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In Part 1 of this series, I suggested that Reggie Bush would be a solid substitute for LeSean McCoy in 2013 (in part because of his lower ADP), and I also said that I wouldn’t be surprised if some people considered Reggie Bush, by the end of 2013, to be the season’s fantasy MVP. Additionally, I looked at RotoViz’s Similarity Scores App (one of the premier fantasy tools on the internet) to see how players comparable to McCoy and Bush had performed in the past.

In Part 2, I looked at RotoViz’s multi-year dynasty projections for RBs, noting that (based on these projections) Bush may be the better player not only in 2013 but in 2014-2018 as well. Furthermore, I considered McCoy and Bush’s 2011 and 2012 performances and suggested that, with his superior per touch efficiency, Bush could likely earn a few more touches in Detroit’s explosive offense without seeing his efficiency decrease dramatically. In particular, I think this is so because of some of the RBs we’ve seen in Detroit the last few years.

In Part 3, I looked at Detroit’s RBs of the last few years (specifically Mikel LeShoure and Joique Bell) to gain some insight into what Bush could in 2013, and in this final piece I want to look at Jahvid Best, whom I consider to be the Detroit RB most comparable to Bush and whose past performances are most indicative of what Bush could do as a Lion.

Jahvid Best, 2010-2011

In his article on Reggie Bush and his likely 2013 production, J.P. Scott predicts that Bush will have 128 carries for 576 yards and 4 TDs and 60 receptions for 540 yards and 6 TDS, which would result in 231.6 pts. in a PPR league (very close to what I’ve conservatively projected in Part 3), which breaks down to 14.475 pts. per game—a number that actually exceeds the highest projection of our Similarity Scores App. In other words, both Scott and I believe Bush will do better than anyone in a comparable situation has ever done.

Well, sort of. Based on his 2012 production, we think Bush will outdo all of his predecessors. The main predecessor, though, in whom I am most intrigued does not appear on RotoViz’s list of comparable players: Jahvid Best in 2010 and 2011.

In multitudinous ways, Best and Bush are comparable. Here’s what they looked like as prospects coming out of college (regardless of their collegiate production).

PlayerDraft YearAgePickHtWt40 TimeSpeed ScoreAgility ScoreExplosion IndexBP Reps
Jahvid Best

2010

21

1.30

70

199

4.35

111.154

10.92

145.5

18

Reggie Bush

2006

21

1.2

71

201

4.37

110.23

NA

168.5

24

Bush was drafted higher, a Heisman winner, and marginally bigger and stronger than Best when he entered the NFL, but Best was faster, even if not as explosive—and yet these differences are small. Both were drafted to be speed backs capable of catching the ball all over the field, and one would not be wrong to say that when the Lions drafted Best in 2010 they envisioned him as their Reggie Bush.

And in 2010, his one full NFL season (which Scott used as the basis for his 2013 Bush projection), Best certainly was Bush-esque. Here are two tables, the first showing Bush’s rookie year production and the second showing Best’s.

Reggie Bush

Rushing

Receiving

TDs

Year

Age

G

GS

Y/A

Y/G

A/G

Y/R

TD

Lng

R/G

Y/G

RRTD

2006

21

16

8

3.6

35.3

9.7

8.4

2

74

5.5

46.4

8

FP/G Components

16

NANA

3.53

NANA

NA

NA

5.5

4.64

3

FP/G

11.17

FP/G PPR

16.67

Partially Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2013.

Jahvid Best

Rushing

Receiving

TDs

Year

Age

G

GS

Y/A

Y/G

A/G

Y/R

TD

Lng

R/G

Y/G

RRTD

2010

21

16

9

3.2

34.7

10.7

8.4

2

75

3.6

30.4

6

FP/G Components

16

NANA

3.47

NANA

NA

NA

3.6

3.04

2.25

FP/G

8.76

FP/G PPR

12.36

Partially Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2013.

Granted, Best didn’t have quite the raw production that Bush had, but they had eerily similar seasons. Starting a similar number of games, they both sported sub-par rushing averages and rushed for similar yardage on similar carries. Additionally, they both averaged 8.4 yards per reception, caught two receiving TDs, and exploded for a long reception of over 70 yards. So what was the real difference between Bush and Best as rookies? Bush scored 2 more rushing TDs over the season and caught almost 2 more passes per game. That’s it. Otherwise, Bush and Bell were rookie twins. Or, put another way, Bush played on a playoff team with an offense led by Drew Brees and Sean Payton—and Best played on team two years removed from an 0-16 season with an offense led by Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill. The difference between Bush and Bell as rookies was basically the difference between their Drews and Seans/Shauns.

