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Le’Veon Bell is sorry he ruined your 2018 fantasy team

Fresh off a year away from football, Le'Veon Bell says he is ready for all the work the Jets want to throw his way. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)
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If you drafted Le’Veon Bell in fantasy football last year, chances are your team was not very good. You almost certainly spent a very high pick on him, only to watch him stage a season-long holdout from the Pittsburgh Steelers, never to play a single snap.

Well, Bell would like you to know he’s sorry about that. The veteran running back, now with the New York Jets, posted what he called a “loooong overdue” note of apology Monday.

“I want to take a moment to apologize to all the fantasy owners who picked me last year,” Bell wrote on Twitter. “I’m sorry I couldn’t pull through for y’all.”

To many fantasy players, the apology likely came as too little, too late, when what they wanted would have been a heads up last year that (a) Bell was going to extend his holdout all the way through training camp and into the regular season and (b) he actually was willing to ultimately walk away from $14.5 million in guaranteed money from the Steelers.

To make matters worse for those who didn’t trade away Bell as soon as he missed Week 1 last year — to the unusually public displeasure of some of his Pittsburgh teammates — there were reports during the season that he might soon return to action. That uncertainty caused some to keep him on their fantasy teams for months, clogging up precious roster spots, until a November deadline came and went without Bell signing his franchise-tag tender.

Still, smart fantasy players know that it’s business, not personal, and that when it comes to a player of Bell’s talent and track record, it pays to let bygones be bygones.

After all, the Michigan State product has finished top-four among fantasy running backs in three of his past four seasons played, and he was on pace for that kind of campaign in 2015 when injuries limited him to just six games.

That success was attained in Pittsburgh, though, with the help of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a well-regarded offensive line and other dangerous weapons, such as former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Jets, on the other hand, feature a far less proven quarterback in Sam Darnold, a poorly rated offensive line and, well, no one as good as Brown.

Still, the hefty contract given to Bell in free agency indicates that the Jets have major plans for him, and the most important factor in a fantasy running back’s outlook is how likely he is to get the ball a lot. The three-time Pro Bowler should see plenty of volume with his new team. “I’m up for 500 [touches] if it’s going to take us to the Super Bowl,” he said earlier this month.

The aggregated expert rankings at Fantasy Pros have Bell seventh among running backs, behind not only the likes of Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara but also James Conner, who ably replaced him in Pittsburgh last season.

Perhaps not resuming his customary perch at or near the top of his position stung Bell, and he felt compelled to assure the fantasy community he was still a force to be reckoned with. For a variety of reasons, though, more than a few drafters will be looking elsewhere with their first-round picks, preferring to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach.

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