Hi, it’s Sky again post-jacking in italics.  Just wanted to remind everyone we have Razzball Commenter League Sign-ups going on and we’re now looking for a few good commishes.  So head to that link and find out how to create a league.  Grand Prize winner gets something pretty snazzy so do yourself a favor and go create a league.  Now back to normal font with your host, Andrew.

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 StarksBen 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.

  1. Challenge Guy says:

    I’ve wanted so badly for Jahvid Best to be relevant for us fantasy footballers; I saw him in person put up those 5 sick TD’s against the Golden Gophers in 2009. We just want so badly for someone to matter given our belief that anything related to the Lions Offense will be golden this year. As of this writing, Best still isn’t cleared for contact. Even if he eventually does, I think it’s folly to rely on him for more than half a season.

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew says:

      @Challenge Guy, He is on the Active/PUP list at present which is a little encouraging but not much. I would want to see him actually last through a 16-game season before being more enthusiastic about him.

      I guess you could say he is just like Darren McFadden…when it comes to playing half seasons and getting hurt.

  2. David_KOA says:

    @Andrew Nordmeier,

    According the Detroit Lions website they are expecting a Saints like RBBC attack in 2012. Jahvid Best will be the Darren Sproles, Mikel LeShoure will be used as Mark Ingram and Kevin Smith will get Pierre Thomas role.

    When looking at last year for Kevin Smith you really want to focus on weeks 10-13.
    12 total touches, 3.8 catches, 91.8 total yards & 1 total TD per game.

    Then like most Kevin Smith’s career he was hit by an injury. Outside of his rookie year(08) he has missed 22 games.

    Now we flash forward to the offseason and report came out that Kevin Smith has put on 8 pounds and feels the best he has since entering the NFL.

    If the Lions do go to this Saints like RBBC attack in 2012. Expecting a similair total touches for Kevin Smith is very realistic. We saw what he could(healthy) do very briefly in the Lions backfield last year. Plus the upside for more being the question marks(Best & LeShoure) that are in front of him.

    PLUS MIGHT I ADD THAT HE IS RANK AT 203 OVER AT YAHOO!!! Even over at FFC he is not coming off the board till the 53rd RB(12th round or later) in 12 team drafts.

    The Lions backfield does have a RB that can offer fantasy owners, a quality profit in return from his current asking price. His name is Kevin Smith and should be a target of all come draft day!

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew says:

      @David_KOA, I like the way the Lions are thinking like the Saints. Seeing them execute it would be totally different. If Best is going to be like Sproles, does that mean he’ll also return kicks? If so, I think it;s a really, really, really bad idea given his injury history.

      Perhaps Kevin Smith might be of value in a larger league but I do see your points about the question marks in Best and LeShoure possibly making his path to a starting job easier.

      I also just read over at CBS Sportsline that Smith might be a starter (posted today) so there is more merit to what you’re saying. Best’s health is always an issue but Smith could have something to him.

      We’ll see how it plays out in 2012.

      • David_KOA says:

        I am not part of the Lions website but I would have to assume they are talking when the Lions are on offense. No way are they allowing Jahvid Best to sustain more contact them need be.

        Pierre Thomas had a total of 160 touches in 2011. That comes out to 10 per contest and that is the role Kevin Smith would obtain. He(Thomas) finished as the 28th best RB(fantasy) in standard formats.

        Even with Jahvid best and Mikel LeShoure in the lineup. I don’t see how fantasy can’t view Kevin Smith as a solid RB4 option, in a 12 team league standard or ppr. He will give you spot start Flex/RB3 material and once Best, LeShoure or both get hurt or suspended again. You have a player who presents much more.

        His opportunity + The production + the upside at his current cost equals a win/win for fantasy owners who draft Kevin Smith in 2012!

  3. Zachary Neugut says:

    Just wondering, are you publishing a rankings list for football keepers and prices for a first year draft of an auction league? Thanks a lot

    • Sky

      Sky says:

      Hi Zachary, unfortunately not as that’s a pretty specific ranking. I wish I could steer you somewhere that would but I don’t have anything off the top of my head.

  4. Dominic says:

    Just to let you know LeShoure tore his Achilles not his knee…

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