Discover more from VolumePigs
CFF Series - Jamaal Bell is the definition of a VP special
The MWC might have the best collection of CFF WRs this year and Nevada's Jamaal Bell is no exception.
It’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
- Maverick, Top Gun (1986)
When you talk about a player that I just had to have this week, look no further than Nevada’s slot receiver Jamaal Bell. If you’re new here, let me put this as unequivocally as I can—I LOVE G5 slot receivers. The mythical G5 slot receiver has been a profile of some of the most prolific WRs CFF has ever seen, and with Utah State’s Terrell Vaughn and Hawaii’s Pofele Ashlock also torching everything they touch from the slot this season, it looks likely that this profile will find its way in the top five of CFF WRs by season’s end once again.
Now, you might be wondering why I didn’t write an extended section on Bell in either of my waiver wire reports over the last two weeks. I did include his name under the ‘other notable names’ section in week one, and I generally don’t like to cover the same players twice. That’s the cop out answer. The real answer is I just didn’t have enough space to fit him in on some of my rosters last week, and was hoping (praying to the CFF Gods) that I’d be able to double dip this week. I guess you could say… this name was classified. I could have told you, but then I’d have to kill you.
There are few things I covet more in this world than WRs who 1) get a lot of targets near the LOS (easy conversions) and 2) also see run-game volume. Bell checks both boxes, making him a classic VP special. Side note: why is it always the MWC that seems to produce these short but dangerous slot receiver phenoms?
“You two really are cowboys.” — Iceman in the movie Top Gun, but also me when speaking about (generously listed) 5’10” Nevada WR Jamaal Bell, and 5’7” Utah State WR Terrell Vaughn. As it happens, I have both on the roster in my home league ‘The Golden Pig Invitational’, which is a league for other CFF experts and VP subscribers.
“In case some of you are wondering who the best is, they are up here on this plaque.” - Viper
Top Gun character Viper is correct, this WR room have been outstanding so far, and all without spending higher than a fifth round pick on the position. But enough about that, let’s dive deeper into the Nevada staff.
Coaching & System
There really isn’t any kind of smoking gun here on surprise volume pig Bell as it relates to this staff. They do not have anyone with previous experience as a play-caller in an offence that produced notable CFF outcomes, in fact, as far as I can tell they don’t have anyone with previous offensive play-calling experience. Head coach Ken Wilson is a defensive guy, and the OC—Darek Sage, is in his first year in a play-calling position. He previously spent the last four seasons as the TEs coach at UCLA. Prior to UCLA he spent several seasons as the WRs coach at a variety of different stops:
2017: Wide receivers coach, Washington State
2014-2016: Wide receivers coach, Toledo
2010-2013: Wide receivers coach, Wyoming
2005-2009: Wide receivers coach, New Hampshire
Here’s a little interesting blurb that I found on Sage’s bio via the team website:
Sage served as Washington State's outside receivers coach in 2017. Washington State's passing offense ranked second in the nation (366.8) that season and the Cougars led the Pac-12 in several offensive categories, including passing yards per game (366.8), touchdown passes (37) and total passing yards (4,769). Prior to coming to the Pac-12, Sage served three seasons as the wide receivers coach at the University of Toledo. In 2016, the Rockets ranked seventh in the NCAA in total offense (517.8 yards/game). Sage guided a receiving group that saw two players, who each caught 10 or more touchdown passes, earn All-Mid-American Conference. First-team selection Cody Thompson ranked 10th nationally with an average of 107.4 receiving yards per game. In his three seasons at Toledo, the Rockets combined for a 28-10 record, went to three bowl games, winning two, and improved from 234.2 passing yards per game in 2014 to 322.8 in 2016. He mentored seven all-conference receivers during his time at Toledo.
