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Fantasy football hype train of the day: Benny Snell

Benny Snell’s hype train has come in. Should you get on board for the 2020 fantasy football season?

Benny Snell #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

We are officially now in the hype season, or as we call it, NFL training camp. This is a time where you will hear plenty of praise for players from coaches, teammates and beat reporters. Maybe it’s a simple as someone slimming down and adding muscle or a receiver got contact lenses finally or last season a player’s shoes were too tight, but now they’re nice and comfy. Whatever the hype, as fantasy players, we hear it as affirmation about a player we like or hollow praise about a player we don’t like.

Throughout camp we’ll keep an eye out for the hyped player of the day and see if the praise is something we should take notice of or disregard. For today, that player is Steelers running back Benny Snell.

Last season the Steelers offense was awful with Ben Roethlisberger out. Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph couldn’t do anything, which kept defenses close to the line, snuffing out the Steelers offense before it could get going. With poor QB play, the Steelers tried to run, but had little room as multiple backs took their shots while starter James Conner was hurt.

Snell ended up playing in 11 games, rushing 108 times for 426 yards and two touchdowns while catching just three passes. Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Kerrith Whyte, and Tony Brooks-James all saw touches in 2019. Snell’s rushing numbers were similar to Conner’s but Snell wasn’t used nearly as much in the passing game. Overall, it was difficult to get a read on where he was as a runner due to the stagnant offense.

The hype

Tomlin noted Snell’s transformation is similar to Bell’s and Conner’s...It’s still unclear how much weight, if any, Snell lost or if it was just redistributed it to the proper places. But the eye test suggests it’s been a significant transformation

Is the hype real?

After last season, there wasn’t much anyone could say that would convince me Benny Snell was hype-worthy, but I’m a sucker for a running back slimming down and getting leaner to give himself more burst through holes. We saw it with Le’Veon Bell in a big way in his second season. Bell ran the ball 244 times for 860 yards at a 3.5 yards per carry pace his rookie year. It’s hard to think he ever put up such poor numbers with the Steelers. But he did and he then went to work in the offseason. Bell lost 20 pounds and got lean so he could work his famous patience and burst.

Can Snell do the same thing? Well, I doubt he makes the huge statistical leap that Bell did, as Bell was the starter. But, getting Roethlisberger back to help open up more running lanes while likely backing up Conner, who hasn’t been able to stay healthy, does lead itself to a big jump if given a chance.

Is the hype too much?

There’s a real chance Snell is just another guy at the running back position, but the circumstances here are good. He can be had cheaply in drafts and judging him on his rookie year in this case isn’t fair or that useful. We know he’ll have a better offense to work with this season and if he truly has more speed after slimming down, he could be in line for a much more efficient season. And if he gets work, that could mean good things for fantasy.