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Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: David Bell, WR CLE

What role will David Bell fill in Cleveland’s new-look offense? We examine what he will offer as a pro.

David Bell

The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profiles and where they fit.

Name: David Bell

Position: Wide Receiver

Pro Team: Cleveland Browns

College Team: Purdue

Draft Status: Round three, pick 99

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

COMBINE REVIEW

STRENGTHS

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Stats via Sports Reference.

Many words have been written regarding Bell’s route-running prowess, Velcro-like hands, smooth body control, and strong release package. These skills immediately jump off the film and will bode well for the Purdue alum on Sundays. Yet, his ability to establish himself as the alpha of the receiver’s room in West Lafayette from day one should not go overlooked.

After a season-ending injury to dynamic, playmaking teammate Rondale Moore in 2019, Bell immediately took control of the aerial attack and led the Boilermakers in receptions and yards over the next three seasons.

WEAKNESSES

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Relative Athletic Score via Kent Lee Platte.

Both the tape and analytics confirm Bell is far from an outstanding athlete. In fact, he lacks the elite upside of many of his positional peers selected in the previous 98 picks due to this deficiency. Yet, this is not to read that the new Browns’ wideout is unable to break tackles. He does a tremendous job on film using his strength and spatial awareness to make defenders miss at the point of contact.

NFL PLAYER COMPARISON

Some will interpret the Purdue product’s weak testing numbers as a death sentence to his professional outlook. Yet, this would be a tremendous mistake. Bell’s athletic profile closely resembles that of Robert Woods, who has enjoyed a successful career when given the opportunity (top-15 fantasy finish 2018-2020).

Additionally, Bell will be tasked with taking over for another sure-handed possession receiver who ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the combine in Jarvis Landry. Nobody can argue Landry wasn’t a force to be reckoned with in both the actual and fake football arena.

OPPORTUNITIES

Yes, Donovan Peoples-Jones led the Browns in receiving yards (597) last season. However, the positive platitudes about the former Wolverine’s 2021 season end right there. He failed to seize upon his opportunity in the final nine contests (18-331-1) after the departure of Odell Beckham Jr while being plagued with dops and inconsistencies.

In my opinion, Bell is already a more polished receiver than his third-year teammate. Thus, no matter what the Cleveland depth chart currently reads, the Bell will overtake his fellow Big Ten alum as WR2 of the team by the first few weeks of the regular season. Peoples-Jones will grab some flashy headlines in training camp (as he did last August), but will fail to deliver when the lights shine the brightest.

While I expect 2021 third-round pick Anthony Schwartz to become a more productive member of the offense in his sophomore season, he will be more of a deep-threat/gadget player. Therefore, he should have a minimal effect (if any) on Bell’s role as the Browns’ possession receiver.

THREATS

Make no mistake, the leader of the Cleveland Browns receiving corps is Amari Cooper. If healthy, the former Cowboy should command the lion’s share of the targets from new franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. Also, uber-athletic tight end David Njoku will be a key cog of the Browns’ aerial attack as head coach (and play-caller) Kevin Stefanski loves to feature the position. Finally, we mustn’t forget about running back Kareem Hunt who has averaged nearly four targets per game in his three seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.

SHORT-TERM EXPECTATIONS

While I expect Bell to see a healthy number of targets almost immediately in the 2022 season, who is peppering him with said targets is clouded in uncertainty. His new quarterback is facing a suspension of anywhere from four games to the entire season for his alleged past actions. This is not the forum to debate said transgressions, but it should be noted Bell’s fantasy value will take a hit catching passes from Jacoby Brissett as opposed to Watson. This is a situation to monitor over the summer.

LONG-TERM EXPECTATIONS

No matter the 2022 availability of Watson, Bell will benefit from having the two-time Pro Bowler under center for 2023 and beyond. In terms of the Cleveland receiving room, Peoples-Jones should be an afterthought come 2023, leaving Cooper. Yes, the Browns have significant cap space dedicated to Cooper over the next two to three seasons. However, I see his presence on the field as a positive in commanding the attention of opposing secondaries. Expect Bell to solidify himself as a reliable WR2 for both the Browns and your dynasty roster over the next five seasons.

ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE

In single-QB May DLF rookie draft ADP, David Bell is being selected, on average, as the 15th overall player and 11th receiver off the board; going ahead of Alec Pierce and Wan’Dale Robinson but after George Pickens and John Metchie. In Superflex leagues, the 2021 consensus All-American is being drafted as the 14th overall player ahead of Metchie. Personally, I’ve seen Bell go early in the second round (2.02) in one two-quarterback league and was able to snag him at 2.07 in another.

I have and will continue to feel comfortable making a second-round investment in Bell. Contenders and rebuilding squads alike can find value in the Purdue product as he steps into the role in the Cleveland offense vacated by Landry. If you missed out on Bell in your rookie draft, an incoming Watson suspension (especially if it’s eight-plus games) and positive camp reports for Peoples-Jones will offer savvy dynasty GMs an opportunity to acquire Bell at a discount.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: David Bell, WR CLE
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