasy owners can prepare for the Steelers backfield over the course of the first four to six weeks of the regular season. It’s not like owners have not seen it before. This has occurred frequently in the Pittsburgh backfield since Rashard Mendenhall went down a few years ago, and never could overtake the position last year.

Offensive worries for the Steelers should be more focused on the offensive line and protecting Big Ben. Todd Haley’s offensive play calling will be in serious question if the Steelers continue to get over ran in the trenches on the offensive line. They need to perform better as a unit or it will not matter if Tim Tebow is in the backfield for crying out loud.

Let’s pick apart the current Steelers backfield of Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, and LaRod Stephens-Howling on who will be the main threats for fantasy points. I do believe all will pay a vital role, as Todd Haley coordinates the offense more around a tailored power game, until the offensive line shows more cohesiveness.

Biggest Threat:
LaRod Stephens-Howling is one of those scat backs that has developed over the years as a suitable guy out of the backfield in third down situations. When injury woes last year in Arizona to Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams occurred, Howling showed that he can do more than be a situational down athlete. He had two one hundred yard rushing games last year. On a poor Cardinals offense he was still under-utilized. The Steelers saw value in him and I believe they’ll tinker with using his skills more with Bell out. Quick screens to keep the defense honest is always a key play to have. That’s not a possible play to run with Dwyer or Redman

Best Option:
Jonathan Dwyer’s break away speed and burst through the hole may be dead last in the NFL, but Dwyer is a big body that defenses have a hard time bringing down. He averaged four yards a carry last year but never really grasped a hold of the tail back position like the Steelers would have liked. Based on his preseason thus far and compared to Redman, Dwyer looks like the guy the Steelers would lean on. He needs to find his way into the end zone more to be of fantasy significance, as putting up DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart rushing yards is not going to cut it. By the Steelers drafting Bell that should have been a wake up call for Dwyer. I think he’ll respond and exceed fantasy expectations the first month of the season.

Fumbleitis does not go away in the minds of head coaches. Isaac Redman may be a contracted Steeler but neither Todd Haley or Steelers Head coach Mike Tomlin is going to lean on Redman after his three fumbles on just 110 carries last season. Quite frankly the Steelers would have leaned more heavily on Dwyer if he had the versatility as an all-around back. Now that Stephens-Howling is in the fold, and barring Howling’s health, I do not believe Redman will see the field nearly as much as fantasy owners are with Bell out.


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