While the upset may have felt like a slug to the chest for Lions fans, they can look forward to Leshoure knocking the wind out of a few defenders this season.
The powerful back was a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft but missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon. He finally made his debut against the Titans after missing the first two games of this year due to a suspension for offseason arrests.
Here is everything you need to know about his fantasy prospects for the remainder of the season.
Why He’ll Be a Star
Leshoure rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown in the Lions’ game against the Titans. The team could not hope for more production from the running back’s debut.
Detroit relied on Leshoure as its workhorse in the game, and he delivered by churning out tough yardage. At 6’0” and 227 yards, Leshoure has the size and skills to carry a heavy load for the Lions this season, just like he did in his senior season at Illinois when he racked up 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns on 281 carries.
Matthew Stafford left the game with a hamstring injury, and although Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that the problem is not expected be serious, the Lions QB has struggled to stay healthy in the past. If he goes down, Leshoure will become a significantly larger part of the offense.
Even with Stafford on the field, Leshoure brings balance to the team’s offense and he will be able to gain a significant amount of yardage with his opportunities.
Why He’ll Be a Bust
The Lions are a pass-happy offense that ranked first in pass attempts and 31st in rushing attempts in 2011. While the presence of Leshoure caused them to run the ball more against Tennessee, the team still ranks second in pass attempts through three games.
Any Detroit running back risks seeing inconsistent action, making him an unreliable fantasy player. There may be games that call for a heavy dose of the running game, but the focal points of the offense are Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Leshoure himself is also risky. The matchup against Tennessee was his first regular season game after a major injury and a tumultuous offseason full of concerning behavior.
Another off-field incident would likely result in another suspension, and his ability to handle the rigors of an NFL season is completely unknown.
Will Mikel Leshoure gain 1,000 rushing yards this season?
Leshoure will not be a top-15 running back this season, but he will be a viable fantasy option in most weeks.
While he will not be the focus of the Detroit offense, the team’s potent passing attack will cause defenses to drop back in coverage often. This is an ideal situation for a running back who runs with as much power as Leshoure.
However, the Lions' prolific passing game also means that receiving 26 carries will not be the norm for Leshoure. Expect him to see significantly less action in many games.
Ultimately, 900 rushing yards and eight touchdowns are reasonable expectations for him this season. He will continue to be a solid starter, barring an extremely unfavorable matchup.