Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2011 Fantasy outlooks: Detroit Lions

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

The words "optimistic" and "Detroit Lions" haven't been used together since Barry Sanders was running around the Pontiac Silverdome (and even then ...). But heading into 2011, not only are Fantasy owners optimistic that the Lions will produce some solid roster choices, but Lions fans are optimistic that their team can contend for a playoff berth.

Offensively, the team is loaded. You already know about Calvin Johnson and how he can turn quarterbacks like Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton into legit Fantasy considerations. Nate Burleson is entrenched as their second option, and the addition of rookie Titus Young complements both receivers and forces defenses to either neglect one receiver to cover the others or play deep. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and backup Tony Scheffler only make the weapons in the pass game more threatening.

The run game got an upgrade with the addition of second-round pick Mikel Leshoure. Last year the Lions were abysmal in short-yardage situations, so Leshoure should improve that aspect of the run game while giving the team a change-of-pace back behind starter Jahvid Best. The two should make for a good tandem and in turn should ensure that they aren't running on fumes with backups during the season.

But it's the guy the Lions want under center for 16 games that will make the most difference. Matthew Stafford enters 2011 with higher expectations than what he had in 2010 thanks to all of Detroit's personnel improvements. After playing just nine and a half quarters last season, showing one full game of his golden potential against the Redskins (four touchdowns), everyone wants to see what he can do over a full season. The onus will be on him to stay upright and avoid getting his shoulder slammed into the turf like he did twice last season.

The Lions also made big improvements defensively, stealing defensive tackle Nick Fairley with their first-round pick and signing veteran safety Erik Coleman before the labor stoppage. Coleman will improve a secondary that has some talent but got battered at points last year. The run defense, even with Ndamukong Suh on the inside line, was worse, so Fairley working next to Suh should slam rushers and potentially give the Lions the type of "front two teeth" that the Vikings had for years with Kevin and Pat Williams.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Matthew Stafford
Running Backs
Jahvid Best
Mikel Leshoure
Wide Receivers
Calvin Johnson
Nate Burleson
Titus Young
Tight Ends
Brandon Pettigrew
Tony Scheffler
Kickers/Defense
Jason Hanson
Lions DST

Bounce-back candidate ... Matthew Stafford, QB

Of course Stafford is a bounce-back candidate, if not one of the ultimate sleepers for 2011. You already know the bad news: Stafford might have shoulders made of glass. And you already know the good news: Stafford, when given the chance to run this offense as it stands now, should produce at least 200 yards and two touchdowns with his eyes shut. His receiving corps is talented, his run game should warrant attention from the defense while also providing an outlet for some cheap stats and his offensive line is just good enough. Throw in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who did a great job last year given the personnel challenges he had, and there's a lot of hope for a 4,000-yard, 25-touchdown season from Stafford. He's a high-risk, high-reward pick that Fantasy owners should be on the lookout for starting in Round 8.

Impact rookie ... Mikel Leshoure, RB

Everyone will flock to rookie rushers like Mark Ingram and Daniel Thomas in drafts, but if Leshoure catches some breaks in Motown he could be just as productive. For now, he's the backup behind Jahvid Best, but we saw Best last about two and a half games last season before succumbing to a turf toe injury. And that happened a year after a concussion KO'd his college career. Best is injury prone and might best serve the Lions as a passing downs back. Leshoure, meanwhile, is the prototype for a rushing downs back and could probably land that role (and the goal-line touchdowns that come with it). He's a superb choice to draft beginning in Round 8 -- expect his name to fly off the board as soon as fellow rookie Ryan Williams gets selected.

Keeper-league target ... Titus Young, WR

A few years back the Lions drafted speedy receiver Derrick Williams with the hope that he'd cause mayhem from the slot. But Williams never matched expectations. Young now inherits that opportunity, and the former Boise State star has the pedigree to not only earn that role but play in it often from the get-go. He's not a big guy but he does have solid hands and a lot of experience -- 150 receptions over his last two years in school for more than 2,200 yards. Imagine the dilemma defensive coordinators will have when they already have to account for Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew, then deal with this burner when he comes on the field. The only issue here is that it might take Young a few years to really become productive in his role. Furthermore, his ability to eventually take the No. 2 spot opposite Megatron is not a lock considering he'll see tougher coverage in that role and might not be as productive. Time will tell on Young, but as a keeper-league target, owners should be cool with that. He's not bad as a late-round pick in deeper seasonal drafts, either.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@TB KC @MIN @DAL CHI SF ATL @DEN bye @CHI CAR GB @NO MIN @OAK SD @GB

The schedule tempers the upside the Lions offer Fantasy fans -- it starts off alright but there's a four-game stretch where they take on four of the league's better pass rushers, and we all know what happens when Matthew Stafford takes on an aggressive defensive front. There are also a number of stout run defenses that await the Lions after their soft start against the Bucs and Chiefs. Most Fantasy owners catch a break in that the Lions play at Green Bay in Week 17, which helps those of us who don't play into the final week of the season. But they host the Packers in Week 12, kicking off a tricky end to the year. It's not the worst schedule in the world, and playing 11 games indoors will go a long way.

