Another year of fantasy football draft preparation is coming quickly, if it isn’t starting already, and with that my annual “Fantasy Face-Off” series for this year will debut today. In this installment, I’m presenting the Detroit Lions’ backfield duo of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Both were productive last year, and a new offensive coordinator should not change that dramatically this year.
The Case For Reggie Bush
Bush’s first season with the Lions was a success, with over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, 54 receptions (9.4 yards per catch) and seven total touchdowns (four rushing, three receiving). He did miss two games, but he played at least 14 games for the third straight season and topped 200 carries for the third straight season as well. Bush set a career-high in carries per game (15.9) in 2013.
New Lions’ offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was on the offensive coaching staff in New Orleans during Bush’s time there, and will bring a similar system with him to Detroit. That could be good news for Bush, and familiarity with a new coach is always a good thing.
The Case For Joique Bell
Bell emerged as a viable fantasy running back in 2013, with 650 rushing yards and eight touchdowns along with 53 catches for 547 yards. In the two games Bush missed last year, he had 43 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns along with eight receptions for 127 yards as the clear-cut workhorse for Detroit.
In the five games Bell had double digit carries in last year, he averaged 116.4 total yards per game (71.6 rushing yards per game), with four rushing touchdowns and 21 receptions. It’s worth noting that three of those double-digit carry games came over the final five games of the season, including a well-timed big game in Week 16 (20 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown; 10 receptions for 63 yards).
Bush had more carries in the red zone (30) than Bell (24) last year, but Bell had more carries inside the 10-yard line (13 vs. 10) and seven of his eight touchdowns came from one or two yards out. Bush’s role will not go away, particularly as a weapon in the passing game, but I don’t expect him to have 57 more carries than Bell again this year. Add in Bush’s advancing age (29) and the durability concerns that still linger from earlier in his career, and Bell is my choice here.