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: Stafford disappointed with three interceptions, but he compensated with another 350-yard game and a touchdown. He also had a reception!
THIS WEEK: Fans are probably wondering what kind of game Stafford is going to have on SNF against the 49ers if that's the kind of game he had at home against the Rams. Don't let that trick you into going with a new QB after just one week. St. Louis' corners are good and the 49ers didn't stop Stafford from having a quality game last season (on 50 passing attempts). In Week 1, Aaron Rodgers threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns against this defense. Stafford's thrown for at least 350 yards in four straight games, not including the playoffs, and he's got Calvin Johnson on his side.
VERDICT: Yes. He's still a fantasy QB1, so start him unless you have one of the other top QBs with a better matchup.
RB Kevin Smith
LAST WEEK: I hope you started Smith over Willis McGahee, Cedric Benson, Donald Brown, Isaac Redman, Stevan Ridley and Jamaal Charles, like I said! Actually, Smith was better than every RB besides C.J. Spiller in Week 1 with 25.1 points in my PPR league (two touchdowns, 91 total yards and four receptions).
THIS WEEK: He's going to be the featured back again, but this is probably the worst matchup of the season for the Lions' running game. The 49ers allowed 45 yards to the Packers in Week 1 and touted the best run defense in the NFL last year. All those running backs I named last week? They're all probably better options this week.
VERDICT: Hopefully you have a better option.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: Megatron had six catches (on seven targets) for 111 yards, but due to some quadruple-teaming, he had no touchdowns.
THIS WEEK: Johnson sat out Wednesday's practice with a supposed foot injury but is expected to be fine by Sunday night. Assuming that's the case, I'm still a little worried about his production. Last year, the 49ers were the first team to keep him out of the end zone and one of only five teams to be able say they did that. He still caught seven balls for 113 yards, but I imagine Jim Harbaugh will be scheming even harder to make sure Johnson doesn't beat them on their home turf like they did the Lions last year. (Harbaugh had rookie A.J. Jenkins wear a No. 81 jersey in practice this week so they could focus in on him.)
VERDICT: It's not like inhibition matters; you still start Megatron and you still start him hard.
WR Nate Burleson
LAST WEEK: Burleson had the second most targets (eight), caught six passes for 69 yards and even had a rushing attempt (six yards).
THIS WEEK: Burleson is still the No. 2 wide receiver in Detroit. He actually saw more targets than Johnson last week and will likely again benefit from the opposing defense targeting to stop No. 81.
VERDICT: You could do worse at your WR2 or 3 in a three-WR format.
WR Titus Young
LAST WEEK: Young only had two targets and three touches to go along with another knucklehead penalty.
THIS WEEK: There have been calls for Young to be suspended, which wouldn't be very good for his fantasy value or the Lions this week. He won't be suspended, but best believe Cris Collinsworth of NBC is going to harp on his immaturity come Sunday night. Ideally, Young catches a lot of balls and NBC is forced to avert their near-smear campaign. I want to believe Young will see more than 2 targets this weekend, but Chris Culliver is not a good matchup and Young only had one reception last season against the 49ers.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Pettigrew had the most targets with 10, but he dropped a touchdown that would've made his fantasy week a little better (and the Lions' win a little easier). He finished with five catches and 77 yards.
THIS WEEK: A "red" matchup didn't stop Pettigrew last week and he continues to see a healthy number of targets from the pass-happy Stafford. If only he'd apply some stick 'em. Plug: Check out this Niners Nation post on Pettigrew with a few words from Sean.
VERDICT: For what it's worth, I'm trusting Pettigrew to score more than Fred Davis this week.
TE Tony Scheffler
LAST WEEK: I'm adding Scheffler this week because he saw the second most targets with Burleson (eight), including an end zone target, and the Lions ran 65 percent of their plays out of the 2TE set.
THIS WEEK: If last year's game is any indication, we probably won't see the Lions' TEs get as much action as they did in Week 1. Scheffler's usage is inconsistent at best, but he did have six touchdowns last year and started this season right where he left off in Weeks 16 and 17 in terms of being worthwhile in PPR formats.
VERDICT: Might be worth picking up to stash.
LAST WEEK: The Lions D only recorded four sacks.
THIS WEEK: The D recovered three fumbles and picked off Alex Smith once last season. Louis Delmas and Bill Bentley are likely out this weekend and Chris Houston has been a limited participant in practice all week. The D-line can make fun things happen, but Harbaugh has effectively trained Alex Smith to be a game manager who doesn't take many risks.
VERDICT: There are probably better matchups in free agency.
K Jason Hanson
LAST WEEK: Solid two FGM and three XPM for the 42-year-old.
THIS WEEK: Hanson missed a big field goal against the 49ers last year indoors and it's no secret that it's harder to kick outdoors. The 49ers are probably going to force the Lions into at least two or three field goal attempts, so Hanson's going to get his opportunities. How many he makes and how many extra points he's allowed to tack on is another concern.
VERDICT: Hard to say there might be kickers with better matchups in free agency.
Well, do you agree? Have any fantasy questions? Comment below.
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