2014 Team Outlook: Detroit Lions
WR Calvin Johnson, DET - Stud (low risk)
Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the game. In 2013, Megatron caught 84 passes for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. All that production came in just 14 games. He is 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, yet he can run faster than most receivers and cornerbacks. The question is whether any of the other tremendous receivers in the league can compare. Given his dominant production over the years, Johnson only makes sense as the first WR to come off the board. He should be drafted in the second half of the first round in all redraft leagues and formats.
Editor's note: At 28 years old, he will still be at the top of his game with an elite year or two left in the chamber. Considering he collected 14 receptions for 329 yards and a touchdown last year in Week 8 against Dallas, there's really no argument that he's slowing down. Johnson played through knee and finger injuries last year. He's back at 100-percent and could improve upon his already excellent 2013 statistics.
WR Golden Tate, DET - Sleeper (undervalued)
The Lions have been searching for a viable compliment to Calvin Johnson for years and they finally found him. Golden Tate is not flashy, but is as sure-handed and reliable as they come. Tate is coming off a career year in which he caught 64 passes for 898 yards and five TDs. It's not much, but those numbers aren't easy to produce given Seattle's style of play. The Lions have a lot of playmakers, so dependable fantasy numbers week-to-week is likely asking a lot. Stafford need a good number two receiver and Tate is hopefully the perfect fit. Although he has Megatron opposite him taking a lot more targets than anyone in Seattle did, Tate should come close to equaling or outpacing his '2013 numbers. Grab Tate and stash him on your bench (or plug him in as a WR3/flex).
WR Jeremy Ross, DET - Not Draft Worthy
All the buzz coming out of Detroit this spring is about Jeremy Ross. Ross has secured a roster spot in Detroit and has been extremely impressive in camp. Ross was expected to be a special teamer, yet he may climb the depth chart as high as WR3 for the Lions. His competition is limited, between the injury-bereft Ryan Broyles and a big target like Kris Durham. If Ross does in fact win the spot as third receiver, he could be a deep sleeper. From what they are saying in Detroit, Ross is a player to monitor.
WR Ryan Broyles, DET - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Ryan Broyles performed very well this spring and could be the Lions' third receiver come September. His biggest issue is he hasn't been able to stay on the field and his slow and ongoing recovery from two torn ACLs and a torn Achilles. Broyles has dealt with injuries each of the last two seasons and only managed to play 16 games during that time. The Lions had high hopes for Broyles after drafting him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. This could be the year he gets a chance to really contribute. Broyles isn't likely worth a draft pick; however, he is someone to keep an eye on if he wins his WR3 position battle.
WR Kris Durham, OAK - Low Potential
Durham saw 86 targets in 2013, but expect that number to come way down this season. With Ryan Broyles and Jeremy Ross having very strong camps, Durham will likely be the Lions' fifth receiver. On a team that also features two pass-catching running backs and as many as three tight ends who will earn playing time, Durham will likely be a non-factor. Only an injury to Johnson or Tate would offer him enough snaps to make a difference. Durham should not be drafted in any leagues and will likely fade into fantasy obscurity. He will have to beat out Kevin Ogletree to keep his roster spot.
TE Eric Ebron, DET - Quality Backup
It was a bit of a surprise when the Lions drafted UNC rookie Eric Ebron after signing Brandon Pettigrew to a four-year, $16 million contract. Still, Ebron is the best tight end prospect since Vernon Davis. He cold be the next great tight end and was just too talented for the Lions to pass up on. Although Ebron struggled with his hands this spring, don't expect that to hinder his production come September. In his final collegiate season, Ebron caught 62 passes for 973 yards. He has moved to a tight end-friendly, pass-heavy system in Detroit. Ebron has a big body, with bigger play ability. The only concern about Ebron's fantasy value is that the Lions have two other tight ends -- Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria -- who have proven to be formidable in their own right. Ebron has recently stated that his goal in his rookie season is to go to the Pro Bowl and be Offensive Rookie of the Year. Don't be shocked if he backs it up and accomplishes his lofty goals. Ebron is a must-draft in dynasty leagues and should be drafted in all leagues as a TE2 with some serious upside.