Can Dolphins RB Reggie Bush make a fantasy impact?

Posted Aug. 17, 2011 @ 8:02 p.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

Fantasy Spin: Can Dolphins RB Reggie Bush make a fantasy impact?

Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano has announced that RB Reggie Bush not only will make his season debut this Friday, but he will start Miami's preseason game against the Panthers in South Florida.

Bush, who was acquired in a trade with the Saints after the lockout ended and signed a two-year, $9.7 million deal with Miami, was held out of the Dolphins' first preseason game for precautionary reasons. He has been lining up at running back, in the slot and as a wideout in training camp.

Del Pilar: As an analyst, I never found Bush impressive as a featured back and believe he's more hype than not. Even considering the change of scenery, I still believe that because he can't stay healthy. Regardless, he does possess natural talent and skills.

He has above-average hands, a quick burst with an ability to get to the outside. His biggest negative has been his health. In five seasons since entering the league in 2006, he has played in all 16 games once — and that was his rookie year. The past three seasons have seen him play in 32 out of 48 games, 60 out of 80 for his career. He can't stay healthy and the past few campaigns he has been a pass-receiving specialist who was part of a committee of running backs.

Can he do more in Miami? I would say not.

If he couldn't stay healthy for a pass-first team like the Saints, where he wasn't even the top back, I don't see it happening in Miami.

The Dolphins like his combination of speed and pass-catching ability. He adds a dimension that will help keep defenses honest. Sure QB Chad Henne is not an elite or even above-average quarterback but with Bush, he has an outlet to go to. That will help keep the pressure off Henne and I can see Bush racking up the short pass receptions.

His style appears to be a good complement to that of rookie Daniel Thomas, a physical runner, making this a committee approach. Despite that, Bush is in a better position than he was in New Orleans, as Miami likes to run the ball first and the Saints simply did not have enough footballs to go around.

Against the Panthers Friday, pay close attention to how the Dolphins use Bush and Thomas. What specific formations do they run? How many touches do both get? And who spells whom and when? Also, how does the rest of the offense, specifically the passing attack, perform with Bush on the field? Does Henne use him as a check-down receiver? Does the team send him between the tackles or use swing plays to take advantage of his speed?

Sadly, he might be in for only a series or two but with so many question marks, you can bet you won't be the only one watching.

Bush is expected to get 10-12 touches per week as a running back, but when it comes to pass receptions the sky could be the limit. Henne's own development will decide how much he looks for Bush, who has made nearly five receptions per game for his career. Young quarterbacks go to a check down more quickly than veterans, so I like the potential here. The team also has put Bush in the slot position and his speed and above-average hands dictate the team can line him up wherever it wants. That's a huge advantage.

When asked, Sparano said he believes that Bush can be an every-down back. This is merely coach-speak, where a coach spins a negative into a positive or simply ignores the facts as his only goal is to speak positively regardless of reality. The Saints gave Bush every opportunity to be a featured back entering the league. He failed amid injuries and an inability to run between the tackles effectively, which is why Thomas will be the power back, the first- and second-down rusher.

Despite that, I optimistically see Bush as a No. 3 fantasy running back or as a bye or injury fill-in.