Mikel Leshoure: Fantasy Owners Should Temper Expectations for Lions RB

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2012

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 30:  Mikel Leshoure #25 of the Detroit Lions heads back to the sideline after scoring a first quarter touchdown while playing the Buffalo Bills during a pre season game at Ford Field on August 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Mikel Leshoure's two-game suspension is over, and he now enters the fray in the Detroit Lions backfield. But should fantasy owners really care?

Of course they should. But I wouldn't get too excited, either.

If he's available in your league and you need some depth at running back, he's a good pick-up, especially when you consider the Lions intend to involve him in the game plan immediately in Week 3. From Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com:

"He hasn’t really played in a real game since he was in college where he had to play four quarters,” [offensive coordinator Scott] Linehan said. “It will be fun to see him get back out there and be the fresh legs guy in the group and we’ll go.”

Linehan said he expects Leshoure to be involved heavily in the game plan for Titans this week. Through their first two games, Tennessee (0-2) is allowing 155 yards per game on the ground and ranks 30th in the league against the run.

“We’ll see how much he’s ready to go in this game but he’ll certainly be involved heavily in the game plan and we’ll go from there,” Linehan said. “We’ve always felt like he was going to be a big boost for us once he came back in the lineup."

Still, Kevin Smith has played well for the Lions while Leshoure was suspended, and the most you can expect from Leshoure early is an even split of snaps with Smith. Plus, Leshoure was hardly impressive in the preseason, rushing for just 44 yards on 20 carries.

Smith is also a far better option in the passing game, meaning Leshoure's role will be limited to two downs. On a Lions team that is smitten with the passing attack, the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is more valuable in Detroit than simply being proficient running between the tackles.

Sure, Leshoure may be the starter before too long, but with Smith available, Joique Bell seeing his role expand and the possibility that Jahvid Best might play at some point this season, how valuable will he really be for fantasy owners even if he does start?

Plus, we have no idea how he'll respond to playing in his first regular-season game after missing all of last year with a torn Achilles. And for that matter, we don't know if he'll have his full burst and speed, either—a torn Achilles is no joke. 

So sure, go ahead and add Leshoure to your fantasy team if you need running back depth. Just know that he's a stash-play out of the gate, and might prove to remain that way unless he can differentiate himself from the other Detroit backs and put up big numbers.

I'm not counting on it.

But I'm not ruling out the possibility that he'll have fantasy relevance this season either.


Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are still in the Heisman race.

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