The rich appear to be getting richer in the NFL, as the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs added two-time All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell to their backfield after Bell was released by the New York Jets.
Coming into the season, it seemed like head coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs were satisfied with having first round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire handling the bulk of the work in the Kansas City backfield. It was reported that Reid believed CEH was a better version of Brian Westbrook, the jack-of-all-trades who starred for Reid when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles.
Once Super Bowl standout Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, however, it seemed like a lock that the Chiefs were going add notable backfield help.
Instead, they went into Week 1 against the Houston Texans with Edwards-Helaire and not much else. The rookie from LSU delivered in a big way. On 25 carries in his pro debut, he rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown.
While CEH’s production started to dwindle in subsequent weeks, there were questions in the NFL and fantasy football communities about whether he could justify his first-round pick status in both arenas.
Apparently the Chiefs had those same concerns and decided to bring in Le’Veon Bell as a premium insurance policy.
Bell is not the do-it-all Swiss Army knife he used to be with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his prime, but he’s still someone the Chiefs figure to use quite a bit out of the backfield. Bell is listed at 6'1" and 225 pounds, while Edwards-Helaire clocks in at 5'7" and 207 pounds. Due to the size advantage, Bell should get serious consideration as a between-the-tackles runner. That's important for fantasy football purposes, as it translates to goal-line carries.
To make matters more complicated, Kansas City has lost starting offensive guard Kelechi Osemele (knees) for the season, and starting offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been nursing a back ailment. This occurred after starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Chiefs don’t have the level of skill or camaraderie up front that they expected, and Bell is better equipped to handle that by powering through the line of scrimmage for a few tough yards.
Although Jets coach Adam Gase might have us believe Bell has nothing left in the tank, the former All-Pro should be viable enough for the Chiefs for the remainder of the season. He didn’t take any hits in 2018 since he held out the entire season, and he missed KC's Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills because testing protocol would not allow him to play.
Overall, Bell and Edwards-Helaire should form something close to a 50/50 timeshare starting in a couple weeks, as Bell continues to familiarize himself with the Chiefs' playbook. This muddies the waters for fantasy football owners, devaluing each RB just enough to the point that they are both FLEX considerations.
Between the real white lines, it’ll be fascinating to see how Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy interchange the two running backs. It would also be an intriguing wrinkle if they decided to use both players in the backfield together, to try and force defenses to match up with Bell or CEH with a linebacker.Published 21 Oct 2020, 07:28 IST