2013 Team Outlook: Detroit Lions

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2013 Team Outlook: Detroit Lions

A fantasy football preview of the Detroit Lions this season. Profiled players include Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Joique Bell, Reggie Bush, and Theo Riddick.

A career year in 2011 faded quickly into memory for Matthew Stafford. His touchdown totals dropped from 41 to 20 in 2012. Injuries to WR Nate Burleson and the unreliable WR Titus Young left few options for the Lions' passing attack. WR Calvin Johnson will keep Stafford's numbers from completely falling off the cliff though. Burleson is now back and the addition of RB Reggie Bush should bolster the short passing game. One great thing about Stafford is that volume is not a problem as he led the league in pass attempts in each of the last two seasons. Look for him to rebound this year, but falling short of his production two seasons ago.

Shaun Hill is currently recovering from surgery on his left foot. It is presumed he will be healthy enough to return for training camp. Matthew Stafford hasn't missed a game in two years after a shaky start to his NFL career. Hill is a solid backup and nothing more. He is no threat to overtake Stafford either.

Considering the injury history of RBs Reggie Bush and Mikel Leshoure, it may be wise to stash Joique Bell in some deeper formats. Bell is currently third on the depth chart and ran well in limited opportunities last season. He rushed 82 times for 414 yards (5.0 ypc) and three scores. His ability to both run and catch the ball (52 receptions for 485 yards) will fit right in to what Detroit wants to do if Bush or Leshoure goes down.

Update 8/23: Joique Bell appears to be the favorite for the backup running back duties to Reggie Bush. If Bush were to experience an injury, you want to own Joique Bell.

In PPR formats, Reggie Bush is a great RB2. One big unknown is how often the Lions will lean on Bush to carry the ball. If he sees about a dozen carries per game and a few receptions, that would be ideal. Anything more than that and he could wear down. Bush stayed healthy with Miami and that trend must continue. The former USC back can be counted on for yardage, touchdown opportunities will likely be sparse because of RBs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell.

Update 8/23: Bush hauled in 5 catches for over 100 yards last night against the Patriots defense and appears a lock for 80 catches. In PPR formats, he should be strongly considered for an early second round selection.

Rookie Theo Riddick is worth a look in dynasty, even though he does not have a clear path towards playing time. He plays faster than his time speeds and does well to bang for extra yardage. Besides RB Mikel Leshoure, the Lions do not have a back who can churn inside and earn those tough yards. Riddick should be able to secure a roster spot based on that alone.

Mikel Leshoure's fantasy production was anchored by nine touchdowns, eight of which came around the goal-line. It is safe to assume he will continue to see short-yardage work now that Detroit brought in RB Reggie Bush. Leshoure rushed for 798 yards on 215 carries. That works out to a 3.7 yards per carry average, which is less than ideal. Keep an eye on him on draft day. Leshoure's draft stock has fallen nearly a full round (8.01 to 8.11) in the last month and he would be a good value pick if he slips into the ninth round.