NFL News & Analysis

Ravens sign Le'Veon Bell to bolster injury-ravaged running back room

Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell (26) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The injury-ravaged Baltimore Ravens are making a splash signing to fill out their running back depth.

The Ravens are adding running back Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Bell will join Baltimore’s 53-man roster “soon,” Schefter reported.

Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Justice Hill (Achilles) both had their 2021 campaigns cut short, leaving Baltimore with Gus Edwards and Ty’Son Williams at the position.

The Ravens also are “likely” to sign running back Trenton Cannon to their practice squad, according to Josina Anderson.

Bell played for the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets last season after spending six years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The four-time All-Pro carried the ball 82 times for 328 yards with two touchdowns and caught 16 passes for 138 yards in 2020.


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Bell has not had room to run at his last two stops: Bell has averaged just 0.6 yards before contact per rushing attempt during his time with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs since 2019. That ranks last among running backs with at least 100 carries. By comparison, Ravens running backs have averaged a league-high 2.0 rushing yards before contact per carry the past two seasons.

Bell is one of the NFL's most prolific receiving backs since being drafted: Even with missed time, Bell leads all running backs in receptions (390) and receiving yards (3,239) since Pittsburgh drafted him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His 86.0 PFF receiving grade over that span ranks 13th among qualifying running backs.

Click here to explore grades and premium stats from Bell's NFL career.

Bell adds experience to thin Baltimore running back group: The injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill left only Gus Edwards (414 career carries) and Ty'Son Williams (0 carries) on the depth chart. Bell brings nearly four times their combined career rushing attempts (1,556) with him to Baltimore.


A more complex RB committee: Signing Bell creates a jumbled running back committee and hurts the fantasy value of everyone in this backfield. He averaged 8.4 touches per game in nine regular-season games with the Chiefs last season.

Bell not here to sit on the bench: Gus Edwards should still lead this backfield, but expect Bell to steal a handful of touches each game. This signing completely nukes the fantasy value of popular sleeper Ty'Son Williams, who will probably be the third running back in this committee.

Click here to find PFF’s 2021 fantasy rankings.

Bell still not fantasy-relevant: Bell does not have much left in the tank at this point in his career. He recorded a middling 73.9 PFF grade (24th) with the Chiefs last season and was completely phased out of the offense in the playoffs. Do not draft him in fantasy football this season.

Click here for PFF's fantasy projections for the 2021 season.

PFF’s 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit includes links to every article, tool and chart to best prepare you for your fantasy football draft. This will be updated regularly between now and Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.


Ravens remains unchanged: Bell provides depth for a backfield desperately in need of it. He doesn't move any needle from a betting perspective, as the Ravens' 2021 fortunes will come down to the play of Lamar Jackson and the passing offense. PFF's simulation results are 1.2 games lower than Baltimore's current 11-game win total. The juice has continued to move toward the under, but it's still a viable play even at the worst price of the offseason (-120).

Mark Andrews prop is worth targeting: Although Bell joins a dynamic offense, Andrews is the one player offering any sort of continuity as a skill position player for Lamar Jackson in this Ravens attack. His receiving yardage prop is one of the most mispriced lines based on PFF's fantasy projections. A 124-yard receiving cushion doesn't occur often, which makes it one of the best overs still available in the season-long prop market.

PFF’s Betting Futures Tool reveals betting opportunities within season win total and future markets.

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