After the latest negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA, both parties have come to an agreement to play this upcoming season with the current pandemic.
It won’t be the usual routine, but new policies and protocols are now in place to accommodate player safety.
As the Detroit Lions ramp up for the regular season, there are plenty of questions surrounding the team.
*Questions edited for clarity
1.) How do you view the defensive line coming into this season? -- @VauntedJT
Answer: Overall, a weakness. Yes, the Lions have made offseason moves in hopes of improving the unit.
At the same time, they lost plenty of key pieces. Head coach Matt Patricia just does not seem to put an emphasis on true pass rushers. He wants players that can control the line of scrimmage with power and maintain gap control against the run.
I will say the defensive tackles they brought in are upgrades in the pass-rush department, and a healthy Da’Shawn Hand will help plenty. Much like in 2018, pressure will be manufactured through stunts and subterfuge.
The real wild card is how the Lions will use their linebackers to generate pressure on the quarterback. Still, looking solely at the defensive line, they don’t inspire much fear from opponents.
2.) Will Kenny Golladay lead the league in touchdown receptions? -- @BigWes1236
A: There is definitely a chance that he could, after leading the league in touchdown receptions in 2019. Important to note, Golladay’s 11 touchdowns last year were the lowest for a league-leader since 1982. If he wants to win the crown in back-to-back seasons, he will likely need to surpass last year’s total.
Golladay is no doubt talented and a true red-zone threat. However, with how many other options quarterback Matthew Stafford has at his disposal, the ball will likely be spread around. I expect Golladay to rack up double-digit touchdowns once again.
In saying that, another NFL wideout will likely be force-fed more opportunities, which will result in more touchdowns than Golladay. Touchdowns can always be very hot and cold as well. As a prime example, Calvin Johnson only had five touchdowns the year after he broke the single-season receiving yardage record.
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3.) Should the Ford family’s “win-now” mandate still be valid during this nonsense season? -- @DatGirlFriday
A: If the whole season is played, I don’t see why it should change the present ultimatum. It is odd times for sure, but it’s a level playing field among the entire NFL. Every team is going through the same offseason obstacles. Maybe the edict could be slightly tempered.
No matter the case, though, the Lions must be competitive, show dramatic improvement and at the very least, be in the playoff hunt. If that doesn’t happen within three years of hiring a coach brought in to take an organization to the next level, it’s a fireable offense.
4.) Who would you draft #1 in fantasy football? And who would be the first Lion off the board for you and in what round? -- @BURNZY32RB
A: Christian McCaffrey seems like the best bet to go No. 1 overall in fantasy, whether it’s a point per reception or a standard league. His usage in 2019 was insane, and is likely not replicable. But, he is still a workhorse. Who knows, a new head coach could change the dynamic of things. I still think he is the safest bet -- if there is such a thing.
As far as which Lions player I would take first, it would be Golladay. However, his value might not be as high in PPR because of his lack of catch production. His touchdown and yards potential offsets the smaller volume of receptions.
I will add that Matthew Stafford is a great value pick right now. In the first nine weeks of the 2019 season, he was one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy. Yet, he is still being selected right outside of the top 10 at quarterback for 2020. My strategy is waiting on taking a quarterback early, and targeting Stafford in the later rounds after stocking up on other positions.
5.) What do you think will be the biggest impact if there are no preseason games? -- @HomestyleMelt
A: With no preseason games, the first few weeks of the NFL will likely be very sloppy. Basically, the first couple regular season games will be the preseason. It’s not like the starters play a ton together in the preseason anyway, but it definitely doesn’t help being unable to see live reps against different players. Good coaching will be paramount early in the season.
The second biggest impact will be bubble players and rookies. The players familiar with the scheme will have a big leg up on the competition. Detroit general manager Bob Quinn and Patricia have been notorious with slowly bringing along their younger players, and no preseason will only exacerbate that trend. It’s unlikely that any preseason dark horse will make the final 53-man roster.
At the same time, with no live game film, you would hope it’s also easier to stash younger players on the practice squad without the risk of them being poached by other teams. The expanded practice squad spots this season also come into play.
In the end, plenty of fringe prospects could be retained. They will just have to prove their worth in practice and parlay that into playing time when the opportunities arise down the line.