Mar 24, 2010
Now that RB Mike Bell is officially an Eagle, it’s time to discuss how the move affects both backfields.
First up, for the Saints, the move is good news for Pierre Thomas. Granted, it’s not a bonanza for Thomas, but it helps. We heard repeatedly last year from league sources that the Saints weren’t comfortable with Thomas as their main power guy, thus the serious emergence of Bell. The Saints do still have Lynell Hamilton at their disposal, and Hamilton appears capable of handling a decent portion of Bell’s power role from last year, at the very least the short-yardage carries inside the five yard line. Thomas isn’t a terrible inside runner, but he’s not big and sturdy enough to consistently do the dirty work inside, so for those in TD-only leagues Hamilton needs to be on the radar. He could score 7-8 TDs this year in this great offense, easily.
So right now it looks like the Saints will roll with Thomas and Reggie Bush carrying probably about 85% of the load. These two are interchangeable in some ways, but Thomas is clearly the better pure runner, with Bush being more of a moveable chess piece. Both guys take some fantasy value away from each other, but again with Bell gone and Hamilton a downgrade from Bell, the better inside runner Thomas gets a spike in value. Bush was actually pretty effective inside the 10 last year on misdirection type plays, so with Bell gone his value could see a small increase as well. Bush as long as he’s on this roster is going to play a pretty substantial role because he dictates matchups as defenses do very much account for him on every single play he’s on the field.
As for the Eagles, it’s interesting to see them bring in a guy known for being an angry power runner. I’m not naïve enough to think the Eagles are going to make a concerted effort to run the ball a lot more this year, but you have to think they’re looking to get a little more physical in their running game and run it a little more, at least when they are nursing a lead. After all, after Adrian Peterson, Bell might be the most aggressive runner in the league in terms of inviting contact and running angrily. Bell’s willingness to absorb a ton of contact does take a toll, however, and he’s had some injury issues. So I certainly don’t see him consistently getting 10+ carries a game in Philly – especially with FB Leonard Weaver also in the mix for some of those power touches. But Bell can be a nice finisher for them, like he was at times for the Saints last year.
Since we know what the Eagle offense is all about, I’m not that concerned about Bell in terms of how he affects LeSean McCoy. Bell’s a decent receiver who’s played in a west coast-based system, but he’s not much of a pass blocker based on what we’ve seen, so McCoy’s role as an active receiver should be safe. Bell could certainly take away several cheapie TDs right on top of the goal, but McCoy’s not a guy you want taxing his body on too many of those type of runs, anyway.
The fact is Bell’s really a role player who shouldn’t be a major threat to any true “lead” back in the NFL. McCoy’s a little unproven and he’s not a typical “lead” guy, but in Philly’s offense, he looks like their featured guy, and the signing of the complementary Bell pretty much nails that down in 2010.