As dynasty fantasy football managers look towards the NFL Draft, Purdue WR David Bell has established himself as a name to remember for 2022. Following a successful collegiate career, what are Bell’s strengths, are there any concerns, and which landing spots would be ideal for his dynasty value in 2022 and beyond?

David Bell’s fantasy profile

Last season, what were your thoughts on Rashod Bateman? To me, he did everything well and was one of the most pro-ready receivers. There was no singular elite trait — he was just very good at all the critical skills required to be an NFL-caliber receiver. That’s David Bell this year.

A three-year starter at Purdue, Bell was a producer in all three years and made his mark on West Lafayette right from the start. He hauled in 86 receptions for 1,035 yards and 7 touchdowns as a true freshman.

Due to the mess that was the 2020 Big Ten season, Bell and the Boilermakers only played in six games. With that said, his stats still jump off the page. In those six games, Bell had 53 receptions on 77 targets for 625 yards and 8 TDs. That’s absurd.

Nothing changed in 2021, either. In 11 games, the 6’2″, 210-pound junior posted 93 receptions on 133 targets for 1,275 yards and 6 scores. In his 29 games at Purdue, Bell had a per-game average of 11.6 targets, 8 receptions, 101.2 yards, and 0.72 touchdowns. He accounted for 25.7% of the receptions. These are unheard-of numbers — not just for a season, but for multiple years, despite having rather poor QB play supporting him.

Bell projects as a prototypical X receiver in the NFL or as a Z (should he land on a team with an already established No. 1 option). The question surrounds his ceiling.

Bell seems to be falling in mock drafts, suggesting the NFL is not quite as bullish on him as I am. I’ve been a massive fan of Bell for dynasty for quite some time, and that confidence hasn’t wavered. Bell is a borderline first-round pick in 2022 dynasty rookie drafts.

Strengths

Bell is a route-running technician. There isn’t really a route he can’t run well — and not just with proficiency, but with nuance. His routes are loaded with head fakes, double-moves, jab steps, stutters, and shoulder rolls. You name it, Bell can do it.

Those routes and cognitive awareness have allowed him to win in man or zone coverage at all three levels of the field for his entire collegiate career. There was a reason Purdue tried to manufacture touches for him.

It’s what Bell does at the catch point that leaves you shaking your head and your jaw on the floor. What Bell can do when adjusting to the ball is simply mesmerizing. Watch some of his tape against Indiana (2019) and Notre Dame (2021), and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Bell not only has a solid catch radius, but he expands it based on his mid-air adjustments. At the catch, he squeezes the ball and is confident with his hands.

Bell is not a speedster, but he knows how to gain separation at all three levels of the play. He has a diverse and varied release package he blends into his routes. There aren’t a lot of holes in his game. There’s also a reason the Bateman comparisons come so easily. Bell will be a favorite pick of many fantasy managers in 2022. He was one of my favorite players when this cycle began and remains so after evaluating his film.

Weaknesses

Bell will likely never be a Justin Jefferson-type player. He doesn’t project as a vertical threat, and his chunk plays came off double-moves — not raw speed. There’s more smoothness than suddenness. While I do believe he maximizes what he gets after the catch, it’s not due to blazing speed.

Maybe I can nitpick his downfield blocking, but if I have to dig this far, it’s pretty clear Bell is good. The concern for Bell is the lack of ceiling due to his athletic traits and the perceived view of him in the NFL. As a likely second or even third-round pick, it’s unclear if Bell will be a perimeter, possession style receiver, or move towards the slot. Given the uncertainty, there are some risks. However, I’m still in on Bell as a dynasty prospect.

Bell’s injury history

Bell got rocked several times while at Purdue due to his QB putting him in danger. One of those came against Notre Dame this past year when Bell was carted off the field due to a concussion and placed in the protocol. He would miss the next game. It’s not that Bell has a propensity for head injuries, he just got lit up on a scary play.

Aside from that moment, Bell has a clean bill of health. Even if he was banged up (as he was against Northwestern), it didn’t matter — he still went out and played. There are no red flags.

Top landing spots for Bell’s dynasty value

With 2022 dynasty drafts on the horizon, where could Bell land, and how would he benefit in fantasy?

Houston Texans

The Texans are a team that needs help all over the roster, receiver included. While Brandin Cooks is about as QB-proof as it gets, there are questions for the rest of the depth chart. Nico Collins has shown promise and has the athletic profile to build on but just needs to show it on the field.

They appear all-in on giving Davis Mills a legitimate shot to be a starting NFL QB. If so, they need to ensure he has enough targets to facilitate his growth. With Cooks and Collins on the roster, Bell would not need to step into a substantial role from the jump. Instead, he can develop his traits and become a more positional versatile receiver. Given the likelihood of negative game scripts, Bell could be a busy player.

Indianapolis Colts

It’s been mentioned several times the Colts need to address the receiver position. They have a legitimate No. 1 in Michael Pittman Jr. With how Matt Ryan has historically locked onto a singular target during his career, Pittman has top-12 upside for 2022 in fantasy.

Beyond him are more questions. Parris Campbell cannot stay healthy, Mike Strachan was a seventh-rounder last season, Ashton Dulin is a wild card, and the most recognizable name is Keke Coutee.

The Colts would be intimately aware of Bell as he played his college ball just up the road at Purdue in West Lafayette. They’ve seen the highlights on the local news, for crying out loud.

Bell wouldn’t be asked to be the No. 2 but could play the Z, which aligns with his profile as there are questions about whether he can effectively play the slot. He’s one of the best ball trackers and has likely the best body control in the class. Adding Bell is a quick way to make Ryan’s life a whole lot easier.

Atlanta Falcons

There are only so many ways for me to say Atlanta needs help. That goes for every position but tight end, where Kyle Pitts is set to dominate in Year 2. At receiver, it’s a different story. Calvin Ridley gambled his future away, Russell Gage is in Tampa, and the depth chart looks like Olamide Zaccheaus, Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Auden Tate, and some guys that are not likely to make it out of camp.

Bell will have an instant chance to prove he is a capable top target — something the Falcons currently lack. It’s one of the few teams in which Bell could step into a role with 20+% of the targets coming his way as a rookie. While the community seems to be down on him as a whole, the potential opportunity of the landing spot should have him rise up rankings.

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