Lions Fantasy News

Former coach calls Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham a 'nightmare matchup'

Thursday, July 2, 2015, 11:30am

NFL.com - [Full Article]

Dorial Green-Beckham spent weeks sidelined by a hamstring injury. That aside, his former college coach believes the Titans have landed the equivalent of a "nightmare matchup for any cornerback at any level."

"I was with the Colts with Jim Mora when he had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I was with the Raiders when they had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and some other guys on the Super Bowl team," University of Texas receivers coach Jay Norvell told the Tennessean.

Norvell spent last season coaching the red-shirted Green-Beckham in practice at Oklahoma, saying: "When you go through the history of the draft and look at the guys with size and speed and all that, he is just unique. Calvin Johnson is probably one of the closest comparisons physically because of his size."

Armed with 4.49 speed and a 6-foot-5, 237-pound frame, Green-Beckham drew pre-draft comparisons from NFL Media's Charles Davis to Falcons star Julio Jones and former NFL wideout Plaxico Burress.

"He's not a finished product, but most players aren't," Norvell said. "So he's going to have to learn the pro game and that's a completely different game from college. But he's got some natural gifts that will help him in that game, and in some ways, the NFL is probably a better game for him than college football, just because of the bump rules and (less) contact and all of that. So there are some advantages he has. ... That's why they picked him."

Fantasy Impact:

If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Marcus Mariota are the real deal.

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Lions RB Joique Bell: 'I'm going to rush for over 1,200 yards.'

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 11:09am

MLive - [Full Article]

Lions RB Joique Bell isn't worried about the knee injury that has sidelined him for the entirety of this offseason. He isn't worried about the Achilles either.

He really, really isn't.

Bell is so confident about this season, in fact, that he's predicting he'll become the second Detroit Lions running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards since 2004 -- and then some.

"I'm going to rush for over 1,200 yards," Bell told MLive.com. "That's the minimum. If I do less than that, I'll be surprised. I'll be disappointed.

"Anything more than that, I wouldn't be surprised at all."

Fantasy Impact:

Bell was the #14 RB in standard formats (#13 in PPR), while racking up 257 touches in 15 games. That works out to a 17.1-touch average. While he certainly benefited from Reggie Bush's injury-plagued season, Bell dominated the touches even when Bush was active and playing. He should continue to see RB1-type touches in 2015 with Bush out of the way, though the arrival of Ameer Abdullah is a concern. Abdullah has shined with Bell sitting out of offseason activities, but Bell should still see 14-15 touches per game.

Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:25am

Pro Football Talk - [Full Article]

While league rules have carved into the amount of offseason practice time — which some have called unnecessary — others are looking for more.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford wants to bring receiver Calvin Johnson and the rest of his targets together for some pre-camp work of their own.

Such camps aren’t new, as Peyton Manning has been taking his receivers to Duke every spring, and others do the same. But Stafford said he thought it would help.

“I think it’s big,” Stafford said. “I’m obviously in Atlanta quite a bit, so Calvin’s right there, throw with him some. But try to find a way to get together with some of the other guys as well. . . ."

Fantasy Impact:

Stafford went on to say there's no substitute for running routes for a receiver and catching the ball from the guy you’re going to be catching the ball from during the season. The Lions got good numbers out of Johnson and Golden Tate last year, but the rest of the offense struggled at times. They were 22nd in the league in scoring offense, and no other non-Johnson or Tate receiver had more than 322 receiving yards, the story said.

Sunday, June 28, 2015, 4:39pm

CBS Sports - [Full Article]

Giants QB Eli Manning, 34, signed a six-year, $97 million deal with the Giants in 2009. It's been re-worked frequently to create salary-cap room but Manning's still on the same deal. It expires after the 2015 season.

Despite his age and despite his propensity for throwing picks (he's led the league three times, including 2013), Manning has two Super Bowl MVP awards and certainly qualifies as a top-end quarterback.

Fantasy Impact:

From a fantasy perspective, Manning had one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2014, throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. That he did it in a new offensive scheme is only more impressive. It was a rough start for the Giants but the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr at WR certainly helped turn around the offense. WR Victor Cruz should be back healthy and the team signed Shane Vereen as a pass-catching running back. The point of the story is more times than not, QBs tend to get deals done with their current team, so there's a good chance Manning stays in New York - and he has the potential for a nice 2015. He's ranked ninth on our QB list heading into camps. With an ADP of the 12th round, he's a potential sneaky pick because guys behind him in our rankings - Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford - all project to come off the board before Manning.