Training camp topics

2010 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Jahvid Best 229
Maurice Morris 115
Calvin Johnson 81
Brandon Pettigrew 71
Nate Burleson 62

We talked earlier about Mikel Leshoure being an impact rookie and how it might simply be a waiting game until Jahvid Best misses playing time before he explodes. Well, Best needs to show in training camp that he's worthy of starting and holding Leshoure to under a dozen touches per game. Likewise, Leshoure needs to take advantage of his time to prove that he can be the bell cow the Lions drafted him to be. The competition at running back should be more fun to watch than what we had from Detroit at the position last summer.

Normally when a quarterback comes off of shoulder surgery, people will gawk at and dissect the velocity and accuracy of his passes. But Stafford's thrown a good amount this offseason and all accounts say he hasn't lost any zip on his ball. Accuracy has been an issue for Stafford (54.5 pct. over 13 games), and that's something that needs improvement.

Otherwise, it's all about the Lions meeting their potential on both sides of the ball. If they can reach it, the results should be exciting.

Injury update

Matthew Stafford (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Nate Burleson (elbow; probable for the start of training camp) ... Jason Hanson (knee; probable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
49ers' Ray McDonald returns to field Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:19 pm ET) 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald has returned to the field, CSNBayArea.com reports. McDonald exited the game with a finger injury in the first quarter and was deemed questionable to return.

Cowboys backup runners combine for five touches
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:00 pm ET) Cowboys backup running backs Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar were barely used in Thursday's loss to the Eagles. Randle ran twice for 6 yards and caught one pass for minus-1 yard. Dunbar rushed twice for 15 yards, including a 14-yard gain.

They'll visit the Bears next Thursday.


49ers' Ray McDonald (finger) questionable to return
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:50 pm ET) 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald is questionable to return to Thursday's game against the Seahawks with a finger injury, the team announced. McDonald suffered the injury early in the first quarter of the game.

Dan Bailey has quiet Thanksgiving performance
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey hit a 28-yard field goal and one PAT in Thursday's loss to the Eagles. He'll visit the Bears in Week 14.

49ers WR Michael Crabtree returns after rib injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:45 pm ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree was announced as questionable to return to Thursday's game against the Seahawks with a rib injury, but came back into the game on his team's next drive.

Crabtree appeared to suffer a leg or ankle injury on the team's first drive but instead was ruled to have a rib injury. He had just one catch for five yards at the time of the injury but should be good to go.


Cowboys TE Jason Witten hits rock bottom
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:45 pm ET) Cowboys tight end Jason Witten had his least productive game Thursday, catching one of two targets for 8 yards in the loss to Philly. Witten had scored in his previous two games and had caught at least four passes in his previous four outings.

He'll try to bounce back Week 14 at Chicago.


Terrance Williams a non-factor again
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:42 pm ET) Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams caught two of four targets for 38 yards in the Week 13 loss to the Eagles. It was his fourth straight game with two or fewer catches, and his fifth straight without a touchdown.

Tony Romo's late, underthrown pass to Williams got intercepted when Williams didn't bother to try to break it up. Williams visits the Bears next Thursday.


Cole Beasley has up-and-down day vs. Eagles
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:38 pm ET) Cowboys No. 3 receiver Cole Beasley made a few key catches in Thursday's loss to the Eagles, but he lost a fumble following one reception. Beasley finished with four grabs on seven targets for 41 yards.

He'll visit the Bears next Thursday.


Dez Bryant's scoring binge ends on Thanksgiving
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:35 pm ET) Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant, who had caught six touchdown passes in his previous four games, was held in check by the Eagles on Thursday. Bryant caught four of seven targets for 73 scoreless yards.

The first two passes thrown Bryant's way were broken up, then he snagged a 38-yarder down the sideline. However, that would prove to be Bryant's only impact play.

He'll try to revert to form next Thursday in Chicago.


RB DeMarco Murray held to season-low 73 rushing yards
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:29 pm ET) NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray averaged under 4.0 yards per carry for the first time this season in the Cowboys' Thanksgiving loss to the Eagles. Murray carried 20 times for a season-low 73 yards (3.7 ypc) but did punch in a 1-yard touchdown, his first score since Week 7.

Murray tied his season high with six catches for 40 yards. It was the fourth time this year he's hauled in six passes.

Murray, who's been held under 100 yards rushing only twice, visits the Bears next Thursday.


 
 
 
Rankings