Is Le'Veon Bell Destined to Fly Over His Yardage Prop?
Based on how bad his inaugural season with the Jets was, running back Le'Veon Bell has almost nowhere to go but up in year two.
FanDuel Sportsbook lists Bell's total yards from scrimmage at 1,299.5 yards (-112) and total touchdowns at 6.5 (-140). Can he surpass his lowly totals in 2020 or is the continued decline of Bell evident with New York?
Jet Up: Bell's First Year in New York
In 2019, Bell had his lowest rushing touchdown total (3) since he played six games in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He recorded 245 rushing attempts, 16.3 per game, and faced eight-man boxes 17.14% of the time despite it seeming like a lot more because of poor offensive line play.
The Jets averaged 0.7 rushing yards before contact per attempt per Pro Football Focus, the lowest mark of any team in the NFL, and allowed 27.5% pressure in 2.5 seconds or less making life tough for Darnold and Bell. Despite that lack of assistance from the offensive line that finished 28th overall in 2019 per PFF's rankings, Bell finished with the second-best rushing efficiency of all running backs (4.48) per NFL NextGen Stats.
He spent 2.86 seconds on average behind the line of scrimmage in 2019, after spending 3.11 seconds off a career-year with the Steelers in 2017.
There's reason to believe Bell is in store for another 300-touch season. Bell's touches to increase in 2020 after surpassing 300 total rushes and receptions (311) in a single-season for the fourth time in six seasons.
The only seasons Bell failed to reach 300 touches were his rookie season (299) and 2015 when he missed 10 games (137).
Bell also finished second in team receptions with 66, trailing only Jamison Crowder's 78 catches. He saw 78 targets, the seventh-most of all running backs. Darnold dropped back 33.92 times per game in his 13 starts of 2019 going 7-6 as a starter with Bell being his number two pass-catching option. Bell should resume that role and as a primary target even as New York drafted Denzel Mims, and signed Breshad Perriman and Josh Doctson to join Crowder in the receiving corps.
In total, Bell posted solid overall numbers with the Jets, 1,250 total yards on 311 touches averaging 4.01 yards per touch.
Run It Back: Bell's Second Year in New York
Coming off an underwhelming, disappointing, or whatever you want to call his last season, he should nail the over on yards in season two with New York. Bell only would need to add 50 more total yards than last season's total to eclipse his FanDuel yardage prop for 2020.
Plus, he doesn't exactly have a ton of competition for touches between the 20s. The most worrisome component of Bell's player prop totals is that he had four goal line carries on the whole season, and the signing of Gore will impact that.
Gore may take away from Bell's red zone opportunities, but let's not forget Bell (6'1" and 230 pounds) outweighs and stands taller than Gore (5'9" and 217 pounds). Gore saw 11 goal line carries with the Buffalo Bills in 2019 to go along two rushing touchdowns, outproducing Bell in that aspect, but Gore can't do much else at 37-years-old.
Not thinking that Bell can exceed his yardage total when he was so close last year in a terrible situation is naive if you ask me.
Just two years ago he was discussed as the best back in football. With one of the worst lines in football, an injured quarterback and offensive weapons, and a new coach, you have a recipe for a challenging first season.
Regardless of how many wins they may achieve, their small small improvements entering year two put Bell on the path to hit the over.
There's only one way up from here for Bell. Both he and the Jets seemed determined after a disappointing 2019 as a whole. Take the over on his 1,299.5 total yards (-112) as he's going to combine for 300-plus touches rushing and receiving once again.
However, with the arrival of Gore and Darnold's new wide receivers, Bell's touchdown prop may be worth laying off of for this season, but take advantage of his entirely too-low yardage prop.