In the world of pro football, some high draft picks instantly become the player everyone thought they would be right out of college (see Adrian Peterson). Then, you have those projected superstars who flame out in spectacular fashion (Ryan Leaf and Ki-Jana Carter are two examples who leap to mind).
However, in the strange case of Reggie Bush, the jury is still not in.
Why is that so strange? Bush has been a pro for four seasons now, and usually by now, folks have a good idea of what direction that player is heading in. With Bush, though, there are many signs pointing to both “Boomtown” and “Bustville,” and fantasy owners have no idea how to feel about him.
When Bush was selected by New Orleans in 2006 (famously being passed over in favor of Mario Williams as the top pick of the draft), he was coming off a tremendous college career at USC where he was magnificent, amassing 6,541 all-purpose yards and one Heisman Trophy.
He was quicker than a hiccup, showed a ridiculous amount of agility, and was a threat to score anytime he received the ball. He was also personable, well-spoken, handsome, and dynamic off the field as well as on. In short, he was a star in the making.
Still, outside of his receiving capabilities that served those fantasy owners fortunate enough to play in PPR leagues well, his statistics have quite backed up this reputation. He has never rushed for more than 581 yards in a season, nor has he scored more than 8 touchdowns from scrimmage (he does have four career return touchdowns).
A big part of his problem has been his inability to stay healthy. He has missed 12 games over his four-year career and been hobbled in quite a few others. One of the few issues that the experts had with him coming out of college was the fact that he may not have been big enough to take the pounding at the NFL level, a concern that is becoming more prominent with each passing year.
To be fair, though, the Saints have not always put Bush in the best situations to succeed as a fantasy running back. Take last season, for instance, when they rotated Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Mike Bell in and out of the lineup in an attempt to keep opposing defenses guessing. Clearly the scheme worked, but not before scuttling the fantasy value of all three players in the process.
The question now is: Since Bell has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, does Bush’s value receive an uptick?
Well...yes and no.
If things stay as they are and the Saints go primarily with Pierre Thomas and Bush, then yes, he has a great shot at eclipsing the 200-carry mark and posting some great stats with increase in playing time.
Unfortunately, if you think the Saints didn’t take notice of how well things worked last year, you’re kidding yourself. The odds are very good that they either bring in veteran help at the position or draft a running back this April to share the workload.
It’s a conundrum with Bush: either he stays healthy with a crowded backfield and doesn’t have the opportunity to produce, or he gets injured due to overuse. But even in a PPR league, I wouldn’t put faith in Bush as anything other than a lower-tier RB2 for fantasy purposes.
Written by Frank Mazzola
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