Before suffering a concussion that cost him the final 10 games of the 2011 NFL Season, Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best was one of the top PPR Fantasy Football running backs around. In fact, in PPR leagues, Best finished the season with fifth-highest point per game average, as he averaged over 18 fantasy points a game in six games last season.
Fantasy owners were hoping that he would be able to return healthy in 2012 and many have already spent mid-round draft picks to acquire him, however a recent report suggests that Best is still a long ways from being healthy and that he will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter.
Being placed on the PUP list means that Best will be forced to sit out at least the first six games of the season, as he and the Lions continue to get mixed messages on his recovery. Best suffered two concussions last season and also suffered another one in college at the University of California. So his health is definitely in question.
Due to injury concerns, Best has seen his average draft postion fall from the sixth round all the way to the ninth round and with the news of him being placed on the PUP list, his value will continue to free fall.
While Best falls down draft boards, his Lions teammate Mikel Leshoure is rising up them as his ADP is now near the end of the ninth round, about the same as Best, for now.
However, Leshoure is an injury risk himself as he is coming off a torn achilles tendon and will also miss the first two games of the season due a suspension because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
“He’s been running on the side. He’s been making good progress,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of Leshoure in the ESPN.com report. “Last week he was able to run a little bit, and it got a little bit sore on him after that, delayed us a couple days. But it’s all just part of it.”
Right now, the safest Lions’ running back is definitively Kevin Smith, who has shot up the draft boards recently and now has an ADP right around the sixth round of the draft, which is a remarkable climb. Yet, Smith did averaged 16.7 fantasy points per game last season in seven games last season.
Smith was signed off the street mid-way through the season and was very effective for Detroit, carrying the ball 72 times for 356 yards to go along with 22 receptions for 179 yards. Smith also scored a total of seven touchdowns.
Smith is also a bit of an injury risk but at this point it appears he is going to be the Lions primary running back for at least the first two weeks of the season and if he impresses early on in the season there’s reason to believe he would remain a focal point of the offense even with the potential returns of Leshoure and Best.
As far as Best is concerned, if your league has drafted already, stash him on your roster if possible because he may be a mid-season sleeper, but if you lack depth and your league doesn’t have any IR spots then it may be time to cut bait with him. Running back depth is essential to win in fantasy football and right now counting on Best for anything in 2012 would be pure folly.