Quick, name the top running back in the NFL.
Let me guess: You said DeMarco Murray. Or maybe LeSean McCoy.
Those aren’t bad picks, but how about Le’Veon Bell? The Pittsburgh Steelers running back is second in the league in rushing yards (1,278), second among tailbacks in receptions (76), first in receiving yards (765), and is first in yards per carry (4.9) among tailbacks with at least 250 carries.
“Look, I love Le’Veon Bell – and I’m not just saying this because he’s on my fantasy football team,” Tiki Barber said on Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio. “And it may be hyperbole saying he’s the best player in the National Football League, but if I’m starting a football team, I want Le’Veon Bell. His improvement from year one, where he averaged about 3.8 yards per carry, to year two is profound and exceptional. Not only is he averaging 4.9 – almost 5.0 yards per carry – he’s got almost 1,300 yards rushing, 10 total touchdowns, 76 receptions for 10 yards a reception and, most importantly, this kid is a non-liability.”
Ready to have your mind blown? Bell, 22, has not fumbled this year. Not once. Jamaal Charles has fumbled four times. Murray and McCoy have fumbled three times. So have Ahmad Bradshaw, Joique Bell and Jeremy Hill.
Le’Veon Bell has not. In fact, he is on the precipice of something spectacular. With 2,043 yards from scrimmage, Bell is seeking to become just the third player in NFL history to finish with 2,000+ yards from scrimmage and without a fumble. The other two players to accomplish this feat are Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders – both Hall of Famers.
“Le’Veon Bell is probably going to finish this year with about 2,300 or 2,400 all-purpose yards, and he has zero fumbles,” Barber said. “So that means you can give it to him in any way imaginable. Some games, he does get shut down in the run game. He’s got 40-something yards. But he ends up having 75 or 80 yards receiving and a touchdown. No matter how you look at it, the Steelers have found ways to include him and get him active in a game-plan and help them win.
“You watch Le’Veon Bell run, it’s like he’s been a vet for six or seven years,” Barber continued. “He waits, he has patience, he trusts the guys in front of him, he finds a hole and he explodes through it. That guy, I want on my team 100 out of 100 times. There’s some guys you can say, ‘Ah, he was great, but he had that bad day, or he does this wrong.’ There’s not much you can find with Le’Veon Bell that he does wrong.”
The Michigan State product could be in line for another big day this Sunday, as the Steelers (9-5) host the Chiefs (8-6) at Heinz Field. Kansas City is allowing an average of 132.6 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 28th in football.
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. ET.