Fantasy Football Draft: Where Should You Select Reggie Bush?

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Count me among the legion of fantasy owners and analysts who thoroughly underestimated Bush's ability to attain yardage as a feature back, and to exhibit his durability while doing so. That perception was based upon the results of his five years as a Saint, when he failed to reach 600 yards rushing in any of those seasons, never replicated the success that he achieved in receiving as a rookie, and was sidelined for a whopping 20 contests due to injury. However, the assessment of Bush was altered significantly during his tenure with Miami. He displayed great proficiency while handling an extensive workload, as he amassed 2,072 yards and 12 TDs on 443 carries in two years as a Dolphin. That included the career high 227 carries that he was allotted just last season. He performed effectively, bolting for 2,072 yards and 12 TDs. He also averaged 4.65 YPC during that span, and remained in the lineup for 31 of 32 potential contests.

That made him an enticing option in free agency for a Detroit franchise that clearly needed to invigorate its rushing attack, which ranked just 23rd in 2012. Plus, the team desperately required another dynamic weapon for Matthew Stafford to locate within their passing attack. The Lions will now take full advantage of their opportunity to blend Bush into the offensive equation, and he should provide an infusion of explosiveness that was absent, beyond Stafford’s success when flinging passes to Calvin Johnson. Bush’s presence will compel opposing defenses to form a deeper level of respect for Detroit’s running game then Mikel Leshoure was able to inspire last season. Leshoure did rebound admirably, after missing the entire 2011 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, by leading the Lions in rushing with 798 yards, and pacing the team with nine TDs on the ground. But his YPC was an uninspiring 3.7, as he continued to battle troublesome injuries throughout the year. Joique Bell supplied 414 yards on 82 attempts, but made his most critical contributions as a receiver. The moderate ceiling that Leshoure and Bell could deliver in their efforts to amass rushing yards, provided Detroit’s decision makers with sufficient incentive to obtain Bush. His vastly superior potential to produce sizable yardage will help him ascend beyond both Leshoure and Bell on the depth chart, and capture the highest percentage of touches  among the team’s stable of backfield options. As a result, he will have a legitimate opportunity to become Detroit’s first 1,000 yard-rusher since Kevin Jones in 2004.

But of course, Bush was also acquired to supply Stafford will another dynamic target, which he sorely lacked in 2012. Stafford launched a league high 727 passes last season, although 205 of them were intended for the peerless Johnson. The  Lions suffered through a dearth of options beyond Megatron, particularly after the promising Ryan Broyles suffered a torn ACL on December 2. Stafford’s desperate need for secondary targets did elevate Bell into fantasy relevance, as the third-year back was targeted 68 times, and amassed 52 catches. It was the team’s fourth best reception total. And that level of production could propel Bell toward capturing more touches than Leshoure, whose involvement in Detroit’s 2012 aerial attack was modest - just 34 catches for 214 yards. Regardless, the distribution of opportunities for Bell and Leshoure remains ambiguous, while Bush’s big play capabilities should provide an effective tonic for what had been an area of great deficiency.

Since entering the league in 2006, Bush has amassed 372 catches, which surpassed the totals of all other backs. 78 of those receptions were generated in 2011-2012, but he is likely to surpass that total in his first year as a Lion. Because Detroit’s offensive approach will be far more reliant upon perpetuating an aerial assault than was the case in Miami. Bush’s involvement should be more comparable to his rookie season, when he established a career best 88 receptions. Not only should he approach that number again this season, but he could easily surpass it. In fact, it is highly plausible that his total will surpass all other backs in that category. That accentuates his appeal for anyone who will be involved in PPR leagues.

15 RBs are currently being selected before Bush, and his ADP of 33 places him securely in Round 3. While I do have some concern about an offensive line that will contain three new starters, it is difficult to quarrel with that positioning in standard leagues. However, I believe that he should be selected at least 10 slots earlier in PPR leagues, as an ADP of 22 appears more reasonable in those scenarios. Particularly since he will be employed heavily as a dynamic weapon on the ground, while stockpiling receptions as a backfield target for Stafford. As always, remember the usual caveats of maintaining flexibility based upon the flow of your particular draft, maintaining a value oriented strategy, and adhering to your specific needs at that time.




  1. Clint

    August 13, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Nice piece.

    I struggle with Bush and honestly think based on some early site rankings I’ve seen elsewhere it seems I’m not the only one. Considering LeShoure was showing signs before he started getting nicked up and Bell stole touches, I honestly think the Lions are following the Saints RB patterns (ironic considering they now have Bush, isn’t it?) in that Bush is likely to fill the Sproles role while LeShoure/Bell fight for the Thomas/Ingram roles, thus canceling out anyone beyond Bush in fantasy terms, at least on a consistent value basis anyway. While Bush did look good between the tackles last season, I don’t see him doing that enough in Detroit because of the other two’s presence (are the Lions really going to give up on LeShoure after basically half a season as starter?), and don’t hear rumblings out of Detroit that that’s the goal for him, to be a bellcow fantasy RB on any team.

  2. Josh L

    August 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I wouldn’t worry about Detroit will follow the Saints RB pattern. The style of offence is dictated as much by the coaching staff as it is by the type of personel. So until Sean Peyton shows up on Detroit’s sideline I wouldn’t worry. Detroit has shown in the past that they like to use primarily one guy … it’s only because of injuries that you see multiple guys piling up stats on the season.

    Reggie Bush may only be a 220 carry guy, but that’ll be enough to get him 1000 + yards rushing. Add to that the 50-90 receptions he may get and you’re getting two players in one. The bigger concern with Reggie is injury … but I think he’s done enough to prove he’s no longer a greater injury risk than your average RB. I play PPR though, so my outlook is definitely biassed and the potential for 90 receptions from a RB is fantasy gold!