Be it because of health or recalcitrance, the running back pool in the NFL already is beginning to run a little thin.
With NFL teams now employing more running back by committee units, it increasingly is uncommon for a true “primary” back to exist. The San Francisco 49ers had one in Jerick McKinnon, but an ACL tear during practice knocked him out for year.
And now, at least for Week 1 possibly, one of the game’s best backs will be a no-show. Pittsburgh Steelers star Le’Veon Bell reportedly will not play this Sunday, much to the chagrin of his teammates.
So what does that mean for you, the Bell fantasy football owner? Well, firstly, our deepest condolences.
Secondly, it means look into some of these guys.
James Conner, RB
The Steelers really seem to like Conner, so don’t be surprised if the second-year back gets plenty of touches, even if it isn’t the volume Bell otherwise would receive. He didn’t see too much action in his rookie season, but that actually could work in his favor since Pitt’s Week 1 matchup, the Kansas City Chiefs, probably won’t have heaps of film on him. If you really are desperate for a running back, then you’re likely in a position where you can gamble (key word being “gamble”) on Conner.
Jesse James, TE
The logical assumption with Bell gone is that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to be airing it out a little bit more. James could be an interesting option if Vance McDonald, who has been out with a foot injury since July 29, isn’t cleared to play. If you have a more stable tight end, that’s great, but James also could slot in as a flex player if need be.
James Washington, WR
Of the three options listed, Washington probably has the most upside — albeit with plenty of risk. The 22-year-old Oklahoma State product projects to be the Steelers’ third option at wideout behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but that doesn’t mean the rookie won’t get some attention. He’s shifty and creative downfield, which indicates he maybe could be good for a big yardage play or touchdown. Obviously not ideal, but he’s worth some attention if your back is against the wall.
Bottom Line: It probably will be impossible to replace Bell’s fantasy production as long as he’s out. With that in mind, your best option would be to consider some of the options Roethlisberger will have in the air, but either way you’re going to be in a tough spot.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports