There are still over two months until the regular season starts and probably around two months until your fantasy drafts, but it’s never too early to be prepared for your 2016 fantasy season.
And we’re here to help.
ESPN’s Fantasy experts released their top-300 players list and quite a few Lions, as you’d think, ended up on the list. Here’s a quick breakdown of where Detroit’s players stack up.
No. 46 Golden Tate (No. 25 WR): This might be a little low for Tate, especially if you’re in a PPR league. With Calvin Johnson retired, Tate could see an uptick in targets and considering his hands, that will likely mean more receptions (and therefore more yards). Touchdowns could still be a question because the Lions will have other red zone targets.
No. 77 Ameer Abdullah (No. 34 RB): Having Abdullah here shows exactly how much faith people have in Detroit’s run game -- which is none. And there shouldn’t be. Abdullah could be a breakout candidate this year, but there are too many unknowns, from the quality of his blocking this year to how he’ll respond to shoulder surgery. Kick return plays into this as well if he holds on to that job.
No. 83 Marvin Jones (No. 37 WR): Like Tate, this might be a little bit low, especially if Detroit uses Jones to stretch the field. He should see more targets and have more overall opportunities than he did as the No. 2 receiver behind A.J. Green in Cincinnati. There’s no reason to think Jones can’t come close to or eclipse 1,000 yards receiving this year.
No. 103 Theo Riddick (No. 39 RB): Why is Riddick so low? Mostly because he’s a running back who excels in catching passes. If you don’t play in a PPR league, he might even have less value than indicated here. If you’re in a PPR league, though, he can be a monster. Just don’t expect much from him when it comes to carries or rushing yards.
No. 170 Matthew Stafford (No. 17 QB): Stafford’s inconsistency and the questions about Jim Bob Cooter’s offense likely leave Stafford this low. If he can continue what he did in the second half of last season, he would be tremendous value this low. He has a chance to have a really big fantasy season if he can continue to connect with Cooter’s offense.
No. 175 Eric Ebron (No. 17 TE): Ebron is the X factor in the Lions' offense this season and becomes an intriguing question when it comes to fantasy. He should see more targets -- potentially a lot more targets -- and that should translate to more production. Where he could see more value is in the red zone, where he might become Detroit’s No. 1 or No. 2 option if he shows reliable hands. I’d consider him higher than No. 17 at this position.
No. 191 Matt Prater (No. 11 K): Prater will be a good kicker for fantasy since the Lions have only one chance at a cold weather game and will play all but three games indoors this season.
No. 241 Stevan Ridley (No. 78 RB): Ridley hasn’t been healthy yet and his role in Detroit’s offense is murky at best. He could be the short-yardage back. He could siphon carries from Abdullah. Or he could end up not playing at all.
No. 242 Zach Zenner (No. 79 RB): He’s a little bit safer than Ridley, but not much. Other than the health aspect -- although he hasn’t taken a hit yet -- everything I wrote for Ridley fits for Zenner as well. He’s more of a sleeper, though, than Ridley.
No. 274 TJ Jones (No. 100 WR): If you’re in a deep league, it could be worth taking a late flier on Jones. If he wins the punt return job, that would be added points for him and he should see a decent amount of work as the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver. That’s not likely to translate into a bunch of fantasy points, but depending how things go the first month of the season he could be a good fill-in for a player on a bye week.
No. 299 Detroit Lions defense (No. 21 defense): Too many questions here on every level (line, linebackers, secondary) for it to be a reliable defense every week. But the schedule should help and the Lions could be a good second defense to carry if you like to play matchups for defensive points since the schedule is favorable.