Not Much Love For Lions In Fantasy Football Rankings
By Zac Snyder
Given the Lions putrid decade it should come as no surprise that Detroit Lions players don’t get much respect in the fantasy football rankings. Yahoo and ESPN.com have each released their 2010 fantasy football rankings and the list of the top 200 players is a little light when it comes to guys that will play their home games in Honolulu blue and silver.
Matthew Stafford showed enough during his rookie season to prove he is worthy of someone’s fantasy football bench. Yahoo ranks Stafford as the number 122 player overall while ESPN has him down a few notches lower at number 139. Those rankings put Stafford as the number 17 and 18 quarterback respectively. ESPN views him as being between Vince Young and David Garrard while Yahoo ranks him between the suspended Ben Roethlisberger and former Michigan Wolverine Chad Henne. (…more)
Fantasy football veterans know the value of a top running back. Anyone can take an elite running back at the top of the board but find a breakout performer like Ray Rice a year ago and you will be well on your way to finishing near the top of the league. Lions fans hope that this years diamond-in-the-rough is rookie Jahvid Best. The likelihood of a boom-or-bust scenario is evident by the variance between the Yahoo and ESPN rankings for Best. Yahoo pegs Jahvid Best as number 30 overall while ESPN ranks him as 29th best among just running backs. The surrounding names highlight the point too. Yahoo ranks Best among rising young players like Beanie Wells and LeSean McCoy while ESPN appears unimpressed and lumps Best between declining veterans Thomas Jones and Marion Barber.
Kevin Smith gets some more love from ESPN as they rank him number 128 while Yahoo appears to be more concerned about his injury and ranks him at 194.
The highest ranked Lion in all of fantasy football is no surprise: Calvin Johnson. Megatron checks in as the number 15 player (no. 4 WR) on Yahoo’s board and the number 22 player (no. 7 WR) on ESPN.com. The Lions offense will have to make use of the talent around CJ so that their talented receiver can net the 1200 yard, 10+ TD season his fantasy owners will be looking to get from such a highly drafted receiver. Quarterback Matthew Stafford will have a lot to do with Johnson’s ultimate success, as will fellow wide receiver Nate Burleson, who also received a top 200 ranking. ESPN likes Burleson as the 145th best fantasy player while Yahoo ranks him at 188. In either case, Nate could provide some value during a regular starter’s bye week.
The Lions added versatile tight end Tony Scheffler just a year after drafting Brandon Pettigrew with a first round draft choice. Let’s hope the Lions have reached some sort of consensus on how they will use their personnel because from the looks of the TE rankings, no one has any idea what to expect. ESPN doesn’t believe either guy is a top 200 fantasy player but ranks Scheffler as the number 22 overall tight end while Pettigrew checks in at number 27. Yahoo, meanwhile, ranks Pettigrew as the 17th best tight end and number 163 overall. Tony Scheffler doesn’t appear on Yahoo’s list until number 259, 49 spots after teammate Will Heller!
Jason Hanson has been a dependable kicker throughout his career but Yahoo and ESPN agree that fantasy owners shouldn’t count on Hanson to hold down their kicker spot. I’m sure a combination of his age and the uniform he wears causes both outlets to rank Hanson as the 26th best fantasy kicker. The only way that this will change over the course of the season is if the Lions offense takes a massive step forward. It could be possible with the weapons on the offensive side of the ball but a wait and see approach will work as Hanson figures to be available on the fantasy waiver wire. The good news is that Jason’s job doesn’t seem to be on the line this training camp. The Lions don’t seem to be interested in anything more than extra camp bodies at the kicker position.
Lions fans looking for reasons to be optimistic about their defense had better look at the ESPN fantasy rankings rather than the Yahoo rankings. While the number 25 ranking defense doesn’t sounds all that great it would be a tremendous improvement for a defense that has been bad on a historic scale for the past few seasons. Yahoo seems to expect more of the same as they ranked the Lions 30th out of the 32 teams. The Lions ranked near the bottom of the league last year in sacks and interceptions; while the defensive front figures to be much better, the secondary could still be an adventure.
For year-round analysis on all things fantasy sports, be sure to check out Fantasy CPR.