Mikel Leshoure: Lions RB Return from Suspension Creates Chaos for Fantasy Owners

Ethan GrantAnalyst ISeptember 22, 2012

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 30:  Mikel Leshoure #25 of the Detroit Lions gets around the tackle of Arthur Moats #52 of the Buffalo Bills after a first quarter catch 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

Amid conflicted reports of his role in the offense, Mikel Leshoure returns from suspension in Week 3 as his Detroit Lions are set to take on the Tennessee Titans.

Leshoure is supposed to make Kevin Smith irrelevant in the coming weeks. He's one of the hottest "add now" guys in almost every format of fantasy football and hasn't even taken a regular season NFL snap in his career.

So what does this mean for the Lions rushing attack? And for fantasy owners, who is the better option: Kevin Smith or Mikel Leshoure?

The easy answer is Leshoure. He was reported to be the No. 1 back out of training camp and coming off that suspension and an Achilles injury that forced him to miss most of last season, he figures to eclipse Smith and take the job full-time in the near future.

All of the recent reports even have Leshoure getting a considerable work load right off the bat, even though he isn't necessarily in game shape and hasn't seen the field since early preseason.

According to Dave Richard of CBSSports.com and their fantasy outlook, their sources say Leshoure will take on a big load right away, as many as 20 carries and the bulk of the action should the Lions need to run out the clock.

Source tells @cbssports Mikel Leshoure will have bigger role in Lions offense than initially believed. News/analysis: fantasynews.cbssports.com/fantasyfootbal…

— Dave Richard (@daverichard) September 20, 2012

That's great news for those who picked up Leshoure on waivers, or even had the nerve to draft him in a deeper league format.

But not so fast, people, what about Kevin Smith?

This ESPN report on what Leshoure should bring to the offense gives a little bit of insight to the dilemma in the Detroit backfield. While Smith is a solid runner and does a good job of finding holes, he rarely makes guys miss and doesn't gain many yards after contact.

Leshoure is a powerful runner, and figures to add the element of YAC that Smith lacks. He's an inside the tackles runner with the ability to break a long run—an element of the offense that Detroit has lacked in both 2012 regular season games.

But Smith isn't going to go away lightly. He's an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield, and runs the screen pass very well. And the Detroit News is reporting Smith still got most of the first-team reps in practice this week.

Whether or not the Lions are playing this close to the chest due to a hidden plan or not being ready to fully unleash Leshoure is unknown. What is known, however, is that these two talented runners will compete for touches and fantasy points now as a true RB duo.

Smith has the edge out of the backfield and Leshoure likely sees most of the goal-line touches, but both are valuable to have on a team. Which one will be more productive, however, figures to be the biggest question mark.