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Start the clock! Le'Veon Bell will be back on a football field in four weeks. 

That's according to an ESPN report that said Bell plans on reporting to the Steelers during the team's Week 7 bye. The All-Pro running back said he's in great shape, is prepared to play football immediately and will be "fully committed" to playing for the Steelers, but added that he had to take a stand in his contract dispute with the Steelers and "couldn't play 16 games with 400 or more touches." 

If Bell sticks to this schedule, and if the Steelers don't trade him (that's still a possibility), Bell will theoretically be available to play against the Browns in Week 8. Here's his remaining schedule: 

The timing of this report is interesting. It comes after James Conner averaged 3.03 yards per carry over his last three games. Though the Steelers have little to do with when Bell decides to return, even they can't deny they could use Bell. The proof is in the playcalling — the Steelers have called running plays just under 30 percent of the time this season. 

It's possible Bell saw the stats (and the team's 1-2-1 record) and decided to announce his return as a positive P.R. move. Perhaps his willingness to come back sooner than the Week 12 deadline hints at his desire to help the Steelers in a time of relative need. 

Or maybe he's sick of giving up over $850,000 in guaranteed money every week.

Whatever the reason, Fantasy owners now have a timetable to believe in for one of the most prolific running backs in the game. He's been as reliable as a nuclear clock since taking the league by storm, delivering at least 10 Fantasy points in an incredible 81.6 percent of his games over his last four seasons. His return was always imminent, but now it's happening sooner than expected. 

There are still a couple of curveballs Fantasy owners must know about. The Steelers are still reportedly open to trading Bell, though that would be surprising since a team willing to pony up prime compensation for him would have theoretically done so by now. Even if they don't move him, they don't have to activate him, start him, or give him his usual workload upon his arrival. The Steelers aren't known for being petty, but this extraordinary circumstance might change how they choose to use him on Sundays.

Then again, the team currently ranks 28th in rushing and has one win in four tries. Call me crazy, but they could use him.

The report has re-opened the Fantasy trade window on Bell:

  • Any Fantasy owner with at least a 3-1 record likely has playoff dreams dancing in their head. They would love to add Bell to their bench as a must-start player who would put their team over the top. 
  • Subsequently, folks who drafted Bell and have a 2-2 or worse record need to win now and could probably finagle something solid in exchange for Bell in the wake of this news.

Point is, the trade market has been re-energized and can create win-win scenarios for everyone involved. His value has spiked because of his estimated return. 

Now more than ever, Bell's return seems crystal clear. Fantasy players should be thrilled.