Before each game this season, I will provide fantasy football advice about which Detroit Lions you should start or sit. Even if you don't have any Lions on your fantasy team(s), this might still be useful in projecting how the week will pan out for the Honolulu Blue and Silver.
Of course, same caveats as last year apply: I'm just a regular NFL fan who has an armchair where I like to sit and read a lot and develop opinions.
These are some of my opinions for Week 7 vs. the other team from Ohio.
QB Matthew Stafford
LAST WEEK: I said to start him and he'd be Top 12. He finished Top 3, just ahead of this week's opposing QB and former Lion Thaddeus Lewis! Stafford threw for 248 yards and 4 touchdowns with 1 pick.
THIS WEEK: On the surface, you might think this will be a rough game for Stafford. Bengals opponents are averaging only a little over 200 yards per game, ninth in the NFL, and they're two weeks removed from preventing Tom Brady from throwing a single touchdown, breaking Brady's 52-game streak with at least 1 touchdown pass.
But, like many teams in the NFL, the Bengals have shown to be a much better home team and looked exposed last week on the road in Buffalo against the aforementioned QB the Lions traded in the preseason. In their three road games this year, the Bengals have allowed opposing quarterbacks to get at least 2 touchdowns and throw for an average of 245 yards and right around 7 yards per attempt. Those quarterbacks -- Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Lewis -- are not as good as Stafford.
VERDICT: Start. Top 10.
RB Reggie Bush
LAST WEEK: You should've started Bush last week, as I predicted he would be a Top 20 PPR play. He was 11th among all running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in standard leagues with 133 all-purpose yards and a receiving touchdown. He had 5 catches for 57 yards on 6 targets.
THIS WEEK: The Bengals are 10th against the run in terms of yards per game, but they have struggled mightily in certain games, including last week against the Bills. The Bills' runners were able to rack up 130 yards on over 4 yards per carry and added 8 catches out of the backfield. Bush is going to get his 5-10 targets out of the backfield in addition to his fair share of carries (15-20), so you have to think that, if he's running as well as he has been this season, he'll be rather productive.
VERDICT: Start. Somewhere. Top 15 PPR.
RB Joique Bell
LAST WEEK: I said Bell could be a PPR flex and might be a TD vulture, but he would've been a massively disappointing play: Bell only had 25 yards rushing and 2 targets out of the backfield, only one of which he caught for 8 yards.
THIS WEEK: Bell has not been used as much as a lot of us thought he would be after being so productive early in the season, especially with Bush hurt. He might get back in the end zone this week and have an awesome celebration where he hops up into the stands and starts waving his arms back and forth, but I don't think it's safe to play him in fantasy anymore, unless you're in a super-deep PPR league and you're left with few other choices, or Tashard Choice.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: For being "limited", Johnson still saw 8 targets, second most on the team, but he only reeled in three of those for 25 yards. He did see a couple looks in the red zone, but came up short.
THIS WEEK: He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but signs point to him being active again this week. I think you have to ride him 'til you die.
VERDICT: Start, if active.
WR Ryan Broyles
LAST WEEK: Broyles still isn't getting much attention. He caught 0 balls on 2 targets last week.
THIS WEEK: From Jim Schwartz (via MLive):
"He's working hard. He's an important part of where we are offensively and he's going to make some plays for us. I think we just have to be patient there."
No time for patience with gutsy fantasy plays.
WR Kris Durham
LAST WEEK: If you were desperate in a PPR league, Durham did you well. He caught 8 passes on a team-high 13 targets for 83 yards.
THIS WEEK: Hard to tell how involved Durham will be with Johnson active, but he's been getting plenty of attention from his roommate. In the last two weeks, he has had 21 targets and a couple looks in the red zone, making him a viable option in PPR leagues. Hopefully your team is deeper than needing Durham, but he's not a bad play at this point when you're in a pinch.
VERDICT: Sit mostly, but wouldn't be surprised if he gets 8-plus targets again.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Pettigrew caught 4 passes on as many targets for 36 yards last week.
THIS WEEK: The Bengals are getting killed by tight ends this year, especially on the road. Scott Chandler, Jordan Cameron and Martellus Bennett each scored against the Bengals. Bengals fans are scared of Big Joe Fauria, but Pettigrew continues to get the Lions' share of targets at the position, so he's the safer play if you don't have a top tight end option, particularly in PPR leagues.
VERDICT: Gutsy start in deeper PPR leagues.
TE Joseph Fauria
LAST WEEK: He caught 3 touchdowns on 3 catches (34 yards). It's time to add him so we can talk about him some more.
THIS WEEK: As I mentioned under Pettigrew, the Bengals are vulnerable against tight ends and they seem to be scared about the red zone presence of one Joseph Fauria. At 6'7, Fauria is a sure-handed red zone threat, but he's obviously touchdown dependent for fantasy purposes. I mean, he has 5 touchdowns on 7 catches this year!
Until it's known he's going to get more involved or he can promise to score at least 1 touchdown every week*, starting him is a gamble and a half. But the reward could be oh-so juicy.
*True story: A few weeks ago, my friend ran into Fauria in Birmingham and asked Fauria if he should start him in fantasy. Fauria said yes, and promised my friend he would score a touchdown. My friend, never more confident in one of his TE plays, started Fauria, who was projected to score 0 points. He received 0 targets that game and thus, 0 fantasy points, as projected. Oops.
VERDICT: Even gutsier start in all leagues. Juice worth squeezing him in? I'm not, but I picked him up where I could...
K David Akers
LAST WEEK: I said he wouldn't be a bad start option, and a 51-yard field goal turned what would've been a "meh" 4-point play into a 7-9 point play depending on your settings.
THIS WEEK: The Bengals defense should get some stops and, with the Lions offense clicking, Akers should do some kicking.
VERDICT: Play the waiver wire to see what else is out there, but not a bad start option again. I'm guessing 6-10 points.
LAST WEEK: I said to sit, but that they could be a gutsy rewarding play. They wouldn't have killed you, but sitting them was probably the best play -- they had 2 interceptions and 2 sacks.
THIS WEEK: I like the Lions at home against the Bengals more than I liked them on the road last week against the Browns simply for the big-play potential. The Lions have done well at home despite giving up a lot of points and the Bengals have turned the ball over 6 times in three road games this year.
VERDICT: I say see what else is out there, but this could be good. I've picked them up in one of my leagues to play.
What say you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.