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Dynasty Fantasy Football: The (Le’Veon) Bell of the Ball

In the event you reside underneath a rock and haven’t left in some time, I’m here to tell you to sound the alarm bells. Le’Veon Bell has landed. The move to the big apple was an expected one and from a fantasy perspective, one that will have ripple effects across the league. Last we saw Le’Veon in 2017, he was tearing up opposing defenses to the tune of 1268 yards on the ground, 616 yards through the air, and nine combined TDs. While he only averaged 5.6 yards per touch (21st NFL), he was far and away the leagues most used player. As volume is king in all fantasy formats, should we assume the king has returned? Will Le’Veon be the same dynasty asset he once was? We’ll tackle all angles of this league altering topic below.

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With Gase now taking the reins, how can we expect to see the offense function?

Despite the last few seasons of “misuse” of Kenyan Drake in the eyes of most fantasy gamers, Gase actually has a reasonably neutral track record when it comes to the amount of opportunity he gives his running backs. Over his six seasons as either a HC or OC, Gase has fed his running backs both through the air and on the ground at a rate near the league average overall (FFStatistics).

In 2018, the 73 targets Gase gave Drake actually ranked 12th leaguewide, a healthy mark. Despite the common misconception, Gase’s presence alone should not be considered an immediate downgrade to Bell.

That said, in Gase’s last three seasons in Miami, the offense didn’t rank better than the 24th unit in the league. While the yardage should be there for Bell, red zone opportunities will be at a premium, which could potentially cut into his end of year TD count.

Personnel issues?

We’ll talk about the offense Bell is joining. Last season the Jets didn’t have much luck offensively. While their 20.8 PPG (23rd NFL) was actually a relatively decent mark, their 29th ranked total YPG, 25th ranked passing YPG, and 26th ranked rush YPG didn’t inspire much confidence. Possible causes for these underwhelming marks are their relatively slow pace of 27.78 seconds per play [17th NFL] (football outsiders), and poor offensive success rates.

In 2018 the Jets had a -3.1% passing success rate as a team and weren’t able to complete passes further than 15 yards down the field in either a central location or towards the right sideline. Even passes in the shorter areas of the field in all locations were completed at a rate below average.

But more relevant to the Le’Veon Bell situation is their rushing success rates.

Across the entire offensive line, the Jets team struggled to rush at a rate near league average. While this isn’t a good look for the guys up front, the fault was not all theirs. Their main running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, didn’t help the situation as both were well below league average in DYAR , a measure of defense-adjusted yards above replacement. Crowell was the 26th ranked back in the league in 2018 (min 100 rush) in that regard and Powell, who recorded far fewer carries, was amongst the worst in the league.

Whether on the ground or through the air the Jets weren’t able to effectively move the ball in 2018.

The skill positions outside of Bell are relatively untouched. Quincy Enunwa has been retained and Robby Anderson has been second-round tendered. With the only significant addition being Jamison Crowder so far, many of those same offensive pieces will need to improve to make the offense a more efficient one. The addition of LG Kelechi Osemele should be treated as a neutral move as he only ranked 61st by PFF grade in 2018.

So what about Le’Veon Bell himself?

Well, as a start, he’s light years ahead of what the Jets had before. He’s never been particularly efficient though. His 49% success rate wasn’t much better than the league average and his fantasy points per touch ranked him just 61st leaguewide (playerprofiler). His value is and always was in the sheer amount of volume he’s able to handle, however, as well as his ability to churn yards in every situation. Even against a stacked front, Bell was able to average 4.3YPC, an unspectacular but solid mark (12th NFL). Though the obvious argument of Pittsburg’s superior offensive line will be asked, Bell didn’t necessarily rely on wide open running lanes anyway. His 91 evaded tackles (4th overall) are evidence of that. Combine this with his excellence as a receiver and Bell won’t be game scripted out of any contest. Comparatively, his DYAR was a top-five mark in 2017.

That has its own value.

As a dynasty asset…

Bell is technically still in his prime. According to this article by Scott Barrett, Bell, with five accrued seasons in the league, should experience no more than a 10% decline from years 6-8. While he may not be a long term asset, we should expect to see much of the same from Le’Veon for the foreseeable future. As his contract should tie him to the Jets through at least the 2020 season, there is projectable stability to celebrate.

Final thoughts…

Bell will likely see a decrease in touchdowns but isn’t at risk of a huge downtick in opportunity. While Bell did receive an absurd opportunity share in Pittsburgh, there’s no real reason for that to change now that he wears green and white. Even if the offensive line is cited as an issue, Bell will also be targeted aplenty. Bell’s approximate 1.10-1.12 ADP is right in line with where he should be taken. He will still be a top 5-7 back.

Thanks for reading.

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Etan Mozia has been involved with sports as a whole for over two decades and has written about athletics in some capacity since 2005. Focused primarily on the NFL and EPL, Etan has seen his work featured on sites like FantasyPros, Advanced Sports Logic, and FFD260 among others. Currently, his work is housed on FantraxHQ and FantasyPros. An avid lover of dynasty leagues specifically, you can also listen to him on his podcast, The Dynasty Diagnostic (@DynoDiagnostic), as he breaks down rosters and provides pertinent and practical advice for dynasty squads looking to give their team an edge. Follow him on twitter @FF_Wonderkid.

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