During our recent series of “Dynasty Dilemmas,” we’ve focused on two players in Mike Williams and Jonathan Stewart who either had disappointing seasons or circumstances arise in the offseason that have raised some element of doubt in regards to their future value in dynasty leagues. We turn our attention to a different kind of dilemma today – one that takes a look at a player who had everything go right for him last year and as a result, posted the best year of his career.
Hello Reggie Bush!
Bush was a sensation at USC and was widely regarded as the best running back prospect to come out in decades. After all, in his two years as a Trojan, he recorded 343 carries for 2,648 yards (yes, that’s an average of almost 8 yards per carry), 80 receptions for another 987 yards and scored a total of 31 touchdowns. Again, in TWO years. Add on his special teams contribution and you had a Heisman trophy winner if you ever saw one.
It seems like so long ago, but this was Reggie Bush in his heyday at USC:
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It seemed that it was a foregone conclusion that the Texans were going to take Bush with the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, but they chose to take Mario Williams instead. That left the City of New Orleans jumping for joy as Bush fell to them with the second pick. The pick of Williams by the Texans came a lot of criticism early on because they were seemingly passing on a once in a generation running back. However, we’d soon see the Texans really did know what they were doing.
Bush’s early career with New Orleans was very hit and miss, making the Texans look like geniuses as Williams developed into a major force. In his rookie season, Bush posted 565 rushing yards on 155 carries (a disappointing 3.6 yards per carry average) and scored six touchdowns. He also raised a lot of eyebrows as it seemed he lacked the confidence to run up the middle. His saving grace was his ability in the passing game – he caught 88 passes for 742 yards and scored two more touchdowns. Unfortunately, that reception total he posted as a rookie remains his career best.
The next four years were filled with flashes of great ability and multiple injuries as he continued to develop into what no dynasty owner had planned on – he was simply mediocre. He hit rock bottom in 2010 when he had just 150 rushing yards and 208 receiving yards in eight games before getting hurt yet again.
After the Saints drafted Mark Ingram last season, Bush became very expendable. After all, the Saints had their eyes on Darren Sproles and really no longer needed his services. On July 29th, Bush was traded to the Miami Dolphins and again, his owners hoped to see something great from him.
Surprisingly, he delivered this time.
Bush was a monster last season in Miami, racking up his first 1,000 yard season as he posted 1,086 yards on 216 carries – good for five yards per carry. In addition, he tied his career high with six rushing touchdowns and added 43 catches for another 296 yards and one touchdown in a total of 15 games.
What’s even more impressive about Reggie’s breakout campaign has to be his final four games. After being truly given the ability to be a featured back in the league, he was able to record an amazing 519 rushing yards, 59 receiving yards and score two more touchdowns all in the span of about a month. His rushing average skyrocketed to 6.3 – an insane number for a running back over that long of a stretch. To make it even more amazing, Bush started hitting holes in the middle with authority.
So, now what?
With Bush, there is no doubt a dynasty dilemma on our hands. Was it a fluke? A mirage? An evil tease? What happens next year? Let’s take a look at two schools of thought.
First, you have to look at the negative side of this.
Bush was granted his opportunity because of an injury to young rookie Daniel Thomas. Now, there’s no doubt Thomas wasn’t good for the first part of the season, but he really began to progress last year as the season went on. Thomas is going to be fully healthy going into next year and figures to take some of the carries away from Bush.
The coaching staff is also brand new. While there’s little doubt they see the potential in Bush, it’s nearly impossible to say definitively how much they’re going to be willing to use him. Can he really be counted on as a featured back with his history of injuries? They have to be asking themselves that very question.
The Dolphins also failed to land any significant free agents and actually sent their best offensive weapon in the form of Brandon Marshall to Chicago. Defenses are likely going to stack the box against Bush or Thomas, knowing the threat of the pass has diminished greatly.
You also have to factor in Bush’s checkered history. We’ve seen flashes like this before (though not for this extended period of time), then found ourselves very disappointed in what happens next. Will he stay healthy? Can he do it again? Will Daniel Thomas take away a lot of his value? These are all relevant questions when you consider his value.
Next, you simply can’t deny the positives.
Bush seemed to finally “get it” last year. He’ll never be a fantastic between the tackles runner, but he at least seemed willing to do it last year and it produced great results. He showed improved confidence and was durable enough to withstand handling 250 touches with relative ease (though he did have a minor knee injury that kept him out of the last week). He worked hard in the offseason and finally saw it pay off.
When you take a look at the last month of the season, Bush was a RB1 in most leagues. In fact, you can make a case that he was the RB2 of the year based on his production in relation to his average draft position.
While the Dolphins didn’t land anyone else in free agency, you could make the case that it makes Bush even that much more important to their team. As the only truly dynamic weapon on offense, the new coaching staff would be foolish not to use him in as many ways possible.
Bush may seem older, but he’s still just 27 as well. The light bulb for a running back rarely just flips on at this age, but he could have 4-5 really good seasons left in him. They could be in Miami or elsewhere, but a player with his talent would have no problem finding himself a home in the future if he keeps this level of production going.
If I’m in a dynasty league, it’s pretty simple. I’m looking to trade Bush for a player of near equal value at the moment who carries less risk. If I can find a top 25 running back who has youth and upside going for him, I’d consider it.
However, Bush’s breakout season can’t just be discounted, as it seems to be by many dynasty league owners. If you’re trying to “sell high” right now, just make sure you’re getting something useful in return. If you feel like you just need to give him away and get something for him, it could likely be a mistake. Besides, owners in your league will catch on to that and they’ll be like sharks in the water. If I can’t find a deal that works, I’m going to have some guts and hold on to him, hoping his value spikes up even further. After all, that’s not out of the realm of possibility, either.
I like Bush as an RB3 next year, with the upside for much, much more. Could he break your heart? Absolutlely. In fact, it might be likely based on his past history. In the end, you just have to ask yourself if he could he be a big contributor to you winning your league? He might just do that, too.
The Reggie Bush dynasty dilemma is one that’s very complicated and mysterious – that’s what makes it so fun.
So, do you have some guts?