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Fantasy Football 2011: Detroit Lions Ready To Break Out

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When it comes to fantasy football, the Detroit Lions aren't known as a team filled with players ranked highly on draft boards. Aside from Calvin Johnson, the Lions haven't had a ton of great players for fantasy football in recent years. That is beginning to change in a big way, though.

Going into 2011, the Lions have players at each position that are poised to have big fantasy football seasons. At quarterback, for example, Matthew Stafford should vault himself into the top tier of players at his position if he can stay healthy. In less than three full games last year he completed 59.4 percent of his passes and racked up 535 yards and six touchdowns, so he is expected to put up big numbers if he can play all 16 games.

How the Lions' other potential fantasy football stars on offense perform depends largely on Stafford's health. If he can stay healthy, Calvin Johnson could put up career numbers at wide receiver. After all, he had three different QBs throwing him the ball last season and caught 77 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 15 games. Based on how often they seem to be connecting in practice, a healthy season for Stafford should mean a huge season for Johnson statistically speaking.

Other offensive players that could have big years with a healthy Stafford are tight end Brandon Pettigrew and running back Jahvid Best. Pettigrew was outstanding last year, catching 71 passes for 722 yards and four touchdowns. Like Johnson, he could put up even bigger numbers if he only has to worry about one quarterback throwing him passes all season long. If that happens the passing game should be much smoother, which will not only help Best's receiving numbers, but also hopefully allow him more room to run. In 2010, he had 1,042 total yards and six total touchdowns, and that was on a couple of bad toes. Like the theme of this whole piece, if he can stay healthy he should be a very explosive player that is great for fantasy football.

In addition to all of the players mentioned so far, the Lions also have guys like Mikel Leshoure, Nate Burleson and Titus Young that deserve a look on offense for fantasy football. On defense, the Lions not only deserve a look, but they may be a very popular pick. With so many playmakers on defense hopes are high for this unit in 2011, and when you add in Stefan Logan's return abilities for special teams, I could see the Lions being selected much higher than they have been in the past.

Obviously there are risks involved in picking players whose health is a concern and their potentially high rankings are based on promise rather than definitive results, but fantasy football players should find the Lions to have a very intriguing group of players. Homer or not, when draft day rolls around it will be pretty tough to not consider targeting a few Lions players.