It’s been a bad day for running backs and early bird fantasy drafters; two of the big name running backs seem to be in some hot water.
Le’Veon Bell could be missing a four game suspension due to violating the leagues substance abuse policy. There were rumblings of a possible suspension on the horizon earlier in preseason, but despite Bell’s assertion that he hadn’t missed or failed any drug tests, his suspension is now one step closer to being official. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported “For the past several weeks, the Steelers had known [Bell] wouldn’t be on the field when the season began”. According to Dan Graziano (ESPN) the violation resulted from a missed drug test, not a failed one which may help Bell’s appeal case. However, it’s uphill climb. Just last April Bell received a three game ban for violating the substance abuse police after an arrest for a DUI and marijuana possession. Bell, for what it’s worth, accepted his punishment easily and seemed contrite at the time. His suspension was later reduced to two games. With this being his second brush with the drug policy it’s unlikely he’ll see a reduction in his suspension. More worrisome for Bell owners, if this is indeed his second strike, his third could see him sidelined for an entire season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have consistently fielded one of the most impressive and efficient offenses in the league, and the show isn’t going to stop with Bell sidelined. DeAngelo Williams is next in line for Steelers. Williams made the most of his time as starter last season, rushing for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in Bell’s absence, so all is not lost for the Steelers rushing game. Williams, who was already an attractive handcuff for Bell will be seeing a huge spike in ADP if Bell’s suspension is confirmed. Williams ADP is currently in the seventh round. It could easily go as high as the third or fourth round in some leagues. In this case the more expensive tag is warranted. Williams is not a must-have handcuff worth overpaying for.
When on the field Bell is an absolute fantasy monster. In 2014 he finished with 1,361 yards, eight touchdowns, and a 4.7 YPC average. In 2015 he managed 556 yards, three touchdowns, and a 4.9 YPC average even though he only played 6 games due to injury and suspension. He’s also a passing threat, just last season he caught 24 passes for 136 yards, and he added 854 passing yards on 83 receptions, and three touchdowns to his already ridiculous numbers in 2014.
Let’s hope for his sake and the sake of his fantasy owners Bell gets his act together.
In breaking news The Federal Appeals Court has officially denied Tom Brady’s attempt at a new hearing on his “Deflategate” suspension. What began as an accusation of cheating has turned into national news with Brady refusing to go quietly into the night, or in this case his suspension. His continued fight seems to not be focused so much on his innocence, rather the far reaching power of the NFL, specifically Rodger Goodell. Today The Court sided with NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell, stating that Goodell was within his rights to suspend the New England Patriots QB for his involvement in the tampering of game balls during a 2015 playoff game. The Patriots went on to win the game and advance in the playoffs.
Brady will miss the first four games of the season. Games that include two key conference games against the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. Last season, The Patriots edged out the Jets by two games to lead the AFC EAST, so if Brady’s absence proves to be too much for The Patriots and back up Jimmy Garoppolo to overcome, the loses could finally dethrone the reigning AFC Champs.
Brady’s last hope is to appeal to the Supreme Court, though after this defeat, a reversal seems extremely unlikely.
Two point conversions seem to be a hot topic of late. Big Ben Roethlisberger has been outspoken in his opinion of the two point play, and fellow quarterback Drew Brees has weighed in as well. Both are strongly in support.
Now Tampa Bay Head Coach Dirk Koetter is giving his two cents on two point conversions. During an interview with WDAE-AM in Tampa Bay Koetter admitted that going for two is the smart play mathematically. Summing it up nicely he said, “We’ve studied it, and mathematically, it does make sense.” So why is the Tampa Bay coach hesitant to commit to changing his offensive strategy?
Well according to the coach, he’s afraid of getting “dog cussed”. Now I am from the south, but dog cussed isn’t one that I’ve personally heard, though from context we can safely assume that’s not a good thing. “Say we go out there that first game, and we score three touchdowns and we don’t make any two pointers and we lose 21-18. Who’s going to get killed? Your’re going to be on [the radio] and you’re going to be dog cussin’ me the whole time.”
While a good dog cussin’ may keep Dirk Koetter up at night, I’m sure he’s far more worried about keeping his job. Koetter is right in the fact that at the end of the day it all comes down to points on the board. While going for two makes sense for some teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s not a viable offensive strategy for others. For teams to be successful in going for two, they are going to have to have a game plan. They will have to be confident in their play calling and they’ll have to have multiple endzone weapons. For teams who are weaker offensively it just doesn’t make sense to take the risk. Because make no mistake, it is a risk. Extra point kicks are far more successful in the long run.
The rule change last season has no doubt changed NFL game play (in my opinion for the better). No longer is the two point conversion a play of desperation and PATs aren’t the guaranteed points they use to be, not all teams are going to be as quick to the learning curve as the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So while Koetter may not be the bravest coach in the NFL, he may be one of the smarter ones.
“Put it in our hands. I want the ball. Any player would relish that opportunity.” -Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Last season there was much ado about the new extra point rule changes. PATs, which were formerly placed on the two yard line, were moved to the 15 yard line. Many speculated about the impact this key rule change would have on the NFL. Well the stats are in.
In 2015 there were only five teams to not attempt a two point conversion as opposed to eight in 2014.
Two Point Conversion attempts increased by 65% (!)
PAT success rates dropped by 5.1%
Obviously the change had quite the impact. The Pittsburgh Steelers in particular saw great success in 2015 when going for two. They attempted 11 two point conversions (more than double any team attempts in 2014) and were successful 72.7% of the time, or eight scores for those out there counting. Had Big Ben stayed healthy the number would have very likely been higher. So it’s no surprise that reports coming from The Steelers camp suggest that there will be more of the same from The Pittsburgh offense in 2016. In fact, Roethlisberger wants to go for two every time.
Other quarterbacks are weighing in on the two point question. Drew Brees went on the record on the Dan Patrick Show saying that he is “all for” going for two every time.
And although teams considering the change in offensive strategy may seem like pioneers, the math is sound. If the PAT percentage remains the same from last season, teams would only have to convert 47.1% of attempts to make up the difference. (The 2015 conversion average was 47.9%) If I was a betting woman (and I am) I’d place my money on the number of two point conversion attempts continuing to increase in 2016.
Two point conversions are very likely to be more of a staple in offensive strategy next season. This obviously means more opportunities for fantasy points. The beneficiaries of this are strong mobile quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton and pass catching running backs such as Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Mark Ingram, and Matt Forte. The obvious losers are (as usual) the kickers.
Read what I had to say last season about the rule change on YourFantasyFootballCoach.com
This site would like to start recognizing some of the women out there making a difference in the wide world of sports. Women who are role models for all the young girls who dream of one day finding a niche in a very competitive market.
She recently auditioned for Sports Jeopardy! The all-sport-knowledge spin off of the classic Jeopardy! that we all know and love. Hosting is Emmy award winning sportscaster Dan Patrick. New episodes (that will hopefully feature Colleen!) begin airing on September 23rd on all Crackle platforms.
That’s right. The Houston Texans hired the new signal caller for their team on nothing more than a very short resume. No interview, no meet and greet. Unless you count an alleged 10 second encounter in 2014.
Are the Texans that desperate? Is Osweiler just that good? Or is this a symptom of an underlying problem in the NFL?
Currently teams are not allowed to approach prospective players who are still under contract. Even if it’s public knowledge that their release is pending, or their contract is set to expire at the start of free agency.
While it’s hard to argue against a person fulfilling their side of the contract, this does seem to hamper both teams and players alike who are trying to land/extend a new contract.
Either way Houston has a new quarterback and Brock is set to cash in on a huge pay day.