This article is an overall analysis of the Detroit Lions' offense and it's fantasy football value. Let's first evaluate some important and crucial numbers from last season and predict how the Lions will do this season.
Vital 2012 Stats:
- Points Scored: 23.2 point per game (Ranked 17th)
- Rushing: 100.8 yards per game (Ranked 23rd)
- Passing: 307.9 yards per game (Ranked 2nd)
I won't elaborate on the team's defense/special teams but the Lions didn't have a defensive touchdown and had only one touchdown via punt return.
We can assume the Lions offense will only get better due to the acquisition of Reggie Bush. Bush is a versatile running back and will easily average more rushing yards per game this season than the Lions averaged all of last season. His presence will also open up Calvin Johnson, who didn't have as many touchdowns as his fantasy owners would have hoped.
Let's take a look at their 2013 schedule and evaluate.
Week 1 - Sept. 8 - vs. Minnesota Vikings (1 p.m., FOX)
- The Vikings aren't known for their defense but they play well against the run.
Week 2 - Sept. 15 - at Arizona Cardinals
- I wouldn't be worried at all about this match-up.
Week 3 - Sept. 22 - at Washington Redskins
- The 'Skins best fantasy football defense is their offense. They take forever on the field and give their opponent's offense no time to do what they need to.
Week 4 - Sept. 29 - vs. Chicago Bears
- Good against QBs and RBs.
Week 5 - Oct. 6 - at Green Bay Packers
- They had a very average defense last season, but this match-up is at home and if they're healthy, expect a tough match-up for the Lions offense.
Week 6 - Oct. 13 - at Cleveland Browns
- I wouldn't bench anyone against the Browns.
Week 7 - Oct. 20 - vs. Cincinnati Bengals
- The Bengals are a great fantasy football defense and shouldn't be under-estimated. they ranked top 10 against key fantasy football positions and they expect a repeat performance this season.
Week 8 - Oct. 27 - vs. Dallas Cowboys
- The Cowboys are streaky so it'll be tough. I wouldn't bench anyone that isn't on my usual starting roster against this match-up.
Week 9 - BYE
Week 10 - Nov. 10 - at Chicago Bears
- The Bears, a great running defense, at home against Reggie Bush (who has played in hot climate or climate controlled stadiums his entire NCAA and NFL career). I expect Bush to struggle in this one.
Week 11 - Nov. 17 - at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Scary defense. I would make sure that Stafford is secured on the bench on this one and would hope you have other players who will perform so you don't have to rely on Megatron or Bush. Seriously....be afraid.
Week 12 - Nov. 24 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- They just obtained Darrelle Revis and used 4 of their 6 draft picks on defensive players. The Bucs were defensive trash this year, but expect a fair match-up on week 12.
Week 13 - Nov. 28 - vs. Green Bay Packers
- Packers defense was very average last season and the Lions have great talent on offense. It will be a Thursday night match-up.
Week 14 - Dec. 8 - at Philadelphia Eagles
- These aren't the Eagles we're used to, this is Chip Kelly's Eagles. What does that mean? No one knows yet.
Week 15 - Dec. 16 - vs. Baltimore Ravens
- The aging Baltimore defense, who were horrible against the run last season, lost their best rush defender at the end of their Super Bowl victory. With Ray Lewis out of the picture, I'm sure Reggie Bush can do some heavy duty damage against the Ravens.
Week 16 - Dec. 22 - vs. New York Giants
- It's important not to look at stats with the Giants, but to look at when in the season you're playing them. If the Giants are in the playoff runs at this point, the Lions offense will have a tough time getting things started.
Week 17 - Dec. 29 - at Minnesota Vikings
- With two first-round rookies with an entire season of experience under their belt, and a chance to see how the Lions offense runs, expect a better match up from their game in week 1.
Team Breakdown By Position:
QB: Matthew Stafford
In 2012, Stafford threw for 4947 yards and 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He'll get you yards but his touchdown to interception ratio was almost 1:1. I expect better from him during the 2013 with the ability to throw to Reggie Bush and how Bush's dynamics will get Johnson opportunities in the end-zone. However, it's tough to predict if he'll get more or less than his 4 rushing touchdowns from last season. What we do know is that Stafford was sacked 29 times last season and that may even get worse this season. The Lions failed to address their need at the offensive line during the NFL Draft, with the exception of a third-round pick.
Stafford makes a good back-up quarterback in smaller league and a great rainy day quarterback in bigger leagues.
RBs: Reggie Bush, Mikel Leshoure
Reggie Bush is a great player but isn't a fantasy football beast. He's been used as a red herring and has split his workload with other backs in the past. The lions are a pass heavy offense but will depend on Bush at some points. Mikel Leshoure had about 800 yards and 9 touchdowns last season as the primary back with 215 rushing attempts.
Reggie Bush makes a great second running back or flex player on any fantasy team but is even more valuable in PPR leagues. Don't pick up Mikel Leshoure unless you're running into injury issues or you have space for a second or third backup Running Back in bigger leagues.
WRs: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson
Calvin Johnson broke the record for most receiving yards in NFL history last season but only had 5 touchdowns to show for it. The offense will open up a little more with the Lions versatile running backs and that will hopefully give Calvin Johnson more touchdown opportunities. The Lions lack a bonafide number two receiver and that's tough for fantasy football players and on Calvin Johnson. Nate Burleson had 240 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns last season over 27 catches, but with Titus Young gone, expect those numbers to rise.
Let's put it this way, the guys who picked Calvin Johnson in the first-round in both of my fantasy teams last season won the league. Pick Calvin Johnson if he's available right away and start him regardless of match-ups. Nate Burleson might make a good bench WR or a rainy day flex player. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets enough opportunities this season to become a bonafide number two receiver in a big fantasy league.
TEs: Brandon Pettigrew
Pettigrew had the second most receptions on the second best past team in the NFL. With 567 yards and 3 touchdowns over 59 receptions, Pettigrew is a beast. I'd like to think Pettigrew will get more targets inside and outside of the end-zone due to the loss of Titus Young; but if he doesn't, he's still a good pick.
Pettigrew is an amazing Tight End to have in a PPR league. He isn't a Tight End you pick before you've settled your more important positions but if you can get him in the middle rounds of the draft in a PPR league...get him.
Nate Burleson or Brandon Pettigrew will see many more targets than usual this season due to the departure of Titus Young so either of them can breakout and be a fantasy football sleeper.
I think it's fair to say that Reggie Bush is going to get a ton of the carries for the Lions and that may leave Mikel Leshoure on the bench more than he was used to last season. This may even allow another player to rise up and be the number two back for the Lions.
Calvin Johnson. Draft him and get taken to the promise land.