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
2015 Draft Prep Guide
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
 
 
 

Offseason Primers: Detroit Lions

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

When you pair a phenom like Calvin Johnson with a big-armed passer like Matthew Stafford, of course you're going to have a powerful offense. But that didn't quite happen for the Lions in 2012.

Yes, Johnson set an NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season. Fantasy owners loved that part of his game, but they hated the five touchdowns he scored all season. Five. He had 16 in 2011 when the Lions averaged nearly 30 points per game. But that number dwindled down to 23.2 points per game -- and that's with a semblance of a running game.

2012 Touches Leaders
836 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Mikel Leshoure 249 (215 car., 34 rec.) 29.8%
Joique Bell 134 (82 car., 52 rec.) 16.0%
Calvin Johnson 122 rec. 14.6%
Brandon Pettigrew 59 rec. 7.1%
Tony Scheffler 42 rec. 5.0%
Nate Burleson 35 (27 rec., 8 car.) 4.2%
Titus Young 35 (33 rec., 2 car.) 4.2%
Ryan Broyles 22 rec. 2.6%
All Others 138 16.5%

Johnson isn't entirely to blame for the scoring drought in Motown. An early-season injury left Nate Burleson sidelined for the season and put into motion a brutal domino effect among other Lions receiving threats. Titus Young went bonkers, lining up in the wrong places and running the wrong routes on purpose. The coaches couldn't trust him, opening the door for rookie Ryan Broyles. Broyles tore his ACL, opening the door for Tony Scheffler to contribute more, but he couldn't ever really grasp the gig. That prompted the team to utilize Kris Durham, who played with Stafford at Georgia. He wasn't great. Brandon Pettigrew played 14 games but posted some of his worst career numbers. Suffice to say, a lack of help in the passing attack didn't help Stafford and Johnson avoid tough coverage downfield or particularly in the red zone, thus hurting the Lions on the scoreboard.

In 2011, the Lions ranked 29th on the ground, averaging 95.2 rush yards per game. There was minimal improvement in 2012, as they put up 100.8 yards per game and ranked 23rd overall. Mikel Leshoure led the way, starting 14 games, but didn't run with much explosiveness very often as his 3.7 rushing average would indicate. The back working alongside Leshoure changed throughout the year and not one really stuck, so it only made sense that the Lions added Reggie Bush this offseason to boost their production from the position. Bush was versatile, productive and on the field a bunch for the Dolphins over two years, things the Lions had to like about him when they signed him. His addition means a noticeable subtraction in playing time for Leshoure and the other running backs still on the roster for the Lions.

Expectations aren't as good for the Lions' defense. The unit is thin on pass rushers and if they can't get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks then it's going to be bombs away on the secondary, which is also thin. Making matters worse is the offense, which figures to remain its usual explosive self (despite the point decline). Their ability to put points on the board will force rivals to do the same from week to week.

It should result in a lot of high-scoring games for the Lions, especially with 10 games indoors and a pretty good schedule for the passing offense.

Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles -- Bounce-back candidates

2012 Target Leaders
740 pass attempts
Calvin Johnson 205 27.7%
Brandon Pettigrew 100 13.6%
Tony Scheffler 84 11.4%
Joique Bell 68 9.2%
Titus Young 56 7.6%
Mikel Leshoure 48 6.3%
Nate Burleson 43 5.8%
Ryan Broyles 33 4.5%
All Others 103 13.9%

In shallow leagues (10 owners or fewer), neither of these guys will get picked unless owners have a roster space specifically for injured players. In that case, Broyles would be worth nabbing and stashing. In deeper leagues, perhaps specifically PPR leagues, it might not be a bad idea to go after Burleson with a late-round flier. The appeal to both of these guys is fulfilling what was missing in the Lions offense a year prior: A good set of hands opposite Calvin Johnson. Burleson served as the No. 2 receiver averaging 4.5 receptions per game before breaking his leg. Broyles got his opportunity soon thereafter only to suffer his second torn ACL in as many years. His return might take a while, opening the door for Burleson to not only open the year as the No. 2 receiver again but keep that role for the rest of the season. Neither player has crazy upside but both have appeal as Fantasy reserves to begin the year.