So what happened in Best’s second season? If Bush and Best were so similar as prospects and as rookies, perhaps Best’s Y2 performance could provide some insight into what Bush’s 2013 “N + 1” role and production could look like, given his 2012 production. Here’s what Best did in his sophomore professional effort.

Jahvid Best

Rushing

Receiving

TDs

Year

Age

G

GS

Y/A

Y/G

A/G

Y/R

R/G

Y/G

RRTD

2011

22

6

6

4.6

65

14

10.6

4.5

47.8

3

FP/G Components

12

NANA

6.5

NANA

4.5

4.78

3

FP/G

14.28

FP/G PPR

18.78

Partially Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2013.

Although his season was cut short, Best was outstanding in 2011. As the Lions offense exploded with productivity in Matt Stafford’s first full season of playing time, Best numbers improved dramatically across the board. His rushing and receiving averages both improved substantially, and the number of touches he garnered per game also increased, resulting in more TDs. Yes, with Matt Stafford as his QB, Best became a more efficient and more utilized player. With 18.5 touches, Best averaged 0.5 TDs and over 110 scrimmage yards per game. And note this: In 2011, Best garnered 14 rushing attempts per game—slightly less than the 14.3 cpg Bush earned during 2011 and 2012. Prorated, Best would have rushed the ball 224 times over a full season and caught the ball 72 times. That’s Bush’s 2013 realistic upside.

If he can stay healthy (which he’s done over the last two years) and if he can receive the 2011 Jahvid Best offensive treatment (and why would Detroit have given him a four-year contract if the original Jahvid Best wouldn’t be treated like the actual Jahvid Best?), then Bush could be a rock-solid PPR RB1 in 2013. After all, his seeming “out-of-this-world upside” Best already accomplished on a per game basis in 2011 when he averaged 18.78 PPR pts. per contest. Over a full 16-game season, that yields 300.48 PPR pts. Would you be happy with that production from the 19th RB and 42nd overall player off the board? Do you think LeSean McCoy is likely to score more than 300 pts. in PPR leagues next season???

Take a look at Bush’s RotoWorld Player Profile and all the reports about how the Lions intend to use him. Jason Cole reported that “The Lions have promised Bush a chance to be a full-time player, starting over Mikel LeShoure.” Specifically, Jim Schwartz told Jim Rome that the Lions plan on using Bush similarly to how he was used with the Saints, which could mean that they plan on not using him much as a rusher—but Schwartz has also said this: “any way we can get him touching the football is going to be good for the Lions.” I acknowledge that Schwartz said this in answer to a question about the possibility of Bush’s returning punts and kicks in 2013, but I think the takeaway point is this: Schwartz doesn’t sound like he wants to limit the touches Bush receives, and that’s good news for Bush as a receiver and a runner.

After all, if Schwartz believes that Bush could receive as many as 80 passes in 2013, is he likely to want Bush not to touch the ball as a rusher, especially when Scott Linehan, the offensive coordinator, has noted that, in addition to being a dynamic back, Bush has been a solid rusher for the last two years. In Linehan’s words (as quoted in the previously linked piece by the Detroit Free Press): “He gives us a dynamic that, you know, a lot like what we got with Jahvid. It’s a little different, everybody’s different, but he definitely gives us a guy that can be an effective rusher and effective receiver.” Or, to paraphrase, Bush is going to be in 2013 what Best was in 2011; or, as Linehan put it, “his involvement is going to be pretty substantial.”

Shady v. Reggie, 2013

In 2011, when Shady was at his very best, he scored 330.4 pts. in PPR leagues, primarily on the strength of his 20 scrimmage scores, averaging 22.0 pts. per game. Best, in comparison, averaged 18.8 pts. per game in PPR leagues, with only 3 TDs scored in his six games. Those numbers are pretty close, and with some regression to the mean in Shady’s TD production, those pts. per game would’ve been almost identical.

In 2013, both McCoy and Bush are entering uncertain situation—sort of. McCoy’s situation is actually more unknown than Bush’s, even though Bush is with a new team. Bush will be Jahvid Best 2011. McCoy will probably just be McCoy 2012, with a few more TDs and a few less receptions. In other words, McCoy and Bush could have very similar production in 2013.

I think McCoy and Bush will both average about 100 scrimmage yards per game, and both will probably score anywhere from 7 to 10 TDs throughout the season. With that degree of similarity, what is likely to separate them in PPR leagues are their receptions. With Detroit, we have an idea of the degree to which the Lions employ RBs in the passing game, and so we can reasonably expect Bush to catch at least 50 and maybe as many as 80 passes in a year. With Philadelphia, however, we’re unsure about the extent to which Chip Kelly will use RBs in the passing game—but it’s unlikely to match Andy Reid’s use of the position—and so 1) 50 catches in 2013 might be McCoy’s upside and 2) the uncertainty of how he’ll be used as a receiver makes McCoy less reliable of an investment.

