The Desai Guys continue their Fantasy Football deep dive with the Detroit Lions
It’s a Hard Knock Life for the Detroit Lions heading into the month of August. The HBO show Hard Knocks is following the Lions this preseason and there are plenty of storylines to interest viewers.
The longtime doormat of the NFL has had quite an eventful few years after the hiring of head coach Dan Campbell, trading away Matthew Stafford, and now with exciting young additions to the team. With the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown and second overall draft pick Aidan Hutchinson, there’s a lot to like about the future of the franchise and not just on the field but in the fantasy world as well.
Leave Your Fantasy Football Draft With This Player
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR
While rookies like DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase, and Jaylen Waddle all rightfully stole the spotlight with phenomenal rookie seasons, Amon-Ra St. Brown’s rookie season was equally as impressive. The former third-round pick finished the season with 90 receptions, 912 yards, and five touchdowns.
While those last two numbers may not jump off the page, it was enough for St. Brown to finish as the 23rd-ranked receiver in fantasy football last season. In fact, despite not receiving the same amount of attention as the aforementioned rookies, he finished seven spots ahead of Smith and just two spots behind Waddle.
While the signing of D.J. Chark and the drafting of Jameson Williams could eat into St. Brown’s target share, the chemistry he and Jared Goff clearly shared last season should still have massive value. His 119 targets put him ahead of receivers like Mike Evans, Tyler Lockett, A.J. Brown, and Adam Thielen. Given the reputation of the Lions, it’s more than possible that St. Brown could slip into the mid-rounds despite his potential to really put up WR1 numbers.
Fantasy Football Rookie Difference Maker
Jameson Williams, WR
As mentioned before, the Lions clearly recognized that while St. Brown’s rookie season was a phenomenal one, they still had to surround him with talent. That’s what led to the surprising trade during the 2022 NFL Draft in which Detroit traded up with their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.
With that selection, the Lions took the former Alabama receiver Jameson Williams who finished his final season with the Crimson Tide with 79 receptions, 1,572 yards, and a whopping 15 touchdowns. There was even some discussion on if Williams was the best receiver in the draft but unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in the College Football National Championship game.
This is what led to Williams being the third receiver off the board in the NFL Draft when many experts touted him as the one who should’ve gone as the first at the position.
While Dan Campbell and Williams himself have remained particularly mum on the timeline for his return, he’s still a player to keep an eye on. This also emphasizes why it’s so important to keep an eye on your league settings. If your fantasy football league has a designated IR spot and, hypothetically, Williams starts the season on the PUP list, he’s a prime mid-year breakout candidate.
No matter when Williams starts the season, it’s not unreasonable to see him developing into a low-end WR2 or high-end FLEX option. Last year, the Lions most consistent #2 option at receiver was Kalif Raymond who saw 71 targets last year. No offense to Raymond but Williams is certainly a more promising prospect than him so an increased share in target share, once he is cleared to play, should be expected.
Potential Fantasy Football Breakout Player
D’Andre Swift, RB
Alright, so this may seem crazy on the surface to call Swift a breakout player. He’s well known among the fantasy football community however some surprising names that finished above him last season are Darrel Williams, AJ Dillon, and David Montgomery. Swift finished last year with 617 rushing yards, five touchdowns, and 452 receiving yards thanks in large part to Jamaal Williams eating into both his rushing attempts and targets in the passing game.
It’s worth noting that he had a limited opportunity to adjust to the new offense under Campbell last summer as he struggled with a groin injury during training camp and also missed four games last season as well. With a full and healthy offseason under his belt and just the fact that he has younger legs than Williams, it’s expected that Swift will see an increased workload during the 2022 NFL season.
Yahoo and LionsWire writer Jeff Risdon reported in late July that Swift was “a fixture” in the offense during red zone drills. This indicates that even if Williams does continue to eat into his opportunities, particularly in the passing game, Swift will have plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns when it’s the most optimal. Swift will likely be drafted in the second round and certainly no later than the third round in most leagues but it’s not hard to imagine him finishing among the first-round running backs.
Bold Fantasy Football Prediction
Jared Goff will finish as a top-15 fantasy football quarterback
Jared Goff finished last year as the 24th-ranked quarterback with what can be explained as “good, not great” stats. While 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions seem mediocre, and arguably are, it’s important to note the limited amount of weapons Goff had to work with last year. Yes, St. Brown was fantastic for Detroit. But outside of him, they didn’t have much else. Tight end T.J. Hockenson missed five games while the rest of their receiving threats consisted of Tom Kennedy, Kalif Raymond, Josh Reynolds, and other rather forgettable names.
Now with the additions of Williams and Chark at receiver, a hopefully healthy Hockenson and both Swift and Williams in the backfield, the Detroit Lions offense has quickly found itself loaded at the skill positions. Looking at Goff’s stats compared to those quarterbacks who did find themselves in the top-15, Derek Carr (13th) threw for 23 touchdowns while Carson Wentz (14th) threw for 27. Goff is only four and six touchdowns from meeting those numbers respectively.
The big question mark and the biggest hurdle for Goff to overcome is his passing yards. He finished last season with 3,245 yards while Carr had over 1,500 more. However, he is only a few hundred behind quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill and Wentz. So if Goff can simply get his touchdown and yard numbers just a bit higher, a feat not implausible with this revamped offense, it’s not hard to imagine him finishing in the top-15.
Goff will likely go undrafted in most leagues but if your original starter or backup quarterback suffers an injury, he is a key name to keep an eye on during the early weeks of the season on the fantasy football waiver wire.