It’s been trying times for Le’Veon Bell owners over the last few years. Bell held out the entire 2018 season due to contract disputes. He then signed with the New York Jets in 2019 where he was quickly accursed with the Adam Gase hex.
2019 was Bell’s first year under four yards-per-carry since his rookie season (2013) and the lowest target total since he was injured in 2015. He received his lowest carry total (245) since his rookie season, when healthy. Bell finished with 78 targets. If you watched any Jets games you know he was underutilized in the passing attack. Especially considering the lack of short target weapons other than Jamison Crowder. Bell scored just three rushing touchdowns and still finished as the RB16 in PPR leagues last year despite being hindered by the coaching staff and lack of talent surrounding him. Missing the entire 2018 season likely also affected his performance but I’d expect him to be fully reacclimated going forward.
We can’t conclude this discussion about Bell’s 2019 issues without mentioning the Jet’s 31st ranked offensive line, according to Football Outsiders. It was clear to the experts their O-line was terrible but it was probably clear to any football fan with working eyes too. Bell ranked last in yards-before-contact per carry (1.2) in 2019. This means the Jets blockers were ineffective. Leaving Bell to fend for himself in the backfield and create yards on his own where he could.
There may be some light at the end of the tunnel as we look ahead to the 2020 season. The Jets have signed five offensive linemen this offseason to improve their rushing attack and provide Bell with much-needed help upfront. The most notable of the signings were former Broncos center Connor McGovern and former Seahawks Tackle George Fant who received big-money deals and should have a significant impact.
Bell’s production should improve behind a bolstered line and a full offseason under his belt. Reports indicate he’s in phenomenal shape, revitalized, and ready for a career year. If that’s true and we can expect something closer to 260-270 carries and 75-85 targets. He’s easily a top-10 fantasy running back and a great value in redraft or dynasty drafts.
If for some reason you thought he was finished, just check out this run from inside his own endzone. He uses vision and patience as he waits for his line and finds the hole. Once he bursts through he uses his agility and quick feet to fake the defender, breaks multiple tackles, and drags the pile for extra yards.
Let’s be honest, he’s in a less than ideal situation with a dysfunctional organization but 37-year-old Frank Gore is the only competition Gase brought in for Bell this offseason unless you’re the rare La’Mical Perine truther. The Jets could get out of his contract in 2021 and lose very little in dead money, but that may come as a blessing to the many who own him in dynasty.
Bell’s ADP is currently 94th overall in Superflex formats and he’s the 25th running back being drafted, according to dynasty trade calculator. It’s shocking to see the legless Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Chris Carson going ahead of him in dynasty formats! He’s a smash value being just 28 years old. And behind a repaired offensive line, with the lion share of the carries ahead of him, Bell is ready to dominate in 2020.
Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts or would like to discuss, you can find me on Twitter @WillieBeamanDFF.
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