2019 Detroit Lions
Head Coach- Matt Patricia
Offensive Coaching Philosophy- Conservative- run focused
What to Expect: Matt Patricia enters his second year. Gone is offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who did a very good job. Replacing him is offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Bevell had prior stints as the offensive coordinator for Seattle and Minnesota. Bevell believes in physical, run focused attack that exerts their will on a defense. This philosophy is shared by head coach Matt Patricia which explains why Cooter wasn’t brought back. While Bevell prefers to run most of the time he will forever be known as the coach who called the ill fated pass late in Super Bowl 49 which Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson at the goal line. Ironically it was Patricia who was the defensive coordinator helping Bill Belichick against him that day. Now the two former adversaries will work together.
Quarterback- While Matthew Stafford is still the Lions QB, the good ole days of him chucking it all over the field are long gone. Stafford played 16 games last year but only had 3 games where he passed over 300 yards to with a pedestrian 21 TDs. Despite the Lions defense still being a work in progress, and you’d think they’d be forced to pass more on that fact alone, this is a team that wants to run the ball. That doesn’t bode well for fantasy owners. Stafford is not known for his running prowess which makes his fantasy outlook bleak this year. On a personal note his wife Kelly had brain surgery. If Matthew’s mind isn’t 100% on football this year- that’s why.
Running back- If you’re going to invest in a Lions player Kerryon Johnson is probably the best bet to do decent. Johnson should be the beneficiary of Bevell’s run focused attack. Last year he did well before a knee injury ended his season. Matt Patricia as already said he doesn’t want to overwork Johnson- so the Lions signed CJ Anderson from the Rams to join the RBBC. Anderson replaces LeGarrette Blount. He’s not as big as Blount, but he’s quicker and more versatile. If Kerryon gets hurt again- CJ’s stock skyrockets. Theo Riddick is also in the mix as a 3rd down option.
Wide Receiver/Tight Ends- The receiving group is led by Kenny Golliday. Golliday appears to be on the verge of becoming an elite WR. Several former NFL WR’s who have watched him practice have been impressed with his talent including Chad Johnson, aka Ocho Cinco. Golliday is big and can fly creating mismatches for shorter cornerbacks on post patterns and in the red zone. The problem is he’s in a run heavy offense. That limits his upside. Opposite Golliday is Marvin Jones. Jones is the clear #2- Golden Tate was traded midseason last year. Jones isn’t big or fast- an NFL exec was quoted as saying he’s not someone you worry about game planning for. The 5 TDs in 8 games he played last year seems unsustainable. The Lions also signed former Patriot Danny Amendola to work the slot. Amendola has had a hard time staying on the field and at 33- it’s hard to expect much from him. In the draft the Lions took TE TJ Hockenson in the 1st round. Scouting comps have him as Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce. Hockenson helps the Lions both in the run game- he’s a very good blocker and in the air because of his size. He should steal some red zone looks from Golliday and Jones. With a Lions team that focuses on the run- it already hurts their limited upside.
Offensive Line- OK- They’re better at run blocking than pass blocking. This is a unit that wants to mash you. If it’s 3rd and long- Stafford could be in trouble. That’s the area they need to improve. Stafford was sacked 10 times last year in a game vs the Vikings. He’s a durable QB, but you can’t expect your starting QB to take that many hits and last a season. The Lions signed tight end Jesse James. James & TJ Hockenson should improve the run game. Both are very good blockers. TJ Lang retired due to injuries. He never lived up to the lofty contract Detroit paid for him in free agency.
Schedule- Tough The NFL didn’t help the Lions any. Dallas, LA Chargers, Philadelphia, Washington, Denver, not to mention Chicago and Minnesota twice each- all have strong defensive lines capable of putting heavy pressure on Stafford.
Bye- Week 5
Playoff Schedule- weeks 14-17 Not Good @Minn, TB, @ Den, GB The Vikings sacked Stafford 10 times last season in 1 game. Playing in Minnesota and dealing with that deafening crowd noise doesn’t help. Denver has two of the NFL’s best pass rushers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Tampa Bay still has a long way to go on defense, but Ndamukong Suh will be motivated to play his former team.
Sleeper- CJ Anderson- This is a late round dart throw- nothing more. if anything happens to Kerryon Johnson CJ gets a major boost in a run first offense.
Undervalued - none
Overvalued- Kenny Golliday- Love his natural talent, but his upside is capped in this offense and TJ Hockenson should steal some red zone looks. Golliday’s current price tag as the #16 WR in Fantasy Pros ADP seems lofty with no room for profit.
Bust- Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones.
Bottom Line- Matthew Stafford still has plenty in the tank, but can the Lions protect him? Even if they can a run focused offense kills any chance of him making a major impact. Kenny Golliday is one of the leagues best young WR’s, but he will be TD dependent because the volume isn’t going to be there. Despite going off the board as the 45th WR that’s still too high for Marvin Jones. TJ Hockenson will be featured more in the red zone stealing targets from both Golliday and Jones. Kerryon Johnson is the best bet to do well, but even he has to share the rock with CJ Anderson. Add in a difficult schedule and, for the most part, the fantasy outlook for the Lions doesn’t look too promising. The silver lining- a late round dart throw on CJ Anderson could pay major dividends if Kerryon Johnson’s knee doesn’t hold up in a run heavy attack.