Last season, the Detroit running game continued to sputter with Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell splitting the carries and being marginally effective. Jahvid Best is officially done now, and the Lions are desperate to find a back that can carry the load. Back in March, the Lions turned to Reggie Bush, giving him a four-year contract, and promising him a chance to secure the starting role. Bush brings a dimension to the Detroit offense that they haven't had for several years now: a running back that is effective catching the ball. The Lions have thrown the ball for more than 15,000 yards for the last three seasons, and they are hoping that Bush can provide the spark at running back that helps them shift the balance a bit.
Success in Miami
Bush spent the first five years of his career as the primary back in New Orleans. However, he never quite lived up to the hype that he had coming out of USC and he parted ways with the Saints after the 2010 season. The Saints traded Bush to the Dolphins for a backup defensive back and a swap of sixth round picks. Bush was paired with rookie Daniel Thomas, but quickly showed that he was not ready to take a back seat to anyone.
Despite the fact that the Dolphins opened the 2011 season 0-7, Bush seemed to revitalize his career. It took a few games for him to get rolling, but by the end of the 2011 season, he returned to being a fantasy stud. Over the last nine games of the 2011 season, Bush averaged over 15 fantasy points a game, including the final four games of the season when Bush had 519 rushing yards.
Last season, Bush posted another solid season, with over 260 touches, 1278 yards from scrimmage and eight TDS. He finished as the #14 fantasy back, but was less than 10 points away from a top 12 finish.
Lions struggle at RB
In 2010, the Lions drafted Jahvid Best at #30 overall. In his second game as a pro, Best exploded with 230 yards and 3 TDS, giving the Lions a glimpse of a very bright future. However, Best quickly cooled off and finished the season with less than 1100 total yards and only 6 TDS. Detroit drafted Mikel Leshoure and prepared to unleash their own version of 'Thunder and Lightning'. It never happened.
Leshoure tore his Achilles tendon in training camp and was lost for the season. Best suffered a concussion in their third pre-season game, and played just six regular season games before suffering another concussion. He was lost for the season and never played another down for the Lions. He was release over the summer.
Leshoure came back last season, but was clearly not the back that the Lions wanted. He wore down easily and lacked any burst when he carried the ball. After the first game of the season, the Lions quickly realized that Leshoure couldn't give them more than about 20 touches a game. Journeyman Joique Bell filled in the gaps and finished just under 900 yards from scrimmage. Leshoure had just over 1000 yards from scrimmage and they had a combined 12 rushing TDS between the two of them.
Bush gives Detroit a versatilty at running back that they desperately need this season. By the end of 2012, the Detroit offense consisted of throwing to Calvin Johnson and using other players to set up throwing to Calvin Johnson. They lacked any consistency at WR2 and the tight end combination of Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler were only marginally effective at moving the offense. With Bush in the mix, the Lions have a legitimate playmaker to turn to outside of Megatron.
Mikel Leshoure is still a part of the offense, and he is determined to improve on last season's performance. Yet the presence of Bush will most certainly limit Leshoure's upside. Bush probably won't reach the 227 carries that he had in Miami last season, but he will definitely carry the ball more than a few times a game. His real value to the Lions though will be his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He can break out into the flat, or find a soft spot over the middle to take a check down instead of trying to force the ball into Johnson's hands. Bush is equally comfortable lining up in the slot, and still has the burst to avoid the jam at the line and break away from a linebacker trying to cover him.
Bush had a whopping 40 touches that went for more than 10 yards last season. This was on a team with a rookie quarterback and Bush was the primary weapon. The Dolphins didn't possess anything close to Calvin Johnson's talent on offense, and Bush was still incredibly effective at moving the ball. With Megatron drawing the defense's attention, Bush will find himself facing weaker defensive fronts and will almost never face single coverage in the passing game. If the Lions can get him the ball in space, Bush will be in a position to do some serious damage.
- Desperate need. The Lions are starved for playmakers outside of Calvin Johnson and Bush still has plenty of big play potential.
- Limited competition. Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell may limit Bush's upside, but he is clearly the best back on the team.
- In Miami, opposing defenses would game-plan to stop him. In Detroit, they'll be more worried about Megatron, giving Bush plenty of opportunity to make big plays.
- Although Bush is the best back on the team, Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell are certainly in the mix. Bush's upside will be limited.
- The offense in Detroit still flows from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson. Bush will always be the second option.
- Leshoure will probably get any goal line carries, and Bush's TD total could take a hit this season.
The key with Bush will be how well the Lions can integrate him into the passing game. Leshoure is now two years removed from his injury and is determined to prove that he can be an effective runner. Both he and Bell will certainly push for carries the entire season. With huge question marks at wide receiver after Calvin Johnson, Detroit needs a guy like Bush to work the short and medium passing game. Bush still has plenty of gas left in the tank, and his big play potential will be an effective complement to Johnson on the passing game. With Leshoure and Bell pounding the ball, Bush will be most effective as another weapon for the Lions to throw to. Don't be surprised if Bush posts some of his best receiving totals since his early days in New Orleans.
Reggie Bush Projections
|RUSH||RU YDs||RU TDs||REC||RE YDs||RE TDs|
|Will Grant's Projections||147||632||5||66||531||4|
|David Dodds' Projections||158||672||5||56||442||3|
"Reggie Bush in Detroit is an interesting topic because Reggie has always been the type of player that has received a lot of attention and the move to Detroit looks pretty good on paper as Detroit has a solid passing game that should open up running lanes, should play to Reggie's strength which can be to catch passes and get into the open field.
However, I am skeptical because Detroit has been a RBBC over the recent year's and that's also when Reggie seems to be at his best. I think Reggie will be more valuable in PPR leagues but I am not sold on him as the Detroit goaline back. The Lions also play on turf, which has bothered Reggie's knee over the years, something else I There will be a lot of hype surrounding him entering draft's and I don't feel like I'll be that guy willing to reach out and grab him."
"Bush can put numbers in this offense. There is no question about that when you break down the film. The Lions are going to spread the field and throw the ball. They will see a lot of Cover 2 within the NFC North from both the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings as well as 2-Man when they match up versus the Green Bay Packers because of the deep-ball ability of (Calvin) Johnson."
"In the first preseason game vs. the Jets Friday night, we saw firsthand what Bush's presence means.
It was the second offensive series of the game and a corner was forced to come off receiver Calvin Johnson and his corner route to account for Bush in the flat. That left Johnson one-on-one and quarterback Matthew Stafford found him for a 28-yard gain.
That's not a misprint, a corner left Megatron to account for someone else."
More from Will Grant:
Commissioner Basics: League Size - June 27
Commissioner Basics: Constitution Creation - June 27
Commissioner Basics: Making the Jump - June 19
Commissioner Basics: Acquiring Players - June 19
Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section XI - June 18
Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section X - June 18
Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section VII - June 17
Staff Confidence Pool (No Spread): Week 17 - December 27
Staff Confidence Pool (No Spread): Week 16 - December 20
Staff Confidence Pool (No Spread): Week 15 - December 12