Lions expect 'an improvement' in QB Matthew Stafford's accuracy in 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 3:22pm

NFL.com - [Full Article]

Inaccuracy has been Matthew Stafford's calling card his whole career, completing under 60 percent of his passes in four of his six seasons. Of the top 10 passing quarterbacks in 2014, Stafford had the lowest completion percentage (60.3) while attempting the fifth-most passes in the league (602).

However, news out of Lions minicamp is that Stafford has turned things around and is impressing coach Jim Caldwell. "He's improved," Caldwell told MLive.com on Tuesday. "He has a better feel for the system. You can see our timing's better, receivers have a better sense of the routes that they're running. All around I think we've made some improvement."

"I mean, it's obviously always a work in progress," Stafford offered. "But there's no question we've taken strides forward this spring." Caldwell went on to say that, concerning Stafford's completion percentage, he expects "an improvement from where he was last year."

Fantasy Impact:

Stafford finished as the #17 QB last season, but in the three previous seasons, he didn’t finish outside the top 10. Stafford tends to struggle when Calvin Johnson isn’t fully healthy, as was the case last year. He should improve his numbers in his second season in Joe Lombardi's offense, especially with a healthy Johnson back in the fold.

Jaguars Beat: Allen Robinson is 'by far' team's top receiver

Friday, June 19, 2015, 3:56pm

Florida Times Union - [Full Article]

Allen Robinson is by far the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver.

A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.

Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.

Fantasy Impact:

Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.

Steelers WR Markus Wheaton will be playing the slot 'full time'

Thursday, June 18, 2015, 11:14pm

Pittsburgh Tribune-Live - [Full Article]

Steelers WR Markus Wheaton ran 119 routes out of the slot last year — third most on the team behind Lance Moore and Justin Brown — but had only nine receptions. While he was in the slot, the playbook was limited for him.

“The plays I had last year were customized for me,” Wheaton said. “They made it out so I had some simple stuff. Being there full time, I am going to see a lot more.”

Fantasy Impact:

This is actually more about Martavis Bryant than it is Wheaton. The Steelers wouldn't be moving him to the slot if they weren't prepared to give Bryant starter's snaps on the outside. Wheaton will struggle to be fantasy relevant in the slot, while Bryant is looking more and more like a solid pick in the 5th or 6th round.

Lions Beat: RB Ameer Abdullah 'easily' the 'most impressive rookie'

Thursday, June 18, 2015, 8:11pm

MLive - [Full Article]

Lions beat writer Kyle Meinke:

The most impressive rookie of minicamp, easily, has been tailback Ameer Abdullah. It's hard to say much of anything substantive about a tailback, when there are no pads and no contact, but for whatever it's worth, Abdullah has looked like Detroit's best rusher with Joique Bell still out. He's smooth in his breaks, and his first- and second-step acceleration is plus-plus. He just looks comfortable, which you can't always say about a rookie tailback. Again, at this level, where everyone is fast and physical, the true hallmarks of a good rusher are vision and tackle-breaking ability, neither of which can be seen until the pads come on. But you have to like the early returns from the second-round pick.

Fantasy Impact:

Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Theo Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. With a small early-down role and significant time on passing downs, Abdullah could ultimately post top 25 numbers in PPR formats. He has upside from there if he's able to bite into Bell's workload.

Lions Beat: TE Eric Ebron has gotten 'progressively better'

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 9:08pm

MLive - [Full Article]

Eric Ebron wasn't sharp to open OTAs, but has gotten progressively better. That includes no drops in the last OTA that was open to the media, and then no drops on the first day of minicamp. The closest thing was a pass that was broken up at the last moment by Rashean Mathis. Other than that, Ebron caught everything thrown his way, and was a real matchup nightmare. (And despite the good practice, Ebron still stuck around to take extra balls from the JUGS machine after practice. Another indicator his questionable attitude is a thing of the past, even if the drops aren't -- yet.)

Fantasy Impact:

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, especially since he seems to be having a good offseason.

Cowboys 'like' what Lance Dunbar can do 'in space'

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 12:22pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

The Cowboys' intrigue with Lance Dunbar has been long-running. He might not be an every-down back, but he can be part of a committee. They like what he can do in space. They believe he can be a mismatch player for defenses. Before arriving from the Detroit Lions, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had two running backs catch more than 50 passes in a season. Linehan sees Dunbar being able to do some of what Reggie Bush and Joique Bell did in 2013 in Detroit.

"Sometimes he doesn't play as many plays as some of the other guys, but when you look at his production within the plays that he has, it's usually pretty good," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's usually a difference maker. He's a really smart football player. He's talented. He's quick. He's fast and explosive, has great intuition and instincts for the game. We try to use him a lot of different ways, and when we have used him he's been effective for us. You're always trying to give those guys more opportunities."

Fantasy Impact:

Dunbar was rumored to be on the chopping block, but it appears that his roster spot is safe. If he beats out Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden for the role of third-down back, he could work his way into fantasy relevancy in PPR formats.

