With fantasy playoffs underway, now is not the time for Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush to let owners down.
The USC product did just that in Week 14 after most lineups were surely locked, as he injured his calf jogging in pregame warmups and missed the entire contest against Philadelphia.
Despite the concerning injury (non-contact issues are generally the worst), Bush must be locked into all lineups for his team's Week 15 Monday Night Football contest against the Baltimore Ravens.
There is no reason to change what has worked this late in the game. Bush owners surely spent a costly pick on the versatile back in drafts on the merits of his joining a Detroit offense that meshed well with his skills.
Entering Week 15, Bush rewarded owners as a top-10 scorer at the position, even with his gaffe in the snow against the Eagles:
It has been a nerve-racking week for Bush owners headed into a playoff matchup, but Bush's status has finally settled with a questionable tag.
He officially has a 50 percent chance of playing, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press thinks the odds are much higher than that after watching Bush in person all week, and he also sees the star back getting his usual amount of snaps:
88.9 percent RT @TheFakeAlbert: what % do you think Bush plays on Monday?— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) December 13, 2013
Regular allotment RT @TailgateFuel: If Bush plays, how many snaps should be expect to see?— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) December 14, 2013
There is a reason Birkett is confident, and it should be infectious for owners. Bush will be away from the elements at home under the dome at Ford Field (no snow to jog on this time), and as Paul Charchian of League Safe illustrates, Bush has been money for owners there this year:
As discussed yesterday on FFW, I'd plan to play Reggie Bush. He's very likely to go, and his home numbers are strong (144 combo YPG, 4 TDs).— Paul Charchian (@PaulCharchian) December 15, 2013
Now, a matchup with a Baltimore defense that ranks fourth-best against running backs with an average of 11.8 points allowed to the position per game is by no means sexy.
But versatile backs such as Bush, like Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard (14 points in Week 10) and Chicago's Matt Forte (18 in Week 11), have found fantasy success. Don't forget, we are also a week removed from Minnesota backup Toby Gerhart plodding his way to 12 points against the Ravens.
Baltimore understands how dangerous Bush is on every down, said defensive end Chris Canty, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun:
He's a matchup nightmare no matter where he is on the field. They spread him out in space. One of the things he's not getting a lot of credit for his ability to run between the tackles. Reggie Bush is pretty amazing...We have to understand where he is at all times when he's in the game. The key will be limiting what they do on the ground and playing great team run defense.
"Matchup nightmare" is a pretty versatile term to describe Bush at the moment given the hair-pulling week he has given owners in the playoffs.
Is it safe to start Reggie Bush on Monday?
It is a peculiar situation because it means passing on potential starts Sunday and praying for the best Monday, so the best move is to keep Bush in the flex spot on the slim chance he does not suit up. This approach leaves the door open for another starter just in case.
But rest easy and trust in Bush on Monday. By all accounts, he is ready to go and will see ample opportunities against a tough team, as his own team is in need of a win to keep division and playoff hopes alive.
There is letdown potential here, but it is better to start Bush and have him fail in the fantasy playoffs as opposed to sitting him and watching as he erupts on the bench.
Place Bush as a starter and do not look back. He got owners this far. There's no need to let a "questionable" tag deter what has been a winning formula up to this point.
Note: All fantasy scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues. Points-against info courtesy of ESPN.