“Le'Veon doesn’t like to come out of the game. That’s no secret and that’s because he’s in phenomenal shape. But I think it’s still beneficial not just to him [or] to this team in the short term, but in the long term. You’re talking about a long season. If every third series, every fourth series, whatever it is, let DeAngelo come in.”
Might having the accomplished Williams sub for Bell on occasion save their All-Pro for later in the season and maybe even extend his career?
“We all feel confident in DeAngelo,” Roethlisberger said. “The other thing I think we can do is we can put them both on the field at the same time. I think Le'Veon is so dangerous out of the backfield, you know, put them both on the field and use one as a screen, the other as a runner, who knows? I think the possibilities could be endless.”
Tomlin was not offering any specifics Tuesday about how he will use Williams.
“We will figure that out as we go. However, if Bell is available, we will use him.”
Last year, Tomlin said that they were going to use LeGarrette Blount in a significant role, and Bell absolutely dominated the touches. But Williams seems to be a better fit for the Steelers offense than Blount ever was, and is running with confidence. We project Bell for 21.3 touches in Week 3. He averaged 23.3 last season. Williams is in the RB3/flex conversation, but his usage is up in the air.
But things are about to change for the Steelers. And change for the better.
The Steelers offense is about to get stronger, and then perhaps even scary in Week 5 when WR Martavis Bryant returns. For Bell owners, Williams has proved his value as a handcuff so it may be a good idea to keep him around. Williams' play may also earn him a little more time on the field and the Steelers may not have to ride Bell as hard as they did last year. The return of Bell could mean Antonio Brown sees more one-on-one matchups.
Friday, September 18, 2015, 6:37pm
Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 2. McCoy had a setback with his hamstring on Thursday but returned on Friday, which is a good sign for his Week 2 availability. Rex Ryan said that McCoy’s status is a “little bit of a concern.” Karlos Williams will likely get the bulk of the touches if McCoy can’t play. The Patriots were gashed repeatedly by DeAngelo Williams in Week 1, so there is some Sneaky Start appeal here for Williams. The Bills play early on Sunday.
Thursday, September 17, 2015, 6:09pm
Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) was added to the injury report Thursday after taking limited practice reps. McCoy had a setback with his hamstring so his Week 2 availability is up in the air. Karlos Williams will likely get the bulk of the touches if McCoy can’t play. The Patriots were gashed repeatedly by DeAngelo Williams in Week 1, so there is some Sneaky Start appeal here for Williams.
Before the moves, the Steelers were the only team in the league that had only two running backs on their roster. Now, they will head into New England with three, but in reality, only one — DeAngelo Williams.
Dri Archer has 10 career carries and it is unrealistic for Jordan Todman, who has 111 career carries with three teams in four years, to be able to contribute immediately leaving the Steelers two options — empty, as Ben Roethlisberger joked, or Williams.
The latter is what the Steelers are leaning toward.
“This is not (Williams') first rodeo by any stretch,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He has been in the league for a decade. He is a 6,000-yard rusher. If you listen, he will tell you about it. He is an energy bringer. He is a hard worker. He's had not only a good offseason but a good preseason. I am excited about watching him play.”
Williams was the only free agent the Steelers targeted in the offseason, with the idea of him filling the void left early in the season by LeVeon Bell's absence. While there are stylistic differences between Bell, who amassed more than 2,000 all-purpose yards last year, and Williams, the Steelers made it known to Williams that the game plan would not deviate with him in the game. That includes when Williams is replacing Bell for a two-game period, and when he is giving Bell a rest during a series or two once he returns from suspension.
And the Steelers have Roethlisberger, who is coming off a 4,952-yard, 32-touchdown season. Roethlisberger, who attempted 608 passes last year, will be called upon to carry the offensive load.
Behind Williams, the Steelers are so thin, they have moved H-back/tight end Will Johnson into the running back room as the No. 3 option behind change-of-pace back Dri Archer, who has 10 career rushing attempts.
"When you have No. 7 and a guy like 84 [Brown], anything is possible," Johnson said. "We can go as far as we want."
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Steelers be pass-happy in Week 1 with no Bell in the lineup. That's great news for owners of Roethlisberger, Brown and Wheaton especially, as the season kicks off this Thursday night. Ben is ranked seventh among our QBs this week in what is a pretty good matchup against the Pats.
The Pittsburgh Steelers did not wear pads on the first day of camp, but the running backs didn't need contact to look the part Sunday as the team opened camp at Saint Vincent College.
