Somehow, inexplicably, we need to talk about whether or not to start Le’Veon Bell in fantasy football in Week 10. Quite frankly, I’m beginning to suspect that the concept of time is an imaginary construct that is circular, not linear — but I’ll save my conspiracy theory for another day. Bell has worked his way into the running back rotation for one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL. What should fantasy managers do with him in Week 10?
Update 11/11/2021: Running back Latavius Murray is officially inactive for the Baltimore Ravens tonight in their matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Le’Veon Bell is squarely in the fold
The Ravens have been running the ball a lot (as they normally do), but Lamar Jackson is a big part of that. Jackson has carried the ball 97 times through eight games, averaging 12.1 carries per game.
If you remove Jackson’s 97 attempts, the Ravens have handed the ball off 162 times. 162 carries would be dead last in the NFL for team rushing attempts per game. That’s certainly interesting.
Baltimore insists on deploying a …umm… (Seasoned? Experienced? Veteran? That’s the word — veteran) veteran running back room of Bell and Devonta Freeman, handing each of them a similar workload. Any upside that either back offers is cannibalized by the presence of the other. Last week, Bell saw 11 carries to Freeman’s 13. Freeman was more efficient, totaling 79 rushing yards, but Bell got a touchdown on his stat sheet.
With Latavius Murray injured, that was the most work Bell has received in 2021. Murray is doubtful for Thursday Night Football, putting Bell and Freeman squarely back into a two-man timeshare.
Miami is a promising matchup
Nothing is a certainty in the NFL. You needn’t look any further than the Buffalo Bills losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. But the Dolphins are — on paper — a team that the Ravens should be able to exploit both on the ground and through the air.
Jackson is playing like an MVP again, and the Ravens are humming. After squeaking out a win in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings, I expect the Ravens to show up looking to make the statement that they should still be considered one of, if not the best teams in the AFC.
The Dolphins are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (21.1). Baltimore should be able to lean heavily on the run, especially in the second half, giving Bell and Freeman decent opportunities to put up some points.
Bell’s Week 10 fantasy outlook
To be honest, it’s hard to envision Bell seeing much more than 10 carries in a game at this point in his career. He and Freeman will split the workload, but Baltimore’s most dynamic runner is their quarterback.
Bell should be able to post somewhere between 35-50 rushing yards, but he has only seen 3 targets in four games with Baltimore. He isn’t garnering enough work in the passing game to create a stable floor.
For Bell to return any kind of fantasy value this week, he’s going to have to find the end zone. Given that Miami has a beatable defense, Baltimore’s offense should move the ball almost at will, creating opportunities for Bell to score.
Bell is nothing more than a touchdown-dependent RB2 or flex play this week. If he doesn’t get a touchdown, however, it could be bleak for fantasy managers.