I held the No. 8 pick in a 10-man league, and just selected Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray with my first round pick. Now, the draft had snaked back to my second round selection, the thirteenth overall pick, and Steelers second year RB Le'Veon Bell was right there, begging me to take him. Instead, I opted for the best available receiver, Julio Jones, allowing Bell to fall two more spots before being swiped up.
"It's not that big of a deal," I told myself. "Murray is due for a big year if he stays healthy (feel free to ask me for fantasy advice) and Jones is a solid WR1."
Besides, the day before I saw a shirt at the mall which said "Ring the Bell, Roll the Blount", so the threat of a potential timeshare scared me about Bell. Plus, the Steelers drafted the world-class speedster Dri Archer in the third round, and surely they will get him on the field as much as possible.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and by now Le'Veon Bell's immense talent will never again go unrecognized. There will be no conundrum in the second round with Bell, as he's unlikely to fall outside the top five picks in any fantasy draft this summer. In fact, Bell is worthy of the first overall selection, and it's not even close.
Bell will likely be joined by Murray, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy as top five fantasy running backs in preliminary offseason rankings. Lacy doesn't posses Bell's pass catching ability, and Forte isn't on Bell's level as far as being a pure runner goes. Charles is a supremely talented back, but the emergence of Knile Davis in the Kansas City offense cut into his workload at times last season, while Murray's future as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, owners of the NFL's best offensive line, is murky, at best. If Murray returns to Dallas, he could challenge Bell for the top running back spot. But, with Tyron Smith and Tony Romo possessing huge cap numbers and Dez Bryant being the Cowboy's major offseason priority, a Dallas return for Murray is shaky.
Even if Bell is suspended for the first two games of the season, which is still very much a possibility, he warrants a no-brain selection as first player selected in a standard draft. If Murray returns to the Cowboys, or they acquire Adrian Peterson (I'm calling it now) then one of those players will also warrant a high level of interest as top player available.
Bell made a lot of people happy last season, from the Steelers front office to his fellow teammates. None were more happy about Bell's emergence, though, than those who owned the prolific running back, most of whom acquired his services via the second or third round of their fantasy drafts.
I sure hope they enjoyed the value while it lasted, because Le'Veon Bell will be a top-tier fantasy commodity for a long time.