Then there’s associate head coach and RBs coach Vai Taua, who’s served in that capacity with Nevada since 2021. Prior to that he served as only the RBs coach of the Wolfpack (2018-2020)
So, really—I wasn’t exaggerating, there’s no-one here that has called offensive plays before, let alone ran an offence with notable CFF players. One of the beautiful things about CFF is that we can do all the analysis we want, scrape the landscape for hidden value leaving no stone unturned, and yet still, players like Bell will randomly emerge. You have to love it.
Also, I realize that I always title this section ‘Coaching & System’ but very rarely actually talk about the offensive system in place. Generally, that’s because the information is not readily available. But now that we’re in season, I can provide some more contextual data. This past Saturday vs. Idaho State, the Wolfpack threw it a combined 38 times between the two QBs who played, and ran the ball 25 times (according to the box score on Fantrax), which is a pretty nice 58% pass rate. Granted, the Pack were getting their doors blown off by an FCS program in Idaho State, so that probably helped supplement the motivation to pass, but maybe that’s just how this team is going to roll? I suppose only time will tell, and at that point, it might be too late for you to grab a share of Bell.
Jamaal Bell — 5’10, 170
The California native is off to a strong start in his fourth year of college football. In Week One vs. an overpowering USC team, Bell was targeted a substantial 10 times, catching eight of those for 121 yards (27 points in 1-ppr). He also carried the ball twice for nine yards. I know I don’t have to tell the VP readers — who are sophisticated CFF players — that a total of 12 touches for a receiver is outstanding volume.
He followed this up vs. Idaho in Week Two, a game in which he was targeted 11 times, again catching eight, but this time for 67 yards (14.7 points).
Despite the hot start to the year, Bell really doesn't have much of a history of production. His most productive season prior to this year was his junior season (2022), where he caught 27 passes on 59 targets for 271 yards and no scores (4.8 FPG).
His sophomore season wasn’t much better. In 2021, he caught 14 passes on 19 targets for 119 yards and a score.
Interestingly enough, his freshman season total of one receiving TD is tied for his season high thus far, though something tells me that will not be the case much longer.
Looking at the Wolfpack schedule, they play Kansas next week, which is not ideal, but could produce a similar script to the USC game, which as we saw, could be great for Bell. After that, they head out to play Fresno State and Texas State on the road before their BYE week, and then it’s smooth sailing in the MWC schedule. The Wolfpack are fortunate in my opinion to get all of: UNLV, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah State and Colorado State (you just listed the entire MWC VP…). Oh, yea… I guess you’re right, internal dialogue who speaks in italics—I guess my point is that they are fortunate that they get to play in the MWC. Though potential landmines include Week 8 vs. SDSU and Week 13 vs. Wyoming.
The first is that Nevada looks really bad this year. I mean, I know these Northwest teams like Idaho and Montana are typically some of the better FCS programs, but still—33-6? Yikes. This concern works in both ways, though. On one hand they might struggle to score, capping Bell’s potential. On the other, the pass volume and urgency should always be high if they’re constantly playing from behind.
QB play is another, and it’s sort of related to #1. The QBs both finished with less than 60% passing completion in their game vs. Idaho State, I can excuse poor performance vs. USC, but this past weekend’s numbers really stuck out to me.
Bell fits a profile that I like and has been historically quite successful in CFF. At the end of the day, nobody knows what the future holds but it would seem quite remarkable for a player like this to just stop getting targets once in conference play. The favourable-ish schedule is an added bonus. That being said, Nevada might still be substantially limited as an offence this season and that will cap the upside of a player like this.
Overall, I am happy to have acquired several shares of Bell this week and last, and I hope to ride a pattern of productive G5 slot receivers here through Bell. That’s not a guarantee that fireworks are on the way, but it’s a player I’m happy to take a chance on. After all, in the game of CFF, you’ve generally got to be willing to roll the dice to reach the skies of glory.
Remember, boys, no points for second place.
If you enjoy this content, I encourage you to join the Pig Pen (subscribing), and follow me on twitter.
Have questions? Find out what people are saying about VolumePigs here.
VolumePigs is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.