The mystery is over.
After a drama that just wouldn’t end, Le’Veon Bell finally bids adieu to the Pittsburgh Steelers in favor of the New York Jets.
The pros are pretty simple: He’s elite, fits any system, and will be run into the ground.
The cons include a million miles on the odometer, not playing last year, having to learn a new offense may take time, and building chemistry with new teammates on an inferior roster. The Jets should be better on offense under Adam Gase, but it is hardly a guarantee he will turn it around quickly.
There are some pieces in place to make this transition somewhat less painful, although it will all start up front. The offensive line will look quite different in 2019 — which isn’t a bad thing, in theory, because it won’t take much too improve upon last year’s dismal run-blocking performance. The Jets ranked among the worst teams in the NFL at opening holes, according to Football Outsiders.
The receiving corps is shaky, at best, even with the additions of Josh Bellamy and Jamison Crowder. Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa hardly scare defenders. The tight end position is on the come-up with Chris Herndon entering Year 2. And, of course, it all eyes will be on Sam Darnold in his sophomore season.
The offense will run through Bell on the ground and in the short-passing game, so touches won’t be a concern. Staying upright could be a problem, and he has his fair share off-the-field baggage from past missteps.
New York’s defense needs to drastically improve to allow Bell to run with consistency, so it stands to reason his overall rushing work could be depressed and made up for by a heavy receiving volume. His patient, jump-cut-and-go style tends to mask deficiencies along the offensive line. Nevertheless, defenders will have little else to focus their attention on stopping, unlike in Pittsburgh.
Fantasy football outlook
Bell will be drafted as a rock-solid RB1 in just about all leagues based on name recognition. He will need to outperform his situation to live up to such a billing, and the risk involved in spending a first-round pick on him is undeniable. However, Bell is an elite talent and will have a major role, regardless of how effective he performs. Keep a close eye on the offensive line moves yet to be made by the Jets.
One area that cannot be quantified is Gase’s inexplicably poor use of Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake. He was easily the best offensive weapon in Miami a year ago, and Drake was criminally under-utilized. Gase is mostly known for his work with quarterbacks, which indirectly helps Bell’s case if Darnold takes his game to the next level with sub-optimal talent catching his throws.
Depending on a multitude of factors, entirely passing on Bell isn’t a terrible decision for some gaming formats. His peak value is in full-point PPR atop the second round, but it’s highly unlikely to work out that way in 12-team setups. Don’t be shocked if he nets out as a modest No. 2 back when all is said and done, though.