Lions Fantasy News
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:30pm
Expect to see a lot of two tight end sets by the Lions, which will give them an opportunity to mix things up pre-snap and move pieces around. Ebron can play in-line, in the slot and outside, which will give offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback Matthew Stafford a lot of options after reading defenses.
Ebron gives Stafford something he hasn’t had from that position in his five years in Detroit. In Ebron, Stafford has a tight end that can take a five-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. He also has a player who can run by defenders down the seam and create mismatches from the tight end position.
The Lions want Ebron to fill the Jimmy Graham role in new OC Joe Lombardi’s offense, so he should see playing time immediately despite the presence of Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Of the 21 tight ends who have been drafted in the first round in the last 10 years, 14 have managed to play at least 14 games. They averaged 35-371-2.6, or #31 TE numbers. (Oddly enough, that's where Brandon Pettigrew finished in 2013.) It usually takes a while for a young tight end to make a fantasy impact, though there has been the occasional exception. Jeremy Shockey (#3 TE in 2002), Heath Miller (#11 in 2005) and Dustin Keller (#14 in 2008) all posted TE1 or fringe-TE1 numbers as rookie first round picks. Cam Cleeland, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and John Carlson all had a TE1-type impact as rookies even though they weren't drafted in the first round. Ebron is an intriguing TE2-type in a potent offense, but he's no shoo-in to make a big fantasy impact in his first season, especially if he’s struggling to learn the offense, which was the case in OTAs.
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Tony Romo (back) expected to be full participant in camp
Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 10:41pm
Jason Garrett says Tony Romo hasn’t suffered any setbacks and expects the Dallas Cowboys’ franchise quarterback to be a full participant during Thursday’s first practice of training camp.
Romo was limited during all of mini camp and organized team activities after having back surgery in December.
Much has been written about how Romo will thrive under new “Passing Game Coordinator” Scott Linehan. Under Linehan, the Lions threw the ball 62.2% of the time in the last two seasons. Over the same span, the Cowboys threw it 64.3% of the time, so the Cowboys may not be that much more "pass happy" under Linehan, though the number of plays they run could increase, helping the offense as a whole. The Lions have averaged 1,105 plays in the last two seasons, while the Cowboys averaged just 968 plays, so Detroit ran 14% more plays than Dallas over that span. This bodes well for Romo and Co. Hopefully that back holds up.
Golden Tate (shoulder) still not ready to practice
Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 6:36pm
Wide receivers Golden Tate and TJ Jones will all open camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Tate, Detroit's prized offseason acquisition, didn't participate in the team's mandatory minicamp in June. At the time, he proclaimed he fully expected to be healthy for training camp.
"100 percent (I'll be ready)," Tate said. "100 percent. No doubt about it. We'll see the doctors today and talk about whatever we need to talk about. Go from there. I want to be out there, though."
The Lions awarded Tate a five-year, $31 million deal in free agency. Durability has not been an issue in recent years. He's missed just one game the past three seasons.
The shoulder injury is a bit worrisome, but we're still expecting Tate to have a strong season as the Lions' WR2.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:18am
WR Golden Tate is the best No. 2 the Lions have had in Calvin Johnson’s tenure with the team. No disrespect to Nate Burleson, but he was more of a possession receiver. Tate can catch a five-yard pass and turn it into 80 yards. That’s nice to have in the bag when double coverage rolls Megatron’s way.
Tate is also sure-handed. He’s dropped just seven passes in four years. The Lions have led the league in dropped passes the last two seasons.
Tate had the #29 FP/T (1.21) in 2013, which was right on his three-year average. Tate saw 99 targets last year, which was a career high. He has back-to-back top 35 seasons to his credit, and he did that with just 5.4 T/G. He’s likely to see around 7.0 T/G in a pass-happy offense. (The Lions threw it 51% more than the Seahawks did in 2013.) And he’ll get to play opposite Calvin Johnson, ensuring that he’ll be seeing single coverage on virtually every play. He’s a fantasy WR3 with upside, assuming he and Matthew Stafford develop a good rapport. For more on his potential in the Detroit offense, click here.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 6:04pm
Golden Tate had an outstanding season in 2013 and parlayed that into a big-money deal with the Detroit Lions. But a Seahawks three-receiver formation of Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin and Jermaine Kearse can be better with Harvin instead of Tate.
