After a wild few days that have seen big names switching teams, the cherry on top of today’s sundae is Le’Veon Bell finally choosing his new team, the New York Jets. And while it’s still way too early to try to actually make any accurate predictions on his Fantasy value, needless speculation like this is what Fantasy Football is all about, so here is my way too early overview on Bell for the 2019 season.
Bell has always had some injury troubles, but with a full year off to rest up, one would have to think that it helps his chances of staying healthy compared to if he had played for the Steelers on the Franchise Tag for a second year in a row and likely have been wrung out dry to the tune of 350+ touches.
Speaking of touches, Bell should see plenty of them for the Jets. You don’t sign a guy to as big of a contract as the Jets did and not use him, especially with a young QB who could clearly still use some seasoning before he can take full control of the offense.
The Jets have also made some potential improvements on offense with the additions of OG Kelechi Osemele and WR Jamison Crowder. QB Sam Darnold is also expected to make strides in what should be an improved offense for Gang Green.
So while all of that is well and good, note I said “potential improvements” in my above assessments. Bell and the Jets’ offense will be counting on a lot of bounce back years health wise if they want to meet heightened expectations.
Their top 2 WRs, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder, missed 5 and 7 games respectively last season due to injury, and Darnold missed 3 games. They’ll need to not only raise their level of play to keep defenses from loading up the box on Bell, but also remain healthy.
Newly acquired OG Osemele also struggled with injuries last season, missing the Pro Bowl for the first time in 3 seasons as result, and at 29 years old it’s not impossible that this could be a sign of things to come for the long-time veteran. Plus he’s so far been the only major addition to a suspect Jets’ O-Line, whereas Bell had the luxury of playing behind a great Line during his time in Pittsburgh.
Then there’s Bell himself to worry about. Due to a combination of injuries and suspensions, Bell had missed a combined 18 games from 2013-17. And while is time off should help with the wear and tear, his injury history is still notable, especially since his yards per touch dropped drastically in his last season, going from 5.6 YPT in 2016 to just 4.8 in 2017.
While injuries are a very real worry for Bell and the offense he’s playing in, there is every reason to expect him to easily clear 300 total touches in an offense that desperately needs a star player to turn to. He’ll only prove to be even more valuable in PPR Leagues, as a Darnold will likely target the former Steeler often in an offense devoid of standout weapons.
I would say as things stand now, I’d be willing to draft Bell late, maybe mid-1st, in PPR Leagues, and early 2nd in standard.