So, in summation, here are the relevant pieces of information:

  • In the RDL draft, McCoy was available at the turn of Rounds 1 and 2. Bush was available at the turn of Rounds 3 and 4. McCoy was the 8th RB selected; Bush, the 19th.
  • I project both of them to record similar scrimmage yards and touchdowns in 2013 on a per game basis.
  • I project McCoy to catch no more and Bush to catch no fewer than roughly 50 passes across the full season.
  • As a result, I believe that, barring injury, Bush will do roughly as well as McCoy in 2013, and he very well could outplay him.
  • I thus believe that, out of Bush and McCoy, the former will be not only the more valuable player in 2013—he also may very well be the better player.
  • Reggie Bush, my RB2, could be an RB1 in 2013. For a guy chosen at the end of the third round, that’s pretty good value.

I might be wrong. Maybe Bush’s injury problems will reemerge next season, and perhaps in Chip Kelly’s offense McCoy will score a TD and catch 5 passes each game. But at the 42nd pick overall, I believe that Bush represents an acceptable risk—and, at the 16th pick, McCoy (while not unacceptable) is simply to me the less attractive gamble. Given his ADP, I think Bush is the safer pick for 2013 and a strong candidate to be the 2013 Fantasy MVP.

What’s OTC?

Throughout the summer, I plan on doing a series of pieces, each of which will compare the player taken by one of my original picks (or perhaps available at that pick or whom I would have been tempted to take there) to the player I acquired either with the corresponding “replacement” pick or with an equivalent roster function in mind, i.e., “This guy will be my RB2.” Coincidentally (not really), some of these pieces will also serve to complete the “third-year sleeper WR” series I started a while ago. (I put it on hold, hoping that I would be able to draft some of my deep sleepers. I was, and now I can write without fear of losing these guys in the RDL.)

Just for reference, here’s a table showing the net effect of my trading down and drafting strategies. The group on the left comprises the players acquired with the picks I originally owned. The group on the right is my actual roster, the players I actually picked after I traded down multiple times.

2013 RDL Draft: Riggins Rigs                                                       

Original Draft Position                                       New Draft Position                                            

YearDraftRoundPickOverallPlayerYearDraftRoundPickOverallPlayer
2013Vet.11414Jimmy Graham2013Vet.31038Steven Jackson
2115Jamaal Charles31442Reggie Bush
31442Reggie Bush4547Andre Johnson
4143Russell Wilson5864Frank Gore
51470James Jones51066Danario Alexander
6171Reggie Wayne51470James Jones
71498Tony Romo6171Reggie Wayne
8199Tony Gonzalez6575Jonathan Stewart
914126Isaiah Pead7892DeSean Jackson
101127Joe Flacco71498Tony Romo
1114154Jay Cutler8199Tony Gonzalez
121155Jeremy Kerley85103Sidney Rice
1314182DeAngelo Williams98120Antonio Gates
141183Roy Helu914131Jon Baldwin
1514210Bilal Powell105138Jarius Wright
161211Beanie Wells118144Daniel Thomas
1714238Clyde Gates125148Philip Rivers
181239T.J. Yates138159Kealoha Pilares
1914266Cyrus Gray141176Evan Royster
201267Marcedes Lewis161183Roy Helu
2114294Stephen Burton167211Beanie Wells
221295Armon Binns1710217Jarrett Boykin
2314322Shaun Draughn1714234David Gettis
241323Ryan Fitzpatrick181238Clyde Gates
2514350Jordan Norwood2114294Stephen Burton
261351Bernard Scott221295Armon Binns
Rook 12711Le’Veon BellRook 12777Eddie Lacy
Rook 2281428Terrance WilliamsRook 228418Marcus Lattimore
Rook 329129Da’Rick RogersRook 328822Geno Smith
Rook 4301456Michael Ford (last pick of Round 30)Rook 4281428Terrance Williams

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the roster on the right. If I had kept my original picks, I probably would have used 4.1 (which Charles Kleinheksel used to select Russell Wilson) to select a WR—and it very well might have been Andre Johnson, whom I selected at 4.5. Who are the other WRs who were available around picks 4.1 and 4.5? Torrey Smith (4.2) and Danny Amendola (4.3) went off the board immediately after Wilson was selected, and then Cecil Shorts (4.6) and Mike Wallace (4.7) were drafted immediately after Johnson. While I like some of those players, I like Andre Johnson much more at that ADP, and in my next article I hope to show why (I think) he’s likely to a better overall value than those other WRs.

 

 

 

 

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