Brandon Pettigrew -- Bust

There isn't a lot to be jazzed about with Pettigrew, but because there aren't many tight ends to be jazzed about in the first place, he's going to get drafted. Last year was a nightmare for him as drops highlighted four-year lows in catches, yardage and touchdowns. The only thing nice about his 2012 was that he finished among the Top 10 in tight ends in targets with 101. Wait ... that's actually not very nice in comparison to his 2011 when he finished second among tight ends in targets and was tied for third-most in 2010. In a year when the Lions were weak at receiving options outside of Megatron, Pettigrew should have had more. For years he's had this potential to be outstanding and he just hasn't broken through to the levels we all had hoped. If you draft Pettigrew to be your backup or a platoon starter with one of your last three picks, it's not bad. Anything higher than that and you're playing with fire.

Matthew Stafford -- Draft Day Value

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Matthew Stafford 35-45 overall
Reggie Bush 40-50 overall
Mikel Leshoure 80-90 overall
Joique Bell Undrafted
Calvin Johnson 8-15 overall
Nate Burleson Late-round pick
Ryan Broyles Late-round pick
Brandon Pettigrew Late-round pick
Jason Hanson Late-round pick
Lions DST Undrafted

A year ago Fantasy owners were nabbing Stafford on average with the 12th pick in drafts with grand expectations. While he didn't meet said expectations -- he scored 17 fewer total touchdowns and had one more interception than in 2011 -- he still was in a position to post huge numbers. Injuries and a focus by the opposition to shut down Calvin Johnson made things hard on Stafford, particularly in the end zone. Yardage-wise he was fine, ending up 71 yards shy of where he finished up a year prior, though throwing an NFL-record 727 pass attempts helped that cause. Point is, Stafford's receiving corps will get shored up this offseason, his offensive line could get even better, Megatron isn't going anywhere and the offensive scheme won't suddenly become run-heavy even though Reggie Bush joined the roster (Bush can catch, you know). Stafford should be in excellent shape to get close to 5,000 yards again with at least 32 total touchdowns. And best of all, you can land him no sooner than the third or fourth round of your draft, making him a bargain compared to where he went last year.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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
Bengals sign defensive tackle Pat Sims
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:58 pm ET) The Bengals signed veteran defensive tackle Pat Sims, the team announced on Thursday. 

Sims returns to the Bengals after spending the past two years in Oakland. Sims was a third-round pick in the 2008 draft by Cincinnati and spent his first years with the Bengals. 

Sims recorded 25 tackles and one pass deflections in 2014. He started two of the 16 games he appeared in. He started all 16 games for the Raiders in 2013, posting 54 tackles and two sacks. 


Mike Zimmer: LT Matt Kalil 'very healthy again'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:28 pm ET) Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil, bothered by knee problems last year, "feels very healthy again so that's a good sign," coach Mike Zimmer said at the NFL owners meetings, per ESPN.com.

"His knees were hurting a lot, bothering him, but he'll be important to our success, as well -- making sure that he plays good, which will allow us to play better."

Kalil, who had left knee surgery before last season, has started all 48 games since being drafted in 2012. Minnesota must decide in May whether to pick up Kalil's fifth-year option.

"He might play great 70 plays, and eight plays he's not very good at all," Zimmer said. "We have to make him more consistent. We have to get him to finish better. I'm encouraged with some of the things he talked to me about the other day."


Chip Kelly says Sam Bradford worth the injury risk
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:11 pm ET) Quarterback Sam Bradford has played seven games over the past two seasons while getting his left ACL repaired twice. Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who traded for Bradford, said he is not overly concerned about the injury risk.

"Look at our starting receiver last year [Jeremy Maclin], who had 85 catches," Kelly said at the NFL owners meetings, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Look at the year he had coming off of two ACLs.

