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How Will Le’Veon Bell Affect the Jets Offense?

The signing of star running back Le’Veon Bell in early March should pay huge dividends for a New York Jets offense that struggled mightily at times during the 2018 NFL season. Injecting Bell into a backfield that managed to rush for just 1622 total yards last year – including a woeful average of only 4.0 yards per carry – will immediately revamp the entire ground attack. Bell is undoubtedly a rare breed, a perennial all-star that instantly transforms everyone around him. Not only will he open up space for the receiving corps led by Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, Bell should also make life much, much easier for sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold. As such, some of the season-long Jets prop bets are extremely intriguing, as both the over/under Jets wins and individual player prop lines are currently listed much higher than they have been heading into the past several NFL seasons.

Darnold certainly showed flashes of brilliance at times during 2018, including a 341-yard, three touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12. However, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft struggled mightily with turnovers during his rookie campaign, throwing 15 interceptions in just 13 games. It should be noted how well Darnold played when the Jets ground game turned in a big performance – he was incredibly efficient during both of Isaiah Crowell’s 100-yard rushing outings. Darnold should also show huge improvement when throwing the ball to his running back, since Bell is clearly an elite receiver out of the backfield. It was certainly a struggle for the rookie last season playing with the tandem of Crowell and Bilal Powell, as Darnold only managed to complete 68% of his passes to his running backs, which was tied for worst completion rate in the league.

The receiving trio of Anderson, Enunwa, and the newly acquired Jamison Crowder should also see a sizeable boost due to the presence of Bell. It was much too easy for opposing defenses to come up with successful schemes against a 2018 Jets offense that’s only real threat was a deep ball to the speedy Anderson. Bell should allow Enunwa to be utilized a bit better over a wide variety of routes, as he often complained about being used mostly as a screen receiver. The most interesting player prop for the Jets passing attack has to be Darnold, as the over/under for his total passing yards is listed at 3580.5, which might be a little low considering that Bell amassed more than 600 yards receiving over his last two full seasons with the Steelers.

In terms of Le’veon Bell odds specifically, the current market prices may be slightly inflated considering how ambiguous his workload appears to be, especially at the beginning of the season. While he has already openly admitted to wanting as many touches as possible, it seems likely that the Jets may ease him back into action after he sat out for the entire 2018-19 season. However, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if Bell managed to rush for over 8.5 touchdowns if this new look offense is able to gel quickly.

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