By The Mortar Mouth
Jahvid Best had Lions fans and fantasy owners alike rejoicing after week two of the 2010 season. In his first two games in the NFL he totaled 98 yards rushing, 170 yards through the air and an astounding 5 touchdowns. It looked like he was on his way to a monster rookie season and that the Lions had finally filled the hole left by Barry Sanders 12 years prior. Then disaster struck in Minnesota. In only his third game as a professional, Best suffered what experts called a “grade two” turf toe injury. He lost that extra gear and cutting ability that he used to separate from the defense. Far from 100% he managed to play in every game but one, despite a second turf toe injury later in the year. Any type of foot ailment is a prescription for pain for a running back, but it’s particularly troublesome for the type of RB that Jahvid is. He’s an explosive runner who relies heavily on making very fast and hard cuts. With turf toe there’s just no way he could do that effectively. Consequently, Best failed to top 65 rushing yards in any one game and only managed one more TD the remainder of the season.
So the question now is, what will Jahvid do in 2011? A turf toe injury needs one thing to heal properly – time. Something the Lions decided not to give him in 2010. Now that he’s healthy and fresh with a full off season under his belt, I can honestly say that I expect big things from him come September. As I mentioned before, Best is an explosive runner who can make people miss with his outstanding open field speed and vision of the field. One of those backs who has that big play ability every time he touches the ball. Additionally, he’s an above average receiver out of the backfield, something he displayed in week 2 against the Eagles (9 receptions for 154 yards and a score). But, and there’s always a “but”, his success will depend on his teammates. He needs Matt Stafford to stay healthy so they are able to spread the field with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew and rookie wideout Titus Young. This will allow the running lanes to open up even more.
Now that the Lions have drafted running back Mikel Leshoure, there are questions about Jahvid’s workload going into this season . Though he will lose some carries, notably goal line opportunities, I think the addition of Leshoure will actually benefit Best. First and foremost he will be able to stay fresh by not taking the pounding of an every down back, which is important when you have a smaller frame like Jahvid (5’10″ 200lbs). I also believe the Lions offense will be very creative and find ways to get him the ball. With the exception of Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best is the most physically gifted player on the Lions roster (check the highlights).
A little confidence boost from the head coach doesn’t hurt either – Jim Schwartz was quoted this off season saying, “Whatever we need him to do, he can do it.” So it’s obvious he has coaching staff in his corner going into 2011.
For all of you thinking fantasy football 2011, get Best on your radar. Last years performance, or lack thereof, will have him slipping in 2011 fantasy drafts, especially with the addition of Mikel Leshoure. If you can get him in the 5th or 6th round, take the discount, it’s a STEAL! I still have fond memories from last year when most labeled Jamal Charles, “the poor man’s Chris Johnson”. I enjoyed the draft day discount all season long. So this year I’m labeling Jahvid Best, “the poor man’s Jamal Charles”. Judging from what Charles did in 2010, I’d say Jahvid Best will have Lions fans and fantasy owners rejoicing for years to come.
Check out the clip for a sample of what Jahvid can do!
*Photo Courtesy of John Martinez Pavliga