Projecting Reggie Bush Using the Fantasy Points Per Route Metric

fantasy football
fantasy football
Foxborough MA USA Former Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush 22 runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium Mark L Baer USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy writers here at XN Sports are looking to project players who could be breakout fantasy football studs in the receiving game using a new metric we’re exploring more every day: Fantasy Points Per Route Run (FPPRR).

We’re going to examine players—tight ends and running backs, specifically—who are asked to do more than catch passes every snap they are on the field. We’ll have much more on this in July, but as a short review: XN writers believe per-route projections offers a more accurate view of a player’s potential fantasy production. Relying on fantasy points scored per snap, for instance, tends to punish tight ends and running backs who are regularly asked to do something other than run a pass route.

FPPRR also helps weed out touchdown dependency, and like any useful fantasy football metric, a low FPPRR score is trumped by extreme usage. Like a running back who posts an unimpressive yards per carry mark but is force fed the football every Sunday, a player who runs a lot of routes consistently will do fairy well in pass game production.

One player that has owners in point per reception (PPR) leagues excited this offseason is Lions’ running back Reggie Bush, who is widely expected to take on a role similar to what Jahvid Best had in Detroit before his concussions wreaked havoc on his promising career.

Using FPPRR and other per route data (from the math mavens at Pro Football Focus) I am going to project what Bush’s receiving line could look like when the season reaches its conclusion.

Reggie Bush 2012 206.8 76.2 231 0.33
Reggie Bush 2011 220.3 78.6 252 0.31
Reggie Bush 2010 73.8 60.8 157 0.39
Reggie Bush 2009 163.5 98.5 247 0.40
Reggie Bush 2008 168.4 120 252 0.48
Averages 166.6 86.8 228 0.38

We have five years of route data to use from the great analysis of PFF. This excludes the two biggest PPR receiving seasons Bush ever had, 2006 in which he totaled 174.2 receiving points and 2007 (126.7 points).

The average player over the past five seasons has a .29 FPPRR score. With the route data we have, Bush has registered an above average score every season in his career. Bush has only finished lower than RB28 in PPR scoring once in his career, 2010, when he missed eight games due to an injured fibula.

In four of the past seven seasons, Bush has finished 14th or higher in PPR scoring, being a top 12 back in three of those seasons.

While earlier in his career he was used in a Darren Sproles-like fashion, over the past two seasons spent with the Miami Dolphins, Bush has turned into more of a complete player. He carried the ball more than 200 times in each season with the Dolphins, notching a career high 227 rushing attempts last season.

With the Saints, Bush’s season high in attempts was 157 in 2007.  Detroit has already expressed that they intend to use him in a plethora of ways, all with the intent of him being an every down back.

Kevin Smith 2009 183.2 88.5 280 0.32
Maurice Morris 2009 99.4 47 164 0.29
Jahvid Best 2010 196.2 118.7 304 0.39
Maurice Morris 2010 105.6 42 133 0.32
Jahvid Best 2011 112.7 61.7 162 0.38
Maurice Morris 2011 92.6 55 187 0.29
Kevin Smith 2011 115.5 57.9 153 0.38
Joique Bell 2012 155.9 100.5 245 0.41
Mikel Leshoure 2012 183.2 55.4 220 0.25

*RB with over 100 snaps in route

The Lions have run a very PPR-friendly scheme for backs under Scott Linehan, producing six different running backs over the four seasons with him as offensive coordinator with an above average FPPRR score. They’ve had four backs (Smith ’09, Best ’10, Leshoure and Bell ’12) finish in the top 24 in scoring that season.

Bell was an OTA darling, garnering glowing support from the Detroit staff. While he will likely still get a small share of passing snaps, he is more of a threat into relegating Leshoure to a short yardage back than eating into a large portion of Bush’s time on the field.

Bell was used only sparingly in the passing game last season when contests were still in a neutral game flow situation. Only 18 of his 52 receptions came when the Lions were ahead or within one possession of tying the game. Two-thirds of his receiving points came with the team trailing two or more possessions.

The Lions have averaged 1,094 offensive snaps per season since 2010. Sixty-five percent of those plays have been passing plays over those years. In his two seasons in Miami, the Dolphins totaled 1,062 passing plays, with Bush running a route on 483 of them (45.4%).

If the Lions maintain their average number of plays, that would put Bush at 323 snaps in route for 2013, only 19 more than Best totaled in 2010, so there’s precedent in place of a back having the same involvement in the passing attack for Detroit.

Using his average FPPRR (.38) would project Bush to accumulate 122.7 PPR points over the season. Using his receptions per route run (5.1) over those years puts him at 63 receptions, while his career yards per reception (7.3) would equal a 460 yard season.

His career TD% (.04) on receptions would round come out to 2.5 receiving TD. 63 receptions + 460 yards + 3 TD = 127 receiving points in PPR leagues. Nearly spot on with our FPPRR projection when we round that touchdown up to three.

That might not the gaudy type of receptions that some have projecting for Bush this season, but those 127 points receiving would’ve been the second highest total last season from any running back not named Sproles.

It’s definitely a number that is not set in stone (projections should be used as a guideline at draft time), but it provides a nice gauge of what kind of an uptick Bush may be in line for. Looking forward to 2013, we finally may get to see the complete Reggie Bush.

My running back projections will be up later this week, but as a teaser I will give you what I have projected for Bush in 2013.

Reggie Bush DET 9 210 966 4 63 460 3 184.6 247.6 216.1
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Rich Hribar Fantasy Football Analyst
Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. Follow @LordReebs