It may be about four weeks too late, but there is probably some need for clarity regarding the phrase “Fantasy Pick/Player of the Week.” There really is no sense in identifying or predicting the highest point-getter among the Lions each week, as that becomes boring and repetitive and really does not provide much value.
Instead, Defenses & Dragons is about identifying the player who is most likely to exceed expectations—a player who is being overlooked or undervalued by the general public. By looking at current trends of the opposing defense, astute fantasy owners are able to uncover key factors that will lead them to the best lineup decisions. Hopefully one of those factors will be Kerryon Johnson, who is the Week 4 Defenses & Dragons Player of the Week.
FantasyPros Ranking: RB21 (0.5 PPR)
FanDuel Pricing: RB38 ($5700)
The Lions made all of the headlines last Sunday, among them the infamous 100-yard-rusher drought that finally ended. Johnson was slated to be the one to break the streak from the moment he was drafted, and it was very encouraging to see him succeed in only his third professional game.
All of the attention is on him now in both the NFL and fantasy communities. Despite this, the national perception is still hesitant to completely buy in. While consensus expert ratings have Johnson as a low-end RB2, daily fantasy pricing sees him as a flyer at best. This discrepancy likely comes down to one thing: carry distribution.
Though Johnson was the one to break 100 yards, he still evenly split carries with LeGarrette Blount. Until he takes over the workload, he will have a limited ceiling in fantasy. However, his involvement in the passing game and impressive efficiency metrics should naturally tip the scales in his favor. Against the Patriots, it became clear who the better rusher is.
Assuming the Lions recognize this truth, Johnson could be in for a big game against Dallas. Although Detroit features a trio of deadly receivers, the Cowboys have been much more vulnerable against the run this season, and the vast majority of fantasy points have come from opposing running backs.
Through the first three weeks of 2018, teams’ top running backs have been much more productive against the Cowboys than their top wide receivers. The trio of Devin Funchess, Odell Beckham Jr., and Tyler Lockett averaged just 7.8 fantasy points against Dallas, while Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Chris Carson put up 15.9 fantasy points on average.
This is a trend the Lions should look to exploit. With the absence of Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, the breakout of Johnson last week, and the solid play of the offensive line, everything is in place for the rookie rusher in Week 4. He will not get 100 percent of the carries, but he will see enough action to have a more-than-serviceable afternoon.
Prediction: 12 carries, 55 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 30 yards; 16.5 fantasy points