NFL Prop Bet: Odds on When Le’Veon Bell Will Play in 2018
The biggest NFL storyline heading into Week 1 of the NFL season is Pittsburgh Steelers’ all-pro running back Le’Veon Bell holding out over a contract dispute with the organization. Bell wants a long-term contract that pays him at least what Todd Gurley just got paid.
In July, Rams’ gave Gurley a contract extension of 4-years, $60 million dollars with $45 million guaranteed. This contract reset the running back market and Bell is not going to settle for anything less.
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Prior to Gurley’s deal, pundits and fans were scoffing at reports of Bell apparently asking for a minimum of $15 million per year, up to $17 million per year. With Gurley’s extension, Bell now sits in the driver’s seat in regards to market value. Unfortunately, the Steelers want Bell to sign his franchise tender and play out this season on a $14+ million dollar deal.
Keep in mind, Bell held out last year all the way up to the first week of the 2017 NFL season. This year, he’s still holding out even with the team’s first game just 2 days away. The seriousness of this situation is that there’s no end in sight to Bell’s holdout. His agent has stated that Le’Veon does not want to risk his long term health for a 1-year deal.
Bell’s holdout has splintered the locker room as several offensive players have expressed their frustrations with his holdout. Le’Veon was shocked over the public complaints from his teammates and posted on his Social Media “Woah.” Wide Receiver Antonio Brown was one of the only players to seemingly support Bell, at least via his Social Media comments.
Le’Veon Bell Betting Odds
As we head into opening weekend, there are still some fans, players and pundits holding out hope that Bell will return on Saturday, September 8th. Unfortunately, that may just be wishful thinking.
With that said, oddsmakers are taking wagers on when Bell will play his first game. The following Le’Veon prop bet and odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Plays in Week 1 (+160)
- Plays in Week 2 (+170)
- Plays Week 3 or after (-110)
- Does not play in 2018 (+1600)
Let’s analyze these options further:
Week 1 (+160) – I don’t see any chance of Bell playing in Week 1. As of Friday, September 7th, there’s been no movement in Bell ending his holdout. And, now that he’s missed all of the team’s preparations for the game against Cleveland on Sunday, I don’t see head coach Mike Tomlin allowing Bell to play even if he shows up.
Week 2 (+170) – I find it hard to bet on this option as well. If the Steelers win in Week 1, then there’s less urgency on their side to make things work with Bell. If the Steelers lose in Week 1, then Bell has even more leverage. This holdout has the potential of getting ugly real quick and I believe this betting option is too risky. If the betting line was higher, I would say it offers value, but +170 doesn’t provide any value at all.
Week 3 or later (-110) – Of the betting options available, this one seems to be the smart play. You get to basically bet on the rest of the season, minus the first two games. Odds are that Bell will return at some point in the season.
Doesn’t play in 2018 (+1600) – This is definitely the longshot option and one that’s not worth taking a flier on. Bell will definitely return at some point and I’ll explain these reasons further in the next section.
When will Le’Veon Bell Play in 2018?
Bell will be back at some point in 2018 because if he doesn’t arrive by Week 10 then he would lose an accrued season and not be eligible for free agency next year. Other than a long term mega-deal, free agency is Bell’s top priority. I also can’t see him sacrificing too many game checks this year. Keep in mind, he’s making just under a million dollars per game.
The smart bet is to take the option of Week 3 or later at -110 odds. Although you have to risk more than you will win, these odds are actually not bad at all. I believe they will increase even more if Bell doesn’t come back this weekend.