Le’Veon Bell Fantasy Update: ADP and Game Splits

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So…a two game suspension feels a lot different than a three game suspension, doesn’t it? With word also emerging that his knee appears healthy, expect Bell’s ADP to percolate back up. Here’s his ADP trend from February through last week.

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And here it is since July 25th.


Not that it dropped that far, but your odds of getting him with a non-first-overall selection just got worse.

About that ADP drop: if Bell is again the consensus number one pick…then fantasy drafters essentially dropped his ADP over a single game. Hopefully you were able to take advantage of this situation while it lasted.

Game Splits

Dr Budoff posed an interesting question today: why are Bell’s splits so much worse against good defenses?

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In his career, Bell is about seven fantasy points/game worse when facing top-half run defenses. But it’s not so bad, really. Here’s what I mean. Using Pro Football Reference, I dug up those 11 games against top-half run defenses. Then I compared Bell’s fantasy points scored vs the average fantasy points allowed to running backs by that defense.

Opp LB FP Ave FP Allowed Pct Earned
MIN 24.4 26.7 91.4%
NYJ 8.6 17.3 49.7%
BAL 10.9 19.8 55.1%
DET 12.8 18.7 68.4%
BAL 26.6 19.8 134.3%
CIN 21.7 20 108.5%
BAL 15.7 17.9 87.7%
CAR 17.7 23.5 75.3%
HOU 28.5 21.7 131.3%
BAL 16.8 17.9 93.9%
NYJ 14.9 19.9 74.9%
Ave 18.1 20.3 88.2%

Keep in mind that the average fantasy points allowed are to the opponent’s entire RB corps, not just to one player. Even so, I think Bell holds up very well. On average, he scored 18.1 fantasy points/game by himself, while the defenses allowed 20.3 points/game to all opponent RBs.

So yes, Bell scored far fewer points against tough defenses. But he did earn about as many as could be expected. It’s also worth noting that two of those games were the very first games of his career,1 as he returned from a pre-season injury. Another game was a 20 point blowout win against Baltimore, where he had just five second-half carries. You get the idea.

And Bell isn’t the only back to exhibit such a pattern. Here’s the fantasy point performance of some other top backs over the past two seasons, vs top and bottom half defenses.

RB Top half Bottom half Difference
Peterson 10.8 19.7 -8.9
Bell 13.4 21 -7.6
Lacy 11.9 19.5 -7.6
Forsett 5.4 12 -6.6
Ingram 7.2 13.3 -6.1
McCoy 13.6 17.4 -3.8
Forte 16.8 20.3 -3.5
Gore 9.9 12.1 -2.2

Several other backs feature a similar trend. It’s not clear that Bell’s performance in tough matchups is a cause for concern. Here are my takeaways:

  • Several of his performances against top defenses had extenuating circumstances.
  • Overall, he performances very well against top defenses, relative to what those defenses typically allow.
  • The upside of Bell’s good games can’t be ignored.
  • It’s difficult to know yet which defenses will be good this season, so it’s hard to quantify any strength-of-schedule based concerns for Bell (or any other RB).

  1. Vs. MIN and NYJ  (back)