Daily Dr. Roto — July 30, 2018
Detroit Lions Team Preview
Outlook: The Detroit Lions enter 2018 with a new head coach, former New England DC Matt Patricia, who is expected to bring some of his Super Bowl-winning experience to Motown. The truth of the matter though is that Patricia doesn't have a ton to work with here. He's going to have to build this team slowly with a goal of being a playoff team in 2020.
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QB: The Lions best player is Matthew Stafford. Stafford should be appreciated more than he is because he is the epitome of consistency. He always seems to find a way to throw for 4200+ passing yards and around 24 TDs each season. Even though his numbers are generally good, he often gets overlooked in Fantasy circles. Maybe it’s because his team never seems to make the playoffs. What I can tell you is that I love taking Stafford as like the ninth or tenth QB off the board in Fantasy drafts. On some occasions, he can even fall further. If you can build your skill positions first, Stafford is an excellent fit to lead your team. His durability is also a huge plus -- I might be jinxing him -- but he hasn't missed a game since 2011.
RB: This position might be a mess for both Patricia and Fantasy owners alike. Firstly, the team brought in LeGarrette Blount from Philadelphia. Patricia is very familiar with Blount as Blount played for the Patriots for two years prior to joining the Eagles last season. Blount is a short-yardage and goal-line specialist, but he also still thinks of himself as a back who can get 200 carries. While I am not sure that is the case, I think he is still a good RB in standard leagues. The Lions addressed their running back woes in the draft this year by trading up and selecting Kerryon Johnson from Auburn in the second round. This pick was a bit shocking to draft experts since LSU’s Derrius Guice was still on the board at the time and most pundits thought that Guice was the better pro prospect. The Lions must feel differently after scouting Johnson, and it's easy to see why. Johnson ran for 18 TDs in his senior year at Auburn, and also had 24 catches out of the backfield. He might end up becoming more of a three-down back than Guice, which is very enticing. The road to Johnson starting in 2018 looks very much like Alvin Kamara's did last season. Kamara was the third string RB in New Orleans with little room to play, but eventually, his talent won over the coaching staff, and he became an integral part of the Saints offense. I can see something similar happening here with Johnson if he looks good in the preseason. As of now, the third down pass-catching back is Theo Riddick. Regardless of how good Johnson looks as a receiver, I would think it is impossible for Riddick not to get some playing time. Patricia saw how Belichick uses James White in New England, so Riddick could be used similarly to those two in Detroit. Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner are on the roster bubble, and I would expect at least one of them to get traded in the preseason.
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WR: The Lions lack depth at the receiver position, but the three main guys they have are all worthy of high Fantasy consideration. Golden Tate is the WR1, and the team always seems to play better when he is integrated into the offense. Tate is a PPR machine but is not much of a TD guy, so while I like him as a player, his lack of scoring holds him back from being more than a late third round, early fourth round pick. Marvin Jones is the more dynamic of the two starters as he has excellent speed and can break off a big play and score at any time. Be careful though as Jones injured his knee in practice this past weekend. He’s had a checkered injury history in the past (he missed 2014 with injuries), so make sure that all signs point to his good health before you select him. Kenny Golladay is one of my favorite WR3s in the NFL. He is a huge target (6'4") and is particularly useful in the red zone. All he needs now is an opportunity to shine. If Jones’ injury is serious, Golladay’s value will climb rapidly. Even if Jones turns out to be okay, Golladay is still worth drafting as a WR4 in a deeper league.
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TE: With Eric Ebron now in Indianapolis, the Lions will look to a few guys to fill in the gap at tight end. All of them are bigger, blocking-focused players who don't offer much in the receiving department. The probable starter, Luke Willson, comes over from Seattle where he was used as the second tight end. He did score four TDs last season, so he could emerge as a red zone threat. Also, keep a look out for last year's fourth-round pick, Michael Roberts. Roberts scored a whopping 16 TDs in his senior season of college, so he is someone to throw on your sleeper list as a late round TE2 in deeper leagues.
K: I have always had a soft spot for Matt Prater since he lives about 10 minutes from my house and he was one of the first players I ever interviewed. Outside of that, he also possesses a booming leg and kicks inside a dome on an offense that occasionally struggles in the red zone.
D: For IDP purposes, Ziggy Ansah can get after the QB when healthy, and Jarrad Davis is going to become a tackling machine when he becomes more accustomed to the pro game. The rest of the Lions must work harder on defense and avoid giving up the big plays. The biggest reason to avoid this defense, though, is the fact that the Lions play Green Bay and Minnesota twice this season.
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