Some fantasy football analysts are calling running back Joique Bell a steal as a fifth-round pick, but I am a little leery on giving him a spot on my 2014 fantasy team.
I can understand the excitement around Bell. He is a great pass-catcher who finished sixth among running backs in receiving yards last season, plays for the talent-loaded offense of the Detroit Lions and accumulated 219 total touches on offense last season. Even with all of these positive aspects surrounding Bell, however, I don’t think he warrants a fifth-round pick.
The offensive has been revamped for quarterback Matthew Stafford, and he will have plenty of options to target in the passing game. Now if defenders are double-teaming Calvin Johnson, the new weapon of Golden Tate will be wide open for Stafford. Not only will Tate help to open things up, but rookie tight end Eric Ebron will cause headaches for defensive coordinators who have to make a game plan against this offense every week. Stafford actually only had 25 fewer passing attempts than Peyton Manning last season, but if his accuracy has improved from his offseason work with quarterback gurus, then there will be less need to run the ball if he is hitting his targets more consistently.
Bell had some terrific games last season, but he also had nine games where he scored seven or fewer fantasy points. He scored 11 or more points in seven games, so Bell was basically a boom or bust back last season. I broke down some of his best performances, and I noticed that Reggie Bush was not very involved in the offense during Bell’s better performances. For his Week 3 performance of 18 points, Week 11 performance of 14 points and Week 16 performance of 21 points, Bush had a combined total of five points in all of those games. Out of the seven games Bell produced seven or more points, Bush was not active in three of those.
Bell still has a chance to finish as a top-20 back this season, but I am not going to use such an early pick on him when I can draft Ray Rice, Chris Johnson and Stevan Ridley in the same spot.
He does have upside if Bush is injured, but Bell is just not a reliable weekly option.