Lions beat writer Kyle Meinke on Theo Riddick's role in 2015:
HC Jim Caldwell has already said he expects Riddick to be a bigger part of the fold this year. But I think it could end up being mostly as a pass-catcher. I could see a scenario where many of his reps came out of the slot.
Think of it this way: Detroit's running game was awful last year, finishing 28th. Reggie Bush struggled with ankle injuries for a couple months. And the Lions still gave Riddick only 20 touches on the ground.
If Detroit didn't think Riddick could help on the ground under those circumstances, I have a hard time seeing how it happens this year after adding Ameer Abdullah. Unless Riddick totally remakes his game, which I guess is possible. I'm just not banking on it.
In 2015, the Lions hope a veteran like Moore can help Stafford feast on opposing defenses as he brings plenty of familiarity with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's scheme.
"He seems like a great guy," Stafford said last week at Taste of the Lions. "He obviously has knowledge of the system. It's changed a little bit. We talked about that, but not too much to where it's going to be tough for him to learn it."
Moore is turning 32 this summer and it's not clear how much he has left in the tank. He was only targeted 26 times last season as the Steelers' WR4, but he does seemed to be a handpicked choice for Lombardi's offense. He could serve as the team's WR3 if he has a good summer.
Moore is turning 32 this summer and it's not clear how much he has left in the tank. He was only targeted 26 times last season as the Steelers' WR4. At this point, he's competing for a roster spot, not a major role in the passing game.
Joique Bell will open the season as the starter, but expect Ameer Abdullah to shoulder much of the rushing load early as well. Detroit would not have taken him that high if it planned on Theo Riddick being the No. 2. The powerful Bell and speedy Abdullah will complement each other, much as Bell and Reggie Bush did in previous years. Riddick probably will be used a lot like he was last year, as a receiver out of the backfield.
Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. If things break his way and he sees significant time on passing downs, Abdullah could ultimately post top 25 numbers in PPR formats.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, who signed a two-year, $22 million contract in February, cautioned against expecting the same kind of production we saw during his prime, when at least 90 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns seemed to be the norm.
"No, it's not possible," he said. "And it's only that reason because of the role that I play. It's a different role. I just don't have the opportunities down the field. I'm more inside, I move the chains a lot more.
"In terms of putting up the big numbers, it will be difficult, but in terms of my effectiveness, of providing first downs, being able to make tough catches for my team, I'm still going to be able to do that."
Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season (85-1,296-5.3) and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. If Palmer stays healthy, Fitzgerald should be a great value at his current 9th-round ADP in early PPR drafts.
Saturday, April 11, 2015, 1:43pm
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:40pm
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was recently asked about his run game at a Town Hall Meeting for season ticket holders.
It was a legitimate question considering that was one of the biggest issues on that side of the ball a season ago. The Lions ranked 28th in rushing last season and decided to cut ties with Reggie Bush this offseason, just two years into a four-year deal he signed in 2013.
“I think it is a work in progress,” Lombardi said. “Joique we love. He’s a tough guy. Runs hard. Just keeping him healthy will be key. I’m very excited for Theo (Riddick) and have been since I first got here. I think we’re going to see great things from him.”
Bell led the Lions in rushing yards (860) and touchdowns (7) in 2014. Riddick caught 34 passes and scored four touchdowns.
The story goes on to say that head coach Jim Caldwell expects better production from that aspect of the Lions offense in 2015. The Lions are expected to add another running back via the draft. They’ve already hosted a couple of top running back prospects in Todd Gurley and Tevin Coleman on pre-draft visits.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 10:39am
WR Ryan Broyles led the Lions with 11 catches for 144 yards during the preseason, but was a nonfactor in the regular season. He was active for just five games, when Calvin Johnson was dealing with a high ankle sprain, and caught two passes for 25 yards.
But HC Jim Caldwell says he saw growth from Broyles during practices, and is hopeful he'll play himself into the picture at receiver now that he's finally gone a year without suffering a major injury.
"I think he's a guy you have a lot of respect for because he's had three major injuries, and he's fought his way back from them, and I think that's hard to do," offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said last week. "Listen, when the guy's been in there, he's been productive. And we're excited to see where he is now after a full season of not coming back from an injury. He's had a full year to be healthy, and we're excited to see what he does here in the offseason and heading into camp."
The story went on to say now that Broyles is healthy and freed from the perpetual rehab process, Detroit is hopeful he can turn his focus to improving his game. But it's not that simple for Broyles. Even when he was healthy last year, he was not a factor because he filled a virtually identical role in the offense as Golden Tate. And Tate is the much better player. So it stands to reason Broyles could be healthier this year, and better this year, and still not be a part of the offense's plans.
