Fantasy Vs Reality: Lions Stat Projections And Results


Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field. Detroit won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2016 season began, I made statistical projections for each of Detroit’s key offensive players. The numbers were based on stats from prior seasons along with roster updates (mainly replacing Calvin Johnson). Let’s go back through those projections with the final stats from the season and see how they stacked up.

Matthew Stafford – QB

My Projection: 4,450 Yards, 33 Touchdowns & 11 INT

2016 Stats: 4,327 Yards, 24 Touchdowns, & 10 INT

Analysis: Stafford was on pace for perhaps an even better season before the final quarter of the year when he battled ligament tears in his middle finger. Stafford claimed it didn’t affect him, but anyone watching saw his accuracy take a hit. His eight fourth-quarter comebacks are something that really made his season special despite not quite having MVP numbers.

Golden Tate – WR

My Projection:101 Catches, 1,250 Yards & 5 Touchdowns.

2016 Stats: 91 Catches, 1,077 & 4 Touchdowns.

Analysis: I was pretty close with Golden Tate – who slowly emerged as the Lions’ top wide receiving option. I thought the familiarity with Matthew Stafford would give him the upper hand over newcomer Marvin Jones. As it played out, Jones got off to the hot start while Tate was slow and steady, winning the yardage race.

Marvin Jones – WR

My Projection: 75 Catches, 940 Yards & 7 Touchdowns.

2016 Stats: 55 Catches, 930 Yards & 4 Touchdowns.

Analysis: Another pretty close projection. Jones’ season went about as I predicted. He had 500 yards through four weeks though, which made it look as if he crush my 940-yard estimate. Injuries and evolving defensive game-plans really hampered Jones in the second half of the season. His future is still bright and he already has proven worthy of his contract. Jones must clean up the drops next season, but that will happen after he becomes more comfortable with Matthew Stafford.

Eric Ebron – TE

My Projection: 66 Catches, 810 Yards & 8 Touchdowns.

Stats: 61 Catches, 711 Yards & 1 Touchdown.

Analysis: Ebron definitely is trending up as his career goes on. He missed some time and wasn’t nearly as effective in the red zone as I predicted he’d be without Calvin Johnson. It’s another year of progress for Ebron, who had to fight for targets over the middle with former Terminator Anquan Boldin. Ebron should be a 1,000-yard receiver someday. He still must become more sure-handed, but he certainly had some big catches in big moments in 2016.

Anquan Boldin – WR

My Projection: NONE (Wrote it DAYS before Boldin was signed)

2016 Stats: 67 Catches, 584 Yards & 8 Touchdowns.

The Lions were applauded for their signing of Anquan Boldin right before training camp, even if it screwed up my story. Boldin was extremely effective and showed a natural chemistry with Matthew Stafford almost immediately. He was as sure-handed as they get, but it was his intelligence that made him a weapon. Knowing where to be, making plays when Stafford left the pocket. Boldin was as good of a late signing as you’ll get in this league. Hopefully, he comes bac for another season.

Ameer Abdullah – RB

My Projection: 225 Rushes for 832 Yards & 4 TDs. 35 Catches, 232 Yards & 2 TDs.

2016 Stats:18 Rushes for 101 Yards. 5 Catches, 57 Yards and 1 TD.

Abdullah looked good before going down with a foot injury early in the year. My projections felt modest for a guy many predicted would become the lead-back. Still, Abdullah is a dynamic player who must prove he can stay healthy. You have to wonder what Detroit will do at this position next season. Riddick and Abdullah have similar skill sets but are both effective in Detroit’s pass-heavy offense.

Theo Riddick – RB

My Projection: 43 Rushes for 133 Yards. 80 Catches, 697 Yards & 3 TDs.

2016 Stats: 92 Rushes for 357 Yards. 53 for 371 Yards and 5 TDs.

Riddick had a very different year than I predicted. Due to injuries, he had a chance carry the ball more than anyone expected. His greatest strength, however, is as a receiver out of the backfield. His route-running and elusiveness are a real asset to this Lions team. They’ll be hurting without his presence in the Playoffs at Seattle.

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