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 4 vs. the 3-0 Chicago Bears.
QB Matthew Stafford
LAST WEEK: I said to start him, but not to expect him to finish No. 1, where he was pre-ranked by several pundits. Stafford finished No. 7 after throwing 385 yards and 2 touchdowns opposite just 1 interception. He now has over 1,000 yards after three games.
THIS WEEK: Currently the No. 6 QB, Stafford has benefited from playing some absolutely horrible pass defenses. The Bears are better, but I don't think they're that much of a "significant step up" as ESPN puts it. They're 24th in opposing passing yards and allowed 406 yards to Ben Roethlisberger in their first road game last weekend. They've been torched by two top wide receivers and Stafford has the ability to spread the ball around
VERDICT: Start. Top 10 finish.
RB Reggie Bush
LAST WEEK: Inactive.
THIS WEEK: Bush guaranteed that he would play immediately after the Lions beat the Redskins last weekend, and he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. That said, I'm nervous. Will Bush make it through a full game? Will the Lions hold him back in another "best for the team" move? Will Bush even be effective if unleashed?
The Bears are eighth in the NFL against the run (88.7 yards per game) and third in keeping fantasy running backs in check. Bush, no matter what he or the media feeds us, is banged up, and Joique Bell has earned a fair share of the work load. I don't think he's even the best Lions running back play this week.
VERDICT: Unless you're stacked, you'll probably still want to start him in PPR. Just don't expect Top 10 status.
RB Joique Bell
LAST WEEK: I said to flip a coin, but I ultimately went with Alfred Morris over Bell. That was a mistake. Bell was better than Morris, matching his touchdown and supplementing it with 63 yards rushing and 69 through the air (4 catches on 5 targets). I did say that you should start him over Knowshon Moreno, though, and that turned out to be the right call. Bell was the No. 3 running back.
THIS WEEK: I hate teams with two good running backs because you have to rack your brain on which one is going to wind up with more touches, steal the goal line carries, play third downs, etc. if it's all not already established. Who knows how much Bush is going to play exactly, so I'd bet that the "tougher" Bell is a safer play than Bush if you go with a Lions running back this week against a tough Bears defense.
VERDICT: Start in PPR. Very low-end RB2/FLEX in non-PPR leagues.
WR Calvin Johnson
LAST WEEK: I hope you didn't do anything drastic, because he should've been an automatic start. Megatron finished as the No. 4 wide receiver with 1 touchdown, 7 catches (13 targets) and 115 yards.
THIS WEEK: Start.
WR Ryan Broyles
LAST WEEK: Broyles saw his first action of the regular season and caught all 3 of his targets for 34 yards.
THIS WEEK: Due to Nate Burleson's extremely unfortunate accident, it's time for Broyles to step up (and stay healthy this time). Broyles has the ability to be everything Burleson has been this year, and more, if the knees just hold up. Even if a trade happens before Sunday, Broyles is bound to get WR2 looks.
As we've gone over, Chicago has been shaky against the pass thus far, but that might be a little misleading since it was a WR1 that went off in Weeks 1 and 3. WR2s haven't had any impressive showings yet.
If the Bears find a way to put the clamps down on Megatron, like they did at Ford Field last year, Broyles is going to see some daylight, like last year (3 catches, 51 yards and a touchdown). I'm not sure it's worth the gamble, though, because gambling on Megatron getting shut down again is not smart gambling, if there is such a thing.
VERDICT: Sit. Not Top 45.
WR Nate Burleson
LAST WEEK: I said mostly sit, but he could salvage a ballsy play by getting a touchdown. Well, he didn't have a touchdown, but he did have the best game of his career since 2007 in terms of yards with 116 of them on 6 catches.
THIS WEEK: Pizza.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LAST WEEK: Hopefully you benched him indefinitely or even cut him, because he's getting worse. 2 targets and 0 catches.
THIS WEEK: I said last week that he might continue getting looks, but if the 'Skins game is any indication, Pettigrew's role might actually be diminishing. He still played 81 percent of the snaps, but Tony Scheffler and Joseph Fauria stole 5 looks between the two of them, including red zone looks, and Pettigrew didn't catch a single pass. He might bounce back this week with some production, but it's not worth the risk even considering.
K David Akers
LAST WEEK: I said there were going to be better options on the wire probably and there were 15 of them, but Akers would've been a fine play with 2 field goals and 3 extra points.
THIS WEEK: I just can't see the Lions getting into another 13-7 affair like last year's game at Ford Field. The Lions should move the ball and have at least a handful of field goal opportunities.
VERDICT: At home, I'll say he'll finish Top 12. Start.
LAST WEEK: 2 turnovers and 2 sacks in Week 3.
THIS WEEK: With the Bears at a somewhat lucky 3-0 and maybe due for a stinker, perhaps this is one of those gutsy plays, especially if you foresee another ugly low-scoring game. I think this game is going to be a little bit of a shootout, though, so I'd advise to stay away and go with another option.
What say you? Anybody picking up Joe Fauria yet? I still need to see more PT out of him (only 18 percent of snaps last week), but he might be a good bye-week, touchdown-dependent TE if you're in a pinch. Leave your thoughts in the comments.