NFL 2013 Fantasy Football Sleeping 7: Le'Veon Bell Is 2013's Alfred Morris

Alfred Konuwa@@ThisIsNastyFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2013


Le'Veon Bell's skill set probably won't jump off the page in the NFL, but the Michigan State product currently finds himself in the best on-paper situation of any unproven running back not named Lamar Miller

Labels like "workhorse" and "bell cow" have been used to describe Bell's anticipated workload in 2013 in a Steelers backfield desperately seeking stability.  So why spend high draft picks on the always volatile running back situation when your solution could be sleeping in deeper rounds?

Explosive, tackle-breaking, electrifying and lighting-quick.   

This is not Bell. 

Rather, these are the sexy buzz words used annually to sucker fantasy football marks who over-covet running backs. 

Given the ubiquitous injury concerns and yearly turnover of top running backs, no position is better suited for the sleeper strategy.  Forgoing highly touted running backs in favor of more obscure talents with potential is a calculated risk capable of building rotisserie power houses. 

Top wide receivers and quarterbacks see little change from year to year until father time gradually makes adjustments to the hierarchy. 

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston, Andre Johnson and Brandon Marshall are all projected top-15 talents at their position in 2013. The same could be said about them in 2008.  

Anybody heard the names Joseph Addai, Clinton Portis, Jamal Lewis, Marion Barber or Brian Westbrook lately?  Because they were the running back equivalent to that class. 

Last season, forward-looking owners were able to land top-five talents such as Alfred Morris and Doug Martin—in many cases as their second running back.   

Those going with more tenured names wound up with Maurice Jones-Drew's bum wheels, Michael Turner's molasses attack or the inconsistencies and injuries of LeSean McCoy. 

Running backs are like vehicles.  No matter who they are, their value decreases with every carry.  The lucky ones go five seasons before breaking down.  In most cases, it's sooner.

Bell is a new car that fantasy owners could drive to a championship.  Pittsburgh beat writers have already submitted glowing reviews of the rookie back.  He has already distanced himself as the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1 and is even expected to play on third downs due to uncanny instincts in pass protection.

The Steelers were unable to find consistency in their running game last season due to an injury-riddled revolving door of starters from Isaac Redman to Jonathan Dwyer.  This prompted the hallmark organization to draft Bell in the second round. 

These caveats are what make Bell a calculated risk as opposed to a leap of faith. 

A new zone-blocking scheme in Pittsburgh could take time to develop.  It fits Bell's somewhat plodding style while producing big plays, similar to how Washington's scheme fit 2012 rookie stud Morris.    

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell heads to the top of the depth chart

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 15, 2013

Forgoing the Adrian Petersons and Arian Fosters would give owners the ability to stack their roster with the consistency of three WR1s and a QB1. 

Based on their current ADPs, both Bell and breakout candidate Lamar Miller should fall to the select, disciplined few who employ this strategy.  If they even come close to matching their potential output, they'll serve as the perfect complement to a handful of studs—possibly becoming studs themselves. 

Bell seems like a risky choice to start at running back, but all signs point to him being one of the safer bets for a strong rookie campaign. 


2013 Projection: 1,211 Rush Yds, 226 Rec Yds, 8 TD 

#Sleeping7: Alex Smith (QB; 16.12 ADP) | Le'Veon Bell (RB; 5.05 ADP)  | RB | WR | WR | WR | TE | DEF

The 2013 Sleeping Seven is brought to you by a five-time Fantasy Football Champion.  It documents criminally unheralded players with an Average Draft Position (ADP) past the fourth round.  Combine a team of reliable studs with a steady diet of late-round overachievers and a juggernaut awaits. 

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