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 5 vs. the third place Green Bay Packers.
QB Matthew Stafford
LAST WEEK: I said to start him and to expect a Top 10 finish. Unfortunately, he was outside the Top 10 because the Lions didn't need him as much as I thought they would. He had a fine game, throwing for 242 yards, a touchdown and running for another (lucky) touchdown. He all but wiped out a touchdown, though, by throwing an (unlucky) interception and losing a fumble when sacked from behind.
THIS WEEK: The Packers are 28th against the pass, allowing 311 yards per game and 9.0 yards per attempt. Opposing quarterbacks have a 113.7 passer rating against the Packers, better than Aaron Rodgers himself. That alone bodes well for the quarterback who has the best wide receiver in the NFL and Reggie Bush at his disposal.
I'd be remiss to not mention that Stafford tends to not do as well against the Packers, though. In his career, he has 12 interceptions and just 9 touchdowns against them, 5 of those touchdowns coming in the monster season finale in 2011 (520 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions). That game was at Lambeau, however.
Fantasy Pros has Stafford finishing this week anywhere between 2 and 13, and average suggesting Top 5 when it's all said and done.
VERDICT: Start, Top 10.
RB Reggie Bush
LAST WEEK: Wow. Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Fant-asy! Fant-asy! I had low expectations on Bush for this game, but boy, did he prove me wrong in a big way. Bush exploded for 139 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown scamper, on just 18 carries, more than doubling his yards per carry coming into the game. He also caught 4 passes for 34 yards (on 6 targets). So much for being banged up.
I did suggest that you still start him in PPR leagues, but me doubting him prompted at least one disappointed email to me Sunday evening. Sorrrrrry. Remember, though, these are written on Wednesday nights and posted early Thursday afternoon, so I miss out on a couple days of practices, notes and gut feelings. I knew Bush was going to play by Wednesday night, so maybe that should've been enough and the stat Sats Mundin provided in the comments should've been a clue for how well the Lions would run the ball, but I wasn't feeling it. Call it conditioning. The Bears had been and are generally good against the run, Bush was coming off missing a game due to injury and Joique Bell's stock was rising. Oh well, better to be wrong that way.
THIS WEEK: Contrary to its pass defense, the Packers have a stout run defense, according to the numbers -- eighth in the league in yards per game (93.3) and yards per carry (3.7). The best running game against the Pack was in their win against the Redskins, but a big deficit forced Washington to pass and go away from Alfred Morris, who averaged 8.2 yards per carry on 13 attempts.
A similar player to Bush, Giovani Bernard, had 50 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in the Bengals' win and was featured heavily in the passing game. I want to say Bernard's output is what I expect from Bush. He's not as effective outdoors on grass and I could see the Lions getting caught up in a pass-happy game. But he's a big feature in the passing game.
VERDICT: I've been advised by disappointed readers to make Bush an automatic start when he's healthy. On the not-yet-frozen tundra of Green Bay, I can't see him doing what he did at home against the Bears, but yes, you should start him this week, especially in PPR leagues. Top 20.
RB Joique Bell
LAST WEEK: I hedged my bets with Bell and Bush, starting both in my PPR league, and Bell burned me. I might lose this week because I left a better option (Fred Jackson) on my bench. Bell had only 12 yards on 7 carries and caught 4 balls for 30 yards.
THIS WEEK: See above. I could see Bell being the more effective runner and if he gets a decent work load, he could be a good FLEX play.
VERDICT: PPR flex.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: On his 28th birthday, Megatron had 4 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. He led the team in targets with 10.
THIS WEEK: Start. And just so you don't think I'm being lazy, making him an automatic start every week regardless of the circumstances, Johnson has 11 touchdowns in 11 games against the Packers in his career, more than any other team he's played against (the next closest is 7 against the Vikings in 13 games). Expect a touchdown.
VERDICT: Automatic. UPDATE: SIT! Calvin Johnson is a surprise inactive.
WR Ryan Broyles
LAST WEEK: Broyles was expected to step up in Nate Burleson's absence, but he was a no-show. Broyles only saw 1 target and did not catch any passes. I had him pegged as a "sit," but I did not expect him to produce nothing.
THIS WEEK: The Packers are going to give up a lot of passing yards, but I really would like to see something before I go and peg him as a confident play. Fantasy Pros has him falling anywhere between 33 and 77.
WR Nate Burleson
LAST WEEK: Pizza.
THIS WEEK: Pizza.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Pettigrew bounced back from a few horrible weeks by catching all 7 of his targets for 54 yards. Useful.
THIS WEEK: Pettigrew had 7 catches for 116 yards against the Packers in that infamous 45-41 loss on New Year's Day in 2011. Some fantasy experts can see him being that productive again, pegging him as high as No. 10 among tight ends. Personally, he still scares me.
VERDICT: Top 15 PPR potential, but staying away otherwise.
K David Akers
LAST WEEK: I said to start and expect a Top 12 finish and he outdid himself, ranking No. 1 with 4 field goals and 4 extra points.
THIS WEEK: The Lions are third in the NFL in red zone scoring opportunities per game (4.2), behind only the Falcons and Packers, but they're 20th in converting them into touchdowns. The Packers' defense is 25th in opponents' red zone scoring opportunities. The Lions will move the ball and Akers is going to get chances to kick.
LAST WEEK: A sack, 3 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a fat guy touchdown! Did you make them one of those gutsy, rewarding plays as I suggested they could be or did you sit them due to my final verdict?
THIS WEEK: Sorry, I don't see an encore performance at Lambeau. I'm fully expecting this game to be a shootout.
What say you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.