With the news that the Steelers are finally entertaining trade offers for Le’Veon Bell, naturally the gears in fantasy owners’ heads are turning. Anyone who invested a top 3 pick in Bell would probably be fine with him playing for literally anyone at this point, as long as he’s playing. But let’s say Bell owners could have their cake and eat it too. Which teams are the best fantasy fits?
1. Green Bay Packers
Remember when Eddie Lacy was actually in the same conversation as Le’Veon Bell in terms of fantasy running backs? Just three years ago both guys were consensus top five picks. But here we are just a few years later and the Packers are once again searching for an answer in the backfield. Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones both look mediocre at best, but that’s not even the point. Le’Veon Bell would put to shame anyone with whom he shares a depth chart anyway.
In Green Bay, Bell be part of one of the most consistently high-powered offenses in the NFL. The rest of the league would be terrified of the combination of Aaron Rodgers and Le’Veon Bell. Rodgers is already lethal on play-action, so insert Bell as the RB in those situations and that’s a big ole problem. Defenses won’t be able to key in on any one thing. Behind a solid offensive line and with plenty of room to run, Bell would light it up in Green Bay the same way he did in Pittsburgh. If the Packers could figure this out from a financial perspective, it would do wonders for their 24th ranked rushing attack.
2. San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco is one of the few teams with the cap space to pull this deal off right now. Unfortunately, there’s a little less fantasy hype around this possibility now that Jimmy Garoppolo is done for the season with a torn ACL. The offense is going to suffer with CJ Beathard, no doubt about it. But Bell would still put up RB1 numbers thanks to volume and the 6th-ranked offensive line according to PFF.
In an offense led by CJ Beathard and Le’Veon Bell, it’s no mystery who would be carrying the load. Bell would be overloaded with touches behind a good line, with a QB that was 27th in the league in yards per pass attempt with 6.38. That means dumpoffs, dumpoffs, screen passes, and then some more dumpoffs. So even on a team that will likely be bad and playing from behind the rest of the season, Bell would produce in a major way. As for Alfred Morris and Matt Breida, they would be of no concern. It’s Le’Veon Bell. But you probably already knew that.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Indy is one of the only other teams with the cap space to pull this off right now. And with no semblance of a running game to speak of, Bell would be an obvious game-changer. This is kind of a combination of the two situations listed above. Bell would be able to play with another high-level QB, albeit not nearly as good as Aaron Rodgers, but the team itself isn’t very good, much like the 49ers. Sitting at 1-2, Bell could be the spark the Colts need to get back on track and make a playoff push this season.
Indianapolis has an even worse rushing attack than the Packers do this season, sitting 28th in the league with just 247 yards. The rookie duo of Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines along with the oft-injured Marlon Mack has made this run game average at best. And even with flashes of talent, particularly from Hines, the Colts would love to get their hands on a generational talent like Bell. The Colts line isn’t terrible and you could certainly do worse than playing in an offense led by Andrew Luck. This would be one of the better outcomes for Bell owners should he actually get traded over the next few weeks.
Cleveland Browns: A decent O-line, plenty of cap space, and a shiny new QB make this a great landing spot. But with the Browns being a division rival, Carlos Hyde being in the first year of a 3-year deal, and a second round pick invested in Nick Chubb, it just doesn’t seem super likely. But if, for whatever reason, Cleveland wanted to abandon ship on their new RBs, this would be one of the best situations Bell could land in.
Oakland Raiders: After trading away Khalil Mack, things aren’t looking great for the Raiders this year. Trading for Bell would change their fortunes a bit and make life easier for Derek Carr. But honestly I just have no confidence that this regime would actually make this move, simply because it would be a pretty smart one to make.
New York Jets: If this list were expanded to four teams, the Jets probably would have made the cut. Their only RB investments are Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they wanted to upgrade. Bell would be a perfect way for New York to complete their rebuild as Sam Darnold comes into his own at QB.