Projecting Mike Leshoure's Fantasy Value Following Breakout Week 9 Performance

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent INovember 4, 2012

Mikel Leshoure is in line for a big second half of 2012.
Mikel Leshoure is in line for a big second half of 2012.Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

It's taken Mikel Leshoure a year and a half to put his stamp on the Detroit Lions, but Sunday's performance finally gave fantasy owners reason to believe in the former second-round pick. 

After the Lions took Leshoure with the No. 57 pick of the 2011 draft, fantasy owners scrambled to take the former Illinois star early. 

That investment was doomed when the 230-pounder tore his Achilles before he even played his first professional game. 

The talented tailback also made headlines this offseason when he was arrested twice for possession of marijuana, and he was subsequently suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season by the NFL

In his debut game, Leshoure reached the century mark and scored his first touchdown, but averaged just 51.25 yards per game during the Lions' next four games. 

However, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, fantasy owners were finally rewarded with a huge payday Sunday, as the second-year man scored a hat trick against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars

While doing anything against the Jags has to be taken with a grain of salt, Leshoure's breakout Week 9 performance is a sign of big things to come over the second half of the season. 

Some of that has to do with the news that Jahvid Best won't play this season (or maybe ever again), but what should have fantasy owners excited about Leshoure's value is the Lions' remaining schedule. 

After Sunday's victory over Jacksonville, Detroit has eight games remaining, including two against the Green Bay Packers

Of those eight games, only two will come against legit run defenses—Chicago (No. 1) and Houston (No. 3)—with the rest of the them coming against Minnesota (No. 16), Green Bay (No. 12), Indianapolis (No. 27), Arizona (No. 21) and Atlanta (No. 26). 

Obviously Chicago and Houston are potentially painful days for Leshoure owners, but you have to be licking your chops at those last three matchups.

Besides the tasty run matchups, Leshoure also benefits from a Lions offense that's finally rolling into form.

Calvin Johnson isn't playing at 100 percent, but Megatron managed to snag seven passes for 129 yards against the Jags on Sunday.

With Ryan Broyles and Titus Young emerging as legitimate weapons for Matthew Stafford, Detroit's offense can finally have some semblance of balance.

Leshoure provides the Lions with a power back who can handle a two-down role and be an effective goal-line back.

As long as Stafford continues to play like he did last year, the Lions will have plenty of chances to score, making Leshoure a valuable fantasy asset the rest of the way. 

He'll probably never be a big-play guy or receive 25-plus touches a game, but if he can average 70 yards per game and finds the end zone at least six times over the team's final eight games, it'll be a great breakout year for Leshoure.