The day is almost upon us, and we’re still waiting for Le’Veon Bell’s decision. The Steelers and their star RB have been at an impasse all season. Bell has avoided signing the franchise tag while the Steelers have always expected him to end his holdout and report at some point to avoid losing out on his $14 million contract for the season. Well, Bell’s final chance to return to the team comes on Tuesday, Nov. 13. If he doesn’t show up by then, he doesn’t get paid (or, more importantly to fantasy football owners, play) at all this season, meaning James Conner won’t have to “pass the sticks” this season.
Will Bell report to the team? If he does, will he suit up? And if he doesn’t, what will happen to him and to the Steelers? At this point, the only true answer is: Nobody really knows. We will try to decode all the answers ahead of the deadline here and will be constantly updating throughout the week based on whether or not Bell will report. For more fantasy football coverage, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
Week 10 Rankings:
Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | D/ST | Kicker
Is Le’Veon Bell playing in Week 11?
UPDATE 3: Bell did not report to the Steelers on Tuesday and will officially miss the remainder of the season.
UPDATE 2: According to ESPN’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, Bell hasn’t been in contact with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Here’s what Tomlin said about the situation, according to Kinkhabwala’s Twitter.
#Steelers HC Mike Tomlin acknowledges it’s unusual to have a player ignore every single one of his texts, calls, smoke signals (as Le’Veon Bell has). But he says, “I understand that business is an element of this.”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 13, 2018
UPDATE: ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler is reporting that the Steelers don’t expect Bell to return to the team by the deadline even though Bell is in Pittsburgh. In Fowler’s words, “This marriage feels over.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Bell is unlikely to report to the Steelers before the Tuesday deadline. If that happens, Bell would be ineligible to play for the rest of the season, and it would be a disappointing end to a months-long saga for fantasy football owners. Many spent first round picks on Bell, so to see Bell sit out the whole season would be crushing.
Of course, it’s always possible that Bell could surprise everyone and report. He still stands to benefit monetarily from returning to the squad, so if he determines that playing six games just to pick up some extra cash and to prove that he can still play before hitting free agency is worth it, he might do it. Frankly speaking, nobody has really been able to predict what Bell would do for most of this offseason, and that won’t change in the lead-up to the deadline.
MORE WEEK 11: Waiver wire targets | RB handcuff chart
If Bell doesn’t report, that will open the door for James Conner to be the lead back for the Steelers moving forward. Conner has done a great job as the starter in Pittsburgh, and he has already scored 10 touchdowns so far this season. He just had a string of four 100-plus yard rushing games broken against the Panthers, but that was in a blowout that saw him cede snaps to his teammates. There isn’t much concern about his carry share, but there is an injury issue that could impact him this week.
Against the Panthers, Conner suffered a concussion, so his status for Week 11 against the Jaguars is “questionable” at this time. We won’t know more about his status until the end of the week, but if he is out and Bell doesn’t return, that could create a couple of RB2 candidates that may be available on the waiver wire. Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels would carry the load if both Bell and Conner don’t play, so they’re a couple of guys to keep an eye on this week. This is just an added layer to the Bell saga that could make for some really interesting fantasy start ’em, sit ’em decisions.
For now, we’re watching Bell closely, and in a very short time, we’ll know about his intentions for the rest of the season. Even though it seems to be leaning toward him sitting out, Bell has been good for some surprises regarding his holdout. So, we’ll keep monitoring all the latest rumors until we finally get the clarity that we’ve been seeking since before the season began.
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