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2018 Fantasy Football: The Bell And Nelson Effect Further Explained

2018 fantasy football
Le'Veon Bell Photo Credit: Brook Ward

In college, I wrote an article titled “3 Things To Consider When Drafting Players Coming Off Injury.” This was an individual study I had conducted. In order to graduate from my Sports Seminar class, one of the requirements is to write a 35-50 page senior thesis. Being a sports management major it obviously had to be sport related.

I chose to write about something Fantasy Football related because this is what I want to do for a living. I’ve noticed that there has been an increase in ACL tears and it has a big impact on the Fantasy Football world. Fantasy Football analysts say to stay clear of players returning from ACL tears and wanted to see if there was truth to their statement.

I started my research in the 2015-2016 season. This way I was able to study a player who tore their ACL in 2015 and how they bounced back in 2016. The two biggest stars that I wanted to zero in on were Jordy Nelson and LeVeon Bell. The reason I chose these two players was due to their age difference, different position, Bell got hurt during the season, Jordy got hurt before the season, and both tore their ACLs in 2015.

In this article, I will be showing you the before and after of LeVeon Bell and Jordy Nelson tearing their ACLs. You’ll be able to see how they had a similar or better season coming back from their injury. I’ll break down how Julian Edelman, Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, and Allen Robinson all fit into the Bell and Nelson Effect. The last topic will be just a breakdown of everything I talked about in this article.

2018 Fantasy Football

The Bell And Nelson Effect Further Explained

Stats before and after their injuries:

Jordy Nelson GS/GP REC YDS AVG TDs
2014 16/16 98 1,519 15.5 13
2016 16/16 97 1,257 13 14


2014 16/16 290 1,361 4.7 85 4 8 83 854 3
2015 6/6 113 556 4.9 93 3 3 24 136 0
2016 12/12 261 1,268 4.9 106 5 7 75 616 2

Jordy Nelson and Julian Edelman

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Back in 2015, Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury. He was 31 at the time. If this happened during the season it would put a serious impact on how he would’ve played in 2016.

Older players’ bodies have a tough time recovering from these type of injuries. With the knee injury happening in the preseason it gave him more than enough recovery time. That is the key factor in all of this. If an older player in their late 20s or 30s tears a knee ligament before the season starts, you can expect similar or increased production from their past season.

It’s proof that enough recovery time helped Nelson because he was the second-best PPR wide receiver in 2016. It also helps that he had Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback, too.

We can translate this to New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. He tore his ACL in 2017 during the preseason. He is 31 one and had a lot of time to recover from his injury. The last time he played was back in 2016 and he finished as a Top 15 wide receiver in PPR format.

Edelman has to start the season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. That can only help him more as it gives him more time to recover.

LeVeon Bell, Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson

Bell’s injury was the same, but different from Nelson’s. He suffered his injury during Week 8 against the Bengals and it seemed like he would have a tough time recovering.

He had a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season, so it gave him more time to heal from his knee injury. On top of that, he was 23 when it happened. With him being so young his body was able to heal quickly and it showed from his stats how great he played in 12 games.

Dalvin Cook tore his ACL last year in Week 4 and similar to LeVeon Bell, he was 22 years old. Although he doesn’t have a four-game suspension to serve, he is young enough to recover quick enough. There is a four-week gap between the time Cook and Bell tore their ACLs.

If you add the four-game suspension it would put both players with Week 4 ACL tears. Both players are running backs, too. There a lot of similarities between these two players from their ages, position, and type of injury.

Last but not least we have rookie phenom, Deshaun Watson. This injury shocked everyone because it occurred in practice. He was 22 coming into the season, so we have the age factor again.

The difference with him compared to the Cook and Bell is that he is a QB. He tore his ACL after only six starts so he is right in between when Dalvin Cook (four games) and LeVeon Bell (eight games) had their injuries.

You can see how all three players have the same things in common. It was the time of injury, age, and ACL tear.


Keenan Allen and Allen Robinson

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The reason I’m including Keenan Allen in this article is that he is a product of what happened to both Bell and Nelson.

He was 24 when he tore his ACL and LeVeon was 23. Keenan Allen and Nelson share a couple of similarities. They’re both wide receivers and both got hurt early in the season. Yes, Jordy was hurt during preseason, but Allen got hurt in Week 1 in 2016.

Last season I drafted Allen basically as a test subject because I was confident in what he would be able to do with the research I conducted.

Keenan’s ACL tear is the exact same injury that former Jaguars wide receiver, Allen Robinson, suffered Week 1 of the 2017 season. Robinson secured one lone catch for 17 yards before ending his season with an ACL tear. He didn’t finish Week 1 just like Allen.

Allen finished as a Top 3 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. He also won Comeback Player of the Year.


Final Analysis

There is a common trend I am trying to show everyone. If you haven’t picked up on it let me explain it a little better.

When a player who is 30 years of age or older and tore their ACL before the season, they will have similar stats as their previous season and tend to play the entire next season.

Then there are the players that are younger than 25 and tear their ACL during the regular season. Those players have just as good of a season or better than previous seasons.

If a player gets the best of both worlds, meaning if they are younger than 25 and have almost a year to recover, it’s the best case scenario. Players are on a different level if they fall in this category.

There are variables to this study though. For example, if Philip Rivers got hurt last season, it would have drastically changed Keenan Allen’s production.

I feel as though there is some real potential with Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, Julian Edelman, and Allen Robinson. Even Carson Wentz, who got hurt late in 2017, could be someone to keep an eye on because he falls into the Le’Veon Bell category. Former Chicago Bears wide receiver, Cameron Meredith, is in the Keenan Allen category of the Bell and Nelson Effect.

You can do what I did with Keenan Allen in the 2017 season. Draft one or all of them as your test subjects. You can take the high potential of drafting these players or you can sit back and watch to see how they do this season.

If you sit back and watch them, there is nothing wrong with that. ACL tears are becoming more common and there will be players who are in the Bell and Nelson Effect in the 2019 season.

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