Reggie Bush (04/18/13)

By John Ewing

Leading up to the NFL Draft we will take a look back at some of the big moves during the NFL Free Agency. We will grade each signing, analyze fantasy impact, and look at prop bets for each player acquired where appropriate. This is all done through 50,000 simulations of last season with the signed players joining their new teams. Previously covered: Mike Wallace, Wes Welker.

The Contract:

Detroit signed Reggie Bush to a four-year contract worth $16 million. Only $4 million is guaranteed. The former 2nd overall pick accumulated 2,072 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in two seasons with the Dolphins.

Detroit’s Motivation:

The pass happy Lions needed to add a rushing component to their offense. Detroit has not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2004, the longest streak of any team. While Bush is not a traditional power runner he did crack the 1,000 yard mark in his first season in Miami and came up just shy last season totaling 986 yards.

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The Numbers:

Below is a look at Bush’s numbers over his seven-year career. 91 career games, 4,162 rushing yards, 2,730 receiving yards, and 48 touchdowns (29 rushing, 15 receiving, 4 return).

Season Games Played Rush Yards Rush TDs Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs
2006 16 565 6 88 742 2
2007 12 581 4 73 417 2
2008 10 404 2 52 440 4
2009 14 390 5 47 335 3
2010 8 150 0 34 208 1
2011 15 1,086 6 43 296 1
2012 16 986 6 35 292 2

Our Projections:

Here are our projections through 50,000 simulations of last season. Point of clarification, we are simulating Reggie Bush on the field for Detroit as the primary running back. It is important to remember that these projections are rough estimates since we are using last year's schedule, assuming all players are healthy, and not accounting for all the changes throughout the NFL.

Rush Yards Rush TDs Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs
1,139.0 7.03 40.7 318.2 2.73

Free Agent Signing Grade: C

As a baseline, we simulated the entire season without the addition of Reggie Bush. On average we projected the Lions to win 8.3 games while losing 7.7. Detroit finishes 3rd in the NFC North and misses the playoffs.

After accounting for the addition of Bush as the primary running back the Lions win on average 8.5 games and lose 7.5 games. The Lions finish 3rd in the NFC North and miss out on the playoffs by less than half a game.

Detroit underperformed last season and one measure of this is the Pythagorean Expectation. By that formula Detroit should have won 2.5 more games than they did. The Lions most likely will improve on their four-win campaign in 2012 but the addition of Bush does not dramatically advance their chances at a title. Bush could be looked at as an upgrade over the other running backs on the roster but a piecemeal offensive line can jeopardize the entire effort.

Fantasy Impact:

Reggie Bush: Bush was targeted 52 times in each season with the Dolphins. Last year Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure combined for 103 targets for the Lions. Bush could see his targets almost double in one of the NFL’s most pass-oriented offenses, which would lead to great value in a PPR league. The Lions may implement a smash and dash scheme similar to what the Titans ran with Chris Johnson and LenDale White in hopes of keeping Bush healthy. If that scenario plays out Bush’s goal line carries could get vultured. Bush is currently projected as the 20th running back to be drafted. Last season he finished in the top 15 among fantasy backs and could do so again this season. Of course injury concerns should damper any thoughts of drafting Bush too early.

Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell:  The fantasy value for both backs take a hit with the addition of Bush. Leshoure led the team in rushing last season with 798 yards and Bell was sixth among all back with 52 receptions. Like we mentioned before, if Detroit implements a smash and dash strategy then Leshoure could retain some of his value and possibly repeat his 9 touchdown season from a year ago. At LenDale White’s peak he vultured 15 touchdowns from Chris Johnson in one season, which could make Leshoure a valuable bye week pick up.

Las Vegas Prop Bets:

  • Reggie Bush – Total Rushing and Receiving Yards, over/under 1,050.5
  • Reggie Bush – Total Rushing and Receiving Touchdowns, over/under 7.5

The big question is whether or not Bush can stay healthy and play a full sixteen games. Last season was the first time since his rookie year that Bush played in every game. If Bush can stay on the field then we like the over bet on each of these props. The attention that Calvin Johnson gets from defenses, specifically that safeties play so deep, would open up a lot of running room when the Lions get Bush into space.