2020 Fantasy Previews Part 11: Detroit Lions

The Lions started the year like they normally do, extremely average. They went 3-4-1 through their first 8 games and it was looking like a typical Lions season. A typical Lions season, if you didn't know, is where they are too mediocre to make the playoffs but don't get a high enough draft pick where the player will make an immediate impact. After going 3-4-1, starting quarterback Matthew Stafford got hurt. They then proceeded to lose their final 8 games, with 6 of those being one possession difference. The team fell apart without Stafford leading them. If there is a positive to take away from Stafford missing the back half of the season, it is they finally got a high draft pick. What's amazing about this pick is they finally didn't screw up and take a position they shouldn't have when there were bigger needs. They took a great cornerback in Jeff Okudah. The Lions lost Darius Slay over the offseason and Okudah will try to be his replacement. On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions' players really like offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's offense. Stafford was playing MVP level football before he went down and this quietly should be one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Projected depth chart:

Quarterback: 1. Matthew Stafford 2. Chase Daniel

Running back: 1. D'Andre Swift 2. Kerryon Johnson

Wide receiver: 1. Kenny Golladay 2. Marvin Jones 3. Quintez Cephus 4. Geronimo Allison

Slot receiver: 1. Danny Amendola 2. Geremy Davis

Tight end: 1. T.J. Hockenson 2. Jesse James

Quarterbacks - Matthew Stafford has been the model for consistency at the quarterback position in the NFL. Before the 2019 season, he played 16 games in 8 straight seasons, passed for over 4000 yards every season, and never finished below the QB20. Most years, Stafford was finishing inside the top 10 for quarterbacks. He is one of those players that always puts up great stats on a bad team.

In 2019, Stafford finished as the QB29. This is pretty amazing considering he played in only 8 games. He was on pace to have his second best fantasy season ever, averaging 20.8 fantasy points. If he would've kept this up through the whole year, he would've finished as the QB3 with 332.8 fantasy points. He was on pace for just under 5000 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

For the upcoming season, I would definitely have Stafford in my top 10 fantasy quarterbacks. In year 2 in Darrell Bevell's system, Stafford will definitely improve. You can comfortably get Stafford as a QB2 on your roster, which is crazy because he was on pace to finish as the QB3 this year. Stafford is being taken way too low and is a huge sleeper this year.

Running backs - Prior to them drafting Kerryon Johnson in 2018, the Lions did not have a running back run for 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush did it in 2013. It took 70 games, but against the Patriots in 2018, the streak was broken. Kerryon Johnson ran for 101 yards. This streak shows how badly the Lions needed a running back and had been looking for one ever since Bush left.

Kerryon Johnson was the starting running back for the Lions in 2019, but only played in 8 games. In those 8 games, he was a solid flex option, averaging 10.6 fantasy points per game. Johnson scored under 8 points in two of the eight weeks. A problem with Kerryon was his inconsistent carries. In the 8 games he played, he carried the ball 16, 12, 20, 26, 13, 5, 10, and 11 times.

In the 2020 NFL Draft the Lions drafted De'Andre Swift in the second round, questioning Lions fans everywhere. This pick was obviously made because they don't have confidence in Kerryon Johnson as the starting workhorse running back. Kerryon Johnson is going in the 6th-7th round and I'm not touching him. He is going to split carries with Swift until he gets injured and Swift emerges. Swift is also going around that time and I think he has much better value than Johnson. Swift will emerge at some point as the starting running back. It's just a matter of when.

Wide receivers - Coming out of college, Kenny Golladay was a relatively unknown prospect. He went to Northern Illinois, a mid-major power and got drafted by the Lions in the 2017 NFL draft. Golladay was not used very much his rookie season as he only scored 94.6 fantasy points. In his second season, Golladay received 70 more targets and was a breakout. He finished with 207.1 fantasy points in 2018, after the departure of Golden Tate left the WR1 spot open.

In 2019, Golladay got even better. He caught 65 passes for 1190 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite having three quarterbacks. Golladay finished as the WR9, but was very boom or bust. He finished with under 10.5 points 6 times and over 14 points 10 times. The WR2, Marvin Jones was very similar as he finished as the WR28 and had 4 games over 19 points, but the rest were under 13.

Going into 2020, both Golladay and Jones are viable fantasy options. They will improve with a healthy Matthew Stafford at quarterback. Kenny Golladay is going around the end of 2nd to early 3rd. I would feel confident with him as my WR1 but only if I got him in the 3rd. Marvin Jones is going in the 6th-7th round and I think he could be a sleeper at that price. Jones will see an increase of targets and catchable passes with a healthy quarterback.

Tight ends - In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected another tight end in the top 10. In 2014, they selected Eric Ebron, who played 4 seasons in Detroit and then left. Ebron then went on to have the best season of his career with the Colts, as he caught 13 touchdowns. The selection in 2019 was T.J. Hockenson from Iowa.

Hockenson broke out in his first game wis the Lions. He caught 6 passes for 131 yards and 1 touchdown. T.J Hockenson was one of the top waiver wire picks after week 1. He disappointed his fantasy football owners as he only scored over 10 points one more time that season.

I have Hockenson as a sleeper going into 2020. He should be much better with Stafford there. Usually in their first seasons, tight ends aren't that good. Travis Kelce scored 0 points in his rookie season due to an injury and George Kittle barely scored over 100. Hockenson is going around the 9th round but I would only consider taking him as a backup tight end.

Fantasy analysis:

Sleeper: Matthew Stafford, T.J. Hockenson, Marvin Jones

Bust: Kerryon Johnson

Overpriced: De'Andre Swift

Good with the right pick: Kenny Golladay

I'm not touching: Danny Amendola

I hope you liked 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 11: Detroit Lions. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 12: Green Bay Packers. Feel free to comment your thoughts on Lions players for fantasy football 2020.

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