What is LeVeon Bell's Fantasy Value in New York?

Mar 20, 2019
What is LeVeon Bell's Fantasy Value in New York?

Once the league year started on March 13, the New York Jets officially signed LeVeon Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $35 million guaranteed. Bell (mostly) got the payday that he was looking for, but how will the move to New York impact the star back’s fantasy value?

LeVeon Bell’s Track Record

It’s no secret that LeVeon Bell has been among the best fantasy running backs since entering the league in 2013. Since his rookie year, Bell ranks second in both touches and PPR points per game, including a stretch from 2014–2017 where he finished as a top-five PPR back three times, with two top-two finishes. Much of that value can be attributed to his prowess in the passing game—Bell has finished outside the top 10 at his position in targets per game just once and ranked first in that category in each of the last two seasons that he’s played.

While that production has been great for past fantasy owners, it’s meant a lot of miles on the Bell tires—he is one of six players with at least 1,300 total touches since 2013 and he didn’t even play in 2018. The other backs include two players who retired after 2017 along with LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and Lamar Miller. None of those names are particularly exciting.

Part of Bell’s reasoning for not playing under the franchise tag in Pittsburgh may have been because he noticed that wear and tear catching up with him—he hasn’t played a full season since 2014 and missed at least four games twice in that span. His year off from football surely gave his body a much-needed rest but the other side of that coin is wondering whether he is in “football shape”.

How Adam Gase Impacts LeVeon Bell

Adam Gase has been an offensive coordinator or head coach for each of the last six seasons, but the first two seasons were with Peyton Manning at quarterback, a player who single-handedly skewed the play-calling of any team he was under center for. Over his last four seasons as a play caller, however, Gase has utilized the running back position almost as much as any coach in the league. Since 2015, Gase’s running backs have averaged a 58.6% team touch share with three of those offenses ranked in the top 10 in running back touch share. Additionally, his teams have ranked in the top half of the league in running back target share in three of the last four seasons.

The reason Gase hasn’t produced a top-notch fantasy back—especially during his three-year tenure in Miami—is two-fold: the lack of a true featured back and game script. Going back to 2016, no Miami back was offered at least 300 touches under Gase and only one exceeded the 200-touch mark in a season. Meanwhile, only four teams have run more plays while trailing by at least a touchdown than the Dolphins over the last three seasons.

In Bell, Gase now has a back that can handle the vast majority of what has traditionally been a very high positional touch share. Whether the game script concerns will be alleviated in New York is much more unclear.

How the Jets Impact LeVeon Bell

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