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 to the wrong team, 3 interceptions and 246 yards passing. I sidearmed some dip across the bar.
THIS WEEK: The Falcons' pass defense isn't as good as the Cardinals, but they're not much worse overall. In fact, they've held Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees (in the second game) to a combined 18.6 fantasy points. That does not bode well for Stafford, who is coming off by far his worst fantasy game since the road Bears game last season.
Realistically, if you have Stafford and you used him last week, you probably aren't in your fantasy playoffs anymore. Me? I got knocked out, and now, knowing my luck, I'll watch Stafford put up 20-25 meaningless fantasy points in this likely high-scoring affair.
VERDICT: Nothing to lose.
RB Mikel Leshoure
LAST WEEK: Leshoure had 14 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown.
THIS WEEK: With 6 touchdowns in the last seven weeks, Leshoure is becoming a steady RB2 play. If he doesn't score, though, then you're going to get burned by him. Luckily for Leshoure owners, the Falcons are 24th in the NFL against the fantasy run, and opposing running backs have 11 touchdowns this year, with five coming in the last six weeks.
Leshoure isn't going to get the 20-25 carries you'd want to see from a starting running back and he's not going to get very many looks in the passing game, but a touchdown will once again make him a worthwhile RB2 start.
VERDICT: Not-as-strong RB2.
RB Joique Bell
LAST WEEK: Bell had 7 carries for 24 yards and 2 catches for 13 yards on 4 targets.
THIS WEEK: I finally gave Bell a legitimate chance last week and he rewarded me with embarrassment. But Bell is still a strong consideration in deeper PPR leagues because of the targets he will continue to see out of the backfield, especially given the Lions' WR problems.
Given the Falcons' struggles against the run, Bell will probably see a healthy dose of carries, and he averages over 7 yards per run inside Ford Field with a pair of touchdowns. I tend to believe he has the better chance of finding the end zone this week than Leshoure, but would not be surprised if both got touchdowns, Bell's coming via pass. /total gut feeling there
VERDICT: Stronger RB2 in PPR leagues.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: 10 catches, 121 yards. 17 targets. Look out, Jerry Rice.
THIS WEEK: Megatron.
WR Kris Durham
LAST WEEK: 1 catch, 14 yards and 5 targets.
THIS WEEK: The Falcons are third in the NFL in holding opposing WRs in check. Durham's too practice squad-y to risk unless you're playing for the toilet bowl and are feeling very sacko.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Inactive
THIS WEEK: Doubtful.
TE Tony Scheffler
LAST WEEK: Scheffler saw the second most targets (7) but only caught 3 balls for 36 yards.
THIS WEEK: The Lions don't have very many other options outside of a couple practice squad guys, so Scheffler is going to get looks. That said, the Falcons are better than average at keeping opposing tight ends off the fantasy scoreboards, having allowed just 3 touchdowns and three double-digit performances in the last 10 weeks.
LAST WEEK: 38 points (most thanks to the offense), lost fumble on special teams and a sack. Yuck.
THIS WEEK: Unless November Matt Ryan shows up and throws a pick-6 (the Lions are due!) then I'd say no. Ryan is actually remarkably great on the road this year.
K Jason Hanson
LAST WEEK: 1 field goal and 1 extra point.
THIS WEEK: Despite what the picture caption says, if this is a high-scoring game like I think it will be (even if the Lions get most of their points in a comeback effort), Hanson should get plenty of kicking opportunities. But I would test the waiver wire first before starting Hanson in a fantasy playoff game.
VERDICT: Could be a strong option.
What do you think? Have any fantasy questions? Comment below.