The Detroit Lions have been a pass-first offense for going on fifteen years and it hasn’t exactly worked out great, as I’m sure you recall. But nonetheless, it’s helped them become relevant in the growing world of fantasy football.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a top-ten passer statistically and with weapons like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Theo Riddick and Marvin Jones, there’s been no shortage of offensive options if you’ve been both a Detroit Lions fan and fantasy football player.
So today, I’m giving you my way-too-early Lions fantasy projections for the upcoming 2018 season.
2017 Stats: 4,446 Pass Yards, 29 TDs, 10 INTs, 99.3 QB Rating
2018 Projection: 4,281 Pass Yards, 31 TDs, 9 INTs, 104.1 QB Rating
2017 Stats: 766 Rush Yards, 2 TDs, 8 catches for 50 Yards, 1 TD
2018 Projection: 515 Rush Yards, 6 TDs, 3 catches for 24 Yards
Kerryon Johnson (R)
2017 Stats: N/A
2018 Projection: 757 Rush Yards, 3 TDs, 18 catches for 129 Yards, 1 TD
2017 Stats: 286 Rush Yards, 3 TDs, 53 catches for 444 Yards, 2 TDs
2018 Projection: 144 Rush Yards, 1 TD, 49 catches for 420 Yards, 4 TDs
2017 Stats: 552 Rush Yards, 4 TDs, 25 catches for 162 Yards, 1 TD
2018 Projection: 303 Rush Yards, 1 TD, 20 catches for 118 Yards, 1 TD
2017 Stats: 61 catches for 1,101 Yards, 9 TDs
2018 Projection: 63 catches for 1,009 Yards, 5 TDs
2017 Stats: 92 catches for 1,003 Yards, 5 TDs
2018 Projection: 85 catches for 967 Yards, 7 TDs
2017 Stats: 28 catches for 477 Yards, 3 TDs
2018 Projection: 41 catches for 729 Yards, 6 TDs
2017 Stats: 15 catches for 153 Yards, 4 TDs
2018 Projection: 35 catches for 502 Yards, 2 TDs
2017 Stats: 12 catches for 122 yards, 1 TD
2018 Projection: 15 catches for 94 yards, 1 TD
2017 Stats: 4 catches for 46 Yards
2018 Projection: 31 catches for 289 Yards, 4 TDs
2017 Stats: 30-for-35 Field Goals, 40-for-41 Extra Points
2018 Projection: 30-for-32 Field Goals, 45-for-47 Extra Points
Explaining my numbers: Starting with quarterback Matthew Stafford, I see a similar year statistically, with the uptick in quarterback rating coming from having to do slightly less. I think he’ll be effective in the red zone and will throw for fewer yards but more touchdowns.
The running back battle is one to keep an eye on as the Lions have more than one capable back. I assume Blount will lead the team in touchdowns and be their goal-line back, but rookie Kerryon Johnson will rush for the most yards. Ameer Abdullah, although it feels as if he is at the bottom of the totem pole, is still a better between-the-tackles runner than elusive Theo Riddick.
Riddick should again lead all RBs in receiving yards, and likely enters the season as the only back certain of his role. If the Lions are smart, they’ll let this running battle play itself out.
Getting to the wide receivers and tight ends, I think it’s Marvin Jones for the second-straight year leading the team in yardage. I have Golden Tate dropping just below the 1,000-yard mark but making up for it with a team-leading 7 touchdowns.
Second-year receiver Kenny Golladay could have easily produced my 2018 projections last year had he been healthy all season. This season I think he puts up solid numbers reflective of a good No. 3 WR.
Luke Willson is my early pick to lead the tight ends in yardage, with Michael Roberts a sleeper for a couple of breakout games and a few touchdowns. Toilolo is just a good depth player that could surpass my modest projections.