Lions-Packers Fantasy Preview: Start All The Players

Gregory Shamus

If you have a member of the Lions or Packers on your fantasy roster this week, odds are you should get him in your lineup.

It's a good week to own a Packer or a Lion in your fantasy football league. If you have more than one (like one of my leagues, in which I have Aaron Rodgers, Reggie Bush, and Joique Bell), it's even better, because a shootout means lots of points to go around for both teams. Here's how we see the fantasy prospects of this week's key players.

No-Brainers

Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers
WR Randall Cobb
WR Jordy Nelson

You're starting Rodgers every week, right? Right? Don't stop now. He hasn't set the world on fire against the Lions recently, but in case you forgot, Matt Flynn did at the end of the 2011 season. Plus, the Lions' secondary is a walking M*A*S*H unit, and though they're getting players back at practice, they certainly won't be back at 100%. With the Lions likely doing some damage on offense and putting up points, the Packers will need to match their production and the best way is with Rodgers' right arm.

As for the receivers, the same argument above applies to them. Cobb and Nelson have been consistent threats all season, with Cobb getting at least 7 targets in each game (catching 80% of them) and Nelson averaging eight per. Start both with confidence.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford
RB Reggie Bush
WR Calvin Johnson

The Packers' pass defense early this season has been, in a word, disappointing. They should get a shot in the arm with the expected return of Morgan Burnett and with a full game from Clay Matthews rushing the passer, but trusting them to keep Calvin Johnson in check is foolish. Add Reggie Bush and his talent in catching the ball out of the backfield and you can see why this could be a long day for the defense - and why those three players should be started in pretty much every fantasy league.

Solid Starters

Packers

RB Eddie Lacy
TE Jermichael Finley
WR James Jones

The difference between the Packers' offense and the Lions' is that Green Bay is more likely to spread the ball around to four or five weapons while the Lions will be expected to do most of their damage with Bush and Megatron. Lacy should be able to find some running room as the Lions take men out of the box to defend the pass; besides, the Lions are in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game and have given up five rushing scores on the year, one away from the league lead. Finley and Jones should get plenty of passes thrown their way as well, especially if this game turns into a shootout.

Borderline Starters or Decent Bye Week Fill-Ins

Lions

RB Joique Bell
TE Brandon Pettigrew

It's not often that I would advocate starting two running backs on the same team, but Bush and Bell might fit that role this week. Bell is a talented receiving back as well as Bush - in fact, he has more catches and receiving yards at this point (although Bush did miss a game in week three due to injury). Plus, Bell is more likely than Bush to take short-yardage carries, so he's the better bet for a rushing touchdown, especially at the goal line. He's a decent flex play, especially depending on your bye week situation.

Pettigrew has been a disappointment so far this year, with only 12 catches in four games, but he showed some signs of life against the Bears last week with seven receptions for 54 yards. However, the Packers have historically kept him pretty well in check, with his only double-digit fantasy day coming in the ridiculous game that closed the 2011 season. You could do worse on a bye, but don't expect a ton of production from him.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Lions

WR Ryan Broyles

If you're badly hurting with bye week players and need a high-risk, high-reward fill-in play this week, look to Broyles to be that guy. He could be held without a catch. Or, with Casey Hayward still out, he could exploit the middle of the field from the slot and rack up 8 receptions and a score as Stafford's second receiving option. Just don't blame me if he does get shut out.

Leave on the Bench

Packers

Defense
RB Johnathan Franklin

I don't trust the Packers' defense this week. I can see a few sacks and maybe a couple of turnovers, which could help, but it seems likely that they'll be giving up some points this week. Unless Morgan Burnett's return to the lineup turns the secondary into an interception machine, I'd stay away from them on Sunday.

Franklin's uncertainty mainly has to do with the division of carries between him and Lacy. Certainly, he proved he can handle some workload and be productive, but Lacy will be starting and getting the bulk of the carries, and he'll also be taking the short-yardage duties given Franklin's fumble against Cincinnati. The third-down snaps will probably be split three ways between those two and John Kuhn, so don't count on a big receiving contribution either.

Lions

Defense

See above. The sacks very well may be there, but I expect the Packers' offense to come out crisp after the bye week and with a plan to get the ball out of Rodgers' hand early.

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