Most rookies dream of coming into the NFL and scoring a touchdown in their first career games; some of them even do. I doubt, however, that many of them figure they’ll have two TDs.
After missing the first three weeks of the season with a foot injury, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell finally made his debut in Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings. He didn’t disappoint — the rookie totaled 84 yards from scrimmage to go along with his first two career touchdowns.
His YPC average (3.7) was underwhelming, but since it was his first-ever NFL game, we’ll cut him some slack. He looked as good as advertised coming out of college, running like a truck and relishing contact. He’s a natural bruiser and he’s going to put the hurt on defenders for years to come.
There was a lot of skepticism surrounding Bell just a few weeks ago, which in 20-20-ville seems ridiculous. For some reason, fantasyland always blows things out of proportion.
There had been so much positive hype about Bell during the offseason and then one little injury and boom — suddenly people are shying away. He dropped way down on many draft boards and a lot of his owners are going to be credited with robbery for getting him where they did. With the Steelers’ other running backs proving to be almost completely inept, Bell now seamlessly transitions into the every-down featured-back role in the offense.
All signs point to both real and fantasy success for Bell, but his performance this week against the New York Jets will still be very telling. The Jets boast one of the toughest defensive units in all of football and rank second in the league in rush-defense behind the Denver Broncos. They’re allowing the fewest YPC (3.0) in the NFL and they have yet to allow a great performance from an opposing running back.
If Bell struggles against them, it should put him in no worse standing with, us but rather just let us know that we can’t expect the world from him so early on.
However, if he manages to have a very good game, it will tell us something else much to the elation of his owners. Mark my words — if Bell has a solid game against the Jets, you can count on him being an every-week RB1 going forward.
To Bell’s owners, I’d love to wish you luck, but I’m playing against him this week. Still, as much as it might hurt, I’m looking very forward to seeing what the kid is made of.