Unable to reach a long-term deal before Monday’s 4pm deadline, Le’Veon Bell could be a major holdout risk in 2018. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on SiriusXM NFL Radio “it’s possible Le’Veon Bell sits out the first half of the year if he doesn’t get a long-term deal done” — a theory that’ll now be put to the test. Bell has since hinted he won’t hold out in the regular season, stating his “desire always has been to retire a Steeler… trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date.” But the “Risk” still exists, unlike with Todd Gurley, who now becomes an even stronger candidate to go No.1 overall in fantasy drafts.
I’ve been advocating Gurley as the No.1 pick all offseason, and Bell’s potential holdout only furthers my case. Though Bell seems unlikely to holdout half the year and forfeit $7 million (or $856,000 a week), especially after his comments on the situation, he’s still a near-lock to skip Training Camp. Last season, Bell started incredibly slow while gaining his “game legs” and getting in a rhythm with his backs, scoring only 13.9 FPs and ranking as the RB26 through two weeks. Of course, this is Le’Veon Bell, and he went on to notch an absurd 406 touches and finish as the clear RB2… but why sacrifice those early “acclimating” weeks if Gurley is also a “Cheatcode Workhorse” as an incredible and highly used talent in an explosive overall offense? Hell, our lead editor CJay has Ezekiel Elliott as his No.1 overall pick, a case that gained some real legitimacy today. There’s rumbling Bell’s holdout would be an act of preservation for his 2019 payday, and his touches could easily be a point of contention even if he suits up all 16. All-in-all, this will likely amount to a slower 2018 start followed by more of the same Bell we know and love. But the risk for far worse now exists.