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Fantasy football sit/start advice, Week 4: which Lions to play

Have Detroit Lions on your fantasy football roster and need to know whether or not you should play them? Here is a look at how the Lions match up against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4 from a fantasy perspective.

Leon Halip - Getty Images

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 threw for 278 yards and a touchdown and added another fantasy point by running for 12 yards before exiting the game with an injury. Shaun Hill added another 172 passing yards and two touchdowns. If only ...

THIS WEEK: Stafford's hamstring or hip or whatever lower body injury he has is a concern, because there's always the chance he re-aggravates it early and winds up killing your quarterback spot this week. But if he's active, the Vikings haven't faced an offense like the Lions yet this season, and they allowed Blaine Gabbert to rack up a QB Rating of 96.1 and a rookie to an even better 107.5. That should tell you something.

VERDICT: Depends on your backup options, but if he starts, don't regret going with him.

RB Kevin Smith

LAST WEEK: Nothing. Zip. Nada. I hope you didn't start him!

THIS WEEK: After Mikel Leshoure took all of the carries last week and Joique Bell spelled him, Smith isn't worth consideration unless you have both -- Smith and Leshoure -- and Leshoure's groin, which limited him in practice this week, renders him inactive on Sunday. But hopefully you have better options.

VERDICT: Uh, no.

RB Mikel Leshoure

LAST WEEK: Leshoure ran for 100 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL game on 26 carries. Although he didn't have a great average per carry, Leshoure ran tough and picked up yards after initial contact like we haven't seen from a Lions RB in a long time. Leshoure also caught four passes for 34 yards out of the backfield.

THIS WEEK: The Vikings run defense has held opposing running backs to fewer than seven fantasy points in the last two weeks and are one of three NFL teams to not allow a rushing touchdown yet. But heading into the season, the matchup with the Vikings wasn't supposed to be any worse than the Titans, and it's possible that the Lions once again try to establish a heavy run game, especially if Stafford plays.

Leshoure has been limited in practice this week with a groin injury, the perils of getting a heavy workload in his first NFL game, I guess, but he is expected to play.

VERDICT: Strong FLEX option.

WR Calvin Johnson

LAST WEEK: Calvin caught 10 of 12 balls thrown his way for 164 yards and a touchdown. He's phenomenal.

THIS WEEK: The Vikings have not faced a wide receiver like Megatron and are allowing above average fantasy points. It doesn't take a rocket scientist ...


WR Nate Burleson

LAST WEEK: Burleson was targeted as many times as Johnson last week (12), caught 10 balls for 69 yards and had a touchdown. Burleson also caught a two-point conversion.

THIS WEEK: It appears that Burleson is going to be confusingly inconsistent for fantasy purposes. After just three targets in Week 2, Burleson saw 12 in Week 3. Any wide receiver who sees 12 targets is worth a start in PPR leagues, but keep in mind that the Lions had the ball forever thanks to the Titans' million 60-yard touchdowns and thus, Burleson likely won't see 10+ targets most weeks.


WR Titus Young

LAST WEEK: Young caught the Motor City Miracle touchdown and had five other catches for another 29 yards. He was targeted seven times total.

THIS WEEK: The Hail Mary may have been just what Young needed to "break out" like everyone thought he'd do this season. Young was targeted plenty in Week 3 and I expect him to be even more involved as the season progresses. Again, the Vikings defense hasn't faced an offense like the Lions this year and the Lions will be looking for blood. Young could be the direct beneficiary.

VERDICT: Another gutsy call, but I could see another good game here -- without the lucky Hail Mary.

TE Brandon Pettigrew

LAST WEEK: Pettigrew had eight catches for 61 yards on 12 targets. Pettigrew also lost fantasy owners points with a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

THIS WEEK: Pettigrew still suffers from a severe case of the drops, but he's the fourth most targeted tight end in the NFL and the Vikings give up above-average points to opposing tight ends, including a touchdown per week to a tight end.


TE Tony Scheffler


THIS WEEK: Scheffler practiced on Thursday and is expected to play this week, but he probably won't see as many looks as Pettigrew.

VERDICT: Not this week.

Detroit D/ST

LAST WEEK: 44 points should be enough to tell you that it was not pretty.

THIS WEEK: The Vikings' offense has been solid in not allowing opposing defenses to rack up many fantasy points against them. Games have been relatively low scoring and free of turnovers. However, this week could be a case in which the Lions' defense redeems for last week's performance and gives the home crowd a show. I just can't say that with a straight face given how good opposing quarterbacks have looked against the secondary.

VERDICT: There are probably better pick-ups on FA.

K Jason Hanson

LAST WEEK: 4/4 FGM/FGA, including a 53-yarder and three extra points.

THIS WEEK: If the Vikings defense plays as well against the Lions as they have in the first three weeks, Hanson is going to get another four or five field goal opportunities. Either way, Hanson should see a fair share of both here.

VERDICT: Yes. Good matchup.

What do you think? Have any fantasy questions? Comment below.

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