2014 Team Outlook: Detroit Lions
QB Matthew Stafford, LAR - Stud (low risk)
PASS HAPPY Matthew Stafford is a fantasy stud. One thing we know is he is going to throw the ball and he's going to throw it a lot. Last year Stafford threw 93 fewer passes than in 2012, and his attempts were down to 634 (his lowest in any full season of his career). No, that is not a typo. For a bit of context, 634 attempts ranks as the 17th-most pass attempts in a season ever. Needless to say, this guy likes to air it out. He has maybe one of the greatest targets of all time to throw it to in Calvin Johnson. The Lions also brought in Golden Tate and rookie Eric Ebron and their running backs are glorified receivers. With more weapons than ever, expect Stafford to carry this offense even more. He does throw a high amount of interceptions, but that comes with all the attempts. Stafford is ranked around the Top 5 fantasy quarterbacks and should be drafted and started in all leagues. He has been on the doorstep of elite for a couple seasons now and he has the potential to muscle his way into the Big three (Manning, Rodgers and Brees).
QB Dan Orlovsky, --- - Not Draft Worthy
Veteran backup Dan Orlovsky will be the man to take the reins in Detroit should Stafford get injured. On just about any other team Orlovsky wouldn't even be a consideration, yet we've seen backups get playing time in Detroit before and become fantasy relevant. When you have Calvin Johnson, you can be relevant. If Stafford is injured, Orlovsky is worth a look as a bye week fill-in.
RB Theo Riddick, --- - Deep-league Only
Second-year back Theo Riddick had a great spring and most likely won the number three spot in Detroit. He and wide receiver Jeremy Ross were the young stars of minicamp. It is yet to be seen what Riddick's role will be, yet it is a safe assumption that if Bush or Bell are injured, Riddick will be a must-add in all league. With that opportunity (much like Joique Bell last season), Riddick would earn more playing time and possibly enough touches to merit the occasional start. Riddick is a sleeper in dynasty leagues as well. Although you're better off holding onto him for the time being as he'll have to wait his turn.
RB Joique Bell, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
Bell's strong play earned him substantial playing time and forced a two-back system in Detroit. Expect to see more carries (166 last year) and perhaps see the same number of receptions (53). He will split time with Reggie Bush. If Bush were to get injured (which would not be all that shocking), Bell could become a very capable RB1. The former Wayne State back has value in all formats, especially PPR. Bell is likely the league's best handcuff option for fantasy owners. He is also good enough to stick in the starting lineup every week.
RB Reggie Bush, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
Reggie Bush is coming off a 1,000-plus rushing yard, 500-plus receiving yard season. This is what we've come to expect from him. Bush is a very good fantasy back, but much more valuable in PPR leagues. It is looking like the Lions will be in a dual back system again with Joique Bell, which gelled during the 2013 season. Bush played well as the Lions' feature back, then Bell played well enough to earn a substantial amount of playing time. Expect Bush's numbers to be similar; although he may earn a few less carries while seeing a few more passes to further augment the 54 catches he had last year. His TD numbers will not be high since he is not an adequately-sized option in the red zone. When you have Calvin Johnson and three capable tight ends, undersized running backs don't get all that many looks. Bush is a high-end RB2 in PPR leagues and still has mid-range RB2 value in standard.
RB Mikel Leshoure, --- - Not Draft Worthy
Leshoure had a promising 2012, but somehow found himself almost completely out of the mix last season. While dealing with injuries this spring, Leshoure has most likely lost his RB3 role to second-year back Theo Riddick (and possibly his roster spot). Unless something changes, Leshoure is not draft worthy in any leagues.