Last year, the Detroit Lions were one of the most surprisingly good offenses in the league, leading them to be a sneaky good resource for fantasy football options. By standard scoring, Jared Goff was the 10th best fantasy quarterback, while Amon-Ra St. Brown was ninth among receivers, and Jamaal Williams was seventh among running backs.
Going into 2023, the Lions' offense has higher expectations and more national recognition. Still, ESPN listed several of Detroit’s weapons as “sleepers” for fantasy football in 2023.
A panel of nine experts predicted sleepers, busts, and breakout candidates for the upcoming season at each position. No Lions players were listed as potential busts, while four different Lions players were either labeled “sleepers” or “breakout candidates”.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen listed Jared Goff as a sleeper at the quarterback position, joining the likes of Anthony Richardson, Kenny Pickett, and Russell Wilson, among others. Last year, Goff had his most productive season since 2018, throwing for 4,438 yards, 29 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. His current average fantasy draft position ranks him as QB18(!!), so there’s definitely some value to be had there.
Jameson Williams also got a shoutout as a sleeper amongst the wide receiver group. Obviously, Williams would have to ride your fantasy football bench for the first six games while he serves his gambling suspension, but there is a potentially high upside to the back half of the season. Williams only had one catch and a rush in six games played last season, but expectations are high for the 2022 12th overall pick going into Year 2. Per ESPN, Williams’ average fantasy draft position is 165 (WR62)—so there is definitely potential for a steal there.
Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta had two ESPN analysts pick him as a potential sleeper (Daniel Dopp and Liz Loza). Betting on rookie production from a tight end is a dangerous play considering the modest history of first-year players at that position, but LaPorta has impressed throughout spring practices, and given Detroit’s explosive offense, it’s quite possible that he breaks the mold. Currently, LaPorta is ranked as the 21st tight end by average fantasy draft position, though, so he’s probably worth the risk.
Finally, there’s rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs. He was listed as a potential breakout player by Eric Karabell. Taken 12th overall, there’s obviously a high expectation for Gibbs to produce immediately. And while the team also invested highly in tailback David Montgomery—who could very well vulture touchdowns like Jamaal Williams did last year—Gibbs is expected to be a big part of Detroit’s passing game. Gibbs is currently RB16 in average draft order, so it’s clear some people are already expecting gaudy stats from the former Crimson Tide running back.