The Lions went (3-12-1) last season finishing last in the tough NFC North. The Lions ranked 18th in points scored last year, so the offense was ok considering they lost starter Matthew Stafford halfway through the season with a fractured back. The defense was the big issue for this team last season. It is no secret that Darrell Bevell loves to run the ball, as we seen in his time with Pete Carroll in Seattle. This offense will have a two man backfield in Kerryon Johnson and rookie D’Andre Swift. This offense signing Swift tells us what to expect with the offense in 2020. Bevell’s offense will have a heavy dose of the ground game with different formation looks as they will switch between 11 and 12 personnel. The biggest concern of this offense is the right side of the line, particularly at right guard, as it’s pretty much open at this point. Ideally Jonah Jackson, their 3rd round pick, wins this job over Oday Aboushi who is slotted in as the projected starter now. The defense will make for weeks where their run first approach disappears, as Stafford will have to air the ball out early and often to stay in games.
Matthew Stafford (QB) – looked great in 2019 before his season was ended due to a fractured back. Despite the good numbers the team still went 3-4-1 with him as a starter, but his defense did him no favors, as they were one of the worst in the league in 2019. Stafford throughout his career has always been under the radar in the sense that the media doesn’t give him the credit he deserves. In terms of quarterbacks in the leagues, skillset wise, Matthew Stafford ranks top ten as there isn’t much that he can’t do on the field. Back in 2018 Stafford lobbied new head coach Patricia to bring back Jim Bob Cooter, probably because he was tired of learning new systems. Patricia obliged with the request of Stafford but the team struggled prompting the hiring of Bevell In 2019. Bevell’s scheme actually plays to Stafford’s best trait and that is his strong arm. Bevell’s scheme in terms of passing focuses on deep routes and Stafford is particularly good on these types of throws.
Fantasy Spin: Last season before injury Stafford was on pace to throw for 40 touchdowns. His numbers were top five numbers at the position leading up to injury. The scheme of Bevell seemed to agree with the veteran gun slinger and we expect more of the same for Stafford in year 12. The only concern we have is injury. The last two seasons have left Stafford injured and we need him to be out there for this offense as a whole to run as effectively as possible. The off season trade rumors and rookie quarterback talk, Tua, no doubt will have Stafford chomping at the bit to prove he still has gas left in the tank. We expect him to come out firing in 2020 so have him ranked as our QB15 in redraft. Stafford in dynasty ranks as our 12th quarterback.
Kerryon Johnson/D’Andre Swift/Bo Scarbrough (RB) – it is obvious this team is desperate in finding and building a run game, which they have been unsuccessful in for so many years. Kerryon Johnson was drafted to hopefully solidify the position, but injuries have plagued him throughout his young career. This is the reason the team went and drafted Swift this past spring early in the draft. They are hoping he will be the back to give them that consistent ground game they so desperately covet. Swift possesses the look and feel of a three down back, more so than Kerryon Johnson. Swift was widely considered one of the top backs, top two, this spring coming into the draft mainly due to his pass catching ability. The thing with him landing in a Bevell offense is where are the targets coming from to utilize this skillset. When you think of a Bevell offense nobody thinks of this wide open high scoring offense. We just are having a hard time seeing how his skillset is going to be utilized to its fullest. Throughout Bevell’s time as an OC he has only had 1 back see over 60 targets, in addition no running back under Bevell has seen more than 12% of the teams target share. As mentioned above this will be a two man backfield but Bo Scarbrough could figure into the mix to complicate things. Swift is locked into a substantial role, but if the team is looking for a true thumper to get those tough early yards, Scarbrough profiles better at that then Kerryon. We have to understand that Matt Patricia spent many years under Belichick who used multiple backs in multiple ways week by week. This could be where Detroit is heading philosophy wise.
