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Le’Veon Bell Props: Pace, Gase, and the Case for Unders

Finally, an article that isn’t preaching about whether or not Le’Veon Bell made the right decision in sitting out an entire season; we’ll leave that to others and just do what we do — lay out the case for the 2019 Le’Veon Bell props.

Bell landed in the Big Apple this week and will be the centerpiece of an offence that has been bereft of consistent play makers.

But we’re not as bullish on his bottom line in 2019 as some of the bookmakers. Let’s dive right in, and for a rundown of some other season-long props available, check out our pieces on Antonio Brown and Nick Foles.

You Can Ring My Bell

Let’s start with Bell’s bread and butter — the receiving game.

Over/Under 600.5 Receiving Yards

Over his last three full seasons (he only played six games in 2015), Bell has averaged 81 receptions for 708 yards (8.7 Y/rec & 6.96 Y/target).

However, that was on a high-powered, fast-paced Pittsburgh offense that could move the ball and sustain drives. The move to New York comes with a major downgrade in that department.

New head coach Adam Gase has been getting by on his reputation for offense, but it’s a questionable rap at best. If nothing else, Gase is extremely lacking in the one category that matters most when it comes to piling up individual statistics — total play volume.

Here are Gase’s figures for overall play pace and RB targets over his three seasons in Miami (league ranking in brackets).

Year Plays/Gm RB Targets
2018 54.9 (32nd) 103 (20th)
2017 62.2 (22nd) 100 (23rd)
2016 57.4 (32nd) 87 (24th)
  • Gase’s offenses have run the fewest plays in the league in two of the past three seasons
  • 2018 was his high-water mark for targeting RBs at 103, and the Dolphins finished 20th
  • As for the Jets, last year they finished 26th in plays per game (60.7) and 23rd in RB targets (102)

To put that in perspective, the Steelers ran the fourth and fifth most plays over the past two seasons (66.3/game average). Compared to what Gase has been up to, that adds up to about 150 more plays over the course of a season.

Coaches are creatures of habit; they don’t change their stripes overnight. Gase is not going to suddenly start running an up-tempo offense and feed Bell 100 targets.

At his career average of 6.96 yards/target, Bell would need 87 targets to go over 600.5 receiving yards. In his three years in Miami, Gase never targeted an RB more than 53 times.

Yes, Bell is much better than Kenyan Drake, but the overall play volume won’t be there be there, and it’s also a stretch to think Bell will be as efficient for the Jets as he was for Pittsburgh.

The pick: Under 600.5 Receiving Yards (-115)

Over/Under 1,200.5 Rushing Yards

Gase has been more willing to lean on the run, but still, only once over the past three years has his offense finished in the top 20 in rush attempts. Again, all this can be traced back to his molasses-like pace of play.

Year Plays/Gm Rush Att
2018 54.9 (32nd) 319 (23rd)
2017 62.2 (22nd) 325 (27th)
2016 57.4 (32nd) 358 (18th)

Bell’s rushing totals over his past four seasons, starting with the most recent — 1,291 (15 games), 1,268 (12 games), 556 (6 games), 1,361 (16 games).

Considering he hasn’t exactly been flying over this number in recent years, this line seems off. Bell piled up rush attempts on a strong Steelers team that had fewer than 10 wins only once during his tenure there. The Jets? They’ve averaged 4.7 wins over the last three seasons, so it’s safe to say he won’t have the same positive game scripts to work with.

At his career average of 4.3 yards per carry, Bell would need 279 rush attempts to hit 1,201 rushing yards; again, that’s assuming that he can be as efficient as he was in Pittsburgh.

Gase’s offenses have averaged 334 rush attempts over the past three seasons, meaning Bell would need an insane 84 percent of the team’s carries to hit that mark. 

That’s under the presumption that he can stay healthy and play at least 15 games, which is never a given at the league’s most injury-prone position.

The pick: Under 1,200.5 rushing yards (-120)

Over/Under 10.5 TDs

I’m also taking the under on 10.5 total TDs for Bell. 

  • Miami finished dead last in RB rush attempts inside the 10-yard line in 2017 (10) and 2018 (9)
  • Gase’s RBs have averaged just 2.7 receiving TDs over the pas three seasons

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