Le’Veon Bell, Status Quo Bias, and You

Le'veon Bell

Source: Le’Veon Bell says on Instagram ‘I’m not going to miss games, trust me’ | Steelers Wire:

[A]thletes can say all they want they do not pay attention to what’s being said about them on social media. There are plenty that do, including Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who took to Instagram to quietly support his appeal attempt to a four-game suspension he’s facing for missing mandated drug tests recently.

In comments on a post of Bell running in what appears to be the gas mask worn by Dolphins first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, the embattled former All Pro pledged support to his “true fans” while asserting he will be exonerated upon appeal.

His account posted a comment not long after the first one saying “I’m not gonna miss games, trust me.”

This from the same man who didn’t realize he could be charged with a DUI based on driving while under the influence of marijuana. And the one who, in June, denied missing any drug tests. The most recent reports state Bell has missed multiple tests. A suspension – if not inevitable – is very, very likely. We’ve talked about where Le’Veon Bell should be drafted in redraft. But what about dynasty?

The most common answer (and almost certainly the wrong one) is “he’s a hold.” According to this answer, you shouldn’t sell because you won’t get “full value” for him. But you shouldn’t buy because he’s so risky. Which … duh. Yeah, he’s risky, which is why the price dropped. But your job – whether Bell is on your roster or not – is to assess whether Bell’s current price accurately reflects that risk.

The alternative is to fall prey to status quo bias, which is basically an irrational preference for leaving things alone. It’s especially tempting where, as here, we’re not good at assessing the kind of risk involved. For player privacy reasons, the substance abuse regime is secretive. And when we don’t even know whether Bell has a substance abuse problem, it’s tough to predict how likely he is to get suspended again for substance abuse issues.

But here’s what we do know: Bell was suspended two games in 2015 for driving under the influence of marijuana. He claimed he didn’t know that was a crime. When rumors circulated in June 2016 that Bell had missed a mandatory test, Bell denied them. Now, when multiple sources have reported the missed tests, Bell is still denying. Also, on April 20, Bell joked on Instagram that he was “randomly” drug tested on 4/20. These are all negative indicators for me, and they’re compounding.

I won’t go too deep on how to quantify Bell’s risk going forward: Charles Kleinheksel already did a thorough job of that in April discussing Martavis Bryant. (Kleinheksel also recommended selling high on Bell because of Bell’s suspension risk.) But I’ll give you my conclusion: my new buy-sell line on Bell is about 60 percent of his June market price. Based on the Dynasty ADP App, that means he’s worth about the same as Donte Moncrief. That seems like an overreaction, and it may well be. Like I said, we’re not very good at quantifying this kind of risk. But I’d rather create my number and use it than stick with the status quo because the risk assessment is hard.