Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Le'Veon Bell - Still a Fantasy First-Rounder?

We are largely in uncharted territory when it comes to Le'Veon Bell. If there has been a previous instance of an elite player sitting out a full season and changing teams, I'm not aware of it.

We last saw Bell play football in 2017. As a Steeler, Bell benefited from one of the league's best offensive lines, a top quarterback, and an overall excellent offense. After not playing for the entirety of 2018, we have to try and figure out the combined impact of a new team and not playing for a full season.

He is established as an elite running back, is just 27 years old, and should be fresh after a year-long hiatus. But does he warrant a first-round pick in 2019?

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Plenty of Pros

In 2017, Bell led the NFL with 406 touches. Back in 2016, although playing in just 12 games, Bell actually averaged more fantasy points per game than David Johnson. We have never known a Le'Veon Bell that was anything other than an elite fantasy asset.

One aspect of Bell's game that we should not worry about is his opportunity. The Jets have very little behind Bell on the depth chart and, even so, Bell is far too talented to share a backfield. 400 touches is certainly within his range of outcomes. Even with massive volume, it is foolish to think that Bell's ceiling, or even his expected performance, is anywhere close to what it was in Pittsburgh.

Bell's patient running style relies on an offensive line opening up holes allowing him to shoot through them. In 2018, the Jets offensive line ranked dead last in adjusted line yards and stuff percentage. While it is reasonable to expect an improvement, the Jets offensive line still projects to fall in the lower third of the league. Will Bell's running style work behind a weak offensive line? If not, will Bell be able to modify his game to deal with an offensive line that can't block? These are questions that I do not have the answer to. If I did, there wouldn't be a question over whether Bell is still worth a first round pick in fantasy - we would know for sure one way or the other.

I can confidently say that I do not think Bell's talent has gone anywhere. I also think that 100+ targets is likely. Bell's floor is probably 2018 David Johnson. His ceiling is the problem. Sam Darnold is not Ben Roethlisberger and the Jets passing game does not pose quite the threat the Steelers did, which helped open up the run (because it has been proven that the passing game opens up the run, not the other way around). That certainly will cap Bell's touchdown upside, but the lower caliber passing game also could mean more targets for Bell.

Last season, Elijah McGuire was the best fantasy running back on the Jets, averaging 11.3 ppg. In order for Bell to be worth a first-round pick, we need to be able to reasonably project approximately 17 ppg (last season eight running backs averaged over 20 ppg, which is the most since 2012, which is as far back as I checked and unlikely to happen again). Assuming a full 16 games, we need to get Bell to 272 fantasy points. Can we do it?


Path to RB1

Last season, the Jets scored 11 rushing touchdowns. I do not think it is fair to give all 11 of those to Bell. I think eight is a much more realistic number. We can tack on two receiving touchdowns. The Jets rushed for 1,622 yards. I don't feel comfortable giving Bell more than 1,100 of those and even that feels high. Jets running backs had a total of 599 receiving yards on 68 total receptions. It is exceedingly difficult to project Bell's receiving totals. He's obviously a far better receiver than the Jets' medley of running backs in 2018 and he will have more pass plays designed for him, but defenses also know this and will account for this.

Over his career, Bell has averaged five receptions per game, and that was on a team that consistently had elite receiving options. I'm okay with giving Bell 80 receptions at seven yards per reception (which is lower than his career average of 8.5). So we've got him at 1660 total yards, 80 receptions, and 10 touchdowns. That totals 306 fantasy points or 19.1 ppg. If Bell can achieve the above, he will be well worth a late first round pick.

My concern is that I think what I just projected is just about Bell's ceiling. Even if Darnold takes an expected step forward, the Jets offensive line would need to improve to at least average for Bell to meet or exceed my projections. If Darnold does not improve and, more importantly, if the Jets offensive line remains bad, Bell could very well end up struggling to reach 1000 rushing yards with his yards per reception dropping even lower than I projected, resulting in something like 400 receiving yards to go along with a total of just six touchdowns. Either way, Bell is going to need to rack up the receptions to remain an RB1.



