Le’Veon Bell’s fantasy value is not dead in wake of Frank Gore signing

Credit: Steven Ryan/Getty Images
Credit: Steven Ryan/Getty Images /

Adam Gase hinted at reducing Le’Veon Bell’s workload, and the Jets’ signing of Frank Gore confirms some sort of plan.

After a year out of action, it was not too surprising Le’Veon Bell had the worst season of his career for the New York Jets last year. He most notably averaged a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry with just four total touchdowns, which obscures his 66 receptions.

Bell had the eighth-most touches in the league last year (311), and if he hadn’t missed one game he almost surely would have been top-five. On Monday Jets’ head coach Adam Gase hinted at reducing Bell’s workload, and on Tuesday Frank Gore was signed to a one-year deal.

Gore played for the Miami Dolphins in 2018, when Gase was the head coach there, so it will be a reunion. The soon-to-be 37-year old (May 14) is coming off a career low in rushing yards for the Buffalo Bills last year, but he led the Dolphins in rushing in 2018 (722 yards) as he averaged a nice 4.6 yards per carry.

Despite having a disappointing season in 2019, Bell came in as RB21 in standard fantasy scoring and RB16 in full-point PPR (RB17 in half-point PPR). While he wasn’t at the elite level he set as a Pittsburgh Steeler, he was hardly useless to his fantasy owners.

Gore’s streak of 200-plus carry seasons ended in 2018, but he has still topped 150 carries in each of the last two seasons. That type of workload is probably not coming as a Jet this year, unless Bell is out for multiple games, but he’s sure to siphon a few carries per game from Bell.

Bell had a 60.6 percent share of the Jets’ red zone carries last year, but Gore doesn’t feel like a major threat to that with just five rushing scores over the last three seasons. Gore’s role has a pass catcher has also been reduced since his three-season run with the Colts (2015-2017), with 25 catches on 32 targets over the last two seasons.

The most significant work Gore sees as Bell’s primary backup stands to be the middle 60-80 yards of the field, and on the most obvious rushing downs (as much as there should be such a thing). If that amounts to much more than a handful of low leverage touches per game, color me shocked.

In the wake of Gase’s comments, and his possible ongoing disdain of the fact the Jets signed Bell, the signing of Gore inspires a little bit more than a cursory glance. But Bell’s fantasy stock is not impacted by the move, and based on the Jets improving the offensive line this offseason the arrow is still tentatively pointed up for him in 2020.

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