Bo Scarbrough: Priority Waiver Wire Pickup for Week 12 (2019)
In the four games since Kerryon Johnson was lost for the season due to (another) knee injury, the Detroit Lions have been searching for a player to take over the primary running back duties. Ty Johnson was a waiver wire darling in Week 8, but he’s failed to produce even one week with more than 9.7 fantasy points since Johnson went down. Paul Perkins has been added from the practice squad and subsequently released. J.D. McKissic has had a couple of good fantasy weeks, but he’s more of a receiving back and not built (5’10, 190 pounds) to carry the rushing load. But if Sunday is any indication, the Lions may have finally found the running back to handle the early-down work: Bo Scarbrough.
The first thing you notice about Scarbrough is his size. At 6’1″ and 228 pounds, he is a mountain of a man. He runs a 4.52 40-yard dash, which makes him a freight train in the open field.
Scarbrough was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry during his college career at Alabama and hauled in 17 passes during his final year, showing he’s at least able to handle dump-off and check-down passes. So, why did this size/speed freak with adequate receiving skills fall to the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft? Going back to high school, Scarbrough has been unable to stay healthy. He’s had two torn ACLs. He’s broken an ankle and a leg while also dealing with several other less severe (in comparison) injuries.
Scarbrough failed to make the Cowboys’ roster in 2018 when he averaged 2.9 yards per carry in the preseason. He also wasn’t very good on special teams, which is a prerequisite for most late-round draft picks and also missed some practice time due to an injured hip. Since then, he’s spent time with Jacksonville and Seattle, but he never saw any game action until this past Sunday.
If Scarbrough is going to score fantasy points for you, the lion’s share of those points will have to come from his rushing work. As noted earlier, he’s adequate at taking dump-offs and screens, but don’t expect to see him split out wide anytime soon. The Lions have a good receiving back in McKissic and have shown that they want to keep him involved every week. Scarbrough’s role will be on first and second downs as well as handling goal-line carries. His first foray into being the goal-line back went well Sunday, as he bullied his way in for a touchdown.
Bo Scarbrough, newly activated to the active roster for the Lions, scores his first career NFL touchdown! pic.twitter.com/Ha84VrQTEy
— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) November 17, 2019
In addition to that score, Scarbrough had 13 more rushing attempts and totaled 55 yards on the day. Those 14 attempts are the most for one Lions’ running back since Kerryon Johnson registered 26 attempts way back in Week 4. Ty Johnson’s season-high 10 attempts came in Week 7, a week after Johnson was placed on the IR. Johnson hasn’t had more than nine rushing attempts since. Johnson also set a season-high in snap share that week playing on 64% of the offensive plays. He only played on 29% of snaps on Sunday compared to the 49% Scarbrough was in on. The 55 rushing yards from Scarbrough bested Johnson’s best single-game rushing total by 25 yards. Though Scarbrough’s 3.93 YPC wasn’t overly impressive, it was nearly a half yard more than Johnson (3.5) has averaged this season.
The Lions coaching staff showed you what they think of Ty Johnson on Sunday. They started a running back that was on their practice squad until the day before the game over Johnson. They then gave 14 rushing attempts to the practice squad call up and just two to Johnson. Johnson is a change-of-pace back, and Scarbrough is the back to own from this backfield. If he can stay healthy he has RB3 upside. Scarbrough is set up with the perfect schedule for the next two weeks to score fantasy points. This week the Lions face Washington who allows up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. The following week they play a Bears team that is giving up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs.
The following two weeks bring the Vikings and Buccaneers who each are in the bottom five in points allowed to the running back position, so I suggest you sit Scarbrough in those games unless you are absolutely desperate.