It may feel like the 2013 NFL season is still a long way off – in fact, it is still nearly 100 days away – but Yahoo has already opened up fantasy football leagues with drafts starting in a matter of days.
While I wouldn’t advise anyone to draft this far in advance, it is worth taking a look at the initial rankings. A standard league consists of ten teams with a roster size of 15 players. That makes for 150 “roster worthy” or “draftable” players.
The Detroit Lions have five such players:
Calvin Johnson (#1 WR, #6 Overall) – Megatron finished with more fantasy points in 2012 than any other wide receiver despite scoring just five touchdowns. We know his yardage total will be high given the Lions style of play but a touchdown total back in double figures could make a mid-first round selection look like a steal.
Reggie Bush (#22 RB, #46 Overall) – Bush put up the 14th most points by a running back in 2012 and moves to a better offensive team yet doesn’t crack the running back top 20. Perhaps there is some lingering questions regarding how the Lions will use him and his workload, but Bush looks like a prime candidate to rise in the rankings down the road.
Matthew Stafford (#9 QB, #56 Overall) – Based on his play last year, Stafford is just about perfectly ranked as the #9 fantasy QB. Someone in your league will be drafting Stafford as their starter while it might feel like getting the ninth quarterback in a ten team league, Stafford’s 2011 season shows there is a lot of upside.
Mikel Leshoure (#34 RB, #94 Overall) – Bush will deeply cut into Leshoure’s workload compared to what he had in 2012 but that doesn’t mean he can’t help a desperate fantasy owner. The bulk of Leshoure’s 2012 fantasy value came through his 9 touchdowns, tied with Ray Rice for ninth most in the NFL. Leshoure may be able to maintain a surprising touchdown total if the Lions turn to him as the primary back inside the opponents’ ten yard line.
Brandon Pettigrew (#17 TE, #144 Overall) – After a brutal 2012 season, it appears the fantasy community is expecting a bounce-back year for Pettigrew. He was nearly a top ten fantasy tight end in 2011 before dealing with a series of injuries that limited his effectiveness in 2012. Healthy and entering a contract year, Pettigrew’s future with the Lions may depend on this upcoming season.