Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell Reportedly Facing A Four Game Suspension

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 

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.

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Rob Gronkowski has missed a full weeks worth of camp: The Fantasy Implications

New England tight end and fantasy football stud, Rob Gronkowski, has been quietly absent from The Patriots mandatory minicamp.

While according to both Gronkowski and Head Coach Bill Belichick he has been busy doing “other things“, ESPN’s Mike Reiss is reporting that the star is “working back from [an] undisclosed ailment that isn’t viewed as a long range concern”.

Gronk has had a rocky injury history, including a broken arm in 2012 that had him on the sideline for six games, a torn ACL in week seven 2013 that ended his season, and four surgeries on his forearm in 2013. Gronkowski also had a lot of people worried in 2015 when he suffered a hard hit to his previously ACL repaired knee. Though the hit looked nasty, Gronk was only out one game.

While his current injury is very likely and as report a minor one, it is worth noting for fantasy players. Bill Belichick is doing all he can to keep his stud player fresh, but being Tom Brady and The Patriots go-to-guy does take a toll on the body. It makes sense that Belichick would continue to keep a close eye and a tight leash on Gronk through the 2016 season as well. The Patriots already took a step in this direction by drafting former Chicago Bear TE Martellus Bennett, and Bennett isn’t just a pretty face. He was a consistent performer for The Bears and beat out even Gronk for receptions in 2014. It’s hard to imagine him not eating in to some of Gronkowski’s fantasy points.

Gronkowski is one of the best offensive weapons on the field and barring injury it’s hard to imagine him not cracking the top five most productive fantasy tight ends in 2016. However, I’m tempering my usually high expectations for Gronk this upcoming season. According to FantasyPros.com his current ADP is in the first round, and that’s just too steep a price to pay for me.

 

How To Utilize The NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings For Fantasy Football

There are only 80 days until NFL kickoff and there’s no time like the present to start working on you draft strategy. While SOS shouldn’t be the primary source to influence your draft scheme it can be extremely helpful when deciding between players. When combined with offensive rankings you can pick teams with players who are more likely to produce fantasy football studs. But that doesn’t mean that teams with a tough schedule should be overlooked

Teams in the bottom third of rankings will have more games where they are playing ahead. This benefits running backs who will be used to run out the clock. It creates a more difficult environment for quarterbacks who will be more likely to play more conservatively to maintain their lead. Teams with the toughest SOS will be playing from behind. This benefits wide receivers. Quarterbacks will take the biggest hit due to tough defenses.

The site FFtoolbox took it a step farther by breaking it down by points allowed by position by opposing team.

I just brought all this info to one accessible place!

The main benefit though (as stated before) is using SOS to choose between players that you already like. So, if there are two RBs that you really like and one has a tougher schedule, it makes more sense to go for the guy with the easier schedule. Easy Peasy.

Start your draft day engines boys and girls. It’s right around the corner.

Rank Team Offensive Rank Position To Target
1. San Francisco 49ers 32nd
2. Atlanta Falcons 21st KR
3. Los Angeles Rams 29th
4. New Orleans Saints 6th TE
5. Seattle Seahawks 8th RB
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20th RB/TE
7. Arizona Cardinals 2nd
8. New York Jets 10th
9. New England Patriots 3rd KR
10. Buffalo Bills 12th
11. Miami Dolphins 27th
12. Carolina Panthers 1st TE
13. San Diego Chargers 25th TE
14. Denver Broncos 18th
15. Oakland Raiders 16th DEF
16. Kansas City Chiefs 9th TE
17. Washington Redskins 11th K
18. Minnesota Vikings 19th DEF
19. Houston Texans 26th DEF
20. Baltimore Ravens 24th K
21. Cleveland Browns 30th KR
22. Indianapolis Colts 23rd DEF
23. Pittsburgh Steelers 7th WR
24. Tennessee Titans 28th DEF
25. Jacksonville Jaguars 14th DEF
26. Philadelphia Eagles 13th K
27. Cincinnati Bengals 5th WR
28. Detroit Lions 17th QB
29. Dallas Cowboys 31st WR
30. Chicago Bears 22nd DEF
31. New York Giants 4th QB/RB
32. Green Bay Packers 5th QB

*SOS from ESPN Offensive Rankings from OddsShark Rankings based on FFtoolbox

Is Tampa Bay Coach Dirk Koetter Scared Of Going For Two?

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.

 

 

The Future of the NFL: Is the extra point a thing of the past?

“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.

Fantasy Perspective:

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

Kickers and the Extra Point

CJ Prosise MiniCamp Injury?

While the word of CJ Prosise’s progress in camp is positive, it seems like the running back may be nursing a hip flexor injury suffered early in OTAs. Injuries like this often occur during sprinting activities and can range from a minor injury (quick recovery and still maintaining full function) to a major one. (all muscle fibers are ruptured resulting in complete loss of function) Luckily for CJ it seems like his injury is a minor one.

Head Coach Pete Carroll finds the setback “frustrating”, due to his “big plans” for his new running back. To find out what I think those big plans could be check out my newest article at YourFantasyFootballCoach.com:

CJ Prosise: Fantasy Profile

Rookie muscle, tendon, and bone injuries seem to be becoming more commonplace. I’m not sure if this is because of the increased availability of information, so we’re simply more aware of the issue, or if there is some kind of breakdown in the conditioning needed to transition new recruits into the demanding expectations of the NFL. While Rookies are often expected to start proving themselves early on, often their bodies and conditioning aren’t up to snuff. This site hopes to delve more into this issue in the future.

 

 

 

Joey Bosa: Contract Hold Out

Joey Bosa is making headlines not for his progress in the Chargers Minicamp, but for not showing up for camp at all.

Bosa is the latest rookie to hold on on a contract due to “offset language”. But what is offset language? My (limited) understanding is that by having this legal precedent in the contract The Chargers are able to offset a part of Joey Bosa’s salary IF he is released by the organization before his full four year contract is up. So, say Bosa isn’t up to snuff and they give him the boot. The Chargers will only be liable for the difference between his contractual salary with them, and the new salary he would receive by signing with a new team. Makes sense. A team doesn’t want to pay for a service they are no longer receiving.

But Bosa would like to be guaranteed the full amount of his salary, independent of his tenure with the team. This allows him the opportunity to “double-dip” so to speak. If released, he could be drawing a salary from both The Chargers, and his new team.

While to us mere fans this could seem a bit trite (“Pay the man his money”, “NFL Exec’s are making way more than any players”, “He’s getting millions to play the sport he loves, why is he being so greedy”) this isn’t the first time or the last that “offset language” has come between a player and a team. Marcus Mariota for example held out until right before the season started for the very same reason. Though there were rumors at the time it had something to do with a surfing clause?? There have been crazier things in football.

Ultimately a contract WILL BE SIGNED. There’s no way The Chargers are going to let go of the first non-quarterback to be taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. They wanted him, and now they are pretty much stuck with him.

Bosa was named The Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All American and  All-Big Ten as well as being a Lombardi Award Finalist his sophmore season. (2014) He repeated all but Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year his junior season (2015) after which he declared for the 2016 NFL Draft. Bosa amassed 146 tackles, 26 sacks, and one interception in just three years playing for Ohio State. He was drafted third overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.