Le'Veon Bell's's time with the Jets has been rocky since the beginning and it came to an abrupt end Tuesday evening as the Jets released him just a few hours after reports surfaced that the team was looking for trade him. Bell returned from a hamstring injury to play 67% of the snaps in Week 5, but had just 13 carries and one target in his first game back and was reportedly unhappy with his role, leading to his release.
The fact that the Jets and Bell's time came to such an abrupt end is a bit of a surprise, but this also seemed somewhat inevitable. And the fact that they released him should make it easier to find the right fit. The Jets will eat the remaining money on his contract, so whichever team signs Bell could do so for the minimum, if he agrees. Which means fit and opportunity should be the primary concerns, not price.
Bell is still an interesting player with a lot of Fantasy appeal if he lands in the right spot, and getting away from Adam Gase's offense has been like Fantasy steroids for the likes of Kenyan Drake, Robby Anderson, Ryan Tannehill and more, so this could be just what he needs to get right.
We broke down Bell's release on the Fantasy Football Today podcast — subscribe here wherever you get your podcasts for more — and here are the top five landing spots we'd like to see Bell end up in to maximize his Fantasy value:
This is probably the most obvious one in terms of need and fit. The Bears are 4-1 with the 27th ranked scoring offense in the NFL and they've already made the switch from Mitchell Trubisky to Nick Foles at quarterback, so we know they aren't afraid of shaking things up. With Tarik Cohen out for the season, the Bears are relying on a combination of David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield that can be best described as "aggressively fine."
At his best, Bell was a more dynamic version of the player Montgomery has been in his year-plus in the NFL, so you have to assume he'd be an upgrade in an offense that would suit his skills well. I called Montgomery "one ugly must-start running back" in the Fantasy Football Today Newsletter after Thursday night's game, and Bell could be something more than that if he ended up in Chicago. They like to use their running backs down the field in the passing game, too, and Bell would surely get some opportunities to split out wide like Cohen did. If Bell did somehow end up in Chicago, he would be back in that high-end No. 2 RB territory.
This was my first thought when the Jaguars released Leonard Fournette before the season, so I'll go back to the well with Bell. The Chargers opted not to bring in a big name to replace Melvin Gordon this offseason, so they may not be interested, but Austin Ekeler's injury and the disappointing showing by rookie Joshua Kelley may change that calculus. This would obviously be a great spot for Bell, who could fill the Ekeler role while Ekeler is out and then slide into the Gordon role when Ekeler returns. That would be a great situation.
The Seahawks can never have too many running backs, and this is another spot where Bell would have a role even if Chris Carson stayed healthy, as Carson has topped out at 63% of the snaps so far this year. Bell would clearly be in a secondary role if this one happened, unlike the hypothetical Chargers or Bears situations, but that wouldn't be such a bad thing; Carson tore his ACL in college, missed time in 2017 with a fractured leg, saw his 2019 season end early with hip surgery, and has had knee and head scares so far this season. The more pass-happy version of the Seahawks we've seen this season have seen 6.4 targets per game to running backs, compared to 5.2 last season.
This definitely wouldn't be a situation where Bell challenges the starter, but there's room for the backup in Kansas City to have a role, and he would be great insurance for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. With Bell released, the Chiegs wouldn't even need to clear salary cap space, and though it's hardly a position of great need, RB was hardly a position of great need when they spent a first-rounder on CEH, either. Bell would have huge upside if this were to occur.
The Cardinals showed last season they aren't afraid to make a change at running back if they think it will spark the offense, and now it's Kenyan Drake who is struggling to get going. Kliff Kingsbury said before the season he thinks Chase Edmonds can be a starter, but if a three-down back like Bell is available for no cost, would he jump at the chance to make another shakeup to his backfield? The Cardinals have no investment in Drake beyond this season since he's playing on the franchise tag. The Cardinals running backs are averaging 20.8 carries and 5.8 targets per game, and running next to Kyler Murray could certainly help Bell get going.