LeVeon Bell looked noticeably explosive. He says he's in the best shape of his life, and he's not lying.
Stutter steps. Change-of-pace runs. Straight-line speed. Watching Bell run is like one big tease for the Steelers, who can't play him until Week 4 because of his marijuana suspension. Bell's right knee injury, which kept him out of a playoff loss to Baltimore, still needs additional pre-practice stretching and isn't completely the same as the left one. But this is the best Bell has felt in a while, he said. If he had to play today, he could.
The story said Mike Tomlin is challenging free agent DeAngelo Williams by saying Bell will run with the first team, even though Williams needs enough work to be ready to start Week 1 against New England. But the piece went on to say that Williams felt he got plenty of work on what was just the first day. The big fantasy question is do you take Bell early in drafts knowing he going to miss games. Nabbing Williams later in drafts will be nice insurance is you do take Bell, and if this story is any indication, Bell is on his way to another very productive year. Bell is sixth on our RB list due to missing time, but his ADP is 1.3, so if you want him, you likely will need to take him very early.
You’ve heard about the 30-30 club. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell could redefine it. 30-20.
Less than 30 sacks for Roethlisberger, more than 20 carries a game for Bell.
These are modest goals that can vault the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense from a high-yardage attack to possibly the league’s most potent one.
Last season felt like a breakthrough for Pittsburgh’s offense, not only because of its 6,577 total yards -- second in the NFL behind the Saints -- but for Roethlisberger’s best sack rate since 2005. His 33 sacks in 16 games symbolized progress for a quarterback who’s been sacked nearly twice as much as Tony Romo. Romo has 242 sacks in nine seasons as starter, and Roethlisberger has 419 sacks in 11 years.
Less hits will equal a longer career for the 33-year-old Roethlisberger. And though Todd Haley’s offense protects quarterbacks with a quick passing game, the Steelers’ running game can make that transition easy for Roethlisberger, the story added. It doesn't hurt that Bell has emerged into one of the better do-it-all backs in the league and the addition of DeAngelo Williams as a backup should help the run game. This news could make Bell a bit more attractive to fantasy owners, even with a looming suspension to start the season.
Steelers RBs Josh Harris and Dri Archer are both going into their second NFL seasons. But since Archer arrived as a third-round pick and Harris as an in-camp free agent signing, the expectation level is dramatically different as are the roles each player will try to fill. For Harris, it’s to show himself capable of being a traditional No. 2 running back during the length of LeVeon Bell’s suspension. Carry the football, catch the occasional pass, step up and deliver in pass protection. Because the Steelers figure to utilize more than one running back in every regular season game, Harris will have to convince the coaches he can be trusted to play on Sept. 10 in New England. Archer’s chore is similar, but he’ll be competing for a less traditional role. It makes little sense to expect someone who’s 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds to run the ball between the tackles and take on blitzing linebackers, and so the Steelers are expected to look for ways to maximize his difference-making speed.
There's no doubt Bell will carry the load once he's fully back from his suspension, which currently stands at three games. DeAngelo Williams figures to be the RB1 while Bell sits, and should have RB2 value in that time. The team seems concerned with Williams' injury history, so if Harris can step up, he figures to get some work in an attempt to try and keep Williams healthy. Williams can be had in the late rounds while Bell is still an attractive, early-first-round option because of his running and pass-catching abilities. Anyone who drafts Bell may want to consider reaching a little earlier for Williams. His current ADP is the 12th round in 12-team leagues.
Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams is considered a bridge back until LeVeon Bell returns from suspension, but he shouldn't be alone on that bridge. The Steelers will need just as much from Dri Archer as from Williams, who signed a two-year, $4 million deal worth $1.13 million in signing bonus money but no incentives in 2015.
Williams is exactly what the money suggests he is -- a veteran who can get you 10-12 carries at a respectable clip and nothing more.
There's not much to love about the idea of starting Williams against the Patriots, 49ers and Rams during Bell's three-game suspension, but we believe that the team will try to get him closer to 15 carries per game. He should be healthy to start the season, and there are reasons why he only averaged 12.2 carries per game in his career -- he was splitting time with Jonathan Stewart and QB Cam Newton carried much of the rushing load for the Panthers. The biggest concern is Williams' 3.5 YPC last season, but he battled injuries the whole way. We think he'll provide low-end RB2 numbers while Bell is sidelined, provided he's healthy.
