Per NFL rules, Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount could be facing lengthy suspensions following arrests for possession of marijuana and a DUI. That would essentially wipe out the Pittsburgh Steelers run game for the 2014 season as both Bell and Blount are expected to carry the load this year. While the NFL waits for the legal matters to unfold, the Steelers insist that punishment has been handled internally and both backs will start Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh cannot afford for Bell and Blount to miss time. The Steelers are aiming to split the carries 50-50 between the backs while Blount works more in the red zone and Bell catches passes out of the backfield. Both running backs are coming off solid seasons as Bell looked strong in his rookie campaign and Blount had career-high numbers with the Patriots. Head coach Mike Tomlin is well-aware that losing them could hurt the offense so he told media everything has been handled, but would not give details.
According to NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala, Tomlin told the media both running backs have been handed team-imposed punishment and would be in uniform to play on Sunday against the Browns. While both running backs are expected to see playing time, are they the best options in fantasy? Bell is set to get a majority of the carries in drives as he is extremely versatile. However, Blount will the short-yardage and goal line plays. So depending on the settings of leagues, Bell is expected to have more yards while Blount could have more touchdowns.
Bell and Blount might fit better in the RB2 slot while others are the better options for starters. Against a tough Steelers defense, Ben Tate and Terrance West might not be solid options either. Zac Stacy of the St. Louis Rams should see plenty of action against the Minnesota Vikings while Montee Ball will play well against the Indianapolis Colts defense.
The Steelers are still working out things with their wide receiver group. Antonio Brown will get lined up against Joe Haden as he is their top wide receiver, but behind him are some question markets. Lance Moore will likely start alongside him while Martavis Bryant should see plenty of action in Week 1.