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Properly, it was enjoyable whereas it lasted. When my total participant rankings got here out on Monday, I had Le’Veon Bell as my prime participant, forward of Todd Gurley. My reasoning was that Bell had an extended, extra reliable observe file of prime efficiency, and that his receiving prowess spelled the distinction in PPR codecs (to which The Put up’s fantasy protection defaults).

It didn’t take lengthy in any respect, nevertheless, for information to reach that Bell and Steelers had did not agree on a long-term contract, that means that, for a second straight season, he’ll get the one-year franchise tag. Nevertheless, as with 2017, Bell possible received’t be in any hurry to signal his franchise-tag tender and will effectively skip coaching camp once more. Extra ominously, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter posited, Bell would possibly truly sit out the primary half of the season, all the higher to hit free company subsequent spring in good well being.

It’s much more possible that Bell will play a full season, however the uncertainty is sufficient to push him beneath Gurley, given how shut the gamers already had been, when it comes to expectations. These two, plus David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott, type a “Massive 4” on the RB spot, after which drafters have a wide range of methods to presumably go. Right here’s how I see it:

1. Todd Gurley, Rams (Off week: 12)

Gamers who end first in fantasy scoring don’t normally repeat the next season, which may very well be a degree in favor of Bell, however Gurley advocates may level to the truth that their man has much more tread on his tires, with 914 touches over three seasons to Bell’s 1,541 over 5. Gurley’s first two seasons noticed him look explosive as a rookie earlier than happening with the Rams’ desultory ship in 2016. A training change and important additions on the offensive line and at WR propelled the workforce to the league’s greatest offense final yr. These components are nonetheless in place, with Sammy Watkins changed by Brandin Cooks and QB Jared Goff a yr extra skilled, so Gurley, who completed second to Alvin Kamara in RB receiving yardage, must be set for an additional big marketing campaign.

2. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers (7)

Assuming that Bell exhibits up as anticipated for Week 1, homeowners know what they’re getting: a participant who might be relied upon to get one of many NFL’s greatest workloads and produce. That features a main function within the Steelers’ passing sport, as Bell has averaged 81 receptions on 102 targets over his previous three absolutely wholesome seasons, making him pure gold in PPR. It helps that Pittsburgh sports activities one of many league’s greatest offensive strains, plus a prime QB in Ben Roethlisberger and main expertise at WR, that means that Bell ought to have shot at topping his single-season excessive of 11 mixed TDs (maybe the one flaw in his fantasy résumé).

3. David Johnson, Cardinals (9)

You haven’t forgotten how unimaginable Johnson was in 2016, have you ever? In his second season, he totaled 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, and he went No. 1 total in most 2017 fantasy drafts. His homeowners final yr don’t should be reminded what occurred subsequent, as Johnson suffered a Week 1 wrist harm that wound up ending his season. That was a disastrous end result, however the excellent news, no less than for this season’s homeowners, is that Johnson’s decrease physique was unscathed and there’s no motive to assume he received’t be as efficient as once we final noticed him. Properly, one motive may very well be Arizona’s query marks at QB, WR, TE and offensive line, to not point out a brand new teaching workers headed by former defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, however there’s little doubt that Johnson might be used as a workhorse.

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4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (8)

Elliott slides to fourth right here as a result of Dallas hasn’t used him a lot as a receiver, however as a runner he arguably takes a backseat to nobody, main the NFL in speeding yards per sport in every of his first two seasons. As with Johnson, there are some questions on how efficient the general offense of his workforce might be, however Elliott has QB in Dak Prescott and a training workers dedicated to giving him all of the carries he can deal with, together with, in fact, close to the objective line. The previous Ohio State star has truly displayed good receiving abilities, notably on display performs, and with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, it will be shocking if the Cowboys didn’t enhance Elliott’s utilization within the passing sport.

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