Joique Bell will open the season as the starter, but expect Ameer Abdullah to shoulder much of the rushing load early as well. Detroit would not have taken him that high if it planned on Theo Riddick being the No. 2. The powerful Bell and speedy Abdullah will complement each other, much as Bell and Reggie Bush did in previous years. Riddick probably will be used a lot like he was last year, as a receiver out of the backfield.
Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. If things break his way and he sees significant time on passing downs, Abdullah could ultimately post top 25 numbers in PPR formats.
After finishing in the top 20 for three straight seasons in PPR points per game (including #6 in 2013), Bush was #32 in that category last season. His departure should solidify Joique Bell's workload and give Theo Riddick the opportunity to shine as the team's primary passing down back. Bell finished #14 in standard formats and #13 in PPR, so he should continue to produce high-end RB2 numbers provided he stays healthy and the Lions don't make any major moves at running back. As for Riddick, he averaged 13.2 fantasy points (in PPR formats) in the five games that Bush missed last season. That's about what Fred Jackson averaged as the #17 running back in 2014.
Lions RB Joique Bell, who underwent minor offseason surgery, said everything was good from a health standpoint and that he’s started working out. He plans to be back for organized team activities (OTAs) in April, but couldn’t commit to being 100 percent for them just yet.
It sounds like he's on a path to a full recovery. Bell was the #17 RB in standard formats (#13 in PPR), while racking up 257 touches in 15 games. That works out to a 17.1-touch average. While he certainly benefited from Reggie Bush's injury-plagued season, Bell dominated the touches even when Bush was active and playing. Bell should continue to see RB1-type touches in 2015, though we'd feel better about his situation if Bush were out of the way. Bush is signed for two more seasons and is a cut candidate heading into the offseason.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Lions RB Joique Bell (achilles, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 17. Bell should be a full go for a crucial matchup with Green Bay.
Monday, December 22, 2014, 12:29pm
Reggie Bush lives. There had been doubt as to the veracity of that fact, given his inability to stay on the field, and struggles to produce during those brief flashes when he was able to play. During one seven-game stretch, he rushed for 30 yards.
Bush is a supposed deep threat who had as many ankle injuries (three) as 10-yard carries (three) in the first 15 weeks of the season. But the veteran showed some flashes of that old brilliance against Chicago.
That includes bouncing one run to the left and turning on the burners like it was 2005. He beat the Bears to the edge, dove at the pylon and scored on a 13-yard touchdown, the only first-half points for this struggling offense. He showed good vision on other carries, and caught the ball well too, hauling in six catches for 44 yards.
Joique Bell should absolutely remain the Lions' No. 1 option in the backfield, the story went on to say. But of course that's contingent on Bell being eligible to play. He was benched for one quarter Sunday due to a violation of team rules, and Bush provided some important production in his stead, lending more legitimacy to the belief the rushing game is approaching competent levels for Detroit's most important stretch of games in ages.
Sure, Reggie Bush's name is still on top of the team's unofficial depth chart, but Bell plays significantly more snaps and gets significantly more touches than his veteran teammate.
Because of poor offensive execution, the Lions played 27 percent fewer snaps than average in the team's 16-14 win against the Minnesota Vikings. Bell worked two-thirds of the plays. Bush, who continues to deal with nagging injuries played just 14 snaps, while Theo Riddick received the game's first carry, but played just one more rep the rest of the way.
The story points out the Lions are leaning on Bell for good reason. He's been running with authority in recent weeks, averaging better than four yards per carry in five of the past six games. He's also seeing an increase in pass-game production, catching a combined nine balls for 91 yards in wins over Tampa Bay and Minnesota. Bell has a very friendly matchup in Week 16 against the Bears before closing with the Packers in Week 17.
Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:26pm
Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 15. Bush gained a meager 34 yards on 12 touches in Week 14, but the workload gives him some flex appeal (especially in PPR formats) against a shaky Minnesota rush defense. Joique Bell is expected to carry most of the rushing load against the Vikings. The Lions play late on Sunday.
Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:57am
He had established a role throughout most of the season, showing his ability to run routes and make decisive cuts. Theo Riddick made his worth in big plays, too, including two huge ones in Week 8 against Atlanta.
