NFL Fantasy Football has slowly transitioned from part-time hobby to full-time obsession, making it never too early to have your draft boards ready.
With the NFL regular season just over three months away, Rotoworld recently released their top 150 fantasy players of 2015 and a total of five Detroit Lions can be found on their list.
16. Calvin Johnson — “30 in Sept. Has lost a step, but still a top-six WR.”
49. Golden Tate — “2014 production took big hit with Megatron healthy.”
54. Ameer Abdullah — “Should be Lions lead back no later than Week 5.”
86. Joique Bell — “Abdullah will take Joique’s job.”
117. Matthew Stafford — “Like him to bounce back, but only as a fringe QB1.”
Most of these rankings are likely about where you would expect these guys to be in 2015, with the exception of one that may jump off the page at you.
Detroit Lions rookie running back Ameer Abdullah finds himself at No. 54 on the list, coincidentally the same spot he was drafted form by the Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft. Coming in 32 picks later at No. 86 overall is his cohort in the Detroit backfield, Joqiue Bell. Bell has still been considered to be the No. 1 running back in the Motor City by most early on, with Abdullah providing a change-of-pace style to compliment the work horse, Bell.
Rotowold however, believes that Abdullah will unseat the veteran RB, becoming the Lions lead back “no later than week five.” It’s an interesting perspective, and one that Abdullah himself even touched on last week during an interview with the Omaha World-Herald’s Online Sports Show.
"“I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do, but I think I’m an every-down back,” Abdullah said. “A lot of guys want to put me in the category of third-down back. For those who say that, I ask them to turn on my film. I’ve never been that kind of player. I’ve never been a person who is just serviceable, who catches the ball out of the backfield, which I can do and I feel I can do really well.”“But I can do a lot of things on first or second down as well, in my opinion.”"
Solid arguments can certainly be made as to the type of role best suited for the former Cornhusker, but expectations and curiosity do seem to be on the rise.
Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
As for the rest of the Lions on the list, I feel that the Detroit offense as a whole will be better in 2015 than they were a season ago. Matthew Stafford and company will enter their second year in Joe Lombardi’s system and familiarity should benefit the squad tremendously. Also much improved will be the Lions offensive line, the well documented weak link of the team in 2014.
If Stafford can continue to progress and protect the football, he could easily become a sure-fire QB1 once again. Likewise, wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate will reap the rewards. Both are a safe WR2 at this point, but their stock could rise or fall depending on the performance of their signal caller.
The team pulled the reigns back on Stafford in 2014, resulting in fewer shots down field (4,257 yards on 602 attempts), but also fewer interceptions (12). According to Lombardi however, the coaching staff plans on allowing some more slack this year.
"“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”"
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Under Lombardi, Stafford attempted 68 passes of more than 20 yards last fall, completing just 21 with eight touchdowns and six interceptions according to Pro Football Focus. From 2011-13 under former coordinator Scott Linehan, he averaged 82 attempts (and 28.7 completions) of 20 yards or longer, per PFF.
If the Lions offensive line can protect Stafford, give him time to throw, and open up some running lanes for Bell and Abdullah, this unit could prove to once again be one of the best in the league — and in the Fantasy Football world.