This is the first in a new series which will pit two Fantasy Insights writers squaring off against each other in a Point/Counterpoint format. We hope you’ll get involved by posting comments and voting for who won the Throwdown!
Fantasy Insights’ Writers Throwdown
Filed August 21, 2013 – Subject: LeVeon Bell, RB, PIT
Dish Adams (from the Fantasy Insights’ Preseason Report):
I’ll take some heat for this one, but the Steelers missed and missed badly with Bell. You would think the Steelers would have gone for Montee Ball or Jonathan Franklin, both of whom would have been better fits for this offense. Bell is a finesse runner in a big body without good measurables. His forty time and three‐cone drill results aren’t particularly impressive –he equates to a speed back who isn’t speedy. Bell has limited receiving skills and doesn’t run with power. He’ll be one of the most over‐rated draft picks this season as fantasy owners get excited about his situation while ignoring his lack of talent. So why is he here in the immediate impact pile? Because the Steelers will do everything they can to continue to get him touches even to their detriment, so Bell is a lock for 20 touches a game which means he has some serious value.
Todd Colburn (8/10/2013):
Dish, I’m afraid you’re the one who missed on this one. The Steelers ended up with the best running back in the 2013 draft. Bell definitely has some shake-and-bake in him, which you rarely see in a back his size. Since when are we dinging big guys for being shiftier than typical? I’m not sure I understand your take on the measurables. His combine numbers tell a different story than the one you tell. His forty time and three-cone drill results (and short shuttle, for that matter) are all actually better than Montee Ball’s results. And you might not want to compare their bench press results either. Limited receiving skills? Bell caught 32 passes his senior year (to Ball’s 10 and Franklin’s 33) – it seems like he was used very effectively in the passing game at Michigan St. We agree on his immediate impact, but I think you’re missing the bigger picture. It’s not just about the opportunity in Pittsburgh. This is the best RB in the draft, period. He should be the unquestioned #1 overall pick in every rookie draft.
Yeah, that’s what they said about Anthony Thomas, too. But before you start referencing A-Train’s two good years, understand he was a better power back than Bell is. Bell simply IS NOT a power back. He has happy feet at the line of scrimmage, where he dances like he’s trying to supplant Donald Driver or Jacoby Jones on Dancing WithThe Stars 2014. He runs straight up, and he must bruise easily like my Jewish grandmother because he has missed practice time in consecutive weeks and his foot injury is just a sign of the weekly injuries he’ll have to fight through (now we hear it’s a Lisfranc AFTER I wrote this!!!). They drafted a workhorse, but they got a show pony that’s so big it gets mistaken for a thoroughbred. He has opportunity in Pittsburgh all right, opportunity to get hammered enough to make sure their backfield regulars become Redman and Stephens-Howling (I am prophetic!). Montee Ball is less than a year removed from a royal street-style ass-kicking by thugs and will continue getting stronger. He would have been the perfect back for this system, but the Steelers went for the big guy who runs little instead.
It’s funny you bring up Anthony Thomas, because that is what you’re going to get with Montee Ball. Like a WR or QB from the University of Hawaii, Wisconsin is cranking out system running backs. There is nothing that Ball has done that five other RBs at Wisconsin didn’t do before him. Le’Veon Bell, meanwhile, has the NFL-caliber size, quickness and strength to be an RB1. Sure, it’s a little concerning that he hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy in the preseason (EDIT: in fact, Bell could be out 6-10 weeks with a Lisfranc injury); but it’s not like there is a track record of poor health in college. And let’s not confuse training camp for the pounding of an NFL season. Bottom line, it’s a small sample size. And who said he was a power back? He’s a gigantic all-purpose runner who will find his stride…just as soon as he can stride unencumbered again.
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