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Fantasy Football Free Agency: Le’Veon Bell & The New York Jets

Fantasy Football Free Agency: Le’Veon Bell & The New York Jets
Davis Mattek March 13, 2019 9:05AM EDT

Le’Veon Bell Signs With The New York Jets In Fantasy Football Free Agency

Le’Veon Bell has finally ended his year-long saga and signed with the New York Jets. The four-year, 52.5 million dollar deal will install him as the lead running back for the New York Jets for the foreseeable future. The Jets will finally have a first round pick in fantasy football for the first time since Curtis Martin! Le’Veon lead the NFL in touches his final playing season in Pittsburgh (2017) and given the roster construction in New York, it would be unsurprising to see him contend for that in 2019.

The new Jets head coach, Adam Gase, has had some interesting uses of running backs in the past. As an offensive coordinator in 2013, with a record-breaking Peyton Manning, there was a three-way split with Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman all receiving touches. In 2014, four running backs in Denver saw over 60 touches while only C.J Anderson got more than 200. Gase the moved to be the offensive coordinator in Chicago, which saw Matt Forte ceding around 30% of the backfield work to Jeremy Langford (it is worth pointing out that this was the last year Matt Forte had any juice at all).

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As head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Gase made some truly weird choices with his running backs. In 2016, Jay Ayjai completely dominated the backfield. No other player saw more than 35 carries and Ayjai was fourth on the team in targets. In 2017, Ayjai started the season with 138 carries and 20 targets in 7 games before being traded. Then, Kenyan Drake lead the way while Damien Williams played in a complementary role. Gase appeared to lose it in 2018, giving Frank Gore 168 touches to Kenyan Drake’s 173.

So what does all of this mean for Le’Veon Bell in 2019?

Fantasy Football Free Agency Impact: Le’Veon Bell As A New York Jet

As stubborn and illogical as Adam Gase appears to be at times, the signing of this contract had to be done with either his consent or knowledge. When the New York Jets organization hired him, they had to have communicated that Le’Veon Bell was coming or that it was a possibility that he was coming. The other running backs on the roster are Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon. Cannon is a decent special teamer and could even be held on the practice squad. McGuire is a fine third-down back who was injured for most of last season and will likely play a complementary role to Le’Veon this year. I would not be surprised to see Crowell on the move as there really is not a role left for him here. It doesn’t make much sense to have a grinder runner like Crowell take carries from Le’Veon Bell.

The real question in projecting this offense is not Le’Veon, but Sam Darnold. If Darnold plays similarly to how he did in December, where he was the best QB in the NFL, this offense could be special. Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Christopher Herndon is a solid group of pass-catchers. Le’Veon Bell and his patient brand of running and ability as a pass-catcher should at the very least not be a negative to Darnold’s development. For real football, I do not love the contract but for fantasy football, I do like the fit. Bell should slide into around 65% of the Jets total rushing attempts and between 12 and 15% of their total passing attempts. If Darnold progresses and Adam Gase doesn’t run the slowest offense in the NFL, Bell should return to an approximation of his performances in Pittsburgh.

Fantasy Football Free Agency Signings:

Latavius Murray

Devin Funchess

DeSean Jackson

Jamison Crowder

ODell Beckham

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