Le'Veon Bell Fantasy Outlook Makes Him Buy Low Candidate Ahead of Sam Darnold Return in Week 6

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 22: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets warms up prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Le'Veon Bell's production with the New York Jets hasn't lived up to what we're used to seeing from him, with 372 yards from scrimmage and only one touchdown through his first four games.

With an average draft position (ADP) inside the first round this summer, ranking only 23rd among running backs in standard scoring fantasy points per game is an obvious disappointment. Even in PPR, where Bell is currently RB10 on a per-game basis, it's concerning how reliant he has been on his high reception total.

However, we can expect Bell to bounce back from his terrible early-season rushing efficiency in the coming weeks.

On the surface, those numbers might look like reasons to bail on Bell, not reasons to be optimistic. He's played three of his four games without starting QB Sam Darnold though, which has allowed defenses to sell out to stop the run.

Per the NFL's Next Gen Stats, 22.5 percent of Bell's carries this season have come against a defense that had at least eight defenders in the box — the 15th highest rate among the 41 backs with at least 30 carries in 2019. In Week 1 (his lone game with Darnold), that rate was a paltry 5.9 percent, which would be tied for the sixth-lowest mark on the season.

It's no surprise that he also posted his highest yards per carry average in that game.

Darnold wasn't shy about targeting Bell in the passing game either, and the seventh-year back caught six-of-nine targets. The entire offense should get a boost with Darnold back, and that should also lead to an increase in TD opportunities, as Bell's lone score also came in Week 1.

Even with the Jets struggling and playing a backup QB, Bell has notched at least 20 opportunities in all four games this season, averaging 25.8 (17.8 carries plus 8.0 targets) per contest. That's the second-highest average in the NFL, and with even the slightest improvement in efficiency we can expect Bell to quickly find himself among the fantasy football elite once again.

He may have a tough Week 6 matchup on tap against the Dallas Cowboys, but with Darnold returning to action, now is the time to get aggressive in sending out trade offers to try to acquire Bell.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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