It was a lackluster start to the Matt Patricia era in Motown last year. There were even rumors of player revolt by mid-season. A 25th ranked offense led to a 6-10 record and a new OC Darrell Bevell, who’s claim to fame was play caller for the Seahawks back to back Super Bowl teams. While we all remember that one glaring bad play call involving Marshawn Lynch, Bevell should bring a more balanced attack to the Lions. That doesn’t mean Kerryon Johnson necessarily becomes a fantasy breakout, but there is potential for Detroit to bounce back as a collective with some new faces.
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2019 Detroit Lions Fantasy Preview
KEY LOSSES: Golden Tate WR, Ezekiel Ansah DE, Nevin Lawson CB,
Impact: The remake of the Lions was in full swing, as Golden Tate was dealt at the deadline to the Eagles. Kenny Golladay showed he was ready for an increased role, so Tate became expendable. Ansah and Lawson were quickly replaced and overall, the team added a ton of depth.
KEY ADDITIONS: Trey Flowers DE, Justin Coleman CB, Jesse James TE, Danny Amendola, C.J. Anderson RB, Jermaine Kearse WR
Impact: While Detroit added depth, they didn’t add a whole lot of star power. Still, Trey Flowers brings his knowledge of the Matt Patricia defense with him from New England and he certainly played like he has a few productive years left. Another former New England Patriot joined the squad, but Danny Amendola will have to fight Jermaine Kearse for work in the slot. Jesse James won’t bring any fantasy value, but like the rest of this group, they bring playoff experience and the ability to help change the locker room mentality.
Losing has been the Lions DNA for quite some time. Perhaps these veterans can help impact the culture. The same can be said for C.J. Anderson, who played admirably for the Rams when Todd Gurley went down with an injury. Everyone is in “the best shape of their life” in training camp, but I for one would like to see Anderson in better shape if he’s going to be worth a fantasy look.
DRAFTED PLAYERS OF FANTASY NOTE: T.J. Hockenson TE, Jahlani Tavai LB, Will Harris S
Impact: I’m in the minority, but I believe T.J. Hockenson will have a shot at being productive in his rookie year. That’s uncommon for first-year tight ends, but Hockenson has that kind of talent. Yes, the Lions haven’t been a great home in recent years for the position, but this is a new OC and a HC who’ve seen first hand what a matchup nightmare a skillful tight end can be. Tavai seemed like a reach, but Patricia sees something in him. Harris will bring some flexibility to the secondary, something the Patriots always valued as well. You can see the mold they’re openly going for here folks.
The Lions have a very capable QB in Matthew Stafford, a nice mix of power running game and finesse with C.J. Anderson and Kerryon Johnson, and two strong wideouts in Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Jesse James, in theory, will mentor T.J. Hockenson and all of a sudden this is a very balanced and potent offense. Be aggressive on T.J. in dynasty formats. Marvin Jones is coming off of a knee injury but should be ready Week 1. While Kerryon Johnson will be the trendy fantasy pick, I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss Anderson in standard and deep leagues. The Lions wanted to be physical running the ball last year, but LeGarrette Blount’s best years were in the rearview. I’m a fan of Kerryon, I’m just not sold yet on the number of touches coming his way. Golladay will be the best return on investment in this group in 2019 by far.
Most folks don’t realize that the Lions were #1o in YPG, and solid against the run and pass alike. The trouble was the offense. Their inability to keep moving the chains wore them down on a weekly basis, hence they were 17th in PPG. If the offense can improve under Bevell, then the Lions are a sneaky fantasy unit this year. Jarrad Davis led the team in tackles and will your best IDP asset.
The Lions are still a notch behind the rest of the pack in this division, but they have made some positive changes on the roster and in the clubhouse that will go a long way. As long as Stafford stays healthy, Detroit may even throw in some upset specials and the Lions look to be a .500 team in 2019. That’s a reasonable goal and I fell attainable.
Joe Pisapia is the author of the #1 best-selling Fantasy Black Book Series and creator of the revolutionary player evaluation tool Relative Position Value (RPV). He’s the host of The Fantasy Black Book Podcast and the LineStar DFS Podcasts. Joe was previously host of the FSTA award-winning On Target Fantasy (2016 Radio Show of the Year), The Fantasy Black Book Show, RotoExperts in the Morning and NFL Game Day for the FNTSY Fantasy Sports Radio Network, as well as RotoWire MLB/NFL DFS Podcasts, and numerous shows for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. You can also see him frequently on CBS TV in New York on The Sports Desk. He’s written for The Sporting News, FanDuel Insider and FantasyAlarm.
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