Last season, Joique Bell came out of nowhere and was an absolute stud in PPR leagues. He finished 15th out of all RB, making him a high-end RB2. Considering he was drafted as the 53rd RB in PPR leagues last season, he was a difference maker. This year, as I stated in my 10 Bold Predictions piece (which you can read here), I believe Joique Bell will have a better year than the other multi-talented RB in Detroit, Reggie Bush. My goal in this article is to outline another player who could have a similar breakout to Bell’s 2013. Before I reveal his identity, let’s have a look at the similarities between the mystery player and Joique Bell.
- He is the #2 tailback in a Scott Linehan-run offense.
- He is an RB who has very good pass-catching abilities
- He is playing behind an injury-prone starter
- He is being drafted in the 50’s for RB (similar to Bell in 2013)
Who is it? Take a guess. No cheating!
Give up? The answer is Lance Dunbar. Like I pointed out above, Lance Dunbar is in a very similar situation this year as Bell was in last year. He is indeed the backup to DeMarco Murray, his offensive coordinator is Scott Linehan, and he has proven in his college and NFL career that he is a good pass-catching tailback. Last year, we saw Scott Linehan help Detroit become one of the best offensive teams in pro football. The Lions produced two top 15 options at running back as well.
As a three year starter at North Texas University, Dunbar made a name for himself in the Sun Belt Conference. He garnered over 5,000 all-purpose yards (including over 1,000 yards receiving), 49 combined TD, 97 catches (5.4 YPR) and 10.6 YPC. Dunbar has shown the ability to be a dual threat out of the backfield, albeit in limited touches.
Dunbar was held out of last week’s preseason opener because it has been rumored that his role will be larger this season and Dallas wanted to protect him from injury. Both Detroit running backs recorded more than 1,000 all-purpose yards in Scott Linehan’s system in 2013. While I don’t believe Murray and Dunbar will have that kind of split, I believe Dunbar could still manage 5 TD and 750 all-purpose yards. That would give him 180 points in PPR formats, which would make him a top 25 RB. That right there would be back-end RB2 points and could wind up doing even more if Murray goes down (which is completely possible considering his checkered injury history).
I don’t believe Joseph Randle will threaten Dunbar for touches in any meaningful way. He’s been unimpressive so far this preseason and didn’t do much to garner attention in 2013. Dunbar’s touches are in line to increase and given his skills, he should be one of the more ownable handcuffs entering the season. A breakout is possible, don’t forget him late in your draft or auction.
Statistical credit: ESPN.com, fantasyfootballcalculator.com, sports-reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/YOZCGp
Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!