Detroit Lions: A fantasy football guide for Motor City fans

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 3: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions calls a play in the huddle against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 3: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions calls a play in the huddle against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Marvin Jones, Jr. scores on the Vikes
DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 23: Marvin Jones #11 of the Detroit Lions makes a touchdown catch against Terence Newman #23 of the Minnesota Vikings and Xavier Rhodes #29 during the fourth quarter at Ford Field on November 23, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Wide receivers

Golden Tate

I’m going to say that although I like Tate, I do not consider him the surest bet at receiver on the team at this point. Since arriving in the Motor City, “Golden” has lived up to his name. Tate has posted three 1,000 yard seasons (813 yards in ’15) and at least four touchdowns each year.

The former Irish receiver might be running out of luck due to his age, he turns 30 this season. How ageist, right? Statistically, it is bound to happen between 30 and 33 that NFL wide receivers decline. Could he still have a big year? Sure. I hope he does. However, I am not drafting him early to be my WR2 (second wide receiver) on my fantasy team. If he fell to the eighth or ninth, sure, it’s worth the risk that his decline will happen later.

Round to target: CBS feels like Tate is a pick 51 player, putting him in the fifth round, on average. Personally, I’d rather have Jones, but selecting Kenny Golladay after Tate may be a good handcuff in case Tate has any issues. I would pass on round five, but maybe you are a risk-taker?

Marvin Jones, Jr.

Jones is my top candidate of the Lions wide receiver corps. At 28, he is in his statistical prime. He amassed 1,101 yards and nine scores in 2017, which lead the team. This is his third year with quarterback Matt Stafford, and the two seem to have brought the deep pass back to the D. Sorry, Calvin.

I am not sure why he isn’t more valued in ADP rankings, but he is actually ranked behind Kenny Golladay,  good for 60th overall. Golladay is 59th, roughly. Fantasy Football Calculator has him as a seventh round player.

Round to target: I would target him as a WR3, or possibly a WR2 if I was in a pinch. So, after the wave of Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and OBJ, you could start thinking about him in round five if you are like me.

You can see if he falls, but I wouldn’t let him get that far. Other websites suggest end of the sixth or seventh round as a great time to snag Marvin. It could be his year to be seen as the go-to, number one for Stafford.

Kenny Golladay

I used the FFC website to create a graph showing the Lions’ wideout  values by where they are being projected to go. Golladay is an up-and-comer, for sure. His 477 yards as a rookie ranks fifth among first year wideouts, while his three touchdowns is fourth among the group. At 24 years old, he is still learning the position in the NFL.

Golladay has made some huge plays and is very capable of beating teams downfield, when healthy. That large asterisk will have to be addressed if he is going to be a consistent performer and future star in Detroit. Many people have him pegged as a break-out candidate. I think it’s possible for that to happen, but he has a lot of competition for the ball.

He ranked fourth in receiving yards in 2017, but Detroit’s third option, tight end Eric Ebron, has galloped off to Indianapolis. So, there is opportunity to grow his role without taking from Jones or Tate. Another stat to consider is that running back, Theo Riddick, had over 400 yards receiving in 2017, as well. As much emphasis as there has been on running better and bringing in new talent in the backfield, it’s easy to hypothesize that he could steal some of those yards, too. Time will tell.

Round to target: CBS has him as the overall 97th player, and that his average position to draft is at about pick 59. That’s round another round five, almost round six. That sounds WAY high. He’s a clear third option. Fantasy Football Calculator has him as a twelfth round pick, which sounds much more in line with my thinking. I’d have him as a backup, or WR5.

Anyone else

In the event that one of the top three receivers goes down, there are not that many good options left. The one name to know, for sure is T.J. Jones. The other Jones had 399 yards and one score, on 30 receptions. So, he is a capable outside receiver and can play some slot, as well. The Lions depth in terms of their top options is good, assuming everyone stays healthy. I wouldn’t likely draft anyone else, because if the Lions had that many injuries, players like Luke Willson, Theo Riddick, and Michael Roberts would be better options.

Round to target: Jones is not draftable, but if pressed into service is capable of some numbers.