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.
The Tennessee Titans only scored 16 points against Detroit, but a few players managed to pump out some decent fantasy performances anyway. Marcus Mariota and the wide receivers did not make a too much noise, which D&D warned against in last week’s post. However, DeMarco Murray scored a solid 18 fantasy points to come in as a Top-eight running back, and Delanie Walker was the No. 3 tight end with 17.3 points. This week the Lions defense will try to hold back a Green Bay Packers offense that has been awfully pedestrian so far.
Aaron Rodgers is still a Top-10 fantasy quarterback this year, but he is far from inspiring much confidence. Most fantasy owners took him as one of the first quarterbacks off the board and there is little chance of him riding their bench, but there should be at least some concern going forward. Fortunately (or unfortunately for Lions fans), Rodgers has a chance to bounce back during Week 3. The Detroit defense ranks 30th against opposing quarterbacks so far, giving up an average of 31 PPG.
Rodgers has only averaged 23.5 points and 1.5 passing touchdowns so far this season, but he has the potential to feast against a hurting Lions defense. He has also averaged 22.5 yards on the ground each game and has a pair of rushing touchdowns. With a lack of healthy linebackers, Rodgers could find success on scrambles against the Lions. Still, he makes his money through the air, and expect him to do just that on Sunday. Rodgers is a Top-five play at quarterback this week.
Defensively, the Lions have been middle-of-the-pack against running backs, allowing 19.8 PPG to opposing backs and just under 14 PPG to RB1s. The Packers running backs have been miserable, scoring just 8.8 PPG with Eddie Lacy doing the majority of the work. Lacy is known to be a slow starter and is certainly better than his current output, but perhaps his struggles are finally catching up to him. He has just one catch this season and is not a factor in the passing game.
The other ball carrier is James Starks, who plays no factor in fantasy. If Lacy were to suffer any injury he would be an interesting play, but the Packers are content with their one workhorse back. Most fantasy owners are going to start Lacy against the Lions and that is the right decision, but do not be surprised if the output is bland. He is a Top-20 play this week, but probably will sit near the bottom of that group.
The dangerous Packers trio of wide receivers has been okay but not spectacular so far. But just as Rodgers is set for a good matchup, the recipients of his passes should be viewed favorably as well. The Lions have been average against receivers as well, and have done a good job of locking down a team’s WR1. Still, Jordy Nelson seems like a safe pick to beat his 14 PPG average during Week 3. Nelson has caught a pair of touchdowns and has been targeted 20 times this season, and he should definitely be started in fantasy.
Randall Cobb has been subpar with just 8.3 PPG, but once he starts finding the end zone he will shoot up the rankings. Expectations were very high on Cobb during 2015 and he failed to live up to them, but with Nelson back he should be able to find more success. There will be some risk starting Cobb this week as he has yet to really impress, but he should be a decent mid-range wide receiver as Rodgers slings it out.
Davante Adams snagged a touchdown during Week 1 and has averaged 7.3 points this season. While he does have some potential and could find success against the Lions, starting him is not advised. Unless you are in a deep league with three wide receivers, Adams is too much of a boom-or-bust option to make most lineups. He definitely has the potential for a big week, but cannot be relied upon to guarantee it.
This is one of those situations where weakness meets weakness. The Lions have been awful against tight ends this season, ranking dead last in the NFL and giving up four touchdowns already this year. While Dwayne Allen and Delanie Walker are two of the better options in fantasy, they exposed holes in the defense that other teams could take advantage of.
Meanwhile, the Packers rank just 22nd in the league in tight end fantasy production, and do not seem to rely on their options at the position as much as other pass catchers. Both Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers are averaging just 3 PPG and seem like fourth options at best. Aaron Rodgers should have a good game, but the tight ends might still be left out.