Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles
Detroit: The Lions come off their bye, still smarting from their loss to division rival Minnesota back in Week 4. So far, the Lions haven’t shown much of the offensive explosiveness that they displayed in 2011, when they ranked 5th in offense and looked like an up and coming group. They’re still ranked 3rd overall in total offensive yards per game, but their scoring is down, now tied for 11th with 25 points per game. The big worry is the defense ranks 26th in points scored against, allowing 28.5 points. 25 doesn’t sound like a lot for the offense to score when looking at it under the light of a really bad defense.
Matthew Stafford really needs a bounce back game; his yardage is fine (296 per game, good for 7th in the league) but he’s only thrown 3 TDs against 4 INTs. That level of (non)production puts him on a pace of only 12 TDs and 16 INTs. That’s a far cry from the 41 he had last year, with the same number of INTs (16). In fact, after the first four games of 2011, Stafford already had 11 TDs and only 3 INTs. Unfortunately, the Eagles aren’t the best team to try to bounce back with, as the Eagles rank a robust 9th against the pass.
If Stafford is going to have some success, he not only has to get Calvin Johnson loose against a very good Eagles secondary, but the secondary targets like Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, and Titus Young have to start helping out more.
Speaking of helping, the Mikel Leshoure-led ground game also has to get going. Against the Vikings Leshoure was a bust, but the Eagles rank only 14th against the rush, so they are vulnerable there. The questions is, will the Lions stick with the running game long enough for it to matter?
Good Start: QB Matthew Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson
Middle of the Road: RB Mikel Leshoure, TE Brandon Pettigrew
Bad Start: WR Nate Burleson, WR Titus Young
Philadelphia Eagles: Talk about needing a bounce back game. The Eagles come into this one having lost last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game where really they had their chances to pull out a victory. Good thing Michael Vick and company get the Lions this week, sporting the aforementioned defense that can’t stop anyone right now.
Unfortunately, Vick just hasn’t been able to take advantage of many good matchups this year. While he’s on pace to throw for over 4000 yards, he also is on pace for 19 INTs (against just 19 TDs) and an astounding 10 lost fumbles. 29 turnovers on a season not only won’t win you many games, but it’s a good way to get run out of town.
One of the players most hurt by Vick’s downward slide isn’t his receivers; it’s Lesean McCoy. Teams are concentrating more on taking away Shady rather than Vick at this point, so McCoy is finding less running room and even less opportunities to score touchdowns, something he got used to with 20 TDs in 2011. McCoy is still on pace for over 1600 total yards, but pacing at only 6 TDs on the year. Now, I think we all know that McCoy will score more than just 6 times all season; however at this point, owners should consider themselves lucky if he gets half the scores he had last year.
For Vick’s passing game targets ,Desean Jackson remains the sole wide receiver that has good value, since Jeremy Maclin can’t seem to stay on the field. Brent Celek does a good job with the targets he gets, but right now he’s only getting 4-6 targets a game, and has to block over 20% of the time; not good for consistent fantasy production.
Good Start: RB Lesean McCoy, WR Desean Jackson
Middle of the Road: QB Michael Vick, TE Brent Celek
Bad Start: WR Jeremy Maclin