Monday, July 14, 2014, 2:12pm
The nuances of Golden Tate's decision to leave Seattle for Detroit are coming to light.
"I hated being tackled (last year) because I didn't know when my next ball was going to come," Tate said in an interview Monday with ESPN's First Take. "I have a chance to catch more balls and make Pro Bowls (in Detroit)."
Tate had more receptions than any other Seahawk last season with 64. His 64 receptions and 898 yards were both career highs for Tate, but he was still left wanting in a run first, heavy on the defense franchise.
Ironically, he felt his catch thirst could be quenched by becoming another team's No. 2 guy.
The Lions ranked No. 3 in the NFL last season in passing, averaging 280.1 yards receiving per game. They threw the ball 214 times more last season (634 attempts), than the Seahawks (420 attempts), who ranked No. 26 out of 32 overall in passing, the story pointed out. Tate ranks 31st on our list making him a high-end WR3. The key will be a good rapport with QB Matt Stafford.
Calvin Johnson looks healthy for camp
Sunday, July 13, 2014, 10:38am
It's hardly a surprise to say that WR Calvin Johnson is good or that he is the key cog in the Lions' attack. But, as training camp approaches and anticipation ramps up over promising young players like TE Eric Ebron and RB Theo Riddick and concern grows over Matthew Stafford's progress, it should not be forgotten how important it is for Johnson to have a good camp and come out of it healthy.
The Lions' scoring offense ranked 13th in the NFL last year with an average of 24.7 points per game. But in the games Johnson missed at Green Bay and at Minnesota, the offense struggled greatly and scored a combined 22 points.
Megatron had minor surgeries on a finger and a knee after the season, and the team has been cautious with his offseason work. He looks completely healthy. Of course, Johnson will likely be an early-to-mid first round pick later this summer in your league. We project him for 9 TDs and over 1,600 yards as well as over 100 catches.
Lions RB Theo Riddick is going to have 'opportunities' in passing game
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 1:03pm
"I'm telling you, if he doesn't have 50 catches this year, I'll be surprised because he's going to have opportunities and he's very talented at it," Orlovsky said. "I think he's going to play that Sproles role, for sure."
It strains credulity that a timeshare running back would have more receptions (50) in his second season than snaps (49) in his first season, but Orlovsky insists there are specific packages drawn up to put the ball in Riddick's hands.
"He's going to have eight passes a game," Orlovsky said, "whether they're screens, whether they're one-on-ones, whether they're checkdowns, where they're going to be pass plays called for him."
If Riddick sees as large of a role as Orlovsky predicts, it's going to put a dent in the workloads of Bell and Reggie Bush. We can envision a three-headed RBBC since Lombardi comes from the Saints, but we'll see how much buzz Riddick is generating in camp now that Bell is completely healthy.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:19pm
Pro Bowl is the mandate. We’re not here just to play football. We’re here to dominate.
That’s the motto that floated off the lips of Tom Bender when speaking of his Atlanta-based program, which trains anywhere from 25-35 NFL players at a time during the offseason. It sounds a bit bold until you consider that his clientele includes the likes of Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas, arguably the top three receivers in the game.
"He's learning a lot, he's integrating well and we're cleaning up some of his college issues," said Bender with a laugh.
"That's for us to discuss. It's just a matter of getting him to move better, clean up his routes, just clean up all aspects of his game."
Matthews will likely see snaps in the slot (at least) this season. Jeremy Maclin is working his way back from an ACL injury and Riley Cooper is solid, but unspectacular. There is opportunity in this offense if Matthews has a great summer, and by most accounts he has. Rookie wideouts usually don’t live up to their ADP, but there is the occasional exception.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 5:45pm
Fascinatingly, the Dallas Cowboys' backup quarterback situation has become a hot topic this offseason.
In the meantime Brandon Weeden is caught in the middle like a seat filler at an awards show. The former first-round pick is preparing for the No. 2 role regardless of whether or not he'll end up sitting there in 2014.
"I'm going to go about my business the same way," Weeden recently told the team's official website. "I haven't met Kyle, so I can't really speak on it, but whatever he decides to do -- it's kind of out of my control. So what I'm worried about is, if I'm running with the twos out there, do my job to make the twos better. I want to make the team better any way I can, so it doesn't change my mindset or the way I feel about it."
