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 the Week 12 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winners of two in a row:
QB Matthew Stafford
LAST GAME: 362 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He was the No. 4 ranked quarterback.
THIS WEEK: Stafford has said that he thinks the Bucs are one of the more talented defenses the Lions have faced all season, but the statistics tell a different story. The Bucs are 18th against the pass (240.3 yards per game), 26th against opposing quarterbacks in fantasy and have allowed at least 2 passing touchdowns six weeks in a row.
Meanwhile, Stafford hasn't had a bad fantasy start all season. His worst came all the way back in Week 5 at Green Bay and he still managed to put up 262 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. I don't see his string of fantasy success ending at home this week against the Bucs.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 3.3
Who I like better: The Manning bros and Tom Brady
RB Reggie Bush
LAST GAME: Bush carried the ball 12 times for 31 yards and caught 2 passes for 23 yards on 5 targets. He also lost a fumble. If not for Joique Bell getting injured, Bush would have done even worse, as it certainly seemed like he had been benched for fumbling (twice in the last three weeks) and I'd argue for not finishing a few of his routes.
THIS WEEK: The Bucs are a little better against the run, holding opposing running games to 101.4 yards per game and opposing fantasy backs to below league average, albeit ranking smack-dab in the middle (16th). They gave up over 150 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons last week, though, and are worse on the road.
For Bush, being back on the home turf will be a benefit, but it's not as much as you'd think. He averages only 0.2 extra yards per carry at home and has caught just 2 extra passes. He gets more work at home, though, and has had great games in three out of the four. He'll have every chance to make it four out of five.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 10.9
Who I like better: Zac Stacy, Jamaal Charles, Rashad Jennings, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson and Andre Brown
RB Joique Bell
LAST GAME Bell had 49 yards rushing and the unpredictable touchdown. He also had 3 catches for 48 yards.
THIS WEEK: Bell was injured in the second half of last week's game with a foot injury. He sat out Wednesday's practice but returned on Thursday (limited). He's currently listed as questionable. If he plays, it's hard to gauge how many touches he'll get and just how effective he'll be.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 32.6
Who I like better: Probably more than 32 others -- I'm not messing with Bell this week if I don't absolutely have to.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST GAME: 6 catches, 179 yards and 2 touchdowns (again) -- all in the first half.
THIS WEEK: He goes up against Darrelle Revis, but top corners haven't slowed the best wide receiver in any way this season (via ESPN):
Johnson likes going against the top corners in the league and has had some success this season in those matchups, notably against Arizona's Patrick Peterson (six catches, 116 yards, two touchdowns) and Dallas' Brandon Carr (14 catches, 329 yards).
Johnson has had a touchdown in four straight games and 2 touchdowns in three of those. The Bucs' defense gives up more than the league average to opposing wide receivers and has been burned in recent weeks by receivers nowhere close to Megatron's level.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 1.5
Who may dare to have more fantasy points: Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson and Vincent Jackson
WR Kris Durham
LAST GAME He had 3 catches for 42 yards on 9 targets.
THIS WEEK: Nate Burleson is expected to play, so Durham's role will undoubtedly shrink, but he still has a rapport with Stafford and thus, should get some looks to save those desperate enough to have to play him.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 46.5
Buc I like better, who you may still be able to pick up: Tiquan Underwood
WR Nate Burleson
THIS WEEK: I'd like to see him in action before risking a play on him.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 49.8
Who I like better this week: Kris Durham
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST GAME: Pettigrew caught 3 passes for 37 yards.
THIS WEEK: Pettigrew reportedly had a concerning wrap on his knee during practice this week, but he has been a participant, even if limited. What would be more concerning is starting Pettigrew, healthy or not, against a Bucs defense that doesn't give up a whole lot to opposing tight ends (only 3 touchdowns all year, below league average overall).
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 20.7
Who I like better: Joseph Fauria
TE Joseph Fauria
LAST GAME: 1 catch, 14 yards (2 targets).
THIS WEEK: I'm adding him again this week because of Pettigrew's knee and because I feel like Fauria will re-find the end zone. I'm not going out of my way to start him in any of my leagues, but if I had to choose between Pettigrew and Fauria in standard leagues, I'm going out on a limb with Fauria.
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 28.6
What kind of dance I think he'll do: A fun one
K David Akers
LAST GAME: I said I loved this matchup for Akers, but 3 extra points and 2 field goals -- all in the second quarter -- didn't live up to my hopes and dreams. Of course, I didn't know what the weather was going to be like and didn't know the Lions would go for it twice on fourth down in field goal range.
THIS WEEK: Kickers have attempted at least 2 field goals in seven out of 10 games this season against the Bucs, with an average of 2.25 on the road. They're 31st in opponent field goal attempts per game and 24th in total kicker points against.
The Lions, however, are 31st in field goals attempted per game in their last three and 19th overall. If you trust the Bucs will make some stops, then Akers is always a good play with the way the Lions offense gets it into opposing territory (third in red zone attempts per game and second in the last three games).
Avg. ranking on FantasyPros: 9.4
Who I like better: Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Prater, Mason Crosby, Robbie Gould and Ryan Succop
LAST GAME: I said road games scare me and, well, yep -- ew.
THIS WEEK: No thanks. The Lions defense might reward a homer's choice this week, but they have done far too little lately to warrant a play. You should find better in virtually all free-agent pools.
D/ST I like better that I found in my league's FA: Green Bay, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville
What say you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.