Will Le'Veon Bell Rush for 2,000 Yards During 2017-18 NFL Regular Season?
NFL Odds: Yes +1400, No -8500
Bell is a sneaky back. He only finished with 1,268 rushing yards last season, but we must also remember that he only played in 12 games. In fact, part of the problem with betting on Bell to break a record like this is that he has only played in all 16 games once during his career, that coming back in 2014.
However, we're talking about a man who has averaged more than 19 carries per game in his career, and the Steelers used him for 21.8 carries per game a campaign ago. If that's where he ends up this year, Bell would need to average 5.7 yards per carry. He's never averaged five yards per carry in his career though, so this is a lofty goal for sure.
The biggest problem we have with Bell is the play of his offensive line. The Steelers have spent a ton of draft capital over the course of the last several years on the defensive side of the ball, and the players they seem to be bringing in on the offensive side are skill players who can stretch the field.
It's certainly true that having a guy back on the field like Martavis Bryant, who will clearly make safeties think twice before cheating up against the run, can open holes for Bell. But the offensive line in Pittsburgh flat out isn't very good.
Bell is looked upon as the most patient runner in the league, but he absolutely has to be if he wants to have any great degree of success. Those holes take an eternity to open up from time to time, and if not for his slipperiness, Bell would probably be a "three yards and a cloud of dust" type of runner.
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The other big thing to remember about Bell is that he had offseason groin surgery. We don't suspect this is going to be a problem for him at the beginning of the season, but it's definitely something to at least consider.
The obvious play here is on Bell to not come anywhere near 2,000 rushing yards considering the fact that he's never run the ball 300 times in his career, is often used for 8-10 targets per game in the passing attacl and has such a poor offensive line.
But we can't help but wonder what Todd Haley's plan might be this year. He's got an aging quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, who has really gotten the snot beaten out of him over the course of the last several seasons and badly needs some help, and with DeAngelo Williams no longer in town, there is zero threat from another back to steal any carries. Bell is going to be the workhorse, and he's going to be on the field for all three downs.
The only thing keeping us from making the bold choice of Bell reaching 2,000 rushing yards is his usage in the screen and short passing game. Haley loves to create mismatches by getting Bell in space, and it's a lot easier to do that throwing the ball to him than letting him take a handoff. That said, we would genuinely be shocked if Bell didn't have career-highs in rushing attempts and rushing yards this year, and he might even flirt with that 2,000-yard barrier when push comes to shove. It's just going to be really hard to predict him actually getting there.
NFL Prediction: Le'Veon Bell Under 2,000 Rushing Yards