2015 Fantasy Football Team Preview: Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions in year one of Jim Caldwell accomplished what former coach Jim Schwartz only did once in his 4 year tenure…a birth in the playoffs. The offense was nowhere near as potent as in previous campaigns. After finishing 3rd in total yards in 2012 and 6th in 2013 they dropped all the way to 19th in 2014. A new offensive system, terrible line play and an injury to Calvin Johnson could be the culprits, but this is a team that can easily go from fantasy famine to a fantasy feast.
Many drafted Matthew Stafford last year thinking they were picking up a guy that had the best receiver in the game and the stats of a top five QB option. Instead we saw another year of decline across the board in completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns. Thankfully, his QB rating was up a tick from 2013 as was his completion percentage. His interceptions were also down to a full season career low.
He clearly missed Johnson and was getting comfortable in a new system and feeling uncomfortable behind a line that allowed him to be sacked a career worst 45 times. An inept running game didn’t help either.
I am a little higher on Stafford than most for 2015. With a revamped line and another year of comfort in Joe Lombardi’s system, I’ll look at 2014 as an aberration. I will confidently draft him for his Top 10 potential in later rounds when I look and can’t believe he’s still available.
The Lions 2014 running attack can be summed up in one word, YUCK! Overall they ranked 28th in the league, and while many owners thought Reggie Bush would be a solid flex play or bye week fill in, he ended up hurt and terrible.
Joique Bell ended up being a very solid RB2/Flex play for most and figures to be the primary option to start the season for Detroit. If we assume that the line play improves, there is an upside to Bell if he keeps the job.
He could and probably will lose time and carries to 2nd Round pick Ameer Abdullah out of Nebraska. Looking at Abdullah’s size one would think he would be limited at the NFL level. Truthfully he’s not all that much smaller the Bell and his senior season with the Cornhuskers (264 Carries, 1611 Rushing Yards, 19 TD’s) demands attention on draft day as the rounds wind on.
Forgive me if I sound like a scorned girlfriend here, but Megatron was not the man I thought he was going to be. He was such a disappointing player to own last year. Despite not being his usual or expected self he still ended up in the Top 15 among Wide Receivers by my rankings and was still someone you’d rather have in your lineup than against you.
He’s 29 years old and has missed games for two consecutive seasons. You have to begin to wonder if we’ve seen the best of Johnson.
Is he still an elite talent? Yes. Should he still be one of the first Wide Receivers off the board? Yes. Is he a first round pick? No. I am valuing him in the middle to late 2nd Round pick depending on your format.
Golden Tate had a fantastic season making up for the absence of Johnson. He had great reception totals and yard,s but he just didn’t get the sort of touchdown numbers that would make him WR 1 worthy. He’s a WR2/Flex play who could improve on that if Johnson were to miss time again.
Lance Moore makes an interesting addition to the Lions, but I don’t see him currently as a player to roster. That could change if Stafford ends up liking Moore as a failsafe target. Either way, I’m not going to bother.
Raise your hand if you owned a Lions tight end in the last few years thinking that you may have mined fantasy gold. You can’t see it but I’ve got my hand raised as I type. I had the highest hopes for Brandon Pettigrew when he was drafted. He’s been a disappointment and is not worthy ever again of a mention beyond the end of this sentence.
Last season the Lions invested heavily in Eric Ebron with a 1st round pick. He stunk, but there is upside here. It’s not like the Lions were a well-oiled offensive machine last year. Another year in the NFL with a fully functioning Lions offense and Ebron could be a late round steal. He’s a depth pick at tight end on draft day with the potential of a Top 12 option if literally everything breaks right.
The Lions defense is a bit of an unknown going into camp. My rankings had them 10th and they were usable to stream against weaker teams. Now they will be without Ndamukong Suh as he’s going to sunny Florida.
I don’t see the defense taking a significant step backwards, but the loss of Suh absolutely hurts. For fantasy purposes their defense is a usable option to stream and should have a solid week to week output.
Player To Watch
Ameer Abdullah is absolutely the guy to watch. I think he will have every opportunity and a very long leash to earn the starting job. While he may not start the season at the top of the depth chart, I have a feeling he’ll end it there. Keep an eye on reports coming out of Lions camp a little closer to draft time.
282 Points Allowed which is good enough for Detroit to have ranked 3rd in the NFL last season. They will fall in that ranking, but if they can get the offense going in the right direction, this is certainly a playoff team again.
Article written by Andrew Wheeler exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.