Smitty’s Take: The truth about this situation is that it’s much more cloudy and unpredictable, on both sides of the ‘will he return’ debate, than each individual side admits. No one knows if LeVeon Bell will report in Week 3, 4, 5 or 11… to suggest that him sitting 2 weeks indicates that a 10-week holdout is a guarantee, well, that’s just not risk-free thinking. It would be reckless of me to say to fantasy worlds: “this will workout – make a trade for him!” However, I feel that it is equally reckless for some newswires out there to suggest that the two-missed games, and soon-to-be three-missed games, indicates a 10-week holdout is a certainty. And, this analysis is everywhere! And, I’m not calling out anyone on our awesome SleeperU forums, it’s not your fault to fall victim to this thinking… but, I’m seeing it all over the forum, and all over other message boards… the consensus all over (for non-Bell owners) is that Bell is a lock to sit 10 full weeks because he sat 2 weeks (soon-to-be 3). Now, is it more likely that Bell takes this the distance and holds out until Week 11 (so that he can play 6 full games and get credit for an accrued season)? Sure, each week that he holds out, him taking this the distance becomes more likely. But, how likely? Is it a 50/50 thing that turns into a 40/60 thing? Is there already just a 5% chance he returns? No one knows, and of course I do not know either. The only thing I know is that it’s a knee-jerk reaction to assume anything at this point. If you own Bell, don’t sell low. Even if he plays 6-7 games, it will likely be at the level of a top 1-5 overall fantasy scorer. That’s going to be in the 1,000 total yard range and 6-8TDs. That’s if he does sit out an entire 10 weeks… You have to ask yourself, if you’re selling low, is this all you’re getting back in your trade? A 1,000-yard/6TD receiver? Don’t sell-low, folks. And, if you don’t own Bell, take stabs at acquiring him at WR2/3 prices. Clearly a big chunk of Bell owners are in panic mode right now, I think it’s safe to say it’s buy-low season on Bell. Via our Ask Smitty A Question feature, I get dozens of questions on this weekly. Easily dozens. I have been asked if one should sell Bell for players like Lamar Miller and Corey Davis. Yes, if Bell sits up until Week 11, you may miss the playoffs and his return is meaningless (at least in redraft); however, would a sell-low trade really change anything for you? If not, then holding out hope he returns sooner vs. later is the only play here. At the risk of sounding reckless, I have a feeling this won’t play out like the majority are expecting, and the majority thinks that LeVeon Bell holds out until Week 11. I have no bias here, James Conner is my #2 Bold Prediction for all of 2018, you can almost assume I have more to gain if this goes in the direction of Conner starting 10 games. I hope he does in many ways. That doesn’t change that this situation has two sides. That’s all.
Note: Do not sleep on adding Jaylen Samuels in all formats, folks. He is a free agent in something like 80% of all leagues, if not way more as many will drop him heading into this week. James Conner is a beast in Bell’s absense, but both Conner and Samuels have tremendous skill, and either will be a top 10RB when starting games for the Steelers. Conner has never been a full-time back in the pros, and him holding up on a workload usually given to the best back in football, it’s not nuts to assume he gets banged up at some point. Like I screamed “Grab James Conner” all July and August long, I’m screaming now… GRAB JAYLEN SAMUELS despite the fact that I love James Conner. Remember that both James Conner and Jaylen Sauels, as a duo, were my #2 Overall Bold Prediction for 2018.