Detroit Lions - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview
If you were drafting in an early Rock n’ Roll fantasy league, there is no town that breeds the picks like Motown. Houdini has been reminding us of this as of late with some of his soulful tunes. Wilson Pickett’s song “Cole, Cook, and Redding” schools you on some of those early rhythm and blues greats.
And for some of his more moving Motown goo, you gotsta to check out his Wilson Pickett’s rendition of “In the Midnight Hour”.
Look for “Wolfman” Houdini, the host with the most, to keep those classics spinning at you on the latest episode of the Pyro Fantasy Football Fire Podcast.
Listen to us on Buzzsprout: http://pyromaniac.buzzsprout.com/
Listen to us on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/pyroman1ac
Not only does Detroit demonstrate iconic figures in the world of Rock n’ Roll and Rhythm and Blues; they have some fantasy mainstays that are outta sight as well. Look no further than the fantasy wide receiver consistently on the top of the charts, Megatron.
If you end up picking towards the end of your fantasy draft and Jimmy Graham has already gone, then go for Calvin Johnson. This plan is just one of many you can learn by reading Dawgmatica’s Draft Strategy. In fact, all of the guys walk you through different ins and outs when it comes to draft day. Their strategies are including in version 3 of the draft kit, available now.
Pick up our Draft Kit today... you won't regret it!
Calvin’s numbers speak for themselves. In 2013, he caught 84 balls on 156 targets. And, would you believe 1,492 yards are his lowest since 2010? Two years ago, he ended just shy of breaking 2,000 yards. In 2013, he crossed the goal line 12 times. That makes four times in six years he has managed to rack up at least 12 scores with 16 being his highest. One thing to look for in fantasy is consistency. There are plenty of pass catcher who will bust out one monster game that skews their season totals. Calvin gets it done week in and week out. In 2014, he averaged 15.66 points per game (2nd highest total of his career). In fact, Johnson has averaged at least 12 fantasy points per game since 2008. He has broken 1,000 yards in five of six as well. The one down year (besides his rookie season) he missed it by 14 yards. In many respects, he keeps getting better. Last year he averaged a career high 17.8 yards per catch. Oh, did I mention this? Detroit has the 2nd best fantasy playoff schedule for wide receivers.
Yet another thing going for Megatron is the talent that now surrounds him. By bringing in play makers like Golden Tate to line up as the other wide receiver, defenses will not be able to double down on Calvin as often. This is something Johnson himself recently noted: “Golden’s going to get a lot of one-on-one coverage. With all the weapons we have, those one-on-ones will go full circle and I might get some more myself”. An ex-Notre Dame player, Tate seems to be quick grasping Joe Lombardi’s offense. This will be Tate’s 5th year in the league. Last year, he caught 64 passes for 898 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 7.38 fantasy points per game. Statistically, since he has been in the league, he has improved in almost every single category annually. In Seattle, from one year to the next, he saw improvements in targets, receptions, yardage, and fantasy points per game. Fantasy is all about trend spotting, and I don’t mean the Ewan McGregor flick.
To succeed in fantasy, you need to construct your players based on how you think they will perform this year. The pitfall that claims so many, people tend to draft on the numbers from the previous year. If you draft the right way, if you look at trends, then Golden Tate is definitely a receiver to keep on your radar. More and more teams are having success with a two headed receiving core. With the addition of Tate, Detroit is looking more appealing.
Other names to note, Ryan Broyles and Kevin Ogletree seem to be fighting for the possible slot position, although neither has shown all that well in camp. The talk of the town has concerned Riddick, but more on him in a moment. The Lions remaining receivers are Kris Durham, T.J. Jones, and a few other names that will be fighting for roster spots. They did recently pick up Jon Baldwin from the 49ers. While Baldwin has the body type, and showed amazing skills at the combine once upon a time, he has never put it together in the NFL. If you are a deep dynasty league, you may want to watch this battle play out, although I doubt there will be enough opportunity that far down the depth chart.
The Lions did add another pass catcher, but at the tight end position. Eric Ebron was taken with the 10th pick overall in this year’s draft. While rookie tight ends are notorious for a lack of production, he is certainly one to watch. In fact, he should get a crack at seeing some decent playing time his first year. If that is the case, he could be a steal. The Lions have the BEST schedule for a tight end this year. Ebron is 6’4” and weighs 250 pounds. He ran a 4.6 at the combine with a 32” vertical. At North Carolina, Ebron had 62 receptions, gained 973 yards, and scored 3 touchdowns. He turned out some impressive performances including a 199 yard game against Miami. He should have no problem holding down a starting role ahead of Brandon Pettigrew, a guy who seemed to be brought down by a stiff breeze last year. If you don’t get a top tier tight end, play the waiting game. I think a nice strategy would be to take a Charles Clay and pair him with Ebron, whom, according to early August ADP’s is going in the 11th round for 12 team leagues. With the schedule the Lions have, Ebron will certainly see some fantastic matchups. If both guys start to go off, then you have terrific trade bait.
As you must have noticed by now, in fantasy football, the one thing that is a safe bet, is inconsistent rankings. Depending on which site you are consulting, what you see can vary wildly from another source. This is certainly true when it comes to offensive line rankings. However, Detroit is consistently being pegged as a top 5 team when it comes to their 2014 offensive line. Last year, their pass blocking was the best it has been in years. In fact, only one other team allowed fewer sacks (Omaha! Omaha!) You guessed it, Denver. But even in the run game, they had great success on short yardage, power plays. With 2 yards or less to go, they converted on 3rd/4th down 76% of the time. The Lions offensive linemen should open up and sustain holes for a plethora of backs this coming season.