The Steelers will begin the 2015 season without their top running back. The NFL has suspended RB LeVeon Bell for three games without pay for violating its substance-abuse policy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
Bell has appealed the ruling, ESPN reported. The tailback has also been docked a fourth game check by the league, per Schefter.
If the suspension holds, Bell can take part in preseason games and training camp before serving his ban away from the club.
Bell’s suspension stems from a DUI charge last summer. He was sentenced to probation, and the charge, along with a marijuana possession count, can be removed from his record if he completes 15 months of service. His former Steelers teammate, LeGarrette Blount, has garnered a one-game suspension for the incident.
Obviously losing Bell for any stretch is a major blow to the Steelers offense. Bell emerged as one of the game’s star dual threats at the position in 2014, racking up more than 2,000 rushing-receiving yards. Ex-Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams figures to have a bigger role with Bell out of the Pittsburgh lineup to begin next season. This could drop Bell a few slots come draft time, but given his workload and last year's success, he should still be a very desirable draft-day selection.
“The thing you’ve got to be careful about in this league is you can’t rely on one player at one position,’’ Rivera said during the NFC coaches breakfast. “Running back has definitely been proven that you’ve got to have a good two-back tandem.
“And that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for that complement to Jonathan.’’
Stewart averaged 18.3 carries per game in the final seven games of the season (averaging 97.0 rushing yards and 0.29 TD per game). Those are #9 RB numbers in PPR formats, so even if Stewart's carries are limited to 16-17 per game (15 carries plus 1-2 receptions), he should still provide solid RB2 production.
Update: The deal is for $4 million over two years, but is effectively $2 million for one year, per Jason La Canfora.
LeVeon Bell is facing a 2-4 game suspension and the Williams signing makes Bell more appealing as a 1.01 or 1.02 pick since he can provide starter-caliber numbers while Bell is sidelined. Over the past two seasons, Williams has averaged 12.4 PPR fantasy points in the eight games where he's touched the ball at least 15 times. That equates to high-end RB2 numbers, so he should be able to carry the load while Bell is suspended.
Williams told WBTV in an exclusive interview Monday that he was cut by the Panthers last week during a meeting with coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman.
"We sat down, and he told me, 'The fact of the matter is we're going to have to release you,'" Williams told the station. "I said, you know, 'Why?' and he said, 'Because we don't run the ball enough. Just like you said back before the season started, we don't run the ball enough to keep you and [Jonathan Stewart] both, so we're going to release you.'"
Carolina will save $2 million in salary-cap space by designating Williams as a post-June 1 cut. Williams has one year left on his deal and is scheduled to count $6.3 million against the 2015 salary cap.
Jonathan Stewart was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 105 total yards (97.0 rushing) in the final seven games, including two playoff games. He averaged 5.30 YPC in that span, including 5.13 YPC versus Arizona and 5.38 YPC against Seattle in the playoffs. Over the final five games of the regular season, he was the #10 fantasy running back. He turns 28 in March, so there is definitely some tread left on his tires. Even though he has missed 20 percent of his team's games due to injury throughout the career, he'll be a high-upside pick with Williams out of the way.
GM Dave Gettleman said he wanted to sit down with DeAngelo Williams before saying anything publicly about the status of the franchise’s all-time rushing leader. Last year, Gettleman was widely criticized for his noncommittal comments about Steve Smith’s future with the team before talking to the Panthers’ popular, all-time receiving leader.
“I need to talk to DeAngelo, I really do. He’s a pro’s pro, and he had a tough season,” Gettleman said. “The obvious loss of his mom was very, very difficult. He only played six (regular season) games this year, and it was tough for him. Before I say anything, just know he’s a pro’s pro. And the way he finished the season, he finished it like a man.”
Williams, who turns 32 in April, finished with career lows in every major rushing category after battling injuries most of the season. When Williams returned from a broken hand in December, he was reduced to part-time work behind Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whittaker.
Jonathan Stewart was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 105 total yards (97.0 rushing) in the final seven games, including two playoff games. He averaged 5.30 YPC in that span, including 5.13 YPC versus Arizona and 5.38 YPC against Seattle in the playoffs. Over the final five games of the regular season, he was the #10 fantasy running back. He turns 28 in March, so there is definitely some tread left on his tires. Even though he has missed 20 percent of his team's games throughout the career, he'll be a high-upside pick if Williams is let go.
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