It's only fair that I qualify this article by stating that yours truly is a life long Lions fan that has bled Honolulu Blue since birth. Needless to say, the 2011 NFL season brought back memories of Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, and Brett Perriman. After many seasons of dealing with Fantasy stars that were few and far between, the Lions have turned the corner and I see more exciting times, along with Fantasy studs, continuing to emerge in Motown.
Detroit Lions Quarterback Fantasy Options
After setting a single season Lions passing record in 2011, Matthew Stafford showed why he was the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite questions surrounding his health, Stafford was lights out all season as he passed for 5038 yards, 41 touchdowns, and just 16 interceptions – good for 357.3 fantasy points. The former Georgia Bulldog was instrumental in leading many teams to their Fantasy Championship as he posted 32.1 FPT in Week 15 and 27.4 FPT in Week 16. While he set the bar very high after his breakout season, Stafford is a field general fantasy owners can rally their trops around.
Lions QB Analysis: Expect Matthew Stafford (and the full steam ahead Lions offense) to continue the aerial attack during the 2012 NFL season. While I am still working on my Top Ten list of Fantasy quarterbacks for the coming season, it's safe to say that Stafford will certainly be on it.
Detroit Lions Running Back Fantasy Options
Since the glory days of Barry Sanders, there has been a lack of a reliable running game in the Motor City. It's been over a decade since the Lions have had a Top Ten fantasy running back. Kevin Smith has been the closest as the18th best running back in 2008 with 174.1 points. Jahvid Best was on his way to a breakout season after he averaged 14.3 points over his first six games in 2011. Concussion issues that have plagued him since his college days at California, derailed the speedster's season and we would tread lightly with him moving forward.
After signing a four year contract on 7/26/2011, RB Mikel Leshoure is now dealing with a marijuana issue and will be facing a league issued suspension that could be has high as half of the 2012 season – provided he can stay out of jail. Kevin Smith enjoyed a rejuvenation of his career late during the 2011 season and he signed a one-year deal with the Motown Cats back on March 27, 2012.
Lions RB Analysis: With the Lions' air attack expected to be even more lethal in 2012, there's not much to see in the Lions running game. If Kevin Smith is 100% healthy, he may be worth a late round flyer as he is a skilled runner who can catch balls out of the backfield. As for Best, as much as we are wishing him good health, he has to be considered as damaged goods at this point in his young career.
Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
Having the greatest receiver in the game playing on your favorite team is an amazingly enjoyable experience. Having that same stud on your Fantasy team is even better. Drafted in the first round in many drafts last season, Calvin Johnson rewarded his owners as the top WR in the league with 265.2 fantasy points - including a monster 33.4 effort in Week 15. Simply put, Megatron is the most difficult receiver to defend in the National Football League today. His speed and range are incredible, his vertical leap is amazing, plus he has Stafford with his cannon of an arm throwing him the ball in a pass first offense.
Nate Burleson and emerging WR Titus Young will also catch their fair share of balls during the coming season. We like Young as a middle of the road WR3, slightly more than Burleson as a high end WR4 in this potent aerial offense.
Lions WR Analysis: If you want the top receiver in the NFL, it will cost you. Johnson will most certainly go off the board before the end of the first round during most fantasy drafts. He'll be worth the selection and then some. Don't hesitate to select Young or Burleson later in your draft as quality bye week or injury replacement wide receivers.
Detroit Lions Tight End Fantasy Options
It keeps getting better in Detroit as they now have one of the best one-two punches in the league at the tight end position. Between Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, who are both under contract through the 2013 NFL season, the Lions received 175.9 fantasy points from the TE position. While that's all fine and good from a team perspective, it's not what you need from a fantasy standpoint.
Lions TE Analysis: Expect a TE by committee situation in Detroit during the 2012 NFL season with a slight advantage going to the younger Pettigrew. There are certainly better options as your top tight end, but either of these players will be a serviceable backup during your starters bye week.
Bottom Line: If there was ever a case to be made for selecting a QB/WR combo, who play on the same team, it's the Stafford/Johnson dynamic dual. Load up and prosper!