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: Despite playing one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, for the fifth time in his career and the second time this season, Stafford did not throw a touchdown. If Mikel Leshoure had not rushed for three touchdowns, two from the eight- and seven-yard line and the other coming after Calvin Johnson was tackled at the one again, Stafford conceivably could have had three touchdowns. Instead, a goose egg and Stafford's only fantasy points came from his 285 yards passing. That's how things shake out sometimes, though. He did not throw an interception, but he had negative two yards rushing.
THIS WEEK: It's hard to imagine Stafford not throwing a couple touchdowns this week after getting shut out last week. The Vikings have been torched by opposing quarterbacks the past two weeks and neither is on the level of the NFL's best passing offense in terms of total yards per game.
Although Minnesota's one bright spot was in their Week 4 win against the Lions -- Stafford's only other week this season without a passing touchdown (although he still had 20 fantasy points) -- the Vikings are 26th overall against opposing quarterbacks in fantasy, so the matchup can't get much better on paper. I think it's fantasy redemption time in Week 10.
VERDICT: Start over anybody not named Tom Brady.
RB Mikel Leshoure
LAST WEEK: Leshoure was a touchdown monster in Week 9, scoring three times. He carried 16 times for 70 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and did not catch a pass on two targets.
THIS WEEK: The Vikings, 18th against the rush, have allowed an average of 138 yards rushing over the last three weeks and an average of 29.7 fantasy points over the last four in PPR leagues. In Week 4 against Detroit, they allowed 17.7 points to the Lions' ground game without giving up a touchdown. They've given up touchdowns to opposing running backs the last four weeks.
I think Leshoure is going to make it five straight.
VERDICT: Good RB2 and comfy FLEX.
RB Joique Bell
LAST WEEK: The running back out of Wayne State was a deeeeeeep play last week, but he rewarded those who risked it by putting up 73 yards rushing, a touchdown and three catches for 36 yards out of the backfield on four targets. I figured that's enough for me to add him to the fray.
THIS WEEK: The Lions doled out close to equal carries between Leshoure and Bell last week and the Lions have hinted that they'd like to get Bell more involved, particularly in the passing game. This makes Bell a more attractive play in PPR leagues for obvious reasons. You'd like to see it play out first, though.
VERDICT: Deep PPR FLEX option.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: Calvin was a game-time decision last week and ... he put up 129 yards on seven catches and had the most targets amongst all Lions receivers. Yeah, he was fine.
THIS WEEK: Will this finally be the week Megatron finds the end zone again? Opposing wide receivers have scored five times in the last three weeks. Minnesota is 10th overall against fantasy wide receivers but has been atrocious of late.
Johnson might be listed as questionable, but he'll play and I really think he'll find the end zone this week. I really do mean it this time.
WR Titus Young Sr.
LAST WEEK: After breaking out, Young only had two catches for 20 yards on five targets in Week 9. Perhaps the Jaguars keyed in on him, thinking Johnson may not be able to go. Maybe it was a result of the Lions running the ball a high of 34 times.
THIS WEEK: Young is also questionable with a knee injury that kept him out until limited action on Friday, but there hasn't been any serious indication that he will miss Sunday's game. If he does play, the Vikings have been so bad against opposing wide receivers lately that Young could be an interesting gamble in fantasy.
VERDICT: Deep PPR FLEX option
WR Ryan Broyles
LAST WEEK: Broyles caught all six balls thrown his way for 52 yards.
THIS WEEK: Broyles has established himself already as a trusty possession receiver who Stafford isn't afraid to look toward in a pinch. If Young and Johnson are at all limited on Sunday, Broyles could be relied upon even more. Given the Vikings' troubles with receivers in recent weeks, Broyles could be this week's break out fantasy player for the Lions.
VERDICT: Deep PPR FLEX high risk, high reward.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Pettigrew caught only one pass for 11 yards on three targets. Disappointing.
THIS WEEK: The Vikings haven't allowed an opposing tight end to score a touchdown in four games, although they are 21st overall against the position, giving up just a hair more than the average there.
Again, Pettigrew is usually a reliable play in PPR leagues because of the number of targets he gets, but his failure to receive red zone targets is increasingly frustrating. If you haven't already, it might be time to look elsewhere if you're in a shallow league. Otherwise, you might as well go with him for at least one more week.
LAST WEEK: I doubled down on the Lions defense last week and they got me an acceptable six points thanks to two interceptions, a sack and holding the Jags to 14 points.
THIS WEEK: Defenses against Minnesota are averaging 10 points over the last four weeks. Again, the Vikings have been really bad the last four weeks in fantasy, so it's possible the Lions could have another big game. Aside from the two return touchdowns in Week 4, the Vikings didn't do much against the Lions scoring-wise. If they can continue to make Ponder look like a bad quarterback and keep A-Pete in check, it's possible the Lions defense is another strong play this week.
VERDICT: If you do the week-to-week thing, this could be another good, high risk/high reward play, but there are probably safer options available.
K Jason Hanson
LAST WEEK: Four extra points and a 42-yard field goal.
THIS WEEK: Hanson's fantasy stock has dropped with the rise of the Lions' touchdown totals. Basically, if you think the Lions will finish off their drives, there are probably better options available for you at kicker. Hanson's a safe play, though, because the Lions are good enough that they almost assure you they will get in field goal range, giving Hanson a chance to pick up a lot of points. It's a coin toss after that.
VERDICT: Safe play.
What do you think? Have any fantasy questions? Comment below.