Mikel Leshoure: Detroit Lions RB Is Smart No. 2 Option for Fantasy Owners

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Alterraun Verner #20 of the Tennessee Titans makes a tackle against Mikel Leshoure #25 of the Detroit Lions during the game at LP Field on September 23, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions suffered a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, but running back Mikel Leshoure emerged in a big way.

Fantasy football owners, take note. The second-year ball-carrier finally showed why Detroit took him in Round 2 of the 2011 NFL draft.

Leshoure was suspended for the first two games of the season. Rather than starting slowly, Leshoure ran the ball 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes.

According to ESPN, Leshoure is owned in less than 40 percent of standard-scoring leagues. That means you can still scoop him up, but you'll want to hurry. ESPN also reports Leshoure as their 10th most-added player after Sunday's performance.

The Lions desperately need Leshoure to continue these performances. Holding the No. 1 passing offense in the league is always nice; however, a two-dimensional attack will be necessary to push this squad to the next level.

Matthew Stafford's potential leg injury also makes Leshoure's production more necessary. He will get more opportunities to prove himself, whether they're trying to keep Stafford healthy, or if he's not on the field at all.

He's a versatile back with big-play potential, but he can also run north-south. Far from a finished product, it's exciting to think where his season could go over the coming weeks.

Kevin Smith had 115 yards in two games prior to Leshoure's return. The door is wide open for the now-returned running back to snag the starting job. He nearly equaled Smith's production in one game, leaving very little doubt who the more-talented runner is.

Don't expect Leshoure to be the savior of your team, but sleepers can give your team an added boost. He's surrounded by highly skilled players, giving him more value than most other backs you're going to find on the waiver wire at this point.

If you have Leshoure stashed on your bench, start checking his matchup every week. The Lions face Minnesota in Week 4 and Philadelphia in Week 6, both of which are favorable matchups for Detroit's offense.

Don't stake your entire team's fate on Leshoure's legs. Just keep an eye on him. He's a smart option as your No. 2 running back, and his upside is considerable.