The 2019 NFL trade deadline wound up an uneventful one. However, as the clock wound down, we did hear some compelling chatter among insiders that the New York Jets were entertaining offers for their new star running back, Le'Veon Bell. It seemed a bit quick for the Jets to look for an out, after, just in March, Bell was signed to a four-year, $52.5 million contract. Now, the rumors stir again.
SNY's NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano reported Tuesday that sources in the NFL expect that the Jets will shop Bell in the 2020 offseason. Bell is on pace for many career lows, but perhaps most notable is his yards per touch (4.2). Bell had averaged a healthy 5.2 yards per touch before his time with the Jets.
Despite ranking as the RB12 in PPR leagues, it still feels like a disappointing season given the top-five performances his fantasy owners are accustomed to typically. Among all 17 running backs with at least 175 rushing attempts on the season, Bell ranks dead last in rushing yards (589), yards per rushing attempt (3.2) and the number of runs of 10 or more yards (8). It's been a disappointing season all-around, only magnified by the price tag the Jets were willing to pay coming off of his hold-out season.
The Jets' offensive line certainly hasn't helped Bell's case at all, either. Bell's infamous patient running style relies heavily on his vision to see open holes. As it turns out, it's harder to find those gaps if they never fully develop. The Jets' offensive line ranks 30th overall in run-blocking grade, while Bell previously ran behind top-10 run-blocking units with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was widely reported back in May that Jets coach Adam Gase did not want to sign the stud running back due to his price tag. Though he reiterated that it strictly came down to the money, Bell's lack of involvement at times is enough to make us wonder if these two just aren't the match made in heaven we wanted. Bell has chirped a few times this season about needing more touches, and the Jets have chirped a few times about putting him on the trading block. Perhaps it is best for each of these parties (and Bell's fantasy owners) for them to get a clean slate in 2020.
Quarterback and Running Back Slants
After being limited through the week with a quad injury, Lamar Jackson confirmed that he would start in this week's TNF matchup against the Jets. There's no longer a question that Jackson is the 2019 MVP, and there's no question that he should enter the week projected as the clear QB1. The Jets are again expecting their star safety, Jamal Adams, to be a game-time decision, only helping Jackson's cause as they proceed on a short week. ... Jameis Winston is expected to play Week 15 after briefly exiting Sunday's game with a thumb injury. It's a hairline fracture, but the consensus seems to be that there's not a big risk of continuing to play with the injury, as long as he can tolerate the pain. ... It's more bad news for Derrius Guice, after taking a helmet to the knee in Sunday's outing against Green Bay. Officially diagnosed with an MCL sprain, Guice will finish his season on injured reserve. In his four games active since returning from his original IR designation, Guice was averaging 6.6 yards per touch, as the Redskins managed his reps to attempt to keep him healthy rest of season. Guice will get the offseason to rest up, implying that he should be healthy and ready to roll for the start of the 2020 season. Prior to Guice's return from IR (and after the firing of Jay Gruden), Adrian Peterson averaged 20 touches per game. By sheer volume, Peterson is a fringe RB2/RB3 moving forward. ... The Raiders signed RB Rod Smith Tuesday; he's likely an insurance policy should Josh Jacobs continue to be unavailable with a shoulder injury. In Jacobs' absence in Week 14, DeAndre Washington led the team in touches (22) and scrimmage yards (96), also finding the end zone. Should Jacobs be out once more, Washington should continue to lead the pack as an RB2/RB3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have allowed the third-most fantasy points and rushing yards per game to the running back position in the NFL. ... The Steelers backfield remains up in the air for Sunday's outing against the Bills, as James Conner (shoulder) and Jaylen Samuels (groin) deal with injuries. Rookie Benny Snell has received at least 16 carries in four of the Steelers' last five outings and will continue to be the guy as long as Conner is out of the lineup. Conner is expected to resume practicing, but the team is expected to be cautious about his availability.
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Wide Receiver and Tight End Slants
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans is expected to miss the rest of 2019 after sustaining a significant hamstring injury on a 61-yard touchdown Sunday. This pass-heavy offense should expect to split the targets between Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman, and Justin Watson, though it wouldn't be out of the question to see TE O.J. Howard get more involved. Howard has reeled in nine receptions for 134 yards over their last two outings. ... The Detroit Lions have placed WR Marvin Jones on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Jones has ranked as the WR16 in PPR leagues and has been a viable touchdown threat, even without Matthew Stafford under center. Danny Amendola should project to accumulate a chunk of those targets, in addition to star Kenny Golladay. ... The Eagles' injuries continue to mount, as NFL.com's Mike Garafolo reports that Alshon Jeffery is done for 2019. Though the team awaits further information about his injury, it was non-contact - typically an ominous sign. The team looks to move forward with rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside as their top wide receiver, with Nelson "Drop" Agholor still questionable for Week 15 with a knee injury. Expect a bump in target share for TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert moving forward. ... The 49ers have placed WR Marquise Goodwin on injured reserve with a knee injury. Goodwin has amassed just 186 yards this season. Though his impact has been minimal, the move comes with some encouragement for Deebo Samuel owners that he will continue to see the field. ... Ravens' TE Mark Andrews returned to practice Tuesday, which is positive considering they play on TNF. Should he be unavailable, Hayden Hurst would make an interesting sleeper for Week 15. The Ravens have targeted tight ends on 44% of pass plays in 2019 - a league-high. ... The Bengals have placed WR Auden Tate on injured reserve with a sprained MCL. Though his fantasy impact has been somewhat minimal, he has led the team in air yards through 2019. The offense continues to struggle, but we should expect Tate's target share to be distributed between John Ross and Alex Erickson, who take snaps out wide. Ross has some compelling flex appeal for Week 16, as the Bengals face the Dolphins, given his hot start in 2019. ... Per coach Mike Tomlin, JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to return to practice this week. He has been sidelined three weeks as he's dealt with a concussion and knee injury sustained Week 11. Even when healthy, Smith-Schuster ranked as the WR37 in PPR leagues and would make for a risky pickup in the anemic Steelers' offense. ... Steelers' TE Vance McDonald remains in the concussion protocol. McDonald hasn't been startable as the TE27 in 2019 and should be left on waivers.