Le’Veon Bell – Instant Impact
What was speculated for the better part of a year now has finally come to fruition: Le’Veon Bell is a New York Jet. While he didn’t land the RB1 overall contract that he hoped for, the contracts $13.125M AAV makes him the second-highest paid running back behind only Todd Gurley. Another important piece of the deal is the reported $35M in guaranteed money per Spotrac. This leads me to believe that Bell will be in Gang Green at least through his age 29 season.
Now that we have the financials out of the way, what does this mean for his fantasy outlook?
Bell was a workhorse in every sense of the word from the moment he stepped foot on Heinz Field. Over his five-year career with the Steelers, Bell averaged roughly 25 touches per games across 62 starts. It’s rare to find that type of volume and appeared to be part of the reason why Bell wanted out of the Steel City. Le’Veon Bell now finds himself in an Adam Gase-led offense that was amongst the worst in the NFL in rushing attempts during his three-year head coaching tenure in Miami. What Gase was particularly good at was feeding his running backs targets out of the backfield and we’re talking about lesser talents in Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake and the immortal Frank Gore.
We might have a bit of a template for Bell’s production potential in New York, and I point to Kenyan Drake in Miami. Now, stay with me because we can all agree that Bell is a far superior player to Drake. What I want to focus on are his touches in Gase’s system.
Although underutilized at ~10 touches/gm over the last two seasons, Drake was highly effective on a per touch basis. From a PPR perspective, Drake averaged 1.04 points per touch during that time.
Let’s assume that Bell is ticketed to receive somewhere in the ballpark of 20 touches/gm (a 20% reduction vs his career average). Across of full 16 game season, that translates to roughly 333 PPR points which would’ve ranked Bell as RB5 in 2018 just ahead of Ezekiel Elliott.
Hopefully, you stayed the course with Bell and didn’t sell low during his tumultuous 2018 season, because I expect him to string together a few RB1 seasons the next few years. We could be looking at a Curtis Martin 2.0 situation for Jets fans. Remember he joined the team as a then-25 year old and went on to string together several successful fantasy seasons for Gang Green.