Defenses and Dragons takes a look each week at the key skill players that will go up against the Detroit Lions by comparing their fantasy output to that allowed by the Lions defense. All scoring and rankings use six points per passing touchdown and half a point per reception.
Most fantasy owners probably did not have to think twice before starting their Packers in Week 3. D&D correctly told you that Aaron Rodgers would be a Top-five play (he finished fourth), Eddie Lacy would be close to 20th (he landed 22nd), and that the tight ends might not be as great as expected (both fell outside the top 12), although Randall Cobb was certainly a head-scratcher. A new week brings in a new division rival, but the outlook for the Chicago Bears is much less encouraging.
The Lions have given up the second-most points to quarterbacks through three weeks, although facing Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers will do that to you. The defense has not looked stellar, but middle and lower-tier quarterbacks might not have the same success; in Week 2, Marcus Mariota ranked just 16th. Detroit has surrendered an average of 276 passing yards and 3.3 touchdowns to quarterbacks so far.
Despite the juicy defensive matchup, hopefully fantasy owners are not considering starting a Bears quarterback during Week 4. Neither Jay Cutler nor Brian Hoyer project to be anywhere close to being a fantasy contributor, and the Bears have averaged less than 14 PPG from the quarterback spot for this season. Nothing to see here.
Detroit has actually been the 10th toughest defense for fantasy running backs, giving up just 17.3 PPG overall. They have ceded under 13 PPG to RB1s, which includes Eddie Lacy and DeMarco Murray, two backs that seem more potent than anyone Chicago can offer. With injuries to Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey, only Jordan Howard is worth even considering this week—sorry, Joique.
Howard has made a pair of appearances this season with mild results, although this week will be his first chance to really take the lead role. But with the combination of the Lions run defense and the Bears struggles with the ground game—Chicago ranks just 27th in fantasy points per game from running backs—Howard is not a wise start in Week 4.
Both against individual players and wide receivers as a whole, the Lions fall in the middle of the pack defensively. They surrender 16.0 PPG to WR1s, 8.9 PPG to WR2s and over 6.7 PPG to WR3s. Meanwhile, the Bears average 11.8 PPG, 9.6 PPG and 5.0 PPG to these slots, and fall among the bottom 10 in wide receiver fantasy points as a whole.
Alshon Jeffery will be started in most leagues, but he has recorded just 11.4 PPG so far this season. He looks like someone who will rank somewhere in the 16th to 24th range, although he does have a decent ceiling. The quarterback issues are concerning, but perhaps Jeffery could be a safety net that benefits from a healthy amount of receptions.
The more intriguing player is Kevin White, who has only produced 6.9 PPG this season, but received 14 targets in Week 3. The Bears have been decent at feeding their second and third options, and White is trending in the right direction. Eddie Royal does have a touchdown this season, but he does not seem like a great fantasy play. White is a risk, but take a shot on him sneaking into the top 30.
The Lions’ issues with defending tight ends this season have not been a secret, but the Packers really did not exploit them from a fantasy angle. Nevertheless, the Lions rank dead last with 20.4 PPG allowed to tight ends this season and are 31st against TE1s. The Bears have gotten 10.7 PPG from their top tight end—good for fifth in the league—and will probably look this way more than Green Bay did.
Zach Miller is averaging five catches on six targets through three games and has snagged a pair of touchdowns. The Bears are unlikely to score a ton of points, and there are only so many catches to go around, but Miller seems like one of the safer options. In fact, D&D likes him as a top-eight option this week. Start him if you have him.