The first back on the depth chart is Reggie Bush. It must be said, last year they ran a committee with Bush and Bell. So far this year, there has been quite a bit of chatter about Theo Riddick, another Notre Dame player to join the Lions. Before we get to the two main dogs, it is speculated that Riddick might be plugged into multiple places in Joe Lombardi’s offense. Lombardi was most recently the Saints OC. Riddick played both running back and receiver in college. He could be utilized similar to how the Saints used Darren Sproles. This notion was recently reiterated by backup QB Dan Orlovsky: “I’m telling you, if he doesn’t have 50 catches this year, I’ll be surprised because he is going to have opportunities and he’s very talented at it… I think he’s going to play the Sproles role for sure.” But he might be utilized in other ways as well. There has been a buzz from camp stating Riddick could see time in the slot. Again, playing both running back and receiver comes natural to him. This is one reason Pyro has him pegged as a deep sleeper candidate. This hidden gem is worth a late round pick. As of early August though, he is not even showing up on ADPs. My guess, after people get a look at him in preseason, the secret will be out.
AMAZING (excellent quality) Rushing highlights for Riddick =
Receiving highlights for Riddick =
“Pan Down! Pan Down…We’ve got Bush”
Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are the two big dogs on the porch. First, let’s just look at them in a strictly running capacity. Last year, Bush got more attempts, 223 to Bell’s 166. Bush had more yards, 1,006 to Bell’s 650. He averaged 4.5 yards to Bell’s 3.9. Bush appears the better runner. But you know what they say about appearances, they can be deceiving.
If the Lion’s played on grass, they seem to lean towards Bell. Bush had 158 carries on turf and only 65 on grass. Bell seems to have what it takes when they get in close, bell scored 8 touchdowns, all of which came inside the red zone. Another thing, Bush need carries to get going. Bush only scored 4 rushing touchdowns in 2014. In every instance, he needed at least 17 carries to score. In games when he carried it at least 17 times, he averaged 4.6 per rush. In games where he carried 13 times or less, his average is 2.9. So let me amend my statement. Bush is the better runner as long as he is given the opportunities. With the Lombardi offense this season, I expect there to be more of a split. Bush will not get the opportunities he did last year. Statistically, his performance is tied to the amount of looks he gets in the run game. Pyro is picking Bush as a bust candidate in 2014.
Now let’s compare the two coming out of the backfield for receptions. At first glance, they seem fairly even. Bush caught 54 passes and Bell caught 53. But upon closer inspection, Bell wins hands down. Bell had 547 receiving yards. Bush had 506. So, Bell had 41 more yards on 1 less catch. Here is the one that takes the cake. Bush caught the ball 68.4% of the time. Bell caught the ball 76.8% of the time. Not only that, Bell was targeted farther down field than Bush. Bell’s position in relation to the line of scrimmage was 7.93 yards down field when he was targeted. Bush’s average target was 6.41 yards downfield. To put it another way, Bell had a higher catch rate and was actually a yard and a half further down field than Bush. So, not only is Bell a better pass catcher, he does so farther down field. One last thing, Bell averaged more yards per catch as well, 10.3 to Bush’s 9.4.
To recap, Bush is probably the better runner if given enough opportunity. Lombardi often employed a three back system in New Orleans. With the likes of Bell, and Riddick, Bush will not get the rushing attempts he needs to perform. As far as receiving, Bell is flat out statistically better. As of early August, ADP’s for 12 team leagues have Bush going in the 3rd round and Bell going in the 5th. Obviously, both are worth a bit more in PPR formats. Overall, Bell is the better bargain.
Finally, we come to the general on the field, Matthew “Second Half” Staff. There are many reasons to love Stafford…
Just look at how serious he takes his skin care, proper eye wear, use of a hat, stays in the shade, all top moves as far as I am concerned. Bravo my man!
Okay, there are also plenty of reasons to love him on the field as well. Stafford is a tier II QB for most of the Pyro boys. This year, he faces the 6th best passing schedule and the 2nd best during the fantasy playoffs. He has more weapons offensively than he has ever had as a pro. The new Lombardi system should keep opposing defenses on their heels, especially early in the season. This could work out if you end up drafting 2 QBs, not that I would with a Stafford caliber guy. But if you have a Tannehill staring you in the face later in the draft, I might grab him if he is the best talent available. If Stafford gets things rolling with a quickness, that might be appealing for trade bait, especially when quarterbacks start to go down with injuries. There was a time when his toughness was called into question, but the guy has not missed a game in the last three years. In that same time frame, he has passed for 14,655 yards and 90 TDs. With the talent he now has, I think it is realistic that he throws for over 30 touchdowns easy. That would put him in between last year’s total (29) and that of his 2011 season (41). Yardage wise, I think he is closer to 5,000 than 4,500. Plus, he should be good for 2 or 3 rushing TDs as well. For Stafford to have an elite year, he will have to minimize his interceptions. Last year, out of the top 10 fantasy QBs, Stafford lost 38 points to INTs, second highest only to Dalton who lost 40 points. With the talent he has this year, chances are Stafford will not feel as much pressure to put it all on his shoulders. If that happens, his negative points will be minimized. All in all, Stafford could end up ranked in the top 5 fantasy QBs this year.