Bell to the Chiefs: Rapid Reaction

Bell’s Release

On Tuesday, the Jets finally decided to part ways with star running back Le’Veon Bell. After trying and failing to find a trade partner, they released him. As Bell was a vested veteran, he was not subject to waivers, allowing him to sign with any NFL team.

Bell did almost nothing for the Jets in 2020. He missed three games with a hamstring injury, but he did see playing time in two games. Bell totaled 19 carries for 74 yards, and he added three receptions for 39 yards. Considering the Jets’ poor offense, Bell scored no touchdowns, and he wasn’t a strong fantasy asset. I think everyone is pretty happy that Bell is out of New York.

The Jets’ Backfield Now

Outside of Bell, only Frank Gore has received significant carries in the Jets’ running back room. Gore has 64 carries for 204 yards, averaging 12.8 carries/game, and a 3.2 YPC. He might see a slight uptick in volume without Bell, but those stats represent his performance mostly without Bell on the field, anyway. I have no interest in Gore as a fantasy asset in either redraft or dynasty leagues.

The Jets also have La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson on their running back depth chart, although only Perine carries relevance. I expect Perine to contribute as a pass-catcher, as that was his primary skill coming into the NFL Draft. Gore offers nothing as a receiver, so I believe a 50-50 split between Perine and Gore is the most likely outcome. 

In redraft leagues, I can’t imagine wanting to start Perine this season. I barely wanted to use Bell as the workhorse back, so I doubt I want to use either Jets’ running back in a timeshare. However, Perine represents a nice dynasty stash. He could factor into the Jets’ 2021 running back room if he performs well down the stretch. Even so, I don’t see Perine as a long-term starter, so don’t over-invest in him.

Bell’s Impact on the Chiefs’ Backfield

First of all, I believe the Chiefs mainly added Bell due to their complete dissatisfaction with their running back options behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They intended to have Damien Williams run a timeshare with Edwards-Helaire in his rookie year, not play Edwards-Helaire as a workhorse back. 

Williams opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson as the primary backups to Edwards-Helaire. Both of those running backs have played extremely poorly, leaving the Chiefs’ vulnerable to an Edwards-Helaire injury. Adding Bell to their roster provides major insurance for their backfield, and he significantly improves their roster.

At this point, you can drop Darrel Williams and Thompson from your redraft and dynasty rosters. They will have no value this year, and the Chiefs will likely retain Damien Williams on his 2020 contract once he returns to the field in 2021. That’s the easiest move to make from this Bell signing.

As for Bell, I expect him to have a slightly larger role than the Chiefs intended to give Damien Williams for the 2020 season. Before, I believed that Edwards-Helaire could be a borderline RB1 while Williams carried borderline RB3 value with RB1 handcuff upside. Bell is a far more talented player than Williams, so I would adjust those expectations up slightly.

Bell is, therefore, a solid RB3 for me for the remainder of 2020. Of course, if Edwards-Helaire ever suffered an injury, Bell would become an instant RB1, as we know he can handle a workhorse role. However, I think you’ll be able to use Bell in your PPR lineups even with Edwards-Helaire healthy, given Bell’s ability in the receiving game. There’s also a chance Bell sees goal-line work, considering how Edwards-Helaire has performed in that area. 

Unfortunately, Edwards-Helaire sees a significant hit from Bell’s signing. Bell will provide competition for goal-line touches and receptions, even more than Damien Williams would have before the season. I have to consider Edwards-Helaire a mid-RB2 for the rest of 2020. Edwards-Helaire hasn’t yet shown me on the field that he’s more talented than Bell, although I do believe the Chiefs will give him more touches either way.

In dynasty leagues, I’m not interested in Bell based on this signing. I’m sure his value will spike, but I don’t think it’s justified. Outside of an injury to Edwards-Helaire, Bell carries similar value as a backup on the Chiefs to what he had as the Jets’ starter. He’s still 28 years old, and he turns 29 in February. No NFL team will hand Bell a starting job next season, at least not a workhorse role. If this signing presents a selling window for Bell, I would be happy to sell for any first-round rookie pick or even a couple of second-rounders.

I also won’t make any massive adjustments to Edwards-Helaire’s dynasty value because Bell signed with the Chiefs. He remains a first-round startup pick, but he’s now my RB8 instead of my RB4. The Chiefs want Edwards-Helaire to be their long-term workhorse back, but they never intended him to do so in Year 1. Edwards-Helaire only turns 22 years old in April, and now’s the time to buy him if anybody is panicking. I’d be happy to try and pay 70-75% of what he cost before and take Edwards-Helaire on my team at that discount.

Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter at @DFF_Karp. I love to interact with anyone in the community, so reach out at any time! I take fantasy questions and help with all formats, so keep sending those questions my way.


Columbia SPS Sports Management graduate.

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