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

The Detroit offense draws a tough matchup in Baltimore.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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 was tough to see Matthew Stafford look sub-par on Thanksgiving, and yet again he was bothered by injuries. He still ended the day with 18.0 fantasy points despite not putting on his best performance, somewhat providing value for owners who trusted him against the Vikings. Stafford has an even tougher task this weekend, though, and should be avoided.

The Ravens are the second-toughest defense against fantasy quarterbacks, giving up just 10.7 PPG. Since Week 3 they have yet to give up 20 points at the position, and while the competition has not always been elite, the Baltimore defense is no joke. With Stafford banged up against Minnesota, this is a week to set the bar low.

Marvin Jones

Despite facing a top-five defense against wide receivers and catching passes from an injured quarterback, Marvin Jones is a name to watch this week. His numbers over the past six weeks are otherworldly, averaging 17.6 PPG in these contests. With someone has hot as Jones, it would be smart to just ride it out this streak.

The Ravens are very good against the pass, but Jones has drawn tough assignments throughout the season and still has found success. He is playing at a level that cannot be ignored and is always a deep-ball threat. The Lions might struggle overall, but Jones can still be started on Sunday.

Alex Collins

For the most part, the Ravens have been very poor on offense this season, but lately Alex Collins have given them at least one weapon to rely on. He has scored at least 12 points in three of the last four weeks and received over 15 carries in each of those games. Collins is the only Baltimore player to trust against the Lions in fantasy.

The Lions were once good against opposing running backs, but that is now a distant memory. With no confidence in the passing game, expect the Ravens to try to pound the ball with the run game. Volume makes Collins an intriguing option and a touchdown would give owners more than enough from him against Detroit.

Jeremy Maclin

Simply put, Jeremy Maclin and everyone else in the Ravens passing game should be avoided in fantasy. Baltimore has shown zero ability to attack teams through the air, as Joe Flacco has done next to nothing this year. Against a Lions defense that is at least average in the pass game, do not even consider starting Maclin.

The Ravens rank second-to-last in fantasy quarterback production, so it is unsurprising that none of the pass catchers have any stats of note. Maclin is the best option of the bunch and is probably the only one left on any fantasy rosters. However, there is no reason that Maclin should see any starting lineups this weekend.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.