Each week this season, I will provide fantasy football advice about which Detroit Lions to start or sit. Even if you don't have any Lions on your fantasy team(s) or really just don't care to have another opinion messing with your ultimate decisions, this could very well serve as a preview of sorts for what to expect come game day.
QB Matthew Stafford
LAST WEEK: Once again, Stafford looked like he was going to lay an egg for fantasy owners until he put up 156 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. In the game, he finished with 263 yards passing, a touchdown, an interception and 21 yards rushing.
THIS WEEK: Things don't get any easier for the now 2-4 Lions this week against a staunch Seahawks defense. Quarterbacks score nearly seven points below the NFL average against the Seahawks, which are sixth in the NFL against the pass. Although the Seahawks are 1-3 on the road, they are only allowing 179 yards through the air in those games and have given up just two passing touchdowns.
That said, the Lions' offense, which is second in passing, is going to figure out how to punch it in sooner or later. They're sixth in the NFL in red zone opportunities and are in a must-win game at home here. If you've been playing Stafford up to this point, you might as well stick with him. Stafford's worst performance this season was 14 points against San Francisco -- not a fantasy killer, but not single-handedly winning you any games, either. I think he does you much better this week.
VERDICT: I'm sticking with him.
RB Mikel Leshoure
LAST WEEK: Leshoure continued to run the ball well, picking up 63 yards on just 12 carries (5.3 ypc). Leshoure also saw seven targets out of the backfield, catching six of them for another 20 yards. He also lost a fumble.
THIS WEEK: If Leshoure was able to pick up over five yards per carry against the NFL's best run defense, you'd think he'd be an automatic play every week. The Lions simply don't run enough to make Leshoure that kind of back, though. To boot, the Seahawks are no slouch against the run themselves (eighth in the NFL) and have allowed just two rushing touchdowns this year, the last coming in Week 3 against Green Bay.
On the plus side, the Seahawks did give up over 150 yards on the ground last week in San Francisco and I could see the Lions giving Leshoure more of a workload given how well he ran Monday night. In addition to a possible increase in carries, Leshoure will continue to be a safety valve for Stafford out of the backfield.
So, what to do ... what to do ...
VERDICT: Yes in PPR or if you're like me and don't have a choice because other RBs are on a bye.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: Megatron dropped a pass early that probably would've gone for a lot of yards and possibly six, which would've made his final line look a lot better. Instead, Johnson caught only three passes (on 11 targets) for 34 yards.
THIS WEEK: Another "red" matchup for Megatron, but if he's healthy (he is) then you should play him, especially since he's motivated by Richard Sherman changing his Twitter handle to Optimus Prime.
I'm with Sean in thinking that we finally see a Stafford-to-Calvin touchdown for the first time this season and Calvin's first touchdown since Week 3, coincidentally the week the Seahawks were NOT victimized by Aaron Rodgers a single time in that controversial game everyone was talking about afterward.
VERDICT: I don't care, you play him.
WR Nate Burleson
LAST WEEK: Broke his leg and couldn't carry the team on his back like Greg Jennings.
THIS WEEK: IR
WR Titus Young
LAST WEEK: Young saw the second most targets (eight), finishing with six catches for 81 yards.
THIS WEEK: Could Young finally be breaking out like many expected before the season? He will move up the depth chart with Burleson now out for the season and begin to see WR2 targets.
Coming into this season, one of just two "green" games for Burleson was this week against Brandon Browner (9.4 yards per attempt in 2011), so it's reasonable to think Young could step in and be a monster beneficiary of the Seahawks attempting to lock down on Megatron and the Lions actually finishing their drives for once.
Young was limited in practice this week with a knee injury, though, which has him listed as questionable on the injury report. He is expected to play, but the 5-foot-11 receiver could be dwarfed by Browner, who is 6-foot-4, and the Seahawks' abnormally tall secondary that is allowing the third fewest wide receiver fantasy points in the NFL.
VERDICT: PPR FLEX gamble.
WR Ryan Broyles
LAST WEEK: Broyles made his first mark on the NFL in a nationally televised game by catching three of his four targets for 51 yards and a 12-yard touchdown after Burleson went down with an injury.
THIS WEEK: Broyles will move up to WR3 on the depth chart, but he could ultimately have a bigger impact on the Lions' pass attack than Young. Broyles runs crisp routes, manages to get open and has reliable hands that could make him a favorite target of Stafford's sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, he's smaller than Young and going up against one of the bigger and better secondaries in the league.
VERDICT: PPR FLEX gamble X2.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Pettigrew caught five of his six targets for 39 yards. He fumbled out of bounds twice.
THIS WEEK: The Seahawks are just about average against tight ends and have allowed touchdowns to tight ends in back-to-back weeks. Although Pettigrew's drops and fumbles continue to be a concern, he sees too many targets in a pass-heavy offense to not be a favorite fantasy play week to week in PPR formats. Whether or not you start him in other formats depends on your gut feeling as to whether or not he will score a touchdown, really.
VERDICT: PPR and gut.
TE Tony Scheffler
LAST WEEK: Scheffler saw only three targets, catching one of them for six yards.
THIS WEEK: No.
VERDICT: You can do better.
LAST WEEK: The defense has been the Lions' strongest unit lately and the special teams has been adequate in the last couple weeks when Stefan Logan isn't fumbling. The defense had five sacks last week, but no takeaways in allowing the Bears to score only 13 points.
THIS WEEK: The Seahawks offense is 31st in passing and eight in rushing yards per game. D/STs average roughly two more points than the league average against them.
Look, the crowd at Ford Field is going to be rowdy on Sunday and the Lions know they have to win if they want to hang on to some hope of returning to the playoffs. With the Seahawks averaging under 13 points per game on the road this year, this could be a very good play for the Lions D.
VERDICT: If the D stays hot, this could be a hot matchup play off waivers.
K Jason Hanson
LAST WEEK: 0/0 FGM/FGA and an extra point. I'm sorry if you played him ...
THIS WEEK: Last week sucked, but the Lions were at midfield or beyond six times and came away with just seven points. The Lions will continue to find the opponent's side of the field, but should cash in on more points this week. Hanson will see at least a handful of kicks in that happening.
VERDICT: Steady play. I mean it this time.
What do you think? Have any fantasy questions? Comment below.