NFC North Fantasy Focus: Detroit Lions

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | 0

This afternoon (Wed., August 20, 2014), TSM Plug’s Fantasy Focus rolls on with the virtual gridiron prospects of the third team in the NFC North, the Detroit Lions.

Despite being stacked with top-level talent on both sides of the ball, the Lions faltered in 2013 under the tutelage of coach Jim Schwartz, who was fired after an abysmal end to the year.

Now spearheaded by former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Detroit is once again loaded with talent and ready to make a playoff run, yet we’ve heard that before.

Will Detroit put the wreckage of the past and finally deliver on their once-promising hype? Maybe, but we’re here to discuss their fantasy prospects, and they have a lot to offer in that area.


It’d be foolish to start anywhere else than megastar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who’s largely considered in a class of his own as the finest pass catcher in the game today. “Megatron” surged to an insane start in 2013, but injuries and the inconsistent play of quarterback Matthew Stafford limited his potential as the Lions fizzled out of the playoffs late in the season.

Undergoing offseason surgery to clear up a nagging knee issue and healing from up from some dislocated fingers, Johnson is poised for another elite season. No one can stop him one-on-one, and many teams can’t stop him with two men.

Johnson should also benefit from the team’s signing of former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, who is set to become the first legitimate No. 2 receiver that Johnson has ever had on the opposite side.

Currently at an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 6 in Yahoo standard leagues, you should seriously consider taking ‘Megatron’ with your first pick if the top five running backs are off the board.


Stafford drew the ire of many fantasy owners last year for his inconsistency and sometimes boneheaded decisions. The former No. 1 draft picked threw for 4,650 yards with 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions,, which would be excellent stats most of the time.

But it was his error-packed game against the Baltimore Ravens in the first week of many leagues’ fantasy playoffs that had most labeling him a complete choke artist.

That’s not exactly fair to say, but Stafford needs to step up his play if he ever wants to deliver on his considerable promise. He’s reportedly spent much of this offseason working on his mechanics, which hopefully leads to far less turnovers.

He should also benefit from the addition of two new weapons in wide receiver Tate and rookie tight end Eric Ebron, whom the Lions spent the prized No. 10 pick on.

Stafford currently sits just outside the elite top tier of quarterbacks that includes Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. At an ADP of 49, he’s the ultimate risk-reward type of signal caller. He could definitely put up huge numbers with the insane arsenal he has at his disposal. If you feel like gambling, go ahead and pick him towards the end of the fourth round.

If he ends up both winning you a few games and losing you close to as many, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

As for the all-important position of running back, Detroit has two serviceable stars that should share time in the Lions’ backfield. Reggie Bush has proven a lethal all-purpose weapon in Motor City, but he’s also been injury prone.

Enter backup Joique Bell, who’s quickly gaining on Bush to be an equal part in what should be an effective timeshare for Detroit this year.

You could make a strong case for drafting either one towards the fifth round; the only issue is that they will have to split time. Still, both are excellent receivers out of the backfield, meaning that they’ll each have their breakout game throughout the year.

The defense and special teams could surprise this year with a decent amount of talent, but in the talent-laden NFC North, you can probably get a better defense for a comparable price unless you are drafting in a super deep league.

Overall, the Detroit Lions could have one the best teams in terms of fantasy weapons in 2014, but they also have a lot to prove after a sizzling start to 2013 that ultimately amounted to a regime change in Detroit.

Draft them for their high upsides, but also be prepared to have a quality backup go in should any one of their stars go down with injury.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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