QB Matthew Stafford – Over his last seven seasons has with the Lions, Stafford hasn’t missed a game with a 57-55 record. Matthew has 197 TDs and 97 Ints over his previous 112 games. His completion rate (66.1) moved into an elite area over the last three seasons, but his passing yards have drifted from his highest levels without the might Calvin Johnson at his service. Stafford passed for 4,000 yards in each of his last seven seasons. His passing attempts (583) over the previous three years are well below his previous for years (656 per season). Last year Matthew threw for over 300 yards five games, and he had four games with three TDs or more. In 2018, Stafford has weakness in the passing game at TE while feature three options at WR and pass catching talent at RB. Possible 4,500 passing yards with a chance to beat 30 TDs if Kenny Golladay makes step forward.
RB LeGarrette Blount – I expect Blount to win the power lead running back job out of training camp. His best season came in 2016 with the Patriots where he gained 1,199 combined yards with 18 TDs and seven catches on a career-high 306 touches. Last year the Eagles rotated RBs, which led to LeGarrette gaining 816 combined yards with only three TDs and eight catches on 181 touches. He has no value on passing downs. With Kerry Johnson in the mix, I can’t put a number on Blount’s value. The lead runner in Detroit has a chance to run the ball 225+ times for 1,000 yards with questionable value in TDs. In general, the Lions’ early-down back looks to be a Fantasy trap even with an improved offensive line.
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RB Kerryon Johnson – Over three seasons at Auburn with one coming as a full-time starter, Johnson rushed for 1,391 yards and 34 TDs plus 55 catches for 478 yards. Much of his scoring last year came on of the wildcat type offense leading to his best year (1,585 combined yards with 20 TDs and 24 catches). In his college career, Kerryon gained only 4.8 yards per rush. He runs with a long stride and upright position, which I believe is going to be a problem in the NFL. His movements require space to gain yards even with some wiggle and power. In 2018, I view him as a work in progress with a wide range of outcomes from week-to-week. I sense a draft day bust while offering no interest to me in the Fantasy market.
Update: 8/11/2018 > The player that gained the most momentum in the first preseason game for the Lions was Kerryon Johnson. He finished with 67 combined yards with four catches. His value in the passing game may be better than expected, and I have him rated too low heading into August.
RB Theo Riddick – Over the last two seasons, the Lions gave Riddick 282 combined touches. He’s been boring in the run game in his career (3.4 yards per rush) while offering value in the passing game. In 2015, Theo caught 80 of his 99 targets for 697 yards and three TDs. His opportunity faded to 53 catches in each of the last two seasons while averaging 5.3 targets per game. Riddick did miss six games in 2016 while being on pace for another 80-catch season. The positive by signing Blount and drafting Johnson will be a cleaner role as a pass-catching back with minimal value on early downs. Theo has upside in catches, and Matt Stafford will throw to the RB position. Possible 80+ catches with Ameer Abdullah expecting to be less of a threat on third downs.
RB Ameer Abdullah – Detroit looks ready to part ways with Abdullah after a disappointing third season in the NFL. Last year he gained 714 combined yards with five TDs and 25 catches while receiving 190 touches. Ameer gained only 3.3 yards per rush and 6.5 yards per catch. Overall, he can’t match the pass-catching ability of Riddick while no owning a strong enough skill to see starting snaps on early downs. I won’t write him off, but he projects as more a waiver wire option in 12-team leagues unless his opportunity and performance improve over the summer.
WR Golden Tate – It’s easy to overlook Tate as top WR2 due to his weakness in TDs (24) over his last 80 games. Since arriving in Detroit, Golden averaged 93 catches for 1,056 yards and five TDs per season with his best success coming in 2014 (99/1331/4) when Calvin Johnson was still on the roster, and the Lions threw the ball 650 times a year. He had a great four-game run from Week 6 to Week 10 (27/392/2) with two other strong games (10/107, 8/85/1, and 7/104/1). A shoulder injury in late October appeared to be serious, but Tate was able to play through the injury. Last year the WRs in Detroit caught 211 passes for 2,928 yards and 16 TDs on 334 targets. Matt Stafford will throw plenty of balls to the WR position with more targets expected with the TE position looking to have a drop down in talent. Possible 100+ catches for 1,100 yards and a handful of TDs.
WR Marvin Jones – Jones rewarded Fantasy owners with a great season (61/1101/9) while being a value on draft day. He gained an impressive 18.0 yards per catch, which pushed his two year total to 17.5 yards in Detroit. Over his last 47 games, Marvin has 313 targets with growth in his yards each season. Jones had five strong games (6/128, 7/107/2, 4/85/1, 6/109/2, and 4/90) over a six-game stretch midseason. The Lions barely looked his way over the first four games of the year (8/130/2 on 18 targets) and the last four games of the season (13/280/1 on 19 targets). His down games leave more room for growth with better consistency from week-to-week. Marvin had 20 catches for 20 yards or more with six catches gaining over 40 yards. Jones is motivated to get better, and he can be a matchup problem when facing questionable cornerback play. His next step points to 70+ catches for 1,100+ yards and about seven TDs.
WR Kenny Golladay – Over two seasons at Northern Illinois, he caught 160 passes for 2,285 yards with 18 TDs. He instantly gives Stafford a scoring threat in the red zone. Until he improves his route running, Kenny will work as a deep threat on the outside while adding value on slants and screen type plays. Golladay has an excellent combination of size (6’4” and 218 lbs.), speed (4.5 40-yard dash), and hands. Once he improves his technique and release, Kenny will rise to the WR1 spot on this roster. In his rookie season, Kenny battled some injuries leading to 28 catches for 477 yards and three TDs on 48 targets. Five of his catches went for 40 yards while showing upside in Week 1 (4/69/2) and Week 17 (2/80/1). His growth is the biggest threat to the value of Marvin Jones. With weakness at TE, Golladay could easily push his catch total to 60+ with a full season of healthy while possibly leading the team in TDs and more than 900 yards.
WR T.J. Jones – Jones was expected to be a perfect fit for the Lions’ offense. He is a slot receiver with excellent route running skills and hands. In his senior season at Notre Dame, he caught 70 passes for 1,108 yards and nine TDs. He has NFL average WR speed with solid quickness. The Lions drafted him in the sixth round in 2014. He missed all of 2014 season with a lingering shoulder issue. T.J. caught ten passes for 132 yards and a TD on 18 targets in his second year in the league with a shorter opportunity in 2016 (5/93). T.J. started to have a pulse last year (30/399/1 on 49 targets, but he did have shoulder surgery in January.
TE Michael Roberts – When looking for an upside TE in Detroit in 2018, a Fantasy owner should start here. Roberts is another big bodied TE (6’4 and 270 lbs.) with plus hands. He’s going to be a scoring factor in the red zone while improving the team in blocking. Michael doesn’t have an edge in speed while needing to improve his route running. In 2016 at Toledo, Roberts caught 45 passes for 533 yards with 16 TDs. Possible sneaky red zone value in TDs.
TE Luke Willson – Over five seasons in Seattle, Willson has 89 catches for 1,129 yards and 11 TDs on 137 targets. His best season came in 2014 (22/362/3). Last season the TEs in Detroit caught 75 passes for 803 yards and seven TDs on 114 targets. Low-level TE option who will split playing with a couple of options for the Lions in 2018.
2018 Fantasy Football: Positional Team OutlooksFantasy Football Rainman Shawn Childs, a six-figure high-stakes career earner and one of the most accurate rankers in the industry, previews the most relevant players at each skill position on all 32 NFL teams! Use these team previews to DOMINATE your competition as we approach the 2018 Fantasy Football season!