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We’re back with another edition of Fantasy Flatliners and this time we’ll tell you why not to take ANY of the running backs for the Detroit Lions or at least why it would be smart to ignore them unless they come at a good discount.
Last season Detroit finished 29th in rushing with 92.9 yards per game. I’m surprised they hit those lofty numbers given the state of affairs in the Motor City backfield. Jahvid Best was supposed to be the starting running back. He was limited to 84 carries and 390 yards before getting knocked the fugg out with concussion issues. In all seriousness, concussions are a…well they’re a serious thing and they are not injuries to be taken lightly with regards to career longevity, especially for a running back. When you couple the health scare with the fact 88 of those yards came on a highlight-reel touchdown scamper against the Bears, you’ve got someone who may not be worth his current draft price at 84th off the board in yahoo leagues.
Now Mikel Leshoure was supposed to be his backup but then tore knee ligaments in preseason and missed the whole 2011 year. He also faces a two-game suspension to start 2012 resulting from a traffic stop where he allegedly ate marijuana as the police officer approached the vehicle he was riding in. Reportedly when asked what he was eating, he tried to do a Pop-Eye impression and told them ‘I’m eatin’s me spinach’. Needless to say, that last sentence is just not true but we felt you needed that image in your head. You’re welcome. His off-field troubles coupled with the news that he is at best only a goal line back in a pass-heavy offense makes his current going rate of 98th off the board in yahoo leagues ahead of players like James Starks, Ben Tate and Jacquizz Rodgers a little spendy.
Of course, we could delve even further into the injury-riddled backfield by seeing Maurice Morris stepping in for 80 carries for 316 yards or even Kevin Smith who got into the act with 356 yards on 72 carries. As of right now, it’s not clear they’re a part of the plan besides insurance and I don’t mean they’re working for All-State. Though Smith does present a bit of an upside play with his current ranking of 209, he himself is an injury risk as Maurice would not have touched the ball last season much had Kevin stayed healthy.
The other big reason why not to pick a Lions RB in 2012 is the awesome strength of the passing game. Matthew Stafford stayed healthy in 2011 and threw for more than 5,000 yards. Calvin Johnson continued to be his usual stud self with 1681 yards and 16 TDs in 2012. Megatron had more yards per game (105.1) than the running backs did as a unit. Meditate on that for a minute. Now situate yourself in the lotus position and think on this fact: fellow wide receivers Nate Burleson (757) and Titus Young (607) each gained significantly more yards than any one Lions running back did in 2011. When you throw in the tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler accounting for 777 yards and their use in short yardage plays that would normally be designated for running backs, we’re now close to reaching a full state of Zen. Though the tight end use had a lot to do with the injuries at running back, we all know those injury issues haven’t gone away heading into 2012.
Overall, Detroit looks like a hot mess of the dreaded running back by committee blues. The Lions RBBC only hit the end zone 9 times last year on the ground. For a comparison, oft-injured Beanie Wells of the Cardinals scored 10 on his own. When you put it all together, the Lions look more and more like an Arena Football League team with how often and well they pass. Just like in the AFL, running is seldom used and the same goes for the Lions running backs for 2012 fantasy football.