2012 Fantasy Football: Detroit Lions Outlook
The Detroit Lions took the NFL and fantasy football by storm in 2011. Not only did the real-life team make it to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, but several of their players delivered huge fantasy performances.
Obviously Calvin Johnson (Megatron) was a guy to own, but sleeper quarterback Matthew Stafford blew everyone away, as he stayed healthy and churned out a 5,000-yard and 40+ touchdown season.
The sky appears to be the limit for this Lions team, both in the real and fantasy realm. But after such a crazy season with whacky numbers, what can we expect from Stafford, Johnson and the rest of Detroit’s relevant fantasy options?
We dissect their fantasy value below:
QB Matthew Stafford
Stafford went off for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns last year. As long as he has Megatron, he’ll be a threat to put up crazy numbers like that. I don’t see a repeat, but he’ll get you 30+ TDs and 4,000+ yards. That’s good enough to make him a top-five quarterback for 2012.
QB Shaun Hill
Last year was Stafford’s only fully healthy season, so there’s still risk with him. Any time you put that much stock in your top pick, you want to make sure you have a solid backup plan. Hill isn’t that backup plan in the grand scheme, but he will be someone to watch off the waiver wire if Stafford goes down like he has before. Hill has the ability to be a borderline QB1 with the talent around him if such a situation presents itself.
RB Mikel Leshoure
Leshoure is coming off of an achilles injury and may be facing a suspension by the league, but he may very well be the Lions running back to own. He has a good chance of being the “starter” this year, whether or not Best is healthy. Considering Best isn’t close to practicing yet, the odds of that look better by the day. He comes with risk, but he also carries RB2 potential if everything works in his favor.
RB Jahvid Best
Best is explosive and versatile, but he’s also as fragile as glass and has talent with him in the back-field. He’s worth the risk if you can get him past the middle of drafts, but the fact that he isn’t even practicing at the time of this article isn’t encouraging.
RB Kevin Smith
Smith has a history of injuries, but he actually was solid as the lead back last year..until he got hurt..again. You just can’t trust him with his history in a muddied back-field. He could be a RB2 if he starts somehow, but that’s not all that likely.
WR Calvin Johnson
Megatron is a machine that really just can’t be stopped. The Madden Cover is a bit worrisome, but otherwise there’s no real logic that says you shouldn’t take him as the #1 receiver off the board.
WR Titus Young
Young should leap-frog Burleson this year and improve on solid rookie numbers. I like him as a WR3 to start the season, while he has the role and explosiveness to potentially turn into a solid WR2.
WR Nate Burleson
Burleson should lose targets this year and could eventually even be passed up by rookie Ryan Broyles. I suspect he’ll have WR4 value for most of the year, if not slightly better, but his fantasy stock is definitely pointing downward.
WR Ryan Broyles
Broyles has gotten some decent hype and is now healthy, so there’s an outside chance he shocks some people and has a decent role from day one. I don’t trust him yet, though, and he has to pass Burleson on the totem pole first. I don’t see that happening until at least mid-season.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
Pettigrew is a borderline TE1 due to a solid role in the passing game, but he does very little after the catch and so far has not been a red-zone threat. He’s a great option in PPR leagues, but is a middle of the pack option in standard formats.
TE Tony Scheffler
Scheffler is a good athlete with soft hands, but he’s #2 in Detroit, which means he’s pretty much relegated to red-zone duty. He’d have some very interesting value if Pettigrew goes down, but otherwise is a low TE2.
K Jason Hanson
Hanson is 80 years old but the guy keeps on kicking. His offense does him favors, but even at 42, he simply shows no signs of slowing down. He’s converted on 8 of 11 50+ yarders over the past two years and he also knocked in 54 extra points in 2011 alone. As long as he stays healthy, he’s one of the best fantasy kickers around.
Detroit tied for the #8 spot for fantasy defenses last year, and it had everything to do with their ability to get to the quarterback (42 sacks) and create turnovers (36 total). They’re young and nasty on the line, and if their secondary can take a positive step forward, they could quickly turn into a consistent top-five unit. I don’t think they’re quite there yet, but they should still border on being a top-10 fantasy defense in 2012 at the very least.
Get your Lions tickets for the 2012 season now!