I may end up moving to Europe for a month or two as all the big news seems to be happening while we’re all asleep in the United States. After all, most of us missed the entire Antonio Brown era in Buffalo the other night. Now, many of us woke up this morning to find the Le’Veon Bell saga has finally reached its end with Bell agreeing to a four-year contract with the New York Jets worth $52.5 million and $35 million of that being guaranteed. The deal has far reaching dynasty impact from New York to Pittsburgh. Let’s take a look at the players whose values have been affected as a result of one of fantasy football greatest assets finally returning to the field and dynasty lineups.
Le’Veon Bell, RB NYJ
It’s fair to wonder if Bell regrets his decision to sit out last season. On one hand, he avoided injury and got the long-term contract with a good chunk of guaranteed money he wanted. On the other, he lost out on $14.5 million under the franchise tag, passed on what looked to be better offers from Pittsburgh and didn’t reset the market for running backs as he predicted he would. Regardless, Bell will be back where he belongs – on football fields and back in fantasy lineups.
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Over his five-year career in Pittsuburgh, Bell has been one of the most dominant forces in all of fantasy football, posting 5,336 rushing yards, 312 receptions, 2,660 receiving yards and a total of 42 touchdowns over the span of 62 total games played. At just 27 years old and with a year of wear and tear avoided, Bell enters the prime of his career with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders carrying the young offense of the Jets. He should be up to the task and offer New York the type of bellcow runner they haven’t had since the days of one Curtis Martin. Unfortunately, the Jets still need some work on the offensive line and Sam Darnold needs to develop quickly to avoid defenses stacking the box against Bell. They also need more weapons in the receiving corps to balance out their schemes.
In short, Bell is going to get all he can handle. It’s safe to downgrade him a touch because his supporting cast and offensive line in New York is nowhere near as dangerous as it was in Pittsburgh. In addition, there is a risk of injury to a player who hasn’t been hit in over a year. Still, Bell is an extraordinarily patient and explosive runner who can make any one yard gain into four or five almost at will. He’s going to be a plug and play RB1 and should be a great pillar for dynasty teams to build around yet again. His ADP should be stable now that he’s officially found a home and it could start to rise again.
Sam Darnold, QB NYJ
The Jets still have a lot of work to do as they build this offense. They were 26th in the league last year in rushing and Bell clearly helps that. However, the skill position pass catchers that consist of Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder and Chris Herndon all have a ways to go before they keep Bill Belichick and the Patriots brass spending late nights wondering just how to beat the Jets. Still, this is great news for Darnold. Bell is one of the best pass catching backs of all-time and he’s going to make life much easier for the young quarterback. I’d expect Darnold’s ADP to rise with the additions of Crowder and Bell this off-season. As for the receivers, you could make a case this helps get some coverage off of them as well.
Elijah McGuire, RB NYJ
It’s unfortunate McGuire was injured before the season began last year. He had a golden opportunity to make his mark in the Jets backfield and was only able to play in the last half of the season. In 24 career games, McGuire has posted 591 rushing yards, 370 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns. There have been times where he’s looked pretty serviceable, but his career yards per carry average of 3.3 obviously didn’t instill a ton of confidence in the coaching staff of the Jets. McGuire looks to be a possible handcuff to Bell, but he’s also going to be cut off a lot of dynasty rosters to make room for rookies this Spring and Summer.
Isaiah Crowell, RB NYJ
Crowell signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Jets last year and was largely a disappointment outside of a couple big games. A foot injury ended his season and while he was able to post 685 rushing yards on a healthy 4.8 yards per carry, he only had two games with more than 50 yards rushing and his numbers were really inflated due to a 15/219/1 performance in a single game against the Broncos last year. At this point, it seems likely (if not imminent) Crowell gets released by the Jets very soon.
Well, there goes that deep sleeper appeal. With Bell in the mix, it will be extremely difficult for these two to see the field very much. They’re names to file away in case Bell was to get injured, but there are likely far better project options for your dynasty rosters.
James Conner, RB PIT
Simply put, Conner was fantastic as the replacement for Bell in Pittsburgh last year as he rushed for 973 yards, caught 55 passes for 497 yards and scored a whopping 13 touchdowns on a healthy 4.5 yards per carry in just 13 games. There are durability issues with Conner and it’s clear Jaylen Samuels has some talent. However, if the Steelers fail to address the situation with another free agent running back or don’t add one in the draft, Conner is squarely on the map as a RB1 next season and beyond. He’s a dynasty asset to hold on to pretty tightly at the moment. As for Samuels, he’s a sleeper in every sense of the word and a player Conner owners should target as insurance. At this point, Conner’s ADP of 23 seems pretty safe.
Other Starting Running Backs
With a three-down workhorse now off the market, some dynasty owners are temporarily breathing a sigh of relief as many starting running backs are currently retaining their status at the top of their team’s depth chart. These players would include Marlon Mack, Jordan Howard, Aaron Jones, Lamar Miller, Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake, Jalen Richard, Josh Adams, Matt Breida, Peyton Barber and many more. With more free agents (Tevin Coleman) set to sign here soon and the NFL Draft just over a month away, none of these players are out of the woods quite yet. Dynasty owners would be wise not to make deals for any of them since their respective situations could change quickly.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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