"Look at our center. Jason Kelce had an ACL right before I got there and had a sports hernia in the middle of last season, and still made the Pro Bowl. Our left tackle [Jason Peters], who is arguably a Hall of Famer, has had two Achilles' [injuries] and is playing at an outstanding level.

"I would say it's easier for a quarterback with a knee injury [to come back] than a shoulder injury, as we went through the history of it. We didn't bring Sam in to run the ball 75 times a game. I think it's a lot easier for a quarterback with an ACL than it is for a receiver with an ACL. The history in terms of sports science right now and what doctors are doing is unbelievable."


Steelers re-sign WR Darrius Heyward-Bey to one-year deal
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) The Steelers announced they re-signed receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to a one-year contract. Heyward-Bey, 28, enters his second season with Pittsburgh after catching three passes for 33 yards last year.

Heyward-Bey's best season came in 2011 with the Raiders, when he caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns.


Dolphins DE Derrick Shelby signs RFA tender
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:45 am ET) Dolphins defensive end Derrick Shelby has signed his restricted free agent tender, the organization announced on Thursday. 

Shelby's tender is of the second-round variety. He's set to earn $2.35 million next season. Shelby has registered 5 1/2 sacks and one interception in his NFL career.


Bucs LB Danny Lansanah signs one-year tender
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:27 am ET) Buccaneers linebacker Danny Lansanah, an exclusive rights free agent, signed his one-year tender, reports ESPN.com. Lansanah played every game last season, recording 81 tackles, three interceptions and 1.5 sacks.

Stephen Tulloch to be starting MLB when he returns
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:16 am ET) The Lions' Stephen Tulloch will start at middle linebacker again once he returns from the torn ACL he suffered Week 3 last year, reports MLive.com. "He's highly experienced and highly productive," coach Jim Caldwell told the website. "And he's a great leader."

Tulloch, 30, is progressing well in his rehab, the report said, but it's unclear when he'll return. Tulloch had 135 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2013, his last full season.

Tahir Whitehead likely will fill in until Tulloch returns. Whitehead had 86 tackles and two interceptions last year.


Cardinals' Bruce Arians: Paul Fanaika will be 'good fit' for Chiefs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:06 am ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians believes offensive guard Paul Fanaika will do well for the Chiefs, the team he signed with early in free agency, according to the Kansas City Star

Fanaika signed a three-year, $8.1 million deal. Arians said the Cardinals and Fanaika both needed a fresh start but that the offensive guard should do well with his new team. 

“He’s had some down games in some big games (for us),” Arians said, “but sometimes we’ll overlook (that) and say, ‘Wow, he’s going to make that much money? God bless you. Go ahead.’ But I think he’ll be a good fit in that offense.”


Rivera on Newton's fundamentals: 'Not as sound as he needs to be'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:42 am ET) For Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to take the next step in his development, he must continue to improve his fundamentals, coach Ron Rivera told reporters.

"I'd like to see him continue to work on his position-specific skills ... his technique, his throwing motion," Rivera said at the NFL owners meeting, per ESPN.com. "He relies so much on his great athleticism that sometimes he's not as sound as he needs to be on his fundamentals.

"That's the next step in being sound in everything he does."

Entering his fifth season, Newton has a career completion percentage of 59.5.


Redskins' Jay Gruden: RG3 'still in the developmental stages'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) Redskins coach Jay Gruden is entering the offseason with hopes that Robert Griffin III will develop into the quarterback he needs for his system. 

A year ago, Griffin struggled offensively when healthy, which helped contribute to a 4-12 overall record. 

“Robert has a good understanding of our system and what we want and I think I have a good understanding of what he is as a quarterback,” Gruden said, via ESPN.com. “He’s a quarterback still in the developmental stages. I have a good understanding of what he needs and he has a good understanding of what we’re looking for, and hopefully, moving forward, he’ll be a more confident and decisive quarterback, and I’ll have a better understanding of what he’s comfortable with and give him opportunities to succeed.”


 
 
 
Rankings