Bush a workhorse in New Orleans?

Reggie Bush has averaged 16.6 touches from scrimmage per game in his three years.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Over the weekend I read where New Orleans running back/slot receiver Reggie Bush believes that with the February release of the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Deuce McAllister, he expects to be the main man in 2009.

"By the moves that they're making, it definitely speaks volumes to me as to what I need to prepare myself for," Bush said while at the Texas Motor Speedway for this week's NASCAR race. "They're looking for me to be the guy back there."

If true, Bush could be a top-10 fantasy pick. He has averaged just 3.7 yards- per-carry from scrimmage over his three-year career, but supplemented that with 213 catches for 1,599 yards.

But I'm not as sure that is what the New Orleans Saints are "saying." Bush has averaged only 16.6 touches from scrimmage per game in his three years, less than most "top-10 type" fantasy players, and still he has trouble finishing the season in one piece.

The team might also be saying that Pierre Thomas made a solid enough impression over the final weeks, that they would be comfortable with Thomas as their primary running back and Bush splitting time between running back and slot receiver.

For the season, Thomas posted 625 yards rushing and 284 yards receiving while scoring 12 times. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that as a starter from Weeks 11-16, Thomas averaged 112.83 yards from scrimmage and 1.5 TD-per- game. Those totals were every bit as good as Bush accumulated over the team's first seven games (94.28 ypg and 0.714 TDs per game), before an injury sidelined him until week 13.

Then again, it could be that Coach Sean Payton doesn't think that either running back is the answer to a power running game and looks for a bigger, tougher back in this year's draft or free agency.

There are a couple of big backs in the draft which could fill the bill - Chris Wells of Ohio State or Rashad Jennings of Liberty.

All this leaves fantasy owners to watch and wait for answers. If the Saints don't draft a running back next month, then Thomas figures to be a factor in your 2009-10 fantasy draft, as of course, will Bush so long as he is healthy.

There is enough room in the New Orleans backfield for both running backs to prosper because I think Payton would like to limit Drew Brees' passing attempts to under 600 next year to keep him healthy.

Plus if the Saints don't use a top draft pick to bolster an already explosive offense (No.1 ranked at 28.9 ppg), then they can use the pick to plug some of the gaping holes in their 23rd-ranked defense.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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