Fantasy impact of Leshoure’s suspension

Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure was suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season by the NFL on Wednesday. The suspension comes in response to Leshoure’s violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy during the offseason. The back is expected to share carries with Jahvid Best, who has been called a “standout” so far this offseason by GM Martin Mayhew. Like Best, Leshoure is also hoping to rebound from injury, a torn Achilles’ tendon that forced him to miss his entire rookie year.

Leshoure being sidelined the first two weeks means Best will get a heavier workload. More importantly, Best can quell any fears from the outset about his return from a concussion. If he proves too valuable to take off the field, the Lions could rein in Leshoure’s projected workload when he returns. In other words, how Best performs those first two weeks could dictate his fantasy potential. Despite only playing six games last season, Best led all Lions running backs with 390 yards rushing and 287 yards receiving. He never dipped below 70 total yards in a game and exploded against the Chicago Bears in week five with 172 total yards with one touchdown. If you had him on your fantasy team, you remember that game. If you played against a team that had him, you’ll never forget that game.

Best is currently projected as a mid-round pick in fantasy drafts, to be used as a No. 3 or 4 running back. Leshoure’s two-game suspension moves Best up a few notches, while Leshoure should drop down a bit. Best will be a high-risk, high-reward pick on draft day. As long as you don’t over-reach for him, his potential outweighs that risk.

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