Le’Veon Bell should be moving to a new team next season. There are talks that the Pittsburgh Steelers could still use the transition tag Bell, but at this point, the relationship seems too far gone to repair. With Antonio Brown also officially asking for a trade, it looks like the Killer B’s are getting split up for the 2019 season. Here are some good fits for Bell that will also make sure his fantasy football production remains what it usually is.
Le’Veon Bell Fantasy Football Optimal Landing Spots
If Bell wants to go to a team ready to win it all now, the Houston Texans are probably his best bet. Houston already has arguably the best wide receiver in the game in DeAndre Hopkins, so teams can’t just stack the box to take Bell out of the game. In addition, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s mobility makes any running back more productive. The Texans boasted the 11th ranked offense in points scored last season. Those numbers could easily improve with Bell in the offense, with plenty of fantasy points to go around.
Even the pedestrian Lamar Miller had six games with over 100 yards from scrimmage last season and averaged 4.6 yards-per-carry. This is in stark difference to 2017, when Miller played most of the season without Watson. Miller had zero 100-yard games without Watson in the lineup last season. Admittedly, Miller didn’t have any 100-yard games with Watson in the lineup either, but his production plummeted without his young quarterback. After Watson’s ACL injury in Week six, Miller couldn’t even crack 62 yards on the ground the rest of the year. Miller is expected to be let go this off-season, so if Bell does sign, the backfield will basically be his.
As good as the Texans offense was, the defense was even better. The team was fourth in the NFL in points against last season. In fact, none of the Texans five losses in the regular season last year were by more than seven points. Houston was in every single game they played, including their losses. This means more opportunities for Bell, as Houston won’t have to abandon their run game because they are getting blown out. Of course, the team has some work to do in the off-season, including re-signing some of their key defensive players like Jadeveon Clowney.
Another great fit for Bell would be the Indianapolis Colts. This team has a similar makeup to Houston in that they already have a great quarterback and wide receiver to complement him. Andrew Luck showed the entire league that he can still play, taking home the comeback player of the year award for 2018. Luck plays similarly to Bell’s old teammate Ben Roethlisberger, using his big frame to step up in the pocket and make plays downfield. Luck can easily fake out defenses, making them think he is going deep, and then dunk it off to Bell and let him do the rest.
At wide receiver, the Colts have T.Y. Hilton. While he may not be quite as dynamic as Brown or Hopkins, he’s still a top wide receiver in the league and demands attention from defenses. The more focus a defense has to put on a wide receiver, the less attention Bell will get.
However, one issue that could affect Bell’s usage is the presence of two other young backs in Indy, Marlon Mack, and Nyheim Hines. Mack has issues staying healthy, but when on the field, he hits holes hard and fast. He compiled 908 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground in only 12 games last year. Hines was mostly the passing back, and he compiled 425 yards receiving for the season. One would have to wonder how much both Mack and Hines would cut into Bell’s workload if he does decide Indianapolis is his best spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The wild card team here is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are a ton of questions about Jameis Winston at quarterback for the Buccaneers. The former Florida State quarterback couldn’t even lock down the starting job over the grizzled veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2018. Winston began the year serving a suspension for conduct issues off the field. He and Fitzpatrick were both wildly inconsistent throughout the year, getting benched and un-benched repeatedly.
One thing that wasn’t really talked about during that span was their run game. Peyton Barber operated as their primary back, but he was so ineffective that the Buccaneers often abandoned the run game completely. Overall, Tampa Bay was 29th in the NFL in total rushing yards, and second-to-last in yards-per-rush with a measly 3.9. Bell would immediately flip that number, and potentially even help get Winston back on track.
Probably the biggest reason that would draw Bell to the Bucs is their new head coach, Bruce Arians. Arians is known for his creative offenses. He gave new life to older players like Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. At running back, he even brought Chris Johnson back from the dead. Of course, the most recent player he brought to stardom is David Johnson. Just a few years ago, Johnson was an absolute monster in fantasy, carrying many people’s teams to championship titles.
Johnson broke his hand in Week one of 2017, Arians’ last year as the Cardinals head coach. This year, Johnson looked like a shell of himself. Sure, a lot of it had to do with some of the worst NFL play calling possible, but one has to wonder how much of a role Arians had in Johnson’s production. Bell and Arians could be a match made in heaven. That combination just might reestablish Bell as the consensus RB1 in fantasy.
There is no questioning how talented Bell is. No matter what team he goes to, he should be a top-five fantasy back at the very least. However, we have seen even the best runners stifled by bad coaching philosophies and team fits. Bell needs to make sure he not only weighs how much money he is going to get from his new team but also how well he will gel in his new offense. The Texans, Colts, and Buccaneers all have a need at the position. Bell will fit right into any of these offenses, and make it easier for fantasy team owners to draft Bell high next year.