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Le'Veon Bell suspension reduced to two games


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday refused to bend on Tom Brady's four-game suspension, but the league has smiled on Le'Veon Bell.

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The Steelers running back has been suspended two games for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the league announced Tuesday.

In April, Bell received a three-game ban and the fine of an additional game check after violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The third-year runner was hit with a 15-month probation in February following an arrest for marijuana possession and DUI in August 2014. Former teammate LeGarrette Blount, who was the passenger in Bell's car, received a one-game suspension.

The league's lighter punishment represents a tangible lift for a Steelers offense that centers its high-powered attack around Bell, arguably a top-three runner heading into September. He'll still miss the opener against the Patriots and Pittsburgh's Week 2 clash with the 49ers, but the NFL's reduced ban now makes Bell eligible to return in Week 3 against the Rams in St. Louis.

We saw what happened to the Steelers in the playoffs, when Bell's absence with a knee injury reduced the attack to a one-dimensional shell. Pittsburgh, though, has a better backup in DeAngelo Williams than anything they sported in January. The former Panthers back is no game-breaker at age 32, but Williams topped 4.1 yards per carry in eight straight NFL seasons before battling injuries in 2014.

Fantasy football devotees have to be thrilled with Bell's reduced discipline, putting him squarely in the conversation as a top-five pick -- if not No. 1 overall. We wouldn't blink at taking this versatile, on-field wonder with the first selection in PPR leagues.

A Game Rewind wonder, Bell shredded teams for 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns last season over 16 starts. Missing two tilts won't help anyone in Pittsburgh, but we wouldn't bet against the hyper-talent Bell matching -- and surpassing -- those totals in 2015.

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