Fantasy Team Preview: Lions

John Halpin examines the fantasy value of the 2013 Detroit Lions.

Overall outlook: This team has a bunch of potentially impactful fantasy players. What do we care if they’re undisciplined, or have a terrible defense?

Bye week: 9

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford

Ranked 11th with 313.6 fantasy points in standard leagues in 2012 … Want to undertake a difficult task? Try leading the NFL in passing attempts (727) and finishing second in yards (4,967), but ending the season T-19 in touchdown passes (20) … Maybe there was an invisible force field around the end zone when the Lions approached, and maybe the team suffered from bad karma for rostering a bunch of knuckleheads … More likely, Stafford will bounce back with 30-plus touchdowns to go along with another gaudy yardage total.

Running back: Reggie Bush

Ranked 14th with 171.8 fantasy points in 2012 … Ran 227 times for 986 yards, and caught 35 passes for 202 yards, while totaling eight touchdowns with the Dolphins … Now finds himself in an offense that throws ALL the time, as evidenced by the 86 combined passes caught by Mikel Leshoure and change-of-pace back Joique Bell … PPR stud, and probably a high-end RB2 in standard formats.

Running back: Mikel Leshoure

Ranked 18th with 149.2 fantasy points in 2012 … Ranked 23rd in the NFL with 798 rushing yards, but scored an impressive nine touchdowns … Figures to see his fantasy value erode with Bush arriving as a highly-paid lead back, but should be a nice goal-line vulture.

Running back: Joique Bell

Ranked 27th with 103.9 fantasy points in 2012 … Had 899 yards from scrimmage on 82 rushes and 52 receptions … Excellent receiver, but so is Bush, and his presence makes Bell a late-round pick, at best.

Wide receiver: Calvin Johnson

Ranked first among wideouts with 220.4 fantasy points in 2012 … Led the NFL with 122 receptions, 1,964 receiving yards and 205 targets … Scored only five touchdowns, but that’s probably a fluky number, so Johnson’s numbers should get even better … Fantasy football’s clear-cut top wideout, and a first-round pick.

Wide receiver: Nate Burleson

Caught just 27 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns last season, playing in just six games due to a broken leg … Caught 73 passes for 757 yards in 2011, so if healthy, could be an occasional flex play in PPR formats.

Wide receiver: Ryan Broyles

Caught 22 passes for 310 yards and two scores in 2012 … Had a breakout game (six receptions, 126 yards) against the Texans on Thanksgiving, and became a popular fantasy free-agent target before tearing his ACL the following week … Seems to be on the WR4/5 bubble in many rankings, and could provide excellent value there IF he’s healthy.

Tight end: Brandon Pettigrew

Ranked 21st among tight ends with 70.7 fantasy points in 2012 … Caught 59 passes for 567 yards and three touchdowns … Was seventh among tight ends with 101 targets, so Pettigrew’s opportunity surpassed his production … You might still be expecting more, but drafting him as a TE1 probably isn’t a good idea.

Tight end: Tony Scheffler

Ranked 28th with 56.4 fantasy points in 2012 … Caught 42 passes for 504 yards and a touchdown … There are enough passes to go around in this offense to make anyone somewhat productive, but Scheffler looks to be no more than a bye-week option.

Placekicker: David Akers

Ranked sixth among kickers with 141 fantasy points in 2012 … Led the NFL with 42 field goal attempts, but had the worst season of his career accuracy-wise by converting just 29 of them … Should get plenty of opportunities again this year, as predecessor Jason Hanson ranked sixth with 36 field goal attempts … Was 2012 just a fluke season for the 38-year-old Akers, or a sign of decline? The guess here is the latter, but it’s just that – a guess.

Team defense (DST)

Ranked 29th with 69 fantasy points in 2012 … Ranked 13th in yards allowed (5,458), which wasn’t too bad … Unfortunately, ranked T-20 in sacks (34), T-23 in interceptions (11), T-25 in fumble recoveries (six), 27th in points allowed (437), and were one of just two units not to score a touchdown … It’s difficult to find a compelling reason to draft this unit in any format.