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

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Four running backs enter. Which two will perform?

San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/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.

Ameer Abdullah

It can be hard to get excited about a player averaging just 7.10 PPG, but the future is bright for Ameer Abdullah. The healthy running back saw 15 carries in Week 1 and 17 carries in Week 2, with a trio of catches as well. The yards and touchdowns are not quite there yet, but the usage certainly is. The Lions are committing to Abdullah going forward, and his fantasy points should reflect that soon.

The Falcons were a bottom-five fantasy defense against running backs last year and look to be much of the same in 2017, as they have already surrendered back-to-back weeks of over 20 points allowed to a running back. Abdullah will not hit this mark, but he still looks like a solid start and is definitely the preferred option to Theo Riddick, whom he has significantly out-touched so far this season.

Golden Tate

Game script significantly hurt Golden Tate against the Giants, and just four targets left him with 4.50 points on the day. While he is still the core of Detroit’s passing game and will eventually find the end zone, this might not be the best week to expect a big showing from Tate. He can be started in most lineups, but lower expectations for Week 3.

The Falcons have not been significantly strong against fantasy wide receivers, so there should be points to be had. Unlike last week, the Lions will likely be throwing the ball a good amount, which will help all Detroit pass catchers. Unfortunately for Tate, there are a lot of mouths to feed, and this does not seem like the type of game where he will receive all the targets. He is the best option among Detroit receivers, but he is far from a lock.

Tevin Coleman

Teams obliterated the Lions through the air last season, leaving fantasy running backs somewhat quiet. Devonta Freeman will not be benched in any lineups on Sunday, but considering leaving out Tevin Coleman. Detroit already showed that they could handle backs as elite as David Johnson this season, and the Lions rank 12th in limiting fantasy running back production.

Coleman is a talented player who receives a decent among of attention in the offense even with Freeman there as well. He has posted a pair of modest outings in 2017 and is not going away anytime soon. However, against a defense like the Lions, he becomes a riskier play this week. Coleman will have big showings, but this is not likely to be one of them.

Austin Hooper

Detroit is no longer a bottom defense against fantasy tight ends, but there will be matchups to be had this season. Just as Evan Engram was correctly predicted to be a good play last week, Austin Hooper is better than a long-shot to make some noise as well. All tight ends are volatile, but Hooper’s upside and availability make him an intriguing play against Detroit.

Hooper made a name for himself during Week 1 after an impressive 88-yard touchdown. He landed on the exact opposite end of the spectrum in Week 2 with just seven yards. Against Detroit he will fall somewhere in the middle, with a dependency on finding the end zone. Hooper is probably good for three or four receptions, and if some of those come in the red zone he could have very a nice game.