Mikel Leshoure, RB
The Lions selected Leshoure with their 57th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, adding him as a “thunder” complement to 2010 rookie, Jahvid Best. Given Best’s less than ideal injury history, Leshoure has been a frequent mid first round draft selection in most all rookie drafts and could eventually garner the lion’s share of carries if Detroit’s power running game can gain traction, something that hasn’t been present in over a decade. Whether or not that can occur now will have to wait for at least another season in all likelihood. As a power back, this injury is particularly disappointing and is certain to drop Leshoure’s value in all formats. Obviously, in redraft leagues, he can be dropped.
At 227 lbs. and as a power runner, Achilles’ tendons can be tricky to return from but Leshoure has youth on his side and a full year of recovery will be given. Leshoure could be a great buy low candidate at this point but we suggest caution. An article from emaxhealth.com suggests that this type of injury ends the careers of up to one third of NFL players and those that do return lose up to 50% of their power rating. For a back like Leshoure, should this be factual, it’s an en even more significant injury.
Jahvid Best, RB
Best’s value gets a significant boost as the Lions will undoubtedly increase his touches accordingly. He hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy as a pro but is said to be 100% entering 2011. With Leshoure functioning as the thunder to Best’s lightning, it was anyone’s guess as to whether Best’s productivity could have actually increased to do higher quality touches. In either case, Best’s touches will increase, thus increasing his fantasy relevance as well. Look for the Lions to add another back into the rotation soon to compete for carries.
Maurice Morris, RB
With the 2011 release of Kevin Smith, Morris was running third on the depth chart behind Leshoure. Morris, a capable but underwhelming option, will be upgraded on the depth chart, at least until another back can be added. While Morris does receive an upgrade, it’s not so much as to significantly raise his fantasy draft stock. He’s an insurance add only in deeper leagues.
Aaron Brown, RB
Brown has graced rosters in the recent past as he has shown flashes of potential. Brown’s style resembles that of Best far more than Leshoure and all probability suggests that Brown will remain a special team’s role player with occasional carries as Best needs a breather.
Ian Johnson, RB
Johnson has almost no fantasy value but should the coaching staff feel that he can be a between the tackles runner, he may get a chance to show. The likelihood of that occurring is extremely low and no action need be taken by fantasy coaches at this juncture.
Kevin Smith, RB Free Agent
Smith was surprisingly released with the addition of Leshoure and all reason suggests that the Lions will pick up the phone immediately to get Smith back into camp. That said, the release of Smith clearly identifies the level of confidence the Lions have in him and it would be no guarantee that, even if added, that he would eventually overtake Morris on the depth chart. Should the Lions add Smith, he’s worth a free roster spot. If you have Jahvid Best, Smith is worth a free spot as insurance, but only if Detroit adds him.
Other notable free agents are available for immediate signing. Ricky Williams and Tiki Barber immediately come to mind and many other backs will be available via trade. Watch the situation closely as Leshoure’s replacement will have immediate fantasy implications.
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