No Megatron, no problem.
2016 Review: In their first year post Megatron, the Detroit Lions passing game exceeded expectations. They actually had a few sleepers last season that may have helped you win your fantasy league. Matthew Stafford was a late pick in most leagues and finished the season as the 7th best QB overall. After a very slow start, Golden Tate finished the season on a high note at 23rd overall, and Eric Ebron finally produced a somewhat relevant stat line finishing the season at 15th at TE. Of course perhaps the biggest sleeper of all was 103 year old wideout Anquan Boldin who became their biggest red zone threat and saved many a fantasy season.
2017 Changes: Unfortunately, the Lions didn’t really make any changes for the better. With starting left tackle Taylor Decker out for at least the first month of the season, the team brought in lottery bust Greg Robinson from the Rams to spell him. Yikes. With Riley Reiff and Larry Warford signing elsewhere, the team also brought in T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner to fill in where necessary. Perhaps the biggest change of all for the 2017 LIons is that Ameer Abdullah has a clean bill of health and is ready to go. Fantasy experts love his value (have we heard this before?), so we’ll see.
2017 Outlook: Although the Lions put up respectable numbers in 2016, they seem to be undervalued a bit again. Yes, the offensive line has some concerns especially at left tackle. Yes, they finished 30th in rushing yards last season. But Stafford has become one of the more consistent options under center and has built a fairly reliable connection with Golden Tate. Eric Ebron could become a red zone threat. There is some hope that they can become at least a low 20’s running game in the league as well with Abdullah back.
Fantasy Star You Can Trust: Golden Tate’s current value seems a bit under appreciated considering his excellent conclusion to the 2016 season. After five weeks, Tate hadn’t reached 5 fantasy points in a single game; however, in 9 out of his last 11 games, he scored at least 5 points (including 7 or more in 7 of those games). He might not jump off the board as a must have WR, but he’s of some value considering the dropoff at the position in the mid-20s and the fact he’s available in most leagues in the 7th round or later.
Potential Draft Bust: Ameer Abdullah may have excellent starting RB draft value (currently at 100th on Yahoo), but it’s hard to trust a guy that missed 14 games the season before and has done little to earn the starting role when he has been healthy. The Lions did little to replace Abdullah in his absence (Theo Riddick and Zack Zenner aren’t great options either), but he still seems like a bit of a reach as a high end flex heading into this season. I’m not hating too much though considering his value.
Best Sleeper: Where did Marvin Jones go last year? With Anquan Boldin no longer on the roster, Jones could have an opportunity to step in and be a red zone target and hopefully return to form. Last season Jones’ play completely fell off following an excellent start to the season so he’s trusted by very few. This could be an advantage for those willing to take a late round flyer on an extremely athletically gifted deep threat. Jones is currently ranked in the 50’s at WR meaning he can be acquired very late in fantasy drafts for little to no risk.
Most Overrated Sleeper: Eric Ebron has a nice value as a borderline TE1/TE2; however, I fear he’s already listed on too many sleeper lists and could be taken higher up the list than this value. I like Ebron in the double digit rounds once 11 or 12 names are off the board at the position, but he seems like one of those guys that could go well before other sleepers I prefer (like Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry, Jack Doyle).
One Interesting Fantasy Stat: With the 30th ranked rushing offense, backup RB Zach Zenner was the only RB that achieved more than one rushing touchdown last season.
Most Intriguing Storyline: Can Ameer Abdullah carry the ball over 200 times and be the feature back this team has lacked pretty much since Barry Sanders retired?
One Thing I Was Right About (Last Year): A lot of things including that I loved Stafford’s value (he was ranked as a high end QB2) and that I never liked Abdullah.
One Thing I Was Wrong About: I must admit that I didn’t think the Anquan Boldin signing would amount to much. I was wrong. I also didn’t see Ebron having any real value.
Best Porn Name: Backup linemen Cole Wick deserves a shoutout, but Darius Slay is such a wonderful example of a great porn name.
One Final Thought: Matthew Stafford’s WAG may be the best, yes?