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Fantasy Football: Projecting the Detroit Lions’ value after the bye

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The arrows are pointing up for young Lions in fantasy.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Lions are recipients of an early bye, playing less than a third of their schedule before getting a week off. However, fantasy players are well into their seasons, with the playoffs as close as seven weeks away. Every week in season-long leagues is vital, and with Detroit on its bye, it gives us time to reset expectations for the rest of the year.

Quarterback

Matthew Stafford (ADP: QB10, Actual: QB15)

Week 1 was a disaster for Stafford with four picks, but he was only slightly more productive in Week 5 against the Packers. Only once has he topped 25 fantasy points, which was something he accomplished five times last season. While he is averaging more attempts per game that he did last season, his last three outings have only seen 30.7 passes per game.

Stafford has always been a quarterback who benefits from volume, so there is some reason for pause given his recent performance. He is still well within the mix at the position, but there are probably better quarterbacks to start each week. Stafford is due for a slight uptick in fantasy production, but his ADP is likely his ceiling this season.

Running back

Kerryon Johnson (ADP: RB25, Actual: RB27)

Everyone across the fantasy world is dying for Johnson to get more carries, but that has not been in the Lions’ plans so far. Even so, he has done a great job with the few touches he has received, recording over 9.0 points in each of his past four weeks. The volume is bound to increase at some point, which could mean big things in store for the rookie.

Aside from workload, the two potential flags for Johnson are his lack of touchdowns and minimal targets. The former is unlikely to change too drastically, as he will probably not see a ton of goal line work. The receptions are something that could increase with playing time, though. Either way, everything is trending up for Johnson.

LeGarrette Blount (ADP RB52, Actual: RB53)
Theo Riddick (ADP RB54, Actual: RB49)

The emergence of Johnson has rendered both Blount and Riddick useless in fantasy. Expectations for the duo were fairly low before the season, and the first five weeks have confirmed that belief. Blount did fall into the end zone twice against Green Bay, but he is only useful in goal line situations, which are impossible to predict.

Riddick had a crazy 12 targets against San Francisco, but has not seen a ton of action since then. If Johnson continues to grow into a bigger role, he may also play a part in the passing game. Blount and Riddick can safely be ignored in fantasy.

Wide receiver

Golden Tate (ADP: WR21, Actual: WR10)

It may not be obvious that Tate is a top-10 receiver this season, but the numbers do not lie. He has caught at least seven passes in three of his five games this season, and he has topped 100 yards twice after doing so just three times in all of 2017. Stafford is absolutely feeding Tate, and he leads the team in targets by 10.

Though he has yet to see a target in the end zone, Tate has already scored three touchdowns this season. He has been excellent after the catch as usual, and figures to be a big part of the offense all season. Tate did have a bit of a down game against the Packers, which is a good reminder of his history of a low fantasy floor, but he will outperform his ADP.

Marvin Jones (ADP: WR25, Actual: WR35)

For whatever reason, Stafford and Jones have not been fully in sync in 2018. They have connected for three touchdowns already, but the total seems like it should be so much higher. As a result, only twice has Jones scored more than eight points, and he has yet to even record five catches in a game.

There is cause for concern with Jones. He is beginning to look like the third receiver in the trio, which probably moves him out of the fantasy WR2 conversation. However, this offense is good enough to sustain three receivers, and it is unlikely that he will continue to struggle all year long. Jones is still seeing a ton of end zone targets which means opportunity will always be there, but temper expectations.

Kenny Golladay (ADP: WR52, Actual: WR16)

All of the hype in Detroit belongs to Golladay, who has grabbed national attention in his sophomore season. He has four outings over 14.0 points and two games over 17.0 points, making him about as consistent as you could hope for in fantasy. His 41 targets firmly place him as the team’s second receiver, and the workload should only increase.

Golladay has three touchdowns this season to go with 27 receptions and over 400 yards. No one was expecting this sort of production, and he has a good shot for ending the year as a top-20 wide receiver. With plenty of mouths to feed in Detroit, there is a chance he sees a small dip, but Golladay is completely trending in the right direction.

Tight end

Luke Willson (ADP: TE33, Actual: TE67)
Michael Roberts (ADP: TE60, Actual: TE60)
Levine Toilolo (ADP: TE60, Actual: TE74)

We knew the tight end situation was going to be rough, but this might be even worse than expected. In total, Lions tight ends have 18.4 fantasy points this season. This would not even crack the top 32 individual players at the position. Ouch.

There is not much to say here. Some had hoped Willson might be a sleeper, but he has just four catches through four games. Roberts is the lucky recipient of the group’s lone touchdown, but that was his only catch of the year. Run away from Detroit tight ends; it does not get any uglier than this.