Fantasy Team Preview: Detroit Lions

I’ll be brief with the Lions. Before I begin, I’ll post a few words of warning for fantasy football drafters. Know your Steve Smiths and Adrian Petersons. If you meant to select Steve Smith of Carolina and put Steve Smith of New York on your predraft list, hope that you’re in a league of people who have feelings. Yes, I was talked into doing a draft-only league, which is freaking brilliant. Draft your team and every week your best scorers are automatically selected. No waivers, no hours spent poring over injury reports. Just draft and forget. I may pass on predrafting, though.

I was ousted from my perch as Wii Sports champion by my wife. My bowling game started going downhill recently, but I thought I was pretty good in golf. Sadly I lost both, and in a four-player showdown at the Funk Sports grill I came in fourth more than once. It’s sad to see a former champion reduced to such a state.

The Lions were historically bad last year. While they don’t expect to be much better, look for a few fantasy stars.

Last year’s surprising rookie QB turns were made by players who entered the draft after being fifth-year seniors. This year’s rookie QB “stars” are juniors who left school early. Still, Matthew Stafford could be the starter on day one, not just because of his crazy price tag but talent. He’s a QB3 with upside and a possible future starter in your dynasty leagues.

If you have a moment, look at Kevin Smith’s last year at Central Florida. He was a monster with more than 2000 yards rushing. Most people thought that his decision to enter the draft last year was unwise. He lucked out, ending up on a Lion team that had just jettisoned their former first-round running back in Kevin Jones. Smith, not he of Clerks fame, finished 2008 with 20-carry games in six of his last eight. He has top 12 potential.

When it comes to Lion receivers, it’s Megatron and everyone else. Calvin Johnson’s meh rookie season was soon forgotten as he averaged 17.1 yards a catch with guys like Dan Orlovsky throwing him the ball. It’s not inconceivable to see him as the top wideout this year even with a rookie quarterback. The rest of the receivers are forgettable, with Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Ronald Curry, and rookie Derrick Williams fighting for the few targets that will be left.

Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew will start. He’s a blocking tight end who can catch, and with the Lions’ offensive line, he’ll be asked to stay in and block quite often.

Jason Hanson is old, but he does kick in a dome.

Team D big numbers: 28 sacks, 4 interceptions (really), and 31 fumbles. The kick/punt return game should be better, but this is a waiver wire D.

At DE, Dewayne White is a decent starter. Cliff Avril is the up-and-coming youngster. The large and in charge Grady Jackson is there to help the defensive tackle position.

Ernie Sims is the team’s top linebacker. Larry Foote, signed after the Steelers said “bye”, should start at MLB and could help your team. Julian Peterson is a big-play guy.

A starting duo of rookie Louis Delmas and Daniel Bullocks should be good at safety, since the guys up front may not be making a ton of tackles. Cornerbacks Anthony Henry and Philip Buchanon should be avoided in a way that opposing quarterbacks will be targeting them.

The core of Stafford/Smith/Johnson has promise. They need help. A lot of help.

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