5 Reasons to Draft Jahvid Best in Your Fantasy Football League
After more than a decade of futility lowlighted by the first 0-16 season in NFL history, the Detroit Lions finally appeared to turn a corner of sorts last year, going 10-6 and appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
However, the celebration was a muted one for running back Jahvid Best, who saw his 2011 season ended after only six games due to post-concussion symptoms.
Best's history of concussions and the fact that he has yet to be cleared for contact almost 10 months later makes the third-year pro quite possibly the riskiest draft pick of any running back in fantasy football this year.
However, here are a fistful of reasons why the potential reward that could be reaped by selecting Jahvid Best is worth that risk on draft day.
1. Jahvid Best Is a Supremely Talented Running Back
It's really a shame that the specter of concussions has haunted Jahvid Best since he sustained a horrific one while playing at the University of California, as when he's in open space there are few more dangerous players in all of football.
Best gained over 1,000 total yards and scored six touchdowns as a rookie in 2010, finishing the season as a top-20 running back in fantasy football leagues that award a point for receptions.
Before going down last October, Best appeared to be well on his way to improving on that finish in his second NFL season, averaging 4.6 yards a carry and ranking sixth among running backs in fantasy points per game.
If you'd prefer yet more evidence of Best's home-run ability, just watch the attached video from a game against Chicago last year, where Best scored on an 88-yard run in which he didn't even appear to be overly exerting himself.
2. The Potent Detroit Offense
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The old adage in the National Football League used to be that you run to set up the pass, but in Motown the opposite may be the case.
Detroit's passing attack, led by 5,000-yard passer Matthew Stafford, is as potent as any in the league.
It's awfully hard for a defense to stack the line of scrimmage when they're terrified that superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson is going to burn them over the top.
That creates holes you could drive a truck through, much less a 200-pound running back with blazing speed and great hands.
3. If Best Is Healthy He'll Get the "Lion's" Share of Carries
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Make no mistake, the Detroit Lions may ease Best back into action once he's cleared to play (assuming he is), but when the game is on the line it will be Best in the Detroit backfield.
Sure, Kevin Smith performed well for the Lions after Best went down last year, but Smith has an extensive injury history of his own that actually led to his being jettisoned from the team altogether prior to last year.
Mikel Leshoure may develop into a talented running back in the NFL, but we don't know that.
Leshoure tore his Achilles tendon before ever taking an NFL carry last year and will begin this season serving a two-game suspension after multiple marijuana arrests.
Fantasy owners who invest a draft pick in Best would be well-advised to spend one on Smith as well, but rest assured if Best can play not only will he but he'll be the Lions' lead back.
4. Best's Average Draft Position Is in Free Fall
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Best was already one of the most talked and speculated about players in the NFL prior to training camp opening, with an average draft position in fantasy football that was all over the place.
Then the news broke that doctors still hadn't cleared Best for contact, and the bottom fell out.
To get a feel for how this affected Best's draft position, let's take a look at a fantasy football league that I'm commissioner of that has 24 total teams split into two "conferences."
Each conference has their own player pool, but otherwise they have identical scoring, lineup requirements, and fantasy owners who are all of similar skill and experience levels.
In one conference, where Best was drafted before training camp opened, he was selected late in the seventh round as the 27th running back off the board.
In the other, where news broke of Best being sidelined while he was still available, he dropped seven full rounds further to late in the 14th round, where he was chosen as the 43rd running back.
Granted, this is an Individual Defensive Player league, which skews the rounds somewhat.
The fact remains that in the span of about a week Jahvid Best dropped 16 slots at his position.
5. These Are the Opportunities That Win Fantasy Football Leagues
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There's no denying that Best is an incredibly risky fantasy pick.
There's no telling when, or even if, he'll be medically cleared to return to practice, much less see actual game action.
The next concussion Best suffers could end not only his season but also his career.
For the record, for his sake, I hope he never has another one in his life. If that means he's done with football, then so be it. Some things are more important.
However, very rarely does the chance come along to select a player late in fantasy football drafts who has legitimate top-five upside.
If he doesn't get cleared, or gets hurt again, then so what? RB4 picks bust all the time, and very rarely does it make or break a fantasy team.
With that said, if you can draft Best now at a deep discount, he is cleared and he comes close to fulfilling that upside?
Those are the picks that win fantasy titles.