Welcome to second installment of “Over/Under” where I highlight a player and determine some projections based on past tendencies, then state whether I think they will go “over or under” those projections. The criteria will be different for each player based on position and situation.
This week’s debate will focus on Reggie Bush. Since signing with the Detroit Lions in free agency, projections and expectations have been all over the place for the former Saint and Dolphin. For this article, I have determined the line to be 65 catches, 1,400 total yards, and seven touchdowns.
Since leaving Sean Payton’s never ending stable of running backs in 2011, Reggie Bush has shown the playmaking abilities and effectiveness we all thought we were getting coming out of college. He was never asked or given to opportunity to be “the guy” in New Orleans and was kind of an afterthought when he signed in Miami. The Dolphins had just drafted Daniel Thomas and Bush signed a two year contract as insurance. The Dolphins were lucky they had their insuranc,e too. Thomas has been a huge bust in the NFL and Reggie Bush was reborn.
During his two seasons in Miami, Bush totaled 2,072 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 588 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. Now he moves on to a Detroit Lions team who uses their running backs in the passing game as well as any team in the league.
With the cannon armed Matthew Stafford and the “All-World” Calvin Johnson leading this team and keeping defensive coordinators awake at night, the Lions have been looking for a dynamic playmaker in this backfield since Jahvid Best’s career has been put on hold (and probably ended) due to several severe concussions. They were left at the altar last season waiting for Best to show up, but he never gained medical clearance and they were forced to roll with Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell and Kevin Smith as part of a committee attack. Not to mention they have essentially used tight end Brandon Pettigrew as an extension of the running game by hitting him with quick passes near the line of scrimmage – he’s averaged five catches per game over the last two seasons. None of Detroit’s running backs offer the lightning in a bottle ability Jahvid Best or Reggie Bush offer, and this team sorely missed it.
Last year, the Lions targeted their running backs a total of 142 times (roughly nine times per game) and completed 103 passes (around six and a half per game). Joique Bell led all Lions running backs in receptions last year with 52 catches for 485 yards and Leshoure added an additional 34 receptions for 214 yards while leading the team in fantasy points. Leshoure was the lead dog from a rushing standpoint as he ran for 798 yards and nine touchdowns, but averaged just 3.71 yards per carry and offered next to no big play ability. His largest contribution came at the stripe as a physical goal line back. On the plus side, he definitely runs angry.
When Bush signed his contract with the Lions, he stated he was brought in with the guarantee he would have the opportunity to be the team’s starter. With his skill set as both a runner (he averaged 4.34 yards per carry last season) and his well documented pass catching ability (he’s averaged 53 catches per season throughout his career), Bush has the opportunity on this squad to be a PPR monster in 2013. His lone weak spot from a fantasy perspective has always been touchdowns – he has never scored more than eight offensive touchdowns in any season and I can’t see that changing this year.
I fully expect this situation to closely resemble the “Thunder and Lightning” approach used by the Tennessee Titans with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Reggie Bush should put up some really exciting numbers and when the team gets down inside the ten yard line, they’ll bring in the battering ram to finish the job. On top of that, I don’t expect Bell to just completely become obsolete. He showed he has plenty of ability to produce in this league, probably as much as Leshoure has in my opinion.
When it’s all said and done, I expect Bush’s totals to be in the neighborhood of 1,100 yards rushing, 70 catches for 500 yards receiving and at total of six touchdowns. That’s “over, over, and under” on the stated line. To hit those totals, Bush would only need to average 69 yards rushing and around four and a half catches for 32 yards receiving per game throughout the season. Those numbers are attainable in my opinion and I’ll play the odds on him scoring less than seven touchdowns with Leshoure and Megatron being the red zone monsters they are.
I was really impressed and humbled by the reader response from the “Over/Under: Wes Welker” article and look forward to more interaction with our readers. The arguments that were made were well thought out, well presented and incredibly civil. I can’t wait to see what everyone’s thoughts are for Reggie Bush’s 2013 outlook. Are you taking the over or under on his 65 catches, 1,400 total yards, and seven touchdowns?
Let me know in the comments below and make sure you vote in the web poll.
Eric is on Twitter @OlingerIDP.