Joique Bell 'feeling 100 percent'
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 1:21pm
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell hit an important milestone in his recovery from a knee injury, getting clearance to run at full speed two weeks after the conclusion of the team's mandatory minicamp last month.
Bell said he'll report to training camp a few days before most of his teammates to test out his body.
"I'm feeling 100 percent," Bell said. "I'm feeling great."
Although he's been in attendance, the knee injury has sidelined Bell for the early portions of Detroit's offseason program. That hasn't stopped him from staying in shape.
Bell is coming off a season where he gained 650 yards on the ground and added another 547 yards in the passing game, while scoring eight touchdowns. Our thinking is Bell could see more of a role in the running game in 2014 while Bush transitions back to a receiver under OC Joe Lombardi, who he was with in New Orleans. Bush's ADP is the fourth round while Bell's is the seventh, making Bell a very attractive target in drafts. We have Bell just ahead of Bush in standard leagues, but it looks like Bush's PPR value puts him higher than Bell in that format.
Monday, July 7, 2014, 4:20pm
But who takes the role of Darren Sproles – the shifty, multifaceted running back who can run the ball and make plays as a receiver in the open field?
Backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky has an idea. His bold prediction for the Lions’ 2015 season, as he told Ross Tucker on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, is that Theo Riddick will catch at least 50 passes.
Those are pretty lofty totals, especially with two, fine pass-catching backs in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell ahead of Riddick. But if Bell or Bush were to go down at some point this season, Riddick may be able to fill in nicely without much loss in production if the Lions decide to keep the game plan the same.
Monday, July 7, 2014, 8:25am
The Lions Matthew Stafford had a down year in 2013, in part to drops. But some of those struggles were the result of the quarterback's inconsistent mechanics and occasionally questionable decision-making.
With a coaching staff dedicated to refining Stafford's technique, and an improved arsenal of weapons, it would be stunning if the Lions' franchise quarterback didn't take a step forward with his accuracy this season, while dropping his interception rate.
Stafford's mechanics have often come under fire and we've seen mixed results throughout his career. Still, the weapons around him are tempting enough to take a chance on Stafford as your fantasy QB this season, especially if you're set on not taking one of the Big 3 early in drafts. We rank Stafford 5th on our list, and he is among that second tier of QBs along with Nick Foles and Andrew Luck.
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 9:00pm
Rangers beat writer Gerry Fraley and columnist Rick Gosselin joined Fox Sports Southwest's Dana Larson on Monday for SportsDay OnAir. Here are some highlights.
On Scott Linehan:
Fraley: "I saw Scott in St. Louis when he got fired midway through the season. He had Steven Jackson who is one of the most gifted running backs in football and a cut ahead of Murray right now. He had no idea what to do with Stephen Jackson in that Rams offense. I still think Linehan is a puzzling hire to me. I understand he is tight with Jason Garrett. He is even more pass happy than Jason Garrett. When you have a line with three first rounders and a quality back in Murray, why do you want a guy who wants to throw the ball even more? I don't get it. Unless he has undergone a real conversion in his thought process, Ill be stunned if they run the ball more. They may run it less."
Gosselin: "They didn't run the ball in Detroit last year. That's one of the few teams who ran it less than the Cowboys. In this building, the owner, the GM, the head coach, the coordinator and the quarterback all want to pass. The only one guy who doesn't want to pass is DeMarco Murray and he gets out voted every time."
Last season, the Cowboys were 3rd in pass % (63.6%) while the Lions were 13th (58.8%). The raw numbers show that the Lions (445 rushing attempts) ran more than the Cowboys (336 attempts) as well, so we're not sure where Fraley and Gosselin are getting their numbers. Linehan does have a history of being pass-happy, but he ran the ball with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in 2013 and his arrival should be good for Murray in 2014.
Josh Gordon's hearing scheduled for late July
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 7:14pm
Per a league source, nothing will be happening today.
But it will be happening sooner rather than later. Gordon’s hearing, we’re told, has been scheduled for late July.
It’s still possible that a hearing won’t be needed, if the NFL and the NFLPA work out a reduced suspension.
Gordon actually outscored Calvin Johnson in PPG (16.2 vs. 15.8) and finished as the top fantasy receiver in 2013 despite missing the first two games due to suspension. He’d be a no-brainer top 5 wideout heading into 2014 if not for his pending suspension. We currently have him projected to play eight games, but that may be optimistic.