Lions Players You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Drafting In Fantasy Football
Of the top 100 players in the NFL this year, the Detroit Lions have none... not a single one. They're not the only team, mind you - The Jets and Giants have no top-tier players either.
But just because the NFL isn't ranking any Lions Players up there, doesn't mean you should look over some of them in your last-second Fantasy drafts. There's still some real talent on the team that can absolutely help you win some games this year.
Obviously, there's some veteran guys who showed flashes of brilliance last season.
Amon-Ra St. Brown was absolutely a top-end guy in 2021, but didn't hit the limelight until injuries to D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson forced more looks on the wide outs. St. Brown used that to his advantage, putting up monster numbers at the end of the season - averaging 8 receptions on 11 targets, and 90 yards and a touchdown per game. If you're looking for a solid 2nd in your starting lineup, he could wind up being a consistent point man for your Fantasy team. Keep an eye on him somewhere around your 6th round of drafting.
Speaking of T.J. Hockenson, if he can stay healthy, then this is a decent TE3 addition to your team, maybe a good flex spot guy. He missed the last five games of 2021 with a thumb injury, but before that - 61 catches and 583 yards with four touchdowns. Jared Goff will be looking to spread the ball around the field this year now that he has more familiarity with his teammates. Hockenson will be a smart target in short yardage situations, and should the Lions pull up into the red zone, T.J. is likely to get at least one target in a shot at the endzone.
D'Andre Swift is obviously a solid pick. He's the heavy lifter in the Lions backfield when he's healthy. A shoulder injury derailed his progress in 2021, but before then, showed increases in ypg and went back-to-back 130+ yard games. Cautiously optimistic about Swift being an RB2... just hope the injury bug doesn't jump up and snag him again this year, but it's clear (after hearing his breakdown in Hard Knocks this season), he's all in, and dedicated to giving the Lions everything he's got.
Jared Goff is your offensive wildcard. Probably not a QB1 or QB2, simply because he doesn't have a large array of skill position players around him. His targets will be a little more predictable, meaning defenses will be quick to read where his eyes are going. THAT SAID, though... he only had one year to work with his teammates last season. The guy took the Rams to a Super Bowl in 2018, and held his own (for the most part) against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Arguably, his stat line took a dip last season, but when you move to a new team after five seasons - new coaches, new scheme, new teammates - it can take a minute to get your groove set. Goff is likely to see an uptick this year, and could be a good guy to come off the bench.
Obviously, the Lions aren't a high pick as far as their WHOLE defense is considered, but definitely expect to see some progress, and growth for them this year. I don't know if I'd draft their defense when so many other "sure things" are out there. HOWEVER, for those leagues that draft individual defensive players, keep an eye on two rookies.
Linebacker Malcom "Rodrigo" Rodriguez is a potential rising star in Detroit. He was CRUSHING it at Oklahoma State, steamrolling over teams, named first-team All-American by ESPN as a senior, and named MVP of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl. But none of that was good enough for the NFL apparently, and he fell to the sixth round in the draft. Good news for Detroit, as they still needed someone to wear the "green dot" on the field after Alex Anzalone's dismal 2021 season. "Rodrigo" has the potential to steal Anzalone's spot on the field, and be the Lions' defensive "go-to" guy on the field as the season carries on.
And then there's the other rookie I eluded to. The new "crowned jewel" of the Lions Defense, and Michigan's prodigal son... defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. He was raised in Michigan, played high school in Michigan, played college AT Michigan, and was drafted second overall by the Detroit Lions. This guy BLEEDS Pure Michigan. It's possible his saliva is straight Vernor's, and his blood is Faygo Red Pop. So far, he's proven himself to be the absolute starter at defensive end, and brought high praise from all of his coaches. If you're drafting individual defenders in your league, make sure he's in your starting lineup.
Now, full disclosure, I'm not a genius at Fantasy Football, but in the past 15 years of playing, I have been able to spot a gen or two out there in free agency and early in the year. And so far this year, two of these guys are on at least one of my fantasy teams, so I've got some skin in the game, too.
Gonna be a fun year, good luck to you all.