bell

Here’s a bit of ADP Arbitrage. In current 12 team PPR drafts, here’s where the following RBs are being drafted:

Player Overall ADP Round
Shane Vereen 66 6th
Danny Woodhead 104 9th
Pierre Thomas 112 9th
Joique Bell 186 14th

Joique Bell is the best value on this list. Here’s why…

2012 Was a Great Year for Bell

Let’s look at their production last year.

Player Rec Tar Rec Yds YPR Catch Rate Rush Att Rush Yds YPA Total TDs PPR Points
Joique Bell 52 69 485 9.3 0.75 82 414 5 3 105.9
Danny Woodhead 40 55 446 11.2 0.73 80 312 4 7 118
Shane Vereen 8 13 149 18.6 0.62 73 308 4 7 100.2
Pierre Thomas 39 53 354 9.1 0.74 105 473 4.5 2 94.7

Bell had considerably more receptions than the other three. He also led in catch rate and yards per rushing attempt. Only Danny Woodhead bested him in total PPR fantasy points. Bell was second in the NFL last year in RB receptions, trailing only Darren Sproles. He also plays in the pass-heaviest offense of the four.

2013 Outlook

Now let’s talk about this year. Danny Woodhead has moved to a new team, with a new coach, installing a new offense. Instead of playing with Tom Brady he gets a declining Philip Rivers. Oh. Presumably Shane Vereen replaces him – and his usage – in New England. But that’s unknown as well. Who thinks they can predict what Bill Belichick and company will do? Even if he does match Woodhead’s production, you’re really only getting what you paid for. At his current ADP, Vereen is the 27th RB off the board; basically you’re expecting him to be a low-end RB2. Pierre Thomas is a nice player, but is already the lowest-scoring player on the list.

Bell’s situation is different than last year too, since the Lions added Reggie Bush. But any risk to Bell’s production is already priced into his 14th round (waivers in many leagues) ADP. Also, consider that Bell was very effective last year. His production (RB23 in PPR, by the way) came on just 5 rushing attempts and 3 receptions per game. So he only really needs 8 touches/game. Is that feasible? Absolutely.

Joique Bell’s Opportunity is Good….With Upside

Over the past four years, the Lions have averaged about 22 rushing attempts/game and 6 receptions/game by RBs. Reggie Bush will be the main running back, but not the only one. For his career, Bush averages 10.6 attempts/game and 4 receptions/game. In Miami his rushing attempts were higher (14/game) but receptions were lower (2/game). Let’s split the difference and say Bush gets 12 carries/game and 3 receptions/game. That leaves 10 carries/game and 3 receptions/game available – more than enough for Bell to match last year’s production.

All of these RBs are backups. What happens if the RB in front of them gets injured? Woodhead seems unlikely to become a full-time feature back, given his size. Vereen and Thomas have the size, but also have another feature-back sized RB on the team (Ingram, Bolden), and coaches who could adapt in an unpredictable ways. Unless Thomas is named the starter over Ingram, his usage would seem to stay about the same – and that production already trails Bell.

The Lions also have Mikel Leshoure, who was the presumptive starter last year. But that doesn’t matter. Here’s why: If Bush is hurt, then the Lions will either use Leshoure and Bell the same way they did last year (in which case you get Bell’s RB23 production for a 14th round pick/waiver claim), or they flop them, and Bell becomes the lead back, in which case he has even more upside.

Don’t discount the idea that Bell could replace Leshoure (both as Bush’s backup, and as feature back if Bush is injured). Take a look at how the two compared last year.

 

Player Rush Att Rec Yco/Att MT Rushing MT  Per Rush MT Rec MT Per Rec
Bell 82 52 2.99 11 0.13 15 0.29
Leshoure 215 34 2 13 0.06 7 0.21

(Yco/Att = Yards after first contact, per attempt; MT = Missed Tackle)

Bell was much more efficient and explosive. Earlier this year, Shawn Siegele put Joique Bell in a set of comparables including Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, and Le’Veon Bell. Based on their elite Agility Scores, these backs project to be better in space than you would expect for bigger backs.

Others have noticed as well. Here’s what Evan Silva reported recently:

Per the Detroit Free Press, Bell was the second back in the three-man rotation “throughout” the three workouts. The small — and, admittedly, perhaps temporary — depth chart change really isn’t surprising. Bell outperformed Leshoure in 2012 YPC average (5.05, 3.71) and is a far superior pass-game back, coming in handy for the NFL’s pass-happiest team. More surprising is Bell and Leshoure’s ADP differential; the latter is still going in the single-digit rounds as the RB43, while Bell more often than not isn’t drafted. That should change.

Mike Clay concurred when he had this to say:

RB Handcuffs – An Early Look

Mikel Leshoure

Leshoure is a guy who seems more attractive as a handcuff than he actually is. He’s going to see plenty of work behind Reggie Bush this season, but his role doesn’t figure to increase if Bush goes down with an injury. Instead, Joique Bell—seemingly a better all-around back than Leshoure—would pick up a large chunk of Bush’s snaps, including all passing-down work.

The Opportunity

By drafting Bell late and foregoing the other three, here are some other players you could get:

Player ADP Round Others Available at Similar ADP
Shane Vereen 6th Eric Decker, Dennis Pitta, Russell Wilson, Pierre Garcon, Torrey Smith
Danny Woodhead 9th Josh Gordon, Jared Cook
Pierre Thomas 9th Mike Williams, Lance Moore, Jermichael Finley

Take a chance on Bell. Your roster will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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