“With the first pick in the draft, I select….” It’s obvious this is between the top two ranked fantasy players in the NFL, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. Having the first pick may be great… but the pressure it brings can be unbearable at times. That’s where I come in, to help you make that number one pick with a smile on your face, and a mind free of second guesses.

These two players are both sensational athletes, and are among an elite tier of Running Backs. Both are not only exceptional at running the ball, but they also are superb in the pass game. The real question is not about their skill, the real question is who is better? Well let’s break it down and find our answer.

Competing Offensive Figures:

Antonio Brown Daily Herald

Pittsburgh:

The Steelers may have one of the most prolific offenses in the entire NFL, as it is full of athletic players all over the board. In a way, it is almost unfair to Defenses who attempt to stop their Offense, as they have such skilled Wide Receivers, as well as the ability to pound the “rock” down any opposing teams throats. It is hard for the D to lock onto any specific player, as they are just so many players to worry about. Think about it as if you were matching up against the Steelers, if you try to press up, Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant could get behind a Corner or a Safety with ease due to their spectacular route-running, and “burner” speed. Therefore, is risking the “big play” worth trying to stuff the short plays? This question is extremely hard to answer, do you risk giving up a potential touchdown and stop the three to seven yard plays that may drive the Offense down the field? The Defense has so much to focus on, keeping their minds too busy to lock onto one specific player, such as Running Back Le’Veon Bell.

While they may have numerous threats at the “skilled” positions, we must not forget about their extremely well put together Offensive line. They ranked 31st in sacks allowed last season with a total of 21. This is obviously a significant factor in the run game, as a good O-line can give Le’Veon the time to be able to be such a patient runner.

Arizona:

Larry Fitzgerald/ Men’s Fitness

Arizona’s Offense is NOTHING compared to Pittsburgh’s. As of now, Arizona’s O is like the Batman V. Superman plot, it’s an absolute mess. In an interview on how his receivers were looking, Arians¬†said¬†“We might have two.”, and given one of them is Larry Fitzgerald, who is on his last NFL contract… yeah that’s not what any fan was hoping to hear. What does this mean for David Johnson… well here is an example… Todd Gurley. Gurley was shut down all last year because the Offense had no other weapons, therefore the D was able to maintain focus on the star Running Back, keeping him from building off of what was a great rookie season. I used him as an example because take the Rams situation last year, add Larry Fitzgerald, and a little more versatility to the Running Back position… and “voila” you have the 2017-2018 Arizona Cardinals. By making that comparison, yes, I am saying David Johnson is not going to have as good of a season as his last… but we are talking about David Johnson… so his season isn’t going to be that bad.

The Cardinals Offensive line was rather unimpressive last season. They ranked T-seventh in sacks allowed, letting their Quarterback go down 41 times. That did not effect Johnson, as he had an amazing season, but I do not expect them to hold up well this year. Their O-line is suspect, and I am seriously concerned on how they will do when it comes to opening up holes for the run game for the upcoming season, as I expect more teams to send double the blitzes.

Availability:

Le’Veon Bell:

USA Today/ Le’Veon Bell

While Bell may be an extremely talented player, and he may be fun to watch.. it can be pretty hard at times to catch a game with him in it. Le’Veon has been suspended multiple times, due to the fact that he can not stay away from marijuana. When he isn’t suspended, he may be found dealing with knee injuries on the sidelines. Basically… he is not always the most available. As for this season, could missing training camp cost him? No, I don’t mean literally, but the only way to prepare for football, is to “PLAY football”, yet Bell sat out the entire training camp. Does sitting out make him more vulnerable for an injury? Is his body ready? Just a few things to keep in mind before drafting him.

David Johnson:

AP Photo/ Jeff Roberson/ David Johnson

KNOCK ON WOOD!!!! David Johnson has yet to miss a game so far in his career. Given that he has only played in two NFL seasons, that is rather a tentative stat (but I really hope he stays healthy). He has been extremely reliable at the start of his career, and his history of missed games compared to Bells is clearly in his favor, but also tough to distinguish due to the difference in the amount of years played in the league.

 

Stats Comparison:

David Johnson:

Games: 16

Rushing

Carries: 293

Yards: 1243

Fumbles: 5

Touchdowns: 16

Yards Per Carry: 4.2

Receiving

Targets: 107

Receptions: 80

Drops: 4

Touchdowns: 4

Yards: 880

David Johnson had an absolutely amazing season, and in my opinion he was well deserving of an award.

Le’Veon Bell:

Games: 12 (suspension)

Rushing

Carries: 261

Yards: 1268

Touchdowns: 7

Fumbles: 3

Yards per carry: 4.9

Receiving

Targets: 89

Receptions: 75

Yards: 616

Drops: 6

Touchdowns: 2

Le’Veon is easily the most patient back in the NFL, he has such smooth rhythmic movement off the snap, and adding such an amazing offensive line into the mix allows him to sit behind them and wait for an open hole to appear.

These two are the most versatile in the league, adding so much to their respected offenses. When stacking up such premier stats and comparing them to other elite tier backs, it becomes a seriously hard decision to make. Obviously who won the stats battle LAST year, does not matter as much this year, but they are still good for getting and idea of what you may be seeing next year.

VERDICT:

After Reviewing a few categories of interest that one would look into before drafting one of these backs, we have come to a conclusion. Given that Bell may not be the most available at times, he currently is not facing any suspension (once again knock on wood), and other than possible muscle tenderness… he seems like he will be fine. Johnson is currently dealing with a mess of an offense, where the Defense can easily lock on him to make sure to shut him down. In my opinion, I believe Le’veon is the better pick, and here are my reasons why:

  • Aug 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) during warm ups before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Pittsburgh’s offense is so “prolific” the Defense has too much to worry about.

  • Johnson is in a situation where he carries the Offense (can easily be locked down).
  • Bell’s O-line gives him the time he needs.
  • I expect Defenses to be sending a lot of blitzes towards Arizona’s offense, I wonder how their Offensive line can hold against them.

Well…. There it is folks, you have your winner in my eyes… Le’veon Bell. Please let me know what you think in the twitter comments!!

 

 

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