His two touchdowns were a low for his career. His 63 receptions and 784 yards were the fewest since 2004. But there are reasons to think Fitzgerald can post better statistics in 2015, provided he and quarterback Carson Palmer stay healthy.
In Palmer's last five starts before a season-ending knee injury, Fitzgerald caught 31 passes for 461 yards. It was clear that he and Palmer were starting to click.
"Both guys were very comfortable in the offense," coach Bruce Arians said at the NFL owners meetings last week.
"He has progressed so much, I don't think there is any doubt they can go down on an option route, and Carson will know where he is going and the ball is on time. Larry is going to make the big, physical catches inside. He's a true mismatch inside."
$11 million per season (Fitzgerald’s re-worked deal) is a high price to pay for a soon-to-be 32-year-old who is coming off of his worst fantasy season of his career. However, there is a reason for optimism: Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season, and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. The Cardinals obviously believe that he’s worth keeping around.
"I think that's going to be a big key to our growth is to get more production from Eric, and I think he's ready to do that," Lombardi said Tuesday, per the Detroit Free Press. "I know he's been making some trips to Atlanta to work with Matt already this offseason, so he's -- the thing you like about Eric is he's a bright kid and he works hard and he wants to be good. So we expect very big things from him moving forward."
"There's a big learning curve, obviously, for any rookie, and the tight end position is one that requires a lot," Lombardi said. "As you look back, if you're self-critical, you might say maybe we asked a little bit too much of him, from that perspective. So I think there's just a volume that he struggled with early, but he was productive and, again, for anybody, the second year's always where you see the biggest jump."
Ebron turned 3.8 targets into 1.9 catches for 19 yards and 0.08 TD as a rookie. He played half the snaps, so his lack of production is somewhat alarming. Tight end is a tough position to learn as a rookie, so there is some reason for optimism given Ebron's skill set.
"Our biggest thing is, in order to win football games, you've got to first not lose them, and I thought that he played smart football, and sometimes to a fault," Lombardi said Tuesday, per Ashley Dunkak of CBS Detroit. "We'll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football. He's got the arm to do it. He's got the receivers to throw it to."
After three straight top 10 finishes, Stafford was the #17 QB in 2014, though he was only a couple of touchdowns out of the #13 spot. As the 10th QB off the board in early drafts, it's possible that Stafford is being overdrafted, though if he's being encouraged to take more chances, it could boost his fantasy numbers.
"We try and give (the ball) to the guys who are going to do something with it, and I think he's going to be one of those guys who's going to force us to give him the ball more," Caldwell said last week at the NFL owners meetings. "I think you're really going to see him come along."
Caldwell expects Riddick's role to grow next season, though that could depend on what kind of tailback the team adds in April's draft. Riddick is a plus-plus pass catcher out of the backfield, but hasn't shown any kind of chops yet on the ground -- yet.
"He has all the qualities. Here's the thing -- if you're smart, if you're tough, if you're disciplined, if you have a great work ethic, there's improvement ahead. And he has all those things. So I think he's going to improve, and I think he's going to force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations."
Reggie Bush’s departure should give Riddick the opportunity to shine as the team's primary passing down back. He averaged 5.0 catches for 53 yards for 13.2 fantasy points in PPR formats in the five games that Bush missed last season. That's about what Fred Jackson averaged as the #17 running back in 2014. If the Lions don't add a running back early in the draft, then Riddick should be a sleeper in PPR formats.
Bush is expected to fill a third-down role since it looks like Carlos Hyde is ready to carry most of the rushing load, though Tomsula's comments indicate that Bush's presence should be a concern for Hyde owners who were excited about the young back's opportunity with Frank Gore gone. The 49ers don't typically use their running backs in the passing game, though longtime OC Greg Roman is gone and new OC Geep Chryst may have a different plan in mind.
After finishing in the top 20 for three straight seasons in PPR points per game (including #6 in 2013), Bush was #32 in that category last season. His departure should solidify Joique Bell's workload and give Theo Riddick the opportunity to shine as the team's primary passing down back. Bell finished #14 in standard formats and #13 in PPR, so he should continue to produce high-end RB2 numbers provided he stays healthy and the Lions don't make any major moves at running back. As for Riddick, he averaged 13.2 fantasy points (in PPR formats) in the five games that Bush missed last season. That's about what Fred Jackson averaged as the #17 running back in 2014.
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