Lions Beat: 'Evident' that RB Ameer Abdullah 'will play significant minutes'

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 12:07pm

Detroit Free Press - [Full Article]

Lions second-round pick Ameer Abdullah has impressed coaches with his quick feet and sure hands, and it's evident that the rookie running back will play significant minutes this fall. He'll get plenty more reps this week, as Joique Bell remains out recovering from off-season knee/Achilles surgeries.

Fantasy Impact:

Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Theo Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. If he sees a significant role in the passing game while stealing a few early down carries, Abdullah could ultimately post top 20 numbers in PPR formats. Remember, OC Joe Lombardi came from New Orleans, where they like their running back committees.

Lions Beat: Team 'impressed' with RB Ameer Abdullah

Friday, June 12, 2015, 2:14pm

Detroit Lions - [Full Article]

Lions RB Ameer Abdullah has gotten plenty of reps with Joique Bell being out and he's looked good in the open OTA practices.

Lombardi is already impressed with how polished of a receiver Abdullah is turning out to be, and his quickness and elusiveness as a runner has shown in practice.

He’s a balanced runner -- low to the ground and he can stop and change directions on a dime. It never seems like defenders are able to square him up.

We’ll see what he looks like as a returner in training camp, but so far, it’s safe to say the Lions are impressed with their rookie running back.

Fantasy Impact:

Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Theo 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.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford should throw deep more often in 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015, 2:06pm

M Live - [Full Article]

One area Lions QB Matthew Stafford significantly altered was his willingness to attack opposing defenses downfield. In 2014, he attempted just 63 passes that traveled 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage. At just 10.5 percent of his total pass attempts, it was the lowest rate of deep shots in his six-year career.

A number of factors contributed to Stafford holstering his cannon more often than not last season. It starts with the conscientious effort to reduce turnovers. Then there was the decreased time in the pocket due to inferior pass protection. And you can't discount the injury issues which hampered top downfield weapon Calvin Johnson much of the season.

The Lions made a serious effort to improve the blocking up front this offseason, using the team's first-round draft pick on guard Laken Tomlinson. Detroit also parted ways with long-time center Dominic Raiola -- an average pass-blocker last season -- making way for last year's third-round pick, Travis Swanson, to take over at that spot.

In addition to the investment in the offensive line, Johnson should be back at 100 percent to start the season. In the first three games last year, before the star receiver first injured his ankle, Stafford attempted five deep passes per game. That dropped to 3.6 attempts the final 13 weeks.

Fantasy Impact:

Stafford finished as the #17 QB last season, but in the three previous seasons he didn’t finish outside the top 10. Stafford tends to struggle when Calvin Johnson isn’t fully healthy, as was the case last year. Stafford is a serious threat to finish with QB1 numbers, though we have more confidence in the passers ranked ahead of him.

Tate: TE Eric Ebron is 'going to be a huge player' for the Lions in 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015, 12:56pm

MLive - [Full Article]

In the two previous OTA practices open to the media, Ebron struggled with drops, which has further fueled his critics. To his credit, the young tight end has responded in a promising way this current week of practice. During Wednesday's session, he didn't let a pass touch the ground.

"This week specifically, he's been phenomenal catching the ball and after the catch," Tate said. "The linebackers are having a tough time covering him and even the safeties."

In April, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi noted it's common for tight ends to experience tremendous growth in their second season. He also stated the Lions are counting on Ebron to be the team's third receiving option behind Tate and Calvin Johnson. Tate echoed his coordinator's optimism.

"He's improved a whole lot," Tate said. "We're excited for him this year. I think he's going to be a huge player for us this year."

Fantasy Impact:

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 and the investment (a first round pick) the Lions have made in him.

Lions RB Ameer Abdullah 'better' at catching the ball than originally thought

Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 11:57pm

Detroit Lions - [Full Article]

Ameer Abdullah ran for more than 1,600 yards in each of his last two seasons at Nebraska, but it’s his receiving skills that have pleasantly surprised the Lions through nine OTA practices this spring.

“I like Abdullah more every day,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said after Wednesday’s open OTA practice. “Every day you can see him do things that really excite you.

“He didn’t get a chance maybe to show everything he can do as a receiver at Nebraska, but he’s even better in that phase of the game than I thought when we drafted him, so it was kind of a bonus when you see how well he catches the ball and how well he runs routes.”

Abdullah's ability to stop and start and change direction could be a huge asset in space.

“He does a lot of things well for a young guy, but one thing you notice quickly is he can catch the ball,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “He catches it and knows what to do with it when he gets it in his hands. He’s making good progress in that area.”

Fantasy Impact:

Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Theo 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.

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