The Detroit offense is going to be incredible in 2014. At least I hope it is. I expect Joique Bells fantasy value to sky rocket, or at least be valuable enough to be a fantasy starter.
I know plenty of people who are probably ready to call me crazy. What I say is, crazy is that a “backup” finished as a top-17 fantasy back in 2013. In fact, according to PPF, he scored a fantasy point every time he touched the ball (for PPR).
I know we focus primarily on standard scoring here, but if a guy is doing that in PPR, he’s carrying some value in standard leagues as well.
For the past two years Bell has caught more than 50 passes in the Detroit offense and the Lions gave him a two-year, $7 million dollar contract this offseason. Call me crazy, but that isn’t exactly backup money.
Real Life Yards = Real Life Fantasy Points
At the start of the 2014 offseason the pass-happy Scott Linehan left the Lions, a situation which I have addressed with my love for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. In moved Joe Lombardi to replace him. Joe isn’t as pass-happy as Scott was, however he is very familiar with the two running backs he is inheriting in Detroit.
Lombardi recently said that he envisions a scenario where the two split the backfield role, which means a RBBC (I know we all hate that word). Although this would seem to damper fantasy expectations for both Bell and Bush, I’m not as worried as I could be.
Let’s take a look at some of the stats (via FantasyData.com) from 2013 that will show Bell was used a bit more than you think:
Target Percentage: 13.1%
Target Percentage: 11.1%
Although Bush was injured at times, Bell still saw more carries than him in 2013. With signs pointing to a split backfield in 2014, you’d expect Bell to rise past his 17th rank considering he wasn’t splitting carries in 2013 (he was getting less).
Will Running Back Scarcity Cancel Out the Value?
Every year running back is deemed scare by industry experts across the fantasy football community. It’s part of the reason that Reggie Bush is going in the early third round in current mock drafts.
At the same point in time, Bell is going in round 6. When you consider that Bell had more touchdowns and one less reception than Bush, while playing on average 4 less snaps/game, you have to think they’ll produce very similarly in 2014.
If I can get almost the same value from a pick in round 3 and a pick in round 6, you bet your ass I’m taking the guy in round 6.
It’s possible that the scarcity of the position drives him up draft boards as we approach drafts in August, but as of now. Joique Bell is a value any way you slice it.
Let the handcuff talk die, this guy can be a fantasy starter.
Do you think I’m overvaluing Joique Bell? Tell me why he’s nowhere near the value of drafting Reggie Bush.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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