LeGarrette Blount signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago, but his role with the team is still undefined. At the moment, he’s the most proven running back in their stable, but many still expect the Lions to add a running back early in this year’s draft. Also, this week general manager Bob Quinn talked up Ameer Abdullah at the NFL owners meetings.
“I think I’ve got big hopes for him this season, that he comes back and has a great offseason and is ready to roll,” Quinn told reporters while adding that he believes there’s a role for Abdullah on this team in 2018.
We know Blount, too, will have a role in the Lions’ backfield, but it’s just not clear how significant of a role that will be. Will he be the workhorse back getting nearly 20 carries a game? Will he just be a situational runner for short-yardage downs? Or will he be somewhere in between?
It seems unlikely that Blount, at 31, will carry the workhorse load, but Pro Football Focus seems very high on him at the moment. On Friday, they posted an article naming “9 potential breakout running backs” in fantasy football (PFF Elite required), and Blount made the list.
The list, curated by Scott Spratt, is based on a metric called “Yards Added,” which takes into account these six factors: distance from the end zone, down and distance, score differential, number of defenders in the box, ball-carrier’s position, and yards before contact. In 2017, Blount finished second in the league in Yards Added, just behind Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake.
So because of this, Spratt has high expectations for Blount in 2018... like, ridiculously high expectations (emphasis added):
That didn’t translate into a ton of fantasy success in 2017, but he also had to deal with his backfield teammate Jay Ajayi who was similarly impressive with 74 Yards Added. Now with the Lions, Blount does not have that kind of competition. He won’t catch many passes, but 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns is on the table and plenty useful in standard scoring.
Before you go buying a LeGarrette Blount jersey (don’t worry, I didn’t), let’s put 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in context. The Lions haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2013, when Reggie Bush barely broke the arbitrary milestone by six yards. The Lions haven’t had a 10-touchdown running back since James Stewart in 2000 (who also rushed for 1,184 yards that season).
Expecting Blount to hit those marks in 2018 is absolutely ridiculous. He’s likely to have a significant role in next season, but I don’t think anyone is expecting him to carry it enough times to really even get close to that figure. To be fair, though, he did rush for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns just two seasons ago, and the Lions have a brand new offensive line coach that’s expected to make significant changes to the running game.
Still, with so much competition expected at the running back position, Blount only reaches 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns if the Lions don’t add a running back in this draft, they completely give up on Abdullah, and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson is a wizard. The Lions had the league’s worst running game in 2017. There’s a distant possibility that it somehow all comes together in 2018, but I wouldn’t bet my fantasy team on it.