Each week, Defenses and Dragons highlights key Detroit Lions players and their opponents. For Championship Weekend, D&D will look a little different and will review all key players in the matchup. All stated scoring assumes six points for all touchdowns and a half point per reception.
Matthew Stafford enters this week just outside of the top 10 in quarterback fantasy average, which is a fair assessment for his season. He has not had too many extreme games on either end, but Week 16 should be a good opportunity for him to have a big game. Cincinnati has given up at least 20 points to the position each of the last four weeks.
The outlook is not quite the same for Andy Dalton, and he has been just about average in 2017. After a decent string of games near the middle of the season, he has put up back-to-back clunkers against NFC North opponents. In the past two games he has totaled just 254 yards and one touchdown to go with three interceptions. Look elsewhere.
The Lions have been experimenting with their running game recently, but there is nothing to indicate that the results are going to improve anytime soon. Theo Riddick is the best bet and could be considering a weak Flex play, but odds are against a big output. Both Tion Green and Ameer Abdullah should be avoided, as Detroit is more likely to attack through the air.
The Bengals are expecting rookie Joe Mixon to return from injury, but he should also be started with extreme caution. Mixon has hit double digits on six occasions, but the Lions run defense was great last week. Giovanni Bernard is very similar to Theo Riddick, with some potential but a low ceiling.
Perhaps the best starts of this matchup all come from the wide receiver position. Marvin Jones Jr. continues to be Stafford’s deep-ball threat, and he should see enough targets to have a good day. Golden Tate will not be left out though, and both receivers can be started against the Bengals.
For Cincinnati it all comes down to AJ Green, who is having a down year by his own standards. At 12.5 PPG, Green has not been as dominant as in past seasons, but he still has topped 20 points four times in 2017. With very few other weapons on offense, Green will be the focal point of the Bengals’ attack.
Eric Ebron has come back to life, featuring double-digit weeks in consecutive games. Stafford has targeted him a whopping 18 times since Week 14 and clearly trusts the controversial player. Ebron is more of a boom-or-bust type play this week, but he deserves consideration in many fantasy lineups.
The Bengals have been reduced to Tyler Kroft at tight end which has not amounted to a whole lot. Kroft has found the end zone five times this year, but he has little else to show on his resume. With a fantasy championship on the line, Kroft should not see any starting lineups against the Lions.
The Lions are not an elite defense, but they have shown a knack for turnovers this season. They should not surrender too many points in Cincinnati, although they are unlikely to help out with many sacks. With Jamal Agnew back healthy, there is always the off chance for a return touchdown as well.
Cincinnati does not have a great fantasy defense and they should not be started this week. Expect Stafford and the Lions offense to move the ball down the field and find the end zone on multiple occasions. The Bengals are unlikely to be on many rosters anyway, but look elsewhere if streaming this weekend.