Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell missed the first three games of his rookie season. Despite that, he still ranks 22nd overall in fantasy running back production, and his per-game average of 10.9 points would shoot him up to 12th. Basically, it's been a strong rookie season for Bell. He'll look to continue that good start against the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night in a matchup of division rivals that could go a long way to deciding the AFC's sixth seed.
In eight games, Bell has 455 yards and four touchdowns on 143 carries, adding another 256 receiving yards on 26 catches. Over a full 16-game season, that's the equivalent of more than 1,400 yards. With Pittsburgh's other running backs -- primarily Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones -- being barely worth consideration, and only wide receiver Antonio Brown being a consistent weapon in the receiving game, the Steelers have been leaning on Bell fairly heavily.
Fantasy impact: There is a big, glaring downside to Bell's chances Thursday -- Pittsburgh's opponent. The Ravens have given up the third-fewest points to opposing running backs this season, basically shutting down Trent Richardson, Arian Foster, Eddie Lacy and other running backs earlier this year. They even held Bell and the rest of the Steelers running game to only 10 fantasy points in Week 7.
Against a neutral opponent, Bell would be a fairly obvious start, but against a team that shuts down the running game as well as the Ravens do, he is really only a start if you're desperate type. Talent is talent, but even the best runners can do only so much against a brick wall.