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: 2 touchdowns (1 rushing and another through the air) with 264 yards passing and an interception. He had 9 yards rushing.
THIS WEEK: Arizona provides an interesting matchup for the Lions this week, because the Lions are a heavy, pass-first team going up against a very good pass defense, despite the Cardinals not being very good overall. Further, Stafford will now be without targets Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles and Brandon Pettigrew in all. As we saw last week against the Packers' somewhat shaky secondary, throwing to his roommate fresh off the practice squad, Kris Durham, was troublesome at times.
The Cards pass defense is susceptible to giving up a lot of points to the top quarterbacks, though. Tom Brady scored just below the NFL average in Week 2 (in the midst of the Cardinals' 4-0 start), but Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers thrashed the Cards midseason, and Sam Bradford had a pair of decent games this year.
What we do know is that the Lions are probably still going to pass a ton and there's always the Stafford-to-Calvin connection that defies good defenses.
This is a tricky one, but the Lions are probably going to continue passing enough to make Stafford remain a top-10 option.
RB Mikel Leshoure
LAST WEEK: Leshoure had only 14 carries for 49 yards.
THIS WEEK: The Cards run defense was utterly embarrassed last week against the Seahawks, allowing 4 touchdowns and over 270 yards. Despite that average-killing outlier, the Cardinals' defense still allows just below the NFL average in points against opposing running games.
Leshoure was disappointing under the bright lights of SNF against the Packers, but he scored double digits in the three weeks prior and still has 6 touchdowns in the last six weeks. I think he rediscovers the end zone at least once this Sunday.
VERDICT: Strong RB2.
RB Joique Bell
LAST WEEK: Bell also had 49 yards, but did so on 2 fewer carries. He also had 5 catches for 47 yards on 7 targets.
THIS WEEK: Bell has proven that he's the most explosive back in the Lions' backfield. He has made tacklers miss and provides a refreshing burst of energy on his runs that Leshoure seems to be lacking. What's more is that Bell serves as a threat out of the backfield, making him a better play in PPR leagues.
Bell contributed to an excessive celebration penalty last week that Jim Schwartz was none too happy about, saying it is the type of thing that could prevent Bell from seeing more action. I don't think Bell's going to lose any carries over that (or he shouldn't). Whether or not he starts to see a bigger role remains to be seen, though.
VERDICT: Stronger RB2 in PPR.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: 10 catches, 118 yards. 13 targets. But he was held "in check."
THIS WEEK: Megatron.
WR Kris Durham
LAST WEEK: Fresh off the practice squad, Durham made one of the finer one-handed catches of the season. He also ran one of the worst post routes I've ever seen from an NFL wide receiver. Overall, though, he finished with 4 catches and 54 yards on 9 targets. He's a real option in PPR leagues.
THIS WEEK: As Stafford's roommate and more so because he's now the WR2, Durham's going to see plenty of looks. If the Cards key in on Johnson, as teams tend to do, Durham could see red zone looks, too. I'd be wary of starting him if you have a fantasy championship on the line, though.
VERDICT: If you are desperate in a PPR league and your footballs are abnormally large.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Pettigoose egg.
THIS WEEK: Doubtful.
TE Tony Scheffler
LAST WEEK: Scheffler reaped the benefits of a hurt Pettigrew last week, catching his first touchdown of the season and seeing the second-most targets (10). He finished with only 3 catches for 20 yards, though.
THIS WEEK: The Cardinals have allowed 4 touchdowns to opposing tight ends in the last five weeks and Scheffler is going to see the majority of the targets at the position if Pettigrew is out. I still don't think it's worth risking.
LAST WEEK: 27 points, a fumble recovery and 3 sacks.
THIS WEEK: The Cardinals offense is the best at making opposing defenses look the best. The Cards are allowing the most points to opposing defenses and special teams and just had a 41 burger dropped on them last week against the Seahawks. Maybe they come to play this week at home, but they're more than likely demoralized after last week's drub job. This might be the week the Lions finally score a defensive touchdown, too.
VERDICT: A top option.
K Jason Hanson
LAST WEEK: 2 field goals and 2 extra points.
THIS WEEK: Again, the Lions are a top team in terms of getting into the red zone, so Hanson is going to see plenty of opportunities to score points. With the Cardinals defense being pretty good, Hanson may see a handful of kicking opps.
VERDICT: Could be a strong option.
What do you think? Have any fantasy questions? Comment below.
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