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Defenses and Dragons: Fantasy players to watch in Lions-Saints

A pair of quarterback-wide receiver tandems will be the focus in New Orleans

New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Each week, Defenses and Dragons will highlight two Detroit Lions and two opponents who stand out in the matchup, for better or for worse. It may be a stud who could struggle, or it could be a lower-level guy primed for a big game; either way, these are players who should over or underperform their typical output. D&D hopes to help out with crunch-time decisions by taking a closer look at the matchup through historical stats. All stated scoring assumes six points for all touchdowns and a half point per reception.

Matthew Stafford

It took until garbage time for Matthew Stafford to redeem himself in Week 5, and while that was frustrating for Lions fans, it worked out for fantasy owners. He essentially met his season average with a touch over 19 fantasy points, and he recorded his first multi-score game since the second week of the season.

The Saints allowed barely any points to Cam Newton and Jay Cutler, but got lit up by Sam Bradford and Tom Brady. Will Stafford be able to match the three-touchdown total of the latter two? It is certainly within the realm of responsibility. Hesitation is warranted, but owners can feel good about starting Stafford in New Orleans.

Marvin Jones

After a hot start to his Lions career, Marvin Jones has had very few weeks of solid fantasy production. 2017 has picked up right where 2016 ended, and Jones has reached double-digits just once, when all three Lions receivers exploded against Arizona. Though the talent and targets are there, relying on Marvin Jones is too risky right now.

Oddly enough, Jones has been the top-scoring Lions receiver for three of the five weeks this season. However, this speaks much more about the passing game’s struggles than it does about Jones. The Saints are a bottom-10 fantasy defense against wide receivers, but knowing which Lions will capitalize is different. Even with a tasty matchup, Jones may struggle again.

Drew Brees

As expected, Drew Brees has looked sharp in each of his four starts this season, posting at least 17 points on each occasion and over 26 points twice. Impressively, he has done so against defenses that rank in the top 10 against fantasy quarterbacks aside from New England. The Lions fall into this category as well, setting up an interesting matchup in Week 6.

Cam Newton took a lot of wind out of Detroit’s sails last week, but on the whole, the Lions have been tough against opposing QBs. Admittedly, much of this has come from an elevated interception rate; taking those picks away lands Detroit right around league average. Brees should be a QB1 this week, but do not be surprised if he lands near the back-end of the group.

Michael Thomas

It took a couple weeks, but Michael Thomas is ramping up towards his numbers from his excellent rookie season last year. Back-to-back 18-point weeks in his last two outings have coincided with strong outings from his quarterback. Thomas is miles ahead of his fellow Saints receivers in targets. Even if Brees struggles, Thomas could still be in line for a big day.

The Lions defend quarterbacks well but are in the bottom half against fantasy receivers. The Saints have looked good on the ground as well, but they should throw the ball a decent amount on Sunday. The majority of these passes should head towards Thomas, and the Lions looked especially vulnerable last week in the secondary.