Detroit Lions

Mikel Leshoure: Updated Fantasy Football Profile & Analysis for Lions RB

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
Jesse ReedCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2012

Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure is finally ready to hit the field, but don't expect him to become a fantasy football god any time soon. 

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports:

RT @jsparxx13How much playing time do you think Mikel Leshoure will get in his first game back? >> they r excited about him. 15??

— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 20, 2012

 

Leshoure will certainly get his chance to produce, and it'll be interesting to see if he does get 15 carries this week. So, let's take a look at what he will bring to the table.

 

Profile

The Lions could really use a legitimate power running back to counter their explosive passing attack, and Leshoure passes the eyeball test in this regard.

At 6' 0" and 227 pounds, Leshoure is a big man with quick feet who can move a pile and has the speed to get to the outside. He won't run away from defensive backs on a regular basis (4.59-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine), but he does have good vision and can pop off some big runs with decent blocking.

Leshoure was a dominant runner in college at Illinois, rushing for 2,557 yards on 424 carries (6.0 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns. He also had a minor role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, catching 37 passes for 439 yards with five touchdowns.

The biggest concern about Leshoure is that he's coming off of an Achilles injury that shelved him for the entire 2011 season. This can affect how explosive he is, and if he's lost any of his burst he won't be nearly as effective.

 

Fantasy Outlook

Leshoure will get his chance to become the No. 1 running back for the Lions, of that I have no doubt. The team's best option has been Kevin Smith, and no disrespect to him, but Smith isn't a starting-caliber running back. 

Joique Bell has shown flashes of being able to be an explosive player for the Lions, but I don't see him as anything more than a change-of-pace, third-down back. 

Even if Leshoure comes back, proves he hasn't lost any of his explosiveness and becomes the full-time starter for the Lions, you shouldn't expect him to become a consistent producer for your fantasy team. 

The reason for this is simple: Since the beginning of the 2010 NFL season, the Lions have thrown 1,379 passes compared to just 804 rushing attempts—only rushing the ball on 37 percent of their snaps. 

Furthermore, the Lions' schedule is loaded with teams that can score lots of points, meaning that Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the rest of the receivers will be the main focus of the offense for many of their games out of pure necessity. 

After their Week 3 contest against the Tennessee Titans, the Lions face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4, have a bye in Week 5, then face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6 and the Chicago Bears in Week 7. 

Leshoure isn't a good fantasy option right now. He may have a couple games here and there where he busts out with big point totals, but he won't be a consistent producer. 

 

Analysis

Leshoure showed impressive burst on a few runs in the preseason before serving his suspension. If he can stay healthy, stay out of trouble and commit himself to the team, he'll be a valuable addition. 

He won't, however, carry the ball 20-plus times a game, and he won't be a big producer in the passing game. As long as Stafford and Johnson are healthy, this team is geared towards passing the ball to its receivers and tight ends.

Leshoure may turn out to be just the running back the Lions have been searching for over the past few years, but don't expect him to pound out 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. It's not happening.

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78

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