There’s a bit of Synchronicity happening here at RotoViz. Recently I wrote about the Lions’ backfield in this bit about Joique Bell, where I also highlighted Leshoure’s lack of explosiveness and elusiveness compared to Bell.

Then Shawn Siegele referenced Mikel Leshoure as a do-not-draft candidate in his Eternal Sunshine piece.

Now Matthew Freedman is unleashing a four-part Reggie Bush epic that also disparages Leshoure’s outlook.

Some of this focus is probably due to our recent RotoViz Dynasty League draft, hosted by Fleaflicker. Some is due to the interesting – and exploitable – valuations we find in Detroit’s backfield.

Here’s one more log to throw on the fire: Don’t Draft Mikel Leshoure.

Mikel Leshoure shouldn’t be drafted at his current ADP.

Leshoure’s current ADP in 12 team PPR redrafts is 9.11 at Fantasy Football Calculator, and 9.04 at My Fantasy League. Heck, even in Keeper League drafts, Leshoure is going before better candidates.


First, let’s consider Leshoure’s production vs. Joique Bell last year. Despite seeing similar opportunity in the first and second half of the season, notice that Leshoure’s production dropped by over ½ yard per attempt, and he caught fewer passes for fewer yards as well.

Season Split Player Rush Att/G YPA Rec/G Yards/Rec
First ½ Leshoure Games 3-9 15 4.0 3 6.18
Second ½ Leshoure Games 10-16 15.7 3.4 1.8 5.8
First ½ Bell Games 1-8 4.3 3.3 2.8 11.5
Second ½ Bell Games 9-16 5.8 5.3 3.2 11.6

And when he did catch passes, Leshoure was a less efficient target than Joique Bell. I used our new QB-Receiver Efficiency App to make this table.

Passer Receiver ATTS RECS Catch Rate YDS AYA
Stafford Bell 65 49 0.75 454 6.98
Stafford Leshoure 47 33 0.70 207 4.4

In fact, he probably shouldn’t be drafted at all.

We already know how great Reggie Bush will be this year. Next, consider Leshoure’s injury history. Leshoure had a full year to recover from his Achilles injury before last season, but he certainly didn’t seem explosive – at least compared to Joique Bell. Some athletes just don’t fully recover from this injury. At the least, it’s a massive question mark about Leshoure’s potential.

And finally, notice what’s been said about the Lions backfield this offseason. Head coach Jim Schwartz, via the team’s official website, has taken the time to praise Joique Bell. The most recent mention of Mikel Leshoure on the team’s website? He’s got a hamstring injury. I thought this was the most interesting quote of all.

“Stemming from a discussion I had with a pro scout (he scouts the NFL for another team, not collegians), is there really a chance Mikel Leshoure doesn’t make the Lions? It’s pretty clear Reggie Bush will be the feature back, the most involved running back in the offense. His receiving skills and versatility means the team has less of a need for a third down back. Joique Bell showed enough last season to merit trust from the coaches, and he is a significantly more successful interior runner. If Bell is the better inside runner and Bush the better outside runner, with both better than Leshoure in the passing game, exactly what role does Leshoure serve in Detroit?”

I don’t think the Lions will cut or trade Leshoure. But there sure is a lot of “smoke” surrounding his situation.

Instead, Try One of These.

At his current ADP, try one of these players instead:

Pierce and Brown are backups. But so is Leshoure. In fact, Leshoure is 3rd string at this point. Let’s use the RB Similarity App to make a prediction about their 2013 production. Remember, this app is situation agnostic. It doesn’t know that Leshoure is no longer the RB1 in Detroit. It also doesn’t know about the new coaching regime in Philly, but I think that’s less of an issue.

Here are the projections.

B.Brown Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 4.6 6.4 7.4
Median 9.2 10.1 10.8
High 12.3 12.9 13.6
B.Pierce Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 4.3 4.9 5.8
Median 6.9 7.3 8.4
High 12.6 13.1 13.6
M.Leshoure Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 6.6 6.9 7.3
Median 10.8 11.9 13.4
High 12.7 14.3 15.3

The app assumes Leshoure is still the RB1. So even if Leshoure were the RB1 this year, he only projects to offer you 1-2 points/game more than Brown or Pierce, depending on scoring format. Since we know he’s not the RB1, (and maybe not the RB2, either), we can assume his actual production will be much less.

On the other hand, Pierce and Brown’s projections already consider them backups, so their projections seem more certain.

And should there be an injury to the RB1 on any of these teams? Pierce and Brown would almost assuredly get the nod as the replacement, whereas it’s not at all clear Leshoure would get the nod over Joique Bell.

So scratch Leshoure off your draft list, and try Bernard Pierce or Bryce Brown instead.







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