The Detroit Lions are the perfect fantasy football targets for dynasty league gamers. They have a DGAF, gunslinging quarterback that elevates the passing game. Their depth chart is extremely thin, leading to tighter target distributions at the top. They bolstered their line with Halapoulivaati Vaitai, adding the big tackle to their two first-round offensive linemen. Now in the second year of Darrell Bevell’s system, the weapons in this offense are poised to exceed expectations in fantasy football. Here’s why you should be buying the Lions based on advanced stats, metrics, analytics and player profiles.
It all starts at the top with Matthew Stafford. In 2019, Stafford was having a career year, posting his best season in terms of Adjusted Yards Per Attempt, True Passer Rating, and Touchdown Rate. He also only had five picks through eight games, putting him on pace to tie his career-low in interceptions. His efficiency was incredible considering how often he was chucking the ball deep.
Check out Matthew Stafford on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:
Stafford averaged 6.9 Deep Ball Attempts per game last season, which was nearly double the 3.7 attempts he averaged over the previous five seasons. He and Jameis Winston (7.1) were alone at the top, proving to be the top two gunslingers in the NFL. That aggressiveness allowed Stafford to post 0.51 (No. 5 among qualified quarterbacks) Fantasy Points per Dropback and 20.8 (No. 4) Fantasy Points per Game. If Bevell continues to call plays that suit Stafford’s cannon, the 2020 Lions can produce fantasy point totals resembling the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Better yet, Stafford is only 32 years old. Detroit had a top 3 pick in a draft littered with elite quarterbacks and decided on a cornerback. They clearly believe in their franchise passer. We’ve routinely witnessed quarterbacks play well into their late 30s, yet the dynasty community is way down on him. His dynasty superflex ADP has him going in the sixth round as the QB18, while we have him ranked as the QB11. Stafford is a cheap dynasty building block that is being slept on.
Tight target distribution
Everyone knows and loves Matthew Stafford‘s top target, Kenny Golladay, who possesses elite athleticism with a 110.7 (92nd-percentile) Speed Score at 6-4, 218 pounds. That dangerous size-speed combination has allowed him to thrive as Stafford’s go-to deep guy, seeing 37 (No. 1) Deep Targets last year. In total, he hit 1,190 receiving yards and led all wide receivers with 11 touchdown catches.
Clearly he’ll be difficult to pry away from fantasy gamers, but his target share is about as safe as it can get. The Lions only drafted one pass catcher in Quintez Cephus, who is a sub-athlete with underwhelming college stats. That means outside of Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola, Detroit has no talent to pose any competition. The top three receivers will dominate the team’s target share.
Since 2017 …
Kenny Golladay (42 games): 163 receptions, 2,730 receiving yards, 19 TDs
Marvin Jones (38 games): 158 receptions, 2,388 receiving yards, 23 TDs
Golladay is rising and the better talent, but once again the ADP disparity is going to be too big between these dudes
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 5, 2020
While trading for Golladay might be a challenge, Jones can be had for a bag of chips. At 30 years old, he isn’t a long-term solution for a failing dynasty squad, but he is a fantastic win-now option. He has a clear role as the second receiver for Detroit and has established his ability to give fantasy gamers week-winning performances. Over the last four years, he’s posted 10 games with over 100 yards and/or multiple touchdowns. With Stafford playing as aggressive as ever, it makes sense to grab a cheap piece of the offense with a clear floor and monster ceiling.
Young dynasty building blocks
If looking for a young dynasty asset to build around, T.J. Hockenson is an obvious candidate. He didn’t have the most productive rookie season but, at the young age of 22, he still has time to develop into an every-down weapon for the Lions. Hockenson also has one of the most impressive prospect profiles we’ve ever seen, with above-average size-adjusted athleticism across the board, a 24-percent (74th-percentile) College Dominator Rating, and early-first round draft capital. While it was only one game, he at least showed he has the ability to convert that profile into production, going 6/131/1 in his first NFL contest.
The real value is D’Andre Swift, who’s rookie ADP has already dropped to the RB5. Prior to the draft, he was a consensus top 2 running back and was rumored to be the RB1 for many NFL teams. It made sense looking at his 105.3 (80th-percentile) Speed Score and his stocky 32.2 (87th-percentile) Body Mass Index. He also is a true difference-maker in the passing game, evidenced by his 10.1 percent (75th-percentile) College Target Share.
The Lions clearly love his talent after taking him with the third pick in the second round. That’s also an indication that they don’t believe in Kerryon Johnson, who they have yet to trust with a bell-cow workload. Swift will capture the fantasy-friendly third-down role right away and will likely split early-down duties with Johnson. Expect his workload to resemble Austin Ekeler or Alvin Kamara-type volume. Talent wins out, and Swift will push Johnson out of the picture sooner rather than later. With the deep ball firing on all cylinders in this offense, his ground efficiency will be through the roof.