Despite conflicting reports, Le'Veon Bell is facing a 4-game suspension, not because he failed a drug test, but rather because he missed it. In fact, it appears that he has missed several of them.
"I don't know what you are talking about," Bell said back in June when asked about missing the tests. "I am fine. I haven't missed any drug tests, failed any drug tests. I can't keep talking about the drug test. I probably already said too much about it so I really can't keep talking about it. People are going to say what they want to say on the internet. It is people who really have nothing to do. I don't get upset or let it bother me."
Bell has already said that he'll appeal the suspension, but given his history, it's unlikely that his appeal will be successful. Combine that with his injury history (knee, hyperextension, and Lisfranc foot sprain), this presents an interesting dilemma for fantasy owners.
Le'Veon Bell still sits atop the running back rankings, but the news is still fresh enough that we expect his stock to drop as the preseason nears.
Assuming that Bell's appeal fails, this means that he'll play just 11 games (16 games - 4 suspended - 1 bye week = 11 games) for you. Week 1 against Washington would have been a nice matchup for Bell, but he'll still be available for a spate of plus matchups in Weeks 10-12.
The real winner here is DeAngelo Williams who shone brightly when given the chance to play in Bell's absence last season. The Steelers gave him almost 20 attempts each game which he turned into an average of 88.1 rushing yards per game. His 3.7 receptions per game added an average of 34.1 receiving yards and 1.2 endzone trips. Expect Williams' #42 ranking to climb over the next few weeks.
So what do we do about Bell on draft day? The first thing we can comfortably say is that he's no longer worth a first round pick - too much risk without enough reward. Given that his floor each week (that he plays) is so high, he's going to be drafted by someone in your league. If you want Bell in your lineup Weeks 5 - 16, start looking for him around Round 3. Even though we're not necessarily a fan of handcuffing players, this situation warrants targeting Williams between rounds 6 and 8. If you can do this, consider yourself fortunate and in a good place. The end result won't be all that different than if Bell hadn't been suspended.
If you are targeting Bell and feel confident that you'll snare him, your best strategy would be to target an elite WR with at least one of your first two picks saving Bell for your third.
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