The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled quite a bit last season, and a lot of that has to do with their inability to find a reliable running back. While Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are both back with Pittsburgh this season, rookie Le’Veon Bell will pretty much have the starting spot in Week 1. So if you own a fantasy team, what can you expect out of Bell in 2013?
Long known as a team that pounds the ball and grinds things out on offense, the Steelers simply did not look themselves last season. Ben Roethlisberger is still a franchise quarterback, but he isn’t getting any younger (or healthier). Getting a big, durable running back was essential for the Steelers, and they feel that Bell can be a go-to guy for a while.
In an era where a lot of teams are going with two running backs, perhaps Bell’s biggest strength is that he can bring value on every down. At nearly 250 pounds, he has the ability to be a guy who can pound it in the end zone in short yardage situations. He also has nice hands, which Roethlisberger will certainly utilize from time to time.
Unless you are in a fantasy football league full of Pittsburgh fans, chances are Bell will be around to draft even after the first 20 running backs are taken. Even though many assume that Bell will be the starter, Dwyer and Redman could still steal some touches from him. Bell must also prove that he is able to explode through the holes at the pro level. In college, he sometimes struggled to find the right hole to pick up those valuable yards.
Safe predictions for Bell would be somewhere between 175-200 carries for 750-800 yards. He won’t have a very impressive yards per carry number, but a lot of that will be due to the play calling of the Steelers. If he can get a touchdown about once every other game, that would make him a decent RB2 or an excellent RB3 in most leagues.