Before training camp gets underway, I wanted to go through the NFC North and look at players whom you might want to keep an eye on to see where their fantasy football value is trending. These players can either be trending towards fantasy relevance or complete irrelevance.
This article addresses players who are in the former group.
In a prior article, we looked at two Detroit Lions players whom you should avoid. Now, we’ll get a little rosier and talk about Lions you should target. Let’s take a look at who might be helping your fantasy team out this season.
Matthew Stafford, QB
Do we consider Matt Stafford to be elite? Of course, there’s Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and then I’d probably throw Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers in there, too. But is Stafford?
Statistically, Stafford is usually right up there, but it just feels like he needs an MVP run in him to get into the upper echelon. This might be the year for him to do it.
Stafford is in his 10th season in the league, but he is still just 30-years old. We may not have seen his best football yet and he could finally get over the hump like Matt Ryan did, winning his MVP in his age 31 season. Matt Patricia will hopefully bring a winning mentality to the Lions, too. Stafford’s passing touchdowns have ticked downward over the past 3 seasons, but his passing yards have gone upwards. A solid receiving corps should help his TD averages tremendously.
Last season, Detroit was one of three teams in the league to have two 1,000-yard pass catchers. Marvin Jones Jr. was busy stretching the field, while Golden Tate was pulling in his fourth straight 90+ catch season. And they did all that without a full season from last year’s preseason darling, Kenny Golladay. With a healthy Golladay in the fold, the Lions may be fielding one of the deadliest receiving corps in the league for Stafford to chuck it to.
Let’s not forget that Stafford should be throwing behind a solid offensive line. Ricky Wagner is a top tackle in this league, Taylor Decker should make a comeback, and Frank Ragnow moved up draft boards for a reason. Stafford’s 3-year average of 345 fantasy points is juicy as it is, but I’d expect him to surpass that this season and start knocking on the door of the Elite QB Club.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR
In his second year out of A.J. Green’s shadow in Cincinnati a year ago, Marvin Jones showed that he is making improvements in Detroit. He quietly finished in the top five for fantasy points scored last year among wide receivers in standard leagues, ahead of guys like Tyreek Hill, Michael Thomas, and the aforementioned Green. He had some inconsistent games, but the chemistry with Stafford— especially on the deep balls— was undeniable building off of his first year with the Lions.
With Golladay lining up on the opposite side, that should take pressure off Jones, but hopefully won’t take away targets. This is where Jones’ veteran presence and chemistry with Stafford will need to be on display.
In standard scoring leagues, Jones’ 2017 was his highest fantasy scoring output with 164 points. He won’t add too much in PPR leagues, averaging just under four receptions per game, but he does most of his damage for big gains. That style contributed to his career-high 18.0 yards per reception last season (also a league-best among those who had over 50 receptions).
Look for Jones to build off his 2017 campaign and if you can lock him in at your WR2 or overqualified flex option, then I wouldn’t want to face your team.