Bell's ceiling is a mid RB1. His volume is so secure that his floor is a high RB2. Bell does not have the upside to be a true game-changer like 2016 DJ, 2017 Todd Gurley, or 2018 Christian McCaffrey. However, Bell is a safe pick at the back end of the first round and unlikely to be the type of first-round landmine that derails your season. I count eight players I would definitely take over Bell: Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins. After these guys, if you want to make Bell your selection, feel free to do so.

In conclusion, Bell is still worthy of a first-round selection, but he is certainly not a lock to be taken there, nor should you feel bad if you choose to pass on him in favor of Joe Mixon, James Conner, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, JuJu Smith-Schuster, or Michael Thomas, to name a few.


More Fantasy Football Analysis

More Recent Articles


Updated Week 7 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 7 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 7 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Josh Gordon has officially been ruled out for Week 7. Todd Gurley was not on the final injury report and is expected to play. David Johnson (ankle)... Read More

Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 7

In Week 6, Julio Jones didn't score, but he came through with a decent fantasy day, going over 100-yards receiving. Brandin Cooks brutal Week 6 showing was a little bit of a surprise given his 2018 track record against the 49ers, but the Rams offensive line was overwhelmed which led to a rough day for... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 7

Welcome to our Week 7 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Week 7 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

Even if this doesn’t turn out to be great MNF game, at least it's a divisional game with some importance. This is what Jets fans need to tell themselves heading into their second Monday Night Football game of the season. With the New England Patriots coming to town off their annual semi-bye in which they... Read More

The King's Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 7

Welcome to Week 7, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football season. These player selections are based off my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More

Fantasy Football Rookies to Watch - Darius Slayton, Jakobi Meyers, Josh Oliver

Week 7 is here RotoBallers, which means we're smack dab in the middle of the regular fantasy season! In case you are new to this column, each week we'll highlight a few first-year players who are worth keeping your eye on. Not all of the players listed below are must-starts, but all of them are... Read More

Fleaflicker's Most Added and Dropped: Week 7

Every year and in every sport, a few teams march effortlessly towards the ultimate prize as if it's been preordained. When seemingly invincible teams like these are beaten, it's not always by the quality of their opponent but instead by their own psychological mindset. They look past a lesser opponent and fall victim to the... Read More

Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 7 Josh Gordon has officially been ruled out for Week 7. Todd Gurley was not on the final injury... Read More

Week 7 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

Pass Rush vs QB Matchups to Watch - Week 7

It's Week 7 and the injuries just keep piling up. Heading into this week, six different teams will be starting quarterbacks that were not their opening-day starters, and that doesn't take into account teams like the Indianapolis Colts or Kansas City Chiefs, who just lost quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) for at least three weeks. To... Read More

Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 7

In Week 6, we once again saw some great football, starting with the New England Patriots continuing their undefeated start to the season and ending with one of the most controversial games of the week as the Green Bay Packers overcame the Detroit Lions. The London games continued with Jameis Winston struggling once again, this... Read More

Is Stefon Diggs Really Back?

Weeks 1-5: 4.6 targets, 3.2 receptions, 50.6 yards per game, one touchdown. Week 6: 11 targets, eight receptions, 167 yards, three touchdowns. All of these numbers show a marked improvement on the season averages of Stefon Diggs in Minnesota. But, do they tell the whole story? Do they really signify that Diggs should be considered... Read More

Inside the Tent - Week 7 NFL Injury Insight

At RotoBaller, we can't stress enough the importance of keeping up with injuries and playing your best lineup week after week. Players are going to get injured, that's an unavoidable fact. What's avoidable though is making the wrong roster decisions based on the injuries surrounding your fantasy squad. If you want to dominate your leagues... Read More

Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More

Week 7 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that bye weeks are in full swing; streaming becomes a more viable and almost necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions throughout the season could easily be the difference in winning a championship. Each week, I... Read More