Yet on Sunday, Riddick legitimately disappeared from the Detroit Lions' lineup. He played no offensive snaps. A former special teams stalwart during his rookie season, he was only used on seven plays there.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Riddick did not violate a team rule, like teammate Brandon Pettigrew, who missed a quarter because of it. Nope, Caldwell indicated Riddick played zero snaps and zero role in the Detroit offense because that’s just how it fell.
"It’s just one of those things," Caldwell said. "Sometimes you get into the flow of the game, you’ve got so many guys running in-and-out of there. George (Winn) played some, Reggie (Bush) played a little bit more, it kind of takes that ball out of Riddick’s hands a little bit."
Riddick's bigger games have come when Bush was out with an injury, so it makes sense that Bush's status looks like it's going to be linked to how often Riddick gets on the field. Based on this past week, Riddick seems like a fantasy handcuff to Bush and that when healthy, Bush and Joique Bell are going to carry the load.
Dolphins beat writer James Walker on the team's sudden struggles against the run:
It is by far the biggest issue plaguing the Dolphins down the stretch. What is strange is their run defense wasn't a problem until the past two weeks. Miami was ranked eighth in run defense after Week 11. But giving up 478 yards in the past two games now has the defense ranked 21st against the run. That is a huge decline. There haven't been any major injuries among the front seven. The Dolphins suddenly forgot the fundamentals of tackling and holding the point of attack. They were forced to put eight (and sometimes nine) in the box the entire second half Monday to stop the Jets. Miami was lucky Geno Smith was the quarterback, because there were plays to be made in the passing game. The Ravens should be a tough matchup for Miami because they also can run the football and have a much better passing game.
The Dolphins gave up 105 yards on 17 carries to Chris Johnson in Week 13, and the Jets didn't have any semblance of a passing attack in that game. Miami also yielded 167 yards on 27 carries to C.J. Anderson in Week 12, while Joique Bell averaged 4.4 YPC (44 yards on 10 carries) in Week 10. The Ravens have a good rushing attack, so Justin Forsett should be able to post another big fantasy line in Week 14.
With Bush out yet again, Theo Riddick can be dialed up as a Sneaky Start, especially in PPR formats. In the four games that Bush has missed, Riddick has averaged 4.8 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD. That’s 13.1 FP in PPR formats, or about what Lamar Miller has averaged as the #12 RB this season. We’re not expecting that level of production, but he can be used as a low-end RB2 or a flex in PPR and as a RB3-type in standard. Joique Bell also gets a bump with Bush out. He has averaged 18.5 touches when Bush has been out. The Lions are not running the ball well, but the volume is there.
Already dealing with an ankle problem, Bush was limited in Tuesday’s practice with a back injury, too.
He also would have been a limited participant on Monday with both injuries, if the Lions had actually practiced.
Bush, of course, said he would play Thanksgiving Day in a nice matchup against the Bears. However, we've learned not to trust players when it comes to their injury status. Owners have been down this road several times, so they already know Joique Bell should get a bulk of the carries while Theo Riddick plays a part in the passing game - if Bush misses Thursday's game.
Bush practiced all week on a limited basis, fueling optimism that he’ll help pump up an offense that mustered only six points against the Cardinals. Officially questionable for Sunday, it’s looking like he won’t be ready to go until Thursday.
If Bush does in fact miss Week 12, it looks like Joique Bell will carry the load again with Theo Riddick chipping in, perhaps especially in the passing game. It makes sense the team holds Bush out since it's going to be a short turnaround for a Thursday game. It's a decent enough matchup for Bell and Riddick owners as the Pats are 18th in allowing fantasy points to RBs.
Friday, November 21, 2014, 6:26pm
Lions RB Joique Bell (ankle, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 12. Bell will play. The Patriots have been a pretty good matchup for opposing running backs this season. Bell could turn into a very good start if Reggie Bush (ankle, questionable) doesn’t play.
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 5:58pm
Lions RB Joique Bell (ankle) returned to limited practice reps Thursday after missing Wednesday practice. Bell is on track to play. The Patriots have been a pretty good matchup for opposing running backs this season.
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 5:58pm
Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) took limited practice reps again Thursday. It looks like Bush will make his return against the Patriots. Joique Bell is nursing an ankle injury, so Bush could see extra work if he plays in Week 12.
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