Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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What's Best for Best?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Before Jahvid Best was a player at a crossroads for the Detroit Lions, he was a dynamic, if undersized, running back for the University of California.

Known as one of the FBS’ most explosive players, Best’s college career was humming along until the ninth game of his junior season. Averaging a scintillating 6.35 yards on 132 carries (after averaging an eye-popping 8.1 yards on 194 carries the year prior) entering Cal’s battle with Oregon State, Best did what he had done so often during his first two and a half seasons for the Golden Bears: make an amazing play to find the end zone.

Only on this score, the 5-foot-10 (on stilts) runner was flung nearly 10 feet into the air before landing on his neck. As his teammates began to celebrate the awe-inspiring score, they quickly realized something was wrong: Best wasn’t moving.

As it turned out, it would be the final play of Best’s college career. He was probably lucky to escape with “only” a severe concussion. As you can see, it’s hard to believe he didn’t break his neck.

But an often forgotten aspect of the injury was that it was Best’s second concussion in two weeks.  He got healthy, of course, but the back-to-back brain injuries helped to vividly illustrate an obvious point: at 5-foot-10 and less than 200 pounds, Best was small for an NFL running back.

Nevertheless, despite his size and new-found label of “injury prone,” Best was still able to sneak into the first round of the 2010 draft, going to the Lions at No. 30 overall.

As a rookie, he did prove injury prone, picking up a case of turf toe in September that would linger for the entire season. He was able to appear in all 16 games, however, and most importantly avoided a third concussion.

This raised hopes for his 2011. If the young man could stay on the field through injury as an NFL rookie, maybe he could do it again as a sophomore, only more effectively.

Then the third concussion came.

Best was knocked out of Detroit’s second preseason game before returning for its fourth. He was mostly what the Lions hoped he could be through their first five regular season games, averaging 4.90 yards per carry while serving as a dangerous weapon in the passing game.

That brings us to where we are today, concussion number four. Now comes the uncertainty. While it appears rumors that Best would be shut down for the season were unfounded, whether or not he’s cut out for life as an NFL running back is very much up in the air. How much trauma can one brain take, let alone in three years?       

The Lions acknowledged Best wasn’t cut out for life as an every-down back when they drafted Mikel Leshoure, but were forced to give the experiment another try when Leshoure tore his Achilles’ tendon in training camp.

Now they’re down to journeyman Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams in the backfield. Morris will get the start this Sunday, but neither is capable of carrying a running game. Morris’ ceiling is that of an RB3/flex, while Williams’ best hope for fantasy value is vulturing goal-line carries. If you’re a Best owner stuck in limbo, your best bet is adding Morris and monitoring the waiver wire.  

As for Best, he’s worth holding onto. He will play again this season — it’s just unclear if he should.

FANTASY GAME OF THE WEEK: Washington at Carolina
Yes, you read that correctly. For starters, any game involving Cam Newton is now one that figures to feature its fair share of explosive plays. But the real draw will be the position battles in Washington. Will Ryan Torain place a stranglehold on the Redskins’ feature back duties by carving up Carolina’s pathetic run defense? Will John Beck quickly erase any and all memories of Rex Grossman? The Redskins are a team sorely in need of answers, and we should finally get some this weekend.

There’s simply never a good time for the Patriots and their cavalcade of fantasy studs to be on vacation. If you’ve been winning matchups on the back of Tom Brady and his elite stable of pass catchers, the best you can hope for this weekend is a little bit of good luck and a whole lot of bad luck for your opponent.  

As the season has dragged on, Buffalo’s passing attack has grown stagnant. Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled to hit throws downfield while averaging just 212 yards in his past three games. The bye gives him a chance to recalibrate while also giving Donald Jones (high-ankle sprain) a stress free week of recovery.

Big game: San Diego 31, New York Jets 10. Jets HC Rex Ryan did something for the Chargers during the week that they can rarely do themselves: get them motivated. Angered by Ryan’s backhanded remarks about HC Norv Turner and emboldened by an enormous talent gap on offense, the Bolts will whip a team playing on short rest.    

Big game II: Atlanta 17, Detroit 14. Few teams showed more than the Falcons last weekend. At a time when the Dirty Birds seemed to be losing their identity, they rediscovered their running game while bullying a previously hot Cam Newton. Look for them to further humble a Lions team still learning how to deal with expectations.   

Upset of the week: Denver 24, Miami 14. The Dolphins proved in Monday’s depressing loss to the Jets that they’re dead in the water. With the Broncos energized by Tim Tebow’s arrival in the starting lineup, they’ll win an ugly game in convincing fashion.  

The I really don’t have a clue but will pretend I do game: Tampa Bay 24, Chicago 20. Both teams continue to be maddeningly hard to peg while staging another clunker of a game for our friends across the pond.

Vincent Jackson (hamstring) fully participated in Chargers practice Thursday. He should be near full health for Sunday’s showdown with Darrelle Revis. … Teammate Antonio Gates (foot) will not be, however. Wait another week before plugging him back into your starting lineup. … Sam Bradford (high ankle sprain) will be a game-time decision against the Cowboys. You need to look elsewhere for a bye week fill-in at quarterback. … Joseph Addai (hamstring) missed another practice Thursday. Look for another weekend of Donald Brown and Delone Carter from the Colts. … Mike Wallace (hamstring) returned to Steelers practice Thursday. He will be active for Week 7. … Demaryius Thomas (hand) and Eddie Royal (groin) have resumed practicing in full. Both are worth fliers if you’re thin at receiver in a deeper league. … Julio Jones (hamstring) missed another practice Thursday, and cannot be counted on for Sunday. … As expected, both Brandon Marshall (quad) and Reggie Bush (groin) returned to full practice Thursday.  

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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