Which Lions to Take and Not to Take in Your Fantasy Football Draft
2017 was a massive breakthrough season for Marvin Jones. He started all 16 games, and set new career highs in receiving yards (1,101 yards), nine touchdowns, and his 18 yards per reception not only set a new career high but led the NFL.
Jones led the Lions team in both receiving yards and touchdowns and seems like a prime candidate to do it again in 2018. As the wide receiver one, Jones had at least 85 yards in eight games.
Marvin Jones could easily be the top wide receiver on many fantasy football teams this year and could potentially even be a big steal if he is taken in the sixth round or later.
Golden Tate is a points per reception league demon. He’s made 372 catches in the last four years (93 per season) and never had a season with less than 90 receptions in a Lions uniform. He has also made 4,223 receiving yards (1,056 yards per season) and 19 touchdowns (five per season) over that time.
Besides being a fantastic receiver, Tate is one of the most durable receivers in the NFL. He has not missed a game since the 2012 season when he was with the Seattle Seahawks.
Tate should be seen in roughly the same territory as Jones. He probably won’t have as many yards or touchdowns as Jones but could be much more valuable in PPR leagues.
The Defense/Special Teams
While the Lions defense wasn’t great in yards per game or points in 2017, they were fantastic at creating turnovers. The defense recovered 13 fumbles and intercepted 19 passes, scoring five touchdowns off of these turnovers.
The Lions also had a fantastic special teams performance last season. Jamal Agnew was the NFL’s best punt returner, leading the league in both yards per return (15.4) and touchdowns (two).
The Lions defense should be considered one of the best in the league going into 2018. While they likely won’t be the best in yards or points, there is no reason to think their defense/special teams will regress in the big play department.
Matt Prater was again one of the NFL’s best kickers last season and there is no reason to expect that to change. He made seven field goals of +50 yards, and a total of 30 of 35 attempts. This led to a total of 130 points.
Prater is arguably the best kicker in the NFL at the moment and should be taken as soon as kickers start coming off the board in your drafts.
After an extremely disappointing 2017 season, Ameer Abdullah looks to be the fourth running back on the Lions depth chart in 2018. However, I think he could have a bigger role than most expect.
Abdullah was never meant to be a feature back like he was last year but he is much more suited for the 5-10 touches per game, change of pace back role. Abdullah is also in line for many carries if an injury occurs to either Kerryon Johnson or LeGarrette Blount.
TJ Jones likely won’t have much value unless an injury occurs to one of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate or Kenny Golladay. However, if that does happen, which seems pretty likely at some point, Jones could have a big game. Like he did against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year (four catches, 88 yards).
Jones is a player who shouldn’t be in your starting line up every week but that absolutely has the potential to have a big game here or there in 2018.
Poised To Break Out
Taken in the second round of this years draft, Kerryon Johnson has huge expectations going into his rookie season.
In 2017, Johnson won the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, rushing for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns while also catching 24 passes for 194 yard and another two touchdowns. Johnson even threw for a touchdown pass against Alabama.
Reports out of training camp have been that Johnson is living up to his hype. I believe that Johnson is going to take the starting running back position sooner rather than later for the Lions and he will rack up some serious fantasy points.
Willson spent the first five seasons of his career with the Seatle Seahawks before joining the Lions this offseason. After catching 22 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns in 2014, the Seahawks decided to trade for Jimmy Graham. Since then, Willson has only had limited looks as the second tight end for the Seattle offense.
Willson is the presumed starter for the Lions going into training camp and should see a career high in passes thrown his way. Whether or not he will make the most of them is what is yet to be seen.
Golladay already had a mini-breakout in 2017, catching 28 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games. While this 44 yard per game average was impressive as a rookie, Golladay could possibly have his role expanded even further in 2018.
Kenny Golladay will certainly continue to be a deep threat for the Lions this upcoming season, but if he has improved the other areas of his game, he could really start looking like an NFL wide receiver one.
Roberts is one of the Lions biggest unknowns. After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, he caught only four passes for 46 yards as a rookie.
Tight end is arguably the Lions weakest position currently, so Roberts will get the opportunity to prove himself in training camp and in the upcoming season.
Roberts was a red zone monster in college though, catching 16 touchdowns on 45 receptions as a senior at Toledo. If he has adjusted to the NFL level, he could be a huge presence on the Lions offense in 2018.
I love LeGarrette Blount. However, I think there’s a good chance that Kerryon Johnson takes hold of the first running back spot, relegating Blount to short yardage, goal line, and backup duty.
Besides this, Blount also has to share touches with Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. While I think Blount will bring power to the Lions rushing offense, I simply don’t think he will get enough carries to be a significant fantasy player this season.
While Matthew Stafford is a fantastic quarterback, he usually hasn’t been a great fantasy quarterback. He has thrown for 4,257 yards in every season since 2011 but has only broken 30 touchdowns twice in his career (2011 and 2015). Stafford just doesn’t score touchdowns consistently enough to be considered a top fantasy quarterback.
Besides this, the Lions offense is revamping itself with a new focus on the running game. While this should be a good thing for the Detroit offense, it will take away chances for Stafford to throw for yards and touchdowns.
If everything goes according to plan, Theo Riddick will not rush the ball a single time in 2018. He is a pass catching specialist who is terrible at taking handoffs up the middle.
So, if Riddick barely runs the ball, his value is entirely in his receiving game. However, the Lions have a ton of pass-catching threats right now (Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate, TJ Jones, Luke Willson and Kerryon Johnson), which will limit Riddick’s opportunities to have an impact there.