There are three stages of intervention in the NFL, and before last week, LeVeon Bell was believed to be in Stage 2.
That was because Bell was suspended three games, later reduced to two games, to start the 2015 season. That ban was the result of Bell's marijuana arrest in the North Hills in August 2014. Coincidentally, that arrest was recently expunged from his legal record after he completed his 15-month probation.
Depending on your perspective, the good news for Bell is that he's only in trouble with the league this time. But another screw-up, another failed or missed test, and Bell is in Martavis Bryant territory, or Stage 3 of intervention.
The story nicely describes all three stages on how NFL drug testing works. As for Stage 3, the author said: After serving a suspension, players are placed in Stage 3, which unless the medical director chooses to discharge a player from the program, lasts the remainder of a player's career. Like stages 1-2, players are prescribed a treatment plan though testing is now random. A failed test will result in a one-year ban, unless the suspension is for marijuana, in which case it will be 10 games. Bryant was suspended for one year, not 10 games, for multiple failed or missing drug tests.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell is indeed facing a four-game suspension for missing a drug test. But Bell continues to insist that he hasn’t missed a drug test — and that he won’t be missing any games.
In a comment to an altered photo on Instagram of Bell wearing a gas mask with a bong, Bell said from his verified account that “I’m not gonna miss games, trust me.”
Many will scoff at the proclamation, given the lingering perception that Commissioner Roger Goodell retains final say over all player disciplinary issues. In 2014, however, the league agreed to use a panel of neutral arbitrators for all punishments arising under the substance-abuse and PED policies. So Bell will have a chance to have a truly independent party assess whether the league’s conclusions are warranted.
Of course the story from this past weekend is Bell missed several drug tests. He's dropped to ninth in our RB rankings for now and obviously this is a situation to monitor because Bell, you can argue, is the top fantasy back this year. DeAngelo Williams would again see the bulk of the work without Bell in the lineup.
While Bell's case is still under review, the news cannot be welcome for the Steelers or Bell.
If he did indeed miss "several" tests (and not just one), it seems much less likely that he'll win his appeal and have his suspension reduced. We've moved bell down to #11 in standard formats and #9 in PPR. He's worth consideration in the second round, but it's difficult to invest an early round draft pick that will miss the first month of the season.
The suspension is the result of a missed drug test, not a failed one, sources said. The reason it hasn't been announced is that the appeal process is ongoing.
No date for Bell's appeal has been set, although it's expected that it will be heard before the regular season. If it's not overturned, he would miss the first four games of the season.
According to the league, missing a test is the same as failing it. As the article notes, Bell is appealing the decision, so it could be overturned, but there's a good chance that he misses the first four games of the season. This would seriously hurt his draft stock while boosting the stock of his backup, DeAngelo Williams. Williams averaged 21.3 touches for 112 yards and 1.1 touchdowns in the 10 games that Bell missed last season. Williams is 33, so owners should not expect that sort of production again, though he should be a serviceable RB2 as long as Bell is out. After his ban was reduced to two games last season, Bell's ADP remained in the early 1st round, though a four-game suspension is a lot tougher to swallow. We expect he'll fall out of the 1st round, while Williams' ADP will rise a few rounds. The silver lining here is that Bell has an extra month to recover from MCL and PCL surgery, so he should be good to go in October.
Pittsburgh Steelers star running back LeVeon Bell says he's on schedule for training camp and that his leg is "probably stronger than it ever was" after rehabbing a right knee injury that knocked him out of last season.
In a sit-down interview with ESPN on Saturday, Bell said he's beyond all the physical hurdles he faced, and right on time for him to report to the Steelers on July 28. But it will be up to the team to decide his workload in training camp and the preseason.
Bell suffered a torn MCL and PCL in Week 8 and had surgery last November. He played five games last year and rushed for 556 yards with three touchdowns. He'll likely be the first RB off the board in your fantasy draft this summer and perhaps even a top-five selection. Looks like there are no issues with his rehab up to this point and he's ready to go.
“In our room I don’t really think we have like a solid starting running back, because with this type of offense, we do so many things as a running back,” Johnson told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “(David Johnson) got his things that he’s good at and I got my things that I’m good at, and (Bruce Arians) knows how to get both of us the ball.”
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin confirmed last week that the Cardinals are going to determine their starting running back on a week-by-week and game-by-game basis.
“Being with (Bruce Arians) since 2007, the hot hand always wins,” Goodwin said. “So, if David is killing, Chris falls back a little bit. If Chris is killing it, vice versa. Obviously there is going to be a lead dog starting every game, but to me if some guy is feeling it that day — if Michael Jordan is feeling it, you keep feeding him the ball. If David is feeling it, keep feeding him the ball. If Chris is feeling it, keep feeding him the ball. So, it’s a good problem to have."
David Johnson is being drafted like he's the clear workhorse for the Cardinals, but that doesn't sound like it's the case. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson is an afterthought in early fantasy drafts and could offer nice value in the final rounds. Remember, the veteran out-touched the rookie 18.4 to 4.9 in the 11 games in which they both played.
Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette was asked who would benefit the most from Martavis Bryant's absence. His reply: "Markus Wheaton is a starter, as he was when Martavis Bryant played. I would guess the one who should benefit most is Sammie Coates."
He added, "I have been told he worked like crazy this offseason and is in great shape. Also, the fact the coaches keep talking him up means they expect him to progress nicely."
It's very possible that Coates "benefits the most" since he's being promoted from WR4 to WR3, so it's a big jump in playing time. We still believe that Wheaton is the second best fantasy receiver in Pittsburgh, however. His performance late last year indicated that he finally turned the corner. He caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns on the season, but really came on down the stretch, averaging 4.7 catches for 79 yards and 0.67 TD (on 7.8 targets per game) over the final six games of the season. (He was the #12 fantasy receiver in that span.) Though he only gained 53 total receiving yards in two playoff games, he was targeted 13 times, so he was an integral part of the offense late in the year. Wheaton also fared well on a per target basis, finishing 22nd and 27th (out of 121 eligible receivers) in fantasy points per target in standard and PPR formats, respectively.
Steelers TE Ladarius Green is sitting out OTAs after offseason ankle surgery and doesn't know the exact date for return (the expectation is training camp). "I just want to see if I can prove it to myself that I can go out there and be the best," he said.
This doesn't sound too serious. Green landed in an optimal situation in Pittsburgh, playing with an elite quarterback and in a high-octane offense. It also doesn’t hurt that Martavis Bryant is suspended for the year; the team is likely to lean on Green’s size in the red zone. In four games that Antonio Gates missed in 2015, Green averaged 4.5 catches for 55 yards and 0.75 TD (on 6.8 targets per game). In the 13 career games where he has seen at least five targets, he has averaged 7.5 fantasy points (standard), which would have translated to #7 TE numbers in 2015.
Bell has averaged 23.2 touches for 132 total yards and 0.64 TD in his last 22 games and is the clear cut #1 RB when healthy. If he is truly 100 percent ready to go for training camp, then he is a very solid pick in the 1st round of fantasy drafts. The Steelers would be wise to utilize the very capable DeAngelo Williams to keep Bell fresh, but they haven't shown much of a willingness to do so, as Bell has averaged 22.8 touches (for 115 total yards) in six games with Williams available.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 12:40pm
Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger’s agent, Ryan Tollner, told ESPN this week that his client has lost 15 pounds while on a “high-cardio” regimen with team trainers.
Roethlisberger -- who is listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds but probably has weighed above that at times -- missed four games last season with a variety of injuries and couldn’t keep himself in top condition.
Monday, April 4, 2016, 9:09pm
Johnson has played in 63-of-64 regular season games for the Steelers over the last four seasons and saw most of his time as a blocker on offense. He carried the ball eight times for 14 yards and caught 31 passes for 235 yards while scoring three times.
The running back tweeted he was "moving on" from football on Friday morning, a statement that smelled like an April Fools' Day prank from the beginning. But Bell let the tweet stew for nearly two hours before confirming the prank.
Bell left the line hanging so long some checked with a Bell rep to ensure the joke was nothing more. Shortly after 11, Bell tweeted, 'LOL!!! some fell for it, some didn't ... but anyways, APRIL FOOLS!'
The team has been talking up Coates since news broke of Martavis Bryant's suspension. He's likely to fill the WR3 role occupied by Markus Wheaton last year. Wheaton is likely to see full-time snaps. As the WR3, Coates could be 4th or 5th in targets after Antonio Brown, Wheaton, Ladarius Green and LeVeon Bell.
Bryant is eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before 1-year anniversary of the suspension.
Markus Wheaton sees the biggest bump in fantasy value with the news of Bryant's suspension. He caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns on the season, but really came on down the stretch, averaging 4.7 catches for 79 yards and 0.67 TD (on 7.8 targets per game) over the final six games of the season. (He was the #12 fantasy receiver in that span.) Though he only gained 53 total receiving yards in two playoff games, he was targeted 13 times, so he was an integral part of the offense late in the year. Wheaton fared well on a per target basis, finishing 22nd and 27th (out of 121 eligible receivers) in fantasy points per target in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Consider Wheaton a fantasy WR3 with WR2 upside. The other players who stand to benefit are TE Ladarius Green (especially in the red zone) and deep threat Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Martavis Bryant, the Steelers’ talented but troubled wide receiver, is facing a full-season NFL suspension in 2016 for again violating the league’s substance abuse policy, two sources confirmed to DKPittsburghSports.com this morning and a third this afternoon.
Bryant and his agent, Tom Santanello, have filed an appeal. If the suspension goes through, it would be a shocking, seismic blow to a contending team that’s set a seventh Super Bowl as its goal for next season.
If this report is accurate and Bryant is indeed suspended for the year, then it's obviously a big blow to the Pittsburgh offense and QB Ben Roethisberger. However, the two biggest beneficiaries of Bryant's potential absence are WR Markus Wheaton and TE Ladarius Green. If Bryant is out, Wheaton turns into a fantasy WR3 with WR2 upside while Green shouldn't have any problem seeing enough targets to make him a solid TE1.
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