Fantasy Spin: This backfield other than Swift could present us fantasy owner’s weekly headaches. Kerryon’s fantasy value will be the lowest it’s ever been for fantasy coming into a season as Scarbrough figures to possibly pose a problem for him to get meaningful touches. Swift landing on Detroit was a hit to his fantasy value. The fit just doesn’t seem right for his skillset. Time will tell how this pans out but for now we have Swift ranked as our 29th running back making him a high end RB3. In Dynasty we have him ranked as our RB19 making him a back end RB2 in that format. Swift is being taken in the early 4th round in redraft, and we say this value is not good for what you will get in return. Kerryon comes in as our 46th RB in redraft. In Dynasty he moves up slightly as our RB34. For now Scarbrough ranks as our 88th RB in redraft and 79th in dynasty.
Kenny Golladay/Marvin Jones/Danny Amendola (WR) – with Matthew Stafford back under center we feel that in terms of this passing game we can assume a return to an aggressive downfield scheme. The wide receivers who will be receiving most of these deep looks will be Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Golladay despite playing with a backup and then the backups back up performed very well in 2019. He finished the season as a top 12 performer, and with Stafford back the sky is the limit for the young alpha receiver. Golladay is a big bodied receiver who has speed. Marvin Jones will play opposite Golladay and with the speed he possesses will be used on deep vertical passing routes. The concern with jones is injury, as last season he missed multiple games. Danny Amendola will be the man in the slot for Detroit again this season. Last year he was actively targeted as he saw over 80 targets. A lot of the targets were from the backups who used him as a safety valve. Amendola will be the odd man out in 2 tight end sets as Golladay and Jones will be the two receivers on the field.
Fantasy Spin: Kenny Golladay is the teams wide receiver one and he will be a WR1 for your fantasy team as well. We have Golladay ranked as our 7th wide receiver in redraft, and 6th wide receiver in dynasty. Marvin jones is a WR3 in redraft as our 35th ranked wide receiver. In dynasty he is our 61th wide receiver ranked in that format. Danny Amendola isn’t very appealing in any format unless injury occurs to one of the other receivers and would make for a valuable waiver add.
TJ Hockenson (TE) – it is no secret that Matthew Stafford prefers targeting his wide receivers and tight ends over his running backs. With that said this bodes well for second year tight end TJ Hockenson. The thing we have to keep in mind is Stafford and this offense changes week to week depending on what is happening. What we have to be worried about with this is consistency week to week. There likely will be weeks where he is targeted quite a bit and then weeks where he isn’t targeted at all. There is no question Hockenson is a very talented player and possesses all the traits needed to excel at the position. When the team is in 12 personnel Jesse James will be the other tight end on the field, but will be the blocking tight end, leaving Hockenson as the pass catching tight end.
Fantasy Spin: The weekly inconsistency discussed above is almost concerning enough to knock Hockenson out of our top 12 for redraft. He comes into 2020 ranked as our 12th tight end making him a back end TE1. In dynasty he ranks as our TE6 making him a solid TE1 in that format.
Defense – this defense was the seventh worst ranked defenses in 2019 in points allowed. This was with star cornerback Darius Slay in the fold. The team will now enter 2020 without Slay, as he is now with the Eagles, whom traded for him this offseason. The team did bring in some free agents to help this side of the ball such as Desmond Trufant. In Addition to Trufant they drafted rookie Jeff Okuda to slot in as a starting cornerback to replace Slay. This is a defense that would like to play man coverage. Patricia likes to scheme different pressures up front while playing man on the back end, this what he has done historically and there is no reason to think anything will be different in 2020.
Fantasy Spin: This defense comes in as our last ranked defense entering 2020. They are not worth a look for any format in 2020.
Strength of Schedule
The Lions wide receiver corps will face the 2nd easiest schedule this fantasy regular season. Their playoff schedule will be the 7th toughest during weeks 14-16. The backs will be looking at the 15th easiest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The back will then have the 11th toughest schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Stafford will face the 7th easiest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 8th toughest during weeks 14-16. Hockenson will face the 4th toughest fantasy regular season schedule and will face the 10th toughest playoff schedule from weeks 14-16.