With Le'Veon Bell suspended, DeAngelo Williams is back in the spotlight as a high-quality No. 1 Fantasy running back - at least for three games. That alone gives Williams some attractive Fantasy value, particularly to those who prefer to wait on drafting running backs. But what happens when Bell comes back in Week 4? Williams will more than likely settle into a complementary role at that point - he could be lucky to field 10 touches per game. But considering Bell's injury history, Williams would still have handcuff value in case something happens to the Steelers' top rusher. If you spend a Top 24 pick on Bell, getting Williams in Round 6 or early Round 7 is a must. That's a steep price to pay for a handcuff, but the running back numbers in Pittsburgh for the past few years are too good to ignore. If you don't own Bell, Williams should be on your radar starting in Round 7 as a back you can at least begin the season with as a starter.
Making his first appearance of the 2016 preseason, Williams gained 12 yards on four carries and nine yards on three receptions (four targets) in Friday's exhibition against the Saints. Williams split first-team work with Le'Veon Bell (susspension, who had three carries for 21 yards and five catches for 37 yards (five targets). It's telling that the two combined for nine targets, as the Steelers no longer have Martavis Bryant (suspension) and may not have Ladarius Green (ankle) early in the season. With Bell suspended for the first three games, Williams should be one of the busiest running backs in the league, handling a hefty workload both on the ground and through the air. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Daryl Richardson are vying for backup work.
Williams, who didn't suit up for Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles, will serve as the Steelers' starting running back for the first three regular season games after Le'Veon Bell's suspension was upheld by the NFL, NFL.com reports. Bell's rumored ban was confirmed Friday, pushing Williams into a prime position for the second year in a row. Last season, Williams received 10 starts due to Bell's initial suspension and subsequent MCL tear, during which the veteran racked up 152 carries for 633 yards and nine touchdowns, while tacking on 33 catches for 265 yards.
With Le'Veon Bell potentially facing a four-game suspension to start the 2016 campaign, Williams could head the Steelers' backfield early on this season. Previous question marks surrounding Bell had revolved around the health of his surgically-repaired knee, but now the more pressing issue appears to be his potential four-game suspension. With that in mind, Williams' fantasy value gets at least a temporary boost, especially considering how capably the 33-year-old filled in last season for Bell, who missed 10 contests due to injuries, as well as a suspension.
Williams reiterated Tuesday that he is past the foot injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. With that in mind, Williams -- who turned 33 in April -- declared Tuesday that "I am in the best shape I have ever been in my entire life." Williams -- who recorded 200 carries for 907 yards and 11 TDs in 16 games (including 10 starts) for the Steelers 2015 -- appears destined to work in a complementary role this coming season, with top back Le'Veon Bell (knee) slated to return to the mix. That said, given the success Williams enjoyed in a Steelers' uniform last year, we'd expect the team to keep him involved in the offense, with an eye toward keeping Bell fresh. Per Bell, "there are definitely going to be packages where me and (DeAngelo) are going to be out there at the same time...I'm ready for that."
Williams, who missed two postseason games with a foot injury, has been fully cleared in advance of the Steelers' offseason workouts, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports. Williams -- who ended up logging 200 carries for 907 yards and 11 TDs in 16 games (including 10 starts) for the Steelers 2015 -- is thus set to reprise his role in the team's backfield in 2016, though assuming teammate Le'Veon Bell is able to bounce back fully from his knee woes, Williams is slated to open the campaign in a complementary role.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/03||Kansas City Chiefs||4||13.44|
|5||10/09||New York Jets||3||13.13|
|7||10/23||New England Patriots||5||14.00|
|13||12/04||New York Giants||26||20.38|
|3 Year Avg||155||656||5||24||248||0||119|