Gained: Reggie Bush
Bush’s career hasn’t followed a straight line. The forbearer to Darren Sproles in New Orleans, Bush’s post-lockout trade to the Dolphins was derided as a ticket-selling stunt in some quarters.
Then the former No. 2 pick went out and not only managed to have his healthiest season since his rookie year, but to post his first 1,000-yard campaign at the age of 26. A lingering knee issue helped keep Bush 14 yards shy of his second straight 1K-effort in 2012, but the point had been made. No, Bush is not a prototypical between-the-tackles dynamo. Yes, he’s a damn useful player, one capable of helping via both land and air.
Bush may not match the 222 carries he averaged the past two seasons, but he’s going to blow away the 2.5 weekly catches he managed with the Dolphins, and is a major threat to lead all backs in receptions.
He’s the exact kind of movable chess piece the Lions’ offense has lacked since concussions cut short Jahvid Best’s career, and should take pressure off QB Matthew Stafford, who far too often had to drop back against defenses who knew he was passing last season.
Health is still the biggest question mark with Bush, but now older and wiser than the player who missed 20 games his final four years in New Orleans, he appears to have learned what it takes to stay on the field. A legitimate threat for RB1 value in PPR formats, Bush will flirt with high-end RB2 status in standard leagues.
Lost: Joique Bell/Mikel Leshoure
If Bush is gaining value in Detroit, that means someone else is losing it. In this case, it’s two someones. There’s no question Bush’s arrival means Leshoure won’t approach the 215 carries he notched last season — 215 uninspiring, plodding carries — but it will be Bell whom Bush hurts the most.
Bell quietly racked up 52 receptions last season, which was fifth amongst all running backs. It made him a PPR dark horse, and a pale imitation of a playmaker for an offense that lacked one outside of Calvin Johnson. Now Bell will be a pure backup, mostly glued to the sideline as Bush challenges for the league lead in catches among backs.
Leshoure may be able to retain more of his value than he deserves if he continues to see snaps near the goal-line, but Bush is going to take a major bite out of both backs who tried, and ultimately failed, to sustain the Lions’ rushing attack last season.
Gained: Ryan Tannehill
First things first: Tannehill was probably going to gain value regardless of what the Dolphins did with his supporting cast. It’s what most properly developing first-round quarterbacks do. But Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller? They’re not going to hurt.
That’s not to say Tannehill is primed to make the leap to QB1 status. This is still a player who’s made just 35 total starts at quarterback since he graduated high school. But the Dolphins have avoided the biggest mistake the Rams made with Sam Bradford, and loaded their QB of the future up with proven weapons instead of making him tough out his progression with third- and fourth-round fliers.
Tannehill made it clear as a rookie he has the talent to stay at this NFL thing for a long time. Now he has a receiver corps that will aid him in the next step.
Lost: Greg Jennings
Let’s just say the past 15 months weren’t foreboding ones for a player who will turn 30 in September. That his 11 missed games were no big deal. That his knee, head, abdominal, ankle and groin injuries were nothing to worry about.
He’ll still be catching passes from Christian Ponder.
With a quarterback who hasn’t proven capable of delivering the ball and a “supporting cast” at receiver that’s going to have trouble drawing attention away from him, Jennings is going to be attempting to prove his career isn’t on the downslope under the toughest of circumstances.
Maybe a pair of hot finishes last season — both Jennings and Ponder’s — tell the story of what to expect in 2013. But the larger picture is much more ominous, one that suggests not only is Jennings’ best quarterback behind him, but his best days, as well.