What If Le'Veon Bell Is Lost for the Season?

What effects would the loss of Le'Veon Bell for the season have on the Steelers other position players?

The mere thought of losing Le'Veon Bell is enough for even the most ardent Steelers fans to want to cry into their Terrible Towels, but they’ll get a taste of that outcome for the first two weeks of the season. The league’s best running back is suspended for two games, but will hopefully return in Week 3 as the dominant all-purpose contributor we saw a season ago.


From an overall team standpoint, the loss of Bell would be hard recover from; he accounted for 34% of the team's yards and 26% of the team's touchdowns. His ability to get yards after contact, and his fluidity as a receiver out of the backfield were essential to last year's meteoric rise up the offensive standings (7th in points, 2nd in yards). With a young, rebuilding defense, the team can ill afford to lose a key cog. The Steelers playoffs hopes would be dashed in an ultra-competitive AFC North.


RB DeAngelo Williams – Williams is probably already owned given the propensity to draft handcuffs, not to mention the fact Williams will be the Steelers starting running back for the first two weeks. But Williams would be a must add/trade if he became the full-season starter in Pittsburgh. At 32 years old, Williams remains in great shape, and has only been limited in Carolina by the coaches’ fascination with a committee approach (not to mention Cam Newton’s tendency to hog the goal-line touchdowns for himself).

TE Heath Miller – Miller is no longer viewed as a bottom-end TE1, but the loss of Bell would vault him back into consideration.  The Steelers would need to feed Miller more on short routes to move the chains, something that Bell has essentially owned since taking over the lead role.


QB Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger has been a productive quarterback through a variety of scenarios. He’s thrived with great defenses and porous ones. He’s done well with a great ground attack and with forgettable runners.

WR Antonio Brown – Brown is the league’s best receiver, and the loss of Bell wouldn’t change the team’s need to feed him in all downs and distances. Brown’s abilities transcend game script.

WR Martavis Bryant – This assumes Bryant beats Markus Wheaton for the starting role in camp. If so, the receivers would be in line for continued work; perhaps more targets. DeAngelo Williams would do enough on the ground to keep defenses honest, but the Steelers would become more pass happy and, ergo, there would be more opportunities for Bryant and the other receivers.  




RB Dri Archer – Archer is tiny (5’8”, 173 lbs.) and more suited to play slot receiver or a 3rd down role, but he would be one DeAngelo Williams’ injury away from a meaningful role. The Steelers would become lopsided if both Bell and Williams went down, but a pass happy offense favors Archer perfectly.

WR Markus Wheaton – I’m not sure Wheaton won’t be the starter over Martavis Bryant, but most fantasy analysts think otherwise. Assuming the consensus holds true, Wheaton would be the player to target off waivers. Without Bell, the Steelers would be forced into using more 3- and 4-WR sets, and Wheaton would be in line for a significant jump in targets.



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