Le'Veon Bell got off to a slow start last
season after his holdout but still finished as overall RB2.
Itís another season and another holdout for Pittsburgh Steelersí
running back LeíVeon
Bell, who wants to be paid just as much as his wide receiver
Nothing new here.
Bell wants to back up the Brinks truck because he believes heís
the best running back in the league and his teamís second-best
receiver (JuJu Smith-Schuster might argue the second point). He
also obviously doesnít like practice or training camp. Who
And yet past holdouts certainly havenít impacted Bellís season-long
totals (though for DFS players it should be noted that he started
slowly in 2017 for three games after the holdout).
What of the rest of the NFL, where ďmere mortalsĒ
may try to emulate Bell and sit out training camp (either for
a better contract or like the Steelers RB they just donít
like hot, sweaty two-a-days where coaches constantly yell at them).
Who might be holdout candidates in 2018?
It was recently reported (by SNYís Ralph Vacchiano) that
the Giantsí Odell Beckham Jr. might hold out in New York.
Who knows what the mercurial OBJ will do? He and the team have
been in some preliminary talks, but they donít seem to be
close to the extension the player is seeking.
Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones didnít go to the Falcons
offseason program. A list of wideouts who make more than Jones
includes Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams and Sammy Watkins. None
of those players have cracked 1,400 receiving yards in a season
ó Jones has done it in four consecutive seasons. He signed
a big deal in 2015 which made him the second-highest paid wideout
behind only Calvin Johnson, but now seven receivers average more
than Jones. Iíd be surprised if the team and Jones donít
come to an agreement before the season begins.
Arizona running back David Johnson led the NFL with 2,118 yards
from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns in 2016. But when a wrist injury
sidelined him for 15 games, the Cardinals ranked 28th in the NFL
in rushing touchdowns and 31st in yards-per-carry. Iím sure
Iím not the only one who understands those results and can
interpret them as a favorable time to ask for more ďBenjamins.Ē
Arizona and Johnson both seem to be on the same page at this time
so a deal should be worked out before Week 1.
Should we blame them for holding out? Absolutely not!
The average lifespan of an NFL player is very short. Likely shorter
than your college experience. According to the NFLPA the average
career length is about 3.3 years, which is less than the NBA (4.8)
or MLB (5.6), although the average length for a rookie who makes
his Opening Day roster is six years and a first-round draft choice
is 9.3 years.
While holding out may, or may not, work out for the playerís
financial future, or be the best thing for his long-term outlook,
we fantasy owners only need to know how it will impact his upcoming
Below is a chart of 15 famous running backs and wide receivers
who held out in the past and the impact the delay in joining their
team had on their next yearís game statistics.
Pre- and Post-holdout
RB and WR Production
John Riggins *
* - Riggins didn’t play at all in 1980.
What did we learn from this analysis besides the fact that more
running backs hold out than wideouts?
1) Wide receiver scrimmage yards were down 35%.
2) Wide receiver touchdowns were down 25%.
3) Running back scrimmage yards were down 36%.
4) Running back touchdowns were down 43%.
Anybody detecting a pattern here?
In the final analysis, none of these 2018 superstars may hold
out in the end, and that would be good for fantasy owners. However,
the numbers seems to indicate that for most players, being in
training camp matters. Therefore, if a wideout or running back
ends up missing a big portion of training camp, it’s “caveat
emptor” (let the buyer beware). You have been warned!
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.