Over the next couple weeks, before another kickoff (and touchback) to a fun football season, fantasy football nerds will parse through a plethora of mocks and mags, lining up their queues for what is by far the best part of fantasy football season besides the annual one-point victory due to a late meaningless interception on Monday Night Football -- the fantasy football draft.
Or that's how I feel. And if you're like me, you're a Detroit Lions fan who wouldn't mind drafting a Detroit Lion if it makes sense for your squad. The problem with playing with a group of Lions fans is that some fantasy GMs are going to reach for one of their favorite team's players. We can't predict for that. We also can't take into account everybody's league settings.
But what we can do is give you a rough idea of where Lions players are falling in 10- and 12-team PPR and standard league mock drafts and thus, where you might be able to nab a Lion in a bias-free world. Sean has already given you an idea of who could break out for the team and who might be worth drafting, but let's look at the average draft position of these players based on Fantasy Football Calculator, which collects data from over a thousand mock drafts. After, I'll give my take on what you might be able to expect from said player and a reasonable spot to take him.
CALVIN JOHNSON, WR
10-team PPR: 1st round, 6th overall (No. 1 WR)
12-team PPR: 1st round, 6th overall
10-team standard: 1st round, 10th overall
12-team standard: 1st round, 10th overall
2012 stats: 122 catches on 204 targets (60%), 1,964 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 fumbles. 9th in PPR scoring and 29th in non-PPR.
My guess: He'll find the end zone more than five times after being tackled inside the 5-yard line so many times last year, but a conservative guess on yards is probably in the 1,550 range. With another 100-plus catches, he's a sure first-rounder in PPR leagues. However, in standard leagues, he probably should be a late second or early third-round pick, at least -- not as early as he seems to be going.
REGGIE BUSH, RB
10-team PPR: 2nd round, 18th overall (No. 13 RB)
12-team PPR: 2nd round, 16th overall
10-team standard: 2nd round, 20th overall (No. 16 RB)
12-team standard: 2nd round, 19th overall
2012 stats: 986 yards rushing on 227 carries, 35 catches on 52 targets (67%), 292 yards, 8 total touchdowns and 2 fumbles. 61st in PPR and 60th in standard.
My guess: I would not be shocked if Bush does not see 200 carries, but he'll make up for the lost touches with targets out of the backfield. While I don't think he'll catch 100 balls like some pundits have boldly predicted, I do think he'll get back into the 70-80 range where he was in his New Orleans Saints days. In PPR leagues, that makes Bush a very interesting late first or early second-round pick. In standard leagues, I wouldn't mind getting him late in the second round or early third.
MATTHEW STAFFORD, QB
10-team PPR: 7th round, 67th overall (No. 7 QB)
12-team PPR: 6th round, 67th overall
10-team standard: 7th round, 66th overall
12-team standard: 6th round, 67th overall
2012 stats: 435 completions on an NFL-record 727 pass attempts (60%), 4,967 yards, 24 total TDs (4 rushing), 21 turnovers (4 fumbles), 126 yards rushing, 1 two-point conversion and a reception! 14th in PPR and 11th (QB) in standard scoring leagues.
My guess: Stafford hasn't looked sharp in preseason (without his receiving corps), but he's going to rack up fantasy points just by throwing over 650 times and likely finding the end zone more often in 2013. If you really want him and think your fellow Lions fan friend will grab him before you do, he's not someone I'd beat myself up over if I reached, but I probably wouldn't do it before the fifth round unless all the other quarterbacks are getting gobbled up. In a perfect fantasy world, you could get him in the seventh or eighth round.
RYAN BROYLES, WR
10-team PPR: 16th round, 153rd overall (No. 52 WR)
12-team PPR: 13th round, 148th overall (No. 50 WR)
10-team standard: 14th round, 137th overall (No. 49 WR)
12-team standard: 11th round, 128th overall
2012 stats: 22 catches on 33 targets (67%), 310 yards and 2 touchdowns in 10 games (3 games started).
My guess: It seems a lot of people are pegging Broyles to be a sleeper. If he were 100 percent healthy after his second ACL injury, I could see it, but Broyles admitted a week ago that although he is 100 percent mentally, his body thinks differently from day to day. Not a ringing endorsement for me. I might take a flier on him in a deeper 14-team league, but I'd much rather not touch the Lions' receiving corps after Calvin if I don't have to, unless I want to handcuff Megatron. (I don't want to think of needing to handcuff Megatron.)
BRANDON PETTIGREW, TE
10-team PPR: 16th round, 159th overall (18th TE)
12-team PPR: 14th round, 163rd overall
10-team standard: undrafted
12-team standard: 15th round, 171st overall
2012 stats: 59 catches on 100 targets, 567 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 fumbles in 14 games played. 19th among TEs in PPR leagues.
My guess: Pettigrew came into training camp in the best shape of his life, so he must be a good late-round sleeper, right? In all seriousness, yes, even if the drops continue to be a problem and Tony Scheffler steals some red zone opportunities. Pettigrew's still going to see over 100 targets with teams trying to stop Megatron and Bush. I think Pettigrew gets back into the 70-80 catch range for 700-800 yards and catches at least 5 touchdowns, making him not-the-worst pick late in PPR drafts.
JOIQUE BELL, RB
10-team PPR: 17th round, 161st overall (No. 60 RB)
12-team PPR: 13th round, 152nd overall (No. 58 RB)
10-team standard: 17th round, 168th overall (No. 60 RB)
12-team standard: undrafted
2012 stats: 82 carries for 414 yards and 3 touchdowns; 52 catches on 68 targets (76%) for 485 yards; 2 fumbles.
My guess: Bell has continued to look fantastic, averaging 6.5 yards per carry in the preseason and excelling in the passing game. In PPR leagues, Bell should be drafted both in 10-team and 12-team leagues with 16 rounds, as I predict he'll get more than three touchdowns and could still catch upwards of 50 passes this season, even with the presence of Bush. Bush has not run well thus far (1.24 YPC), so Bell could ultimately see a split of the carries, and the Lions will have to mix and match the runs with the pass. If the Lions offense is going to be as explosive as some predict, there might be enough to go around to make Bell worth owning in some leagues.
As for kickers and defense, I'm a big proponent of playing the matchup week to week, so I usually don't touch mine until the final two rounds. I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to go out and take a top 3-5 kicker before that, though. David Akers should probably be one of those legs.
Later, I might drop my personal Top 200, which will be only the 57th Top 200 available on the Internet. Until then, let's talk fantasy football in the comments -- what are your thoughts on the Lions as draft options?