2019 Fantasy Football Team Previews: Detroit Lions look built to run

The Lions added veterans C.J. Anderson and Danny Amendola to replace LeGarrette Blount and Golden Tate, plus tight end T.J. Hockenson in the No. 8 overall spot in the draft, but the story of their 2019 season will come down to how Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay develop. Both showed promise in 2018, and if they can continue to be productive players, the Lions will have a pretty solid group of skill position talent around Matthew Stafford.

2018 Review

Record: 6-10 (22nd in NFL)
PPG: 20.3 (25)
YPG: 327.3 (24)
Pass YPG: 223.5 (20)
Rush YPG: 103.8 (23)
Pass attempts per game: 35.9 (11)
Rush attempts per game: 25.3 (18)

2018 Fantasy finishes

QB: Matthew Stafford -- QB18
RB: Kerryon Johnson -- RB33; Theo Riddick -- RB42; LeGarrette Blount* -- RB58
WR: Kenny Golladay -- WR20; Golden Tate* -- WR28**; Marvin Jones -- WR62
TE: Levine Toilolo* -- TE40; Michael Roberts* -- TE48
*No longer with team
**Played eight games with PHI

Number to know: 8/12

Darrell Bevell's offenses have ranked in the top 10 in rushing percentage eight times over the past 12 seasons. The Lions ranked 19th last season, but their 404 rush attempts were their most since 2013.  

2019 Offseason

"They're in those situations a lot where their bodies are taking a pounding. You want to be conscious of how many plays they're getting, especially early on in the year. ... Great, we could run a couple plays now, but if we wear this guy out, it's not going to help us in the long run." - Matt Patricia, on Kerryon Johnson

Head Coach: Matt Patricia (2nd year)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell (1st year - previously Offensive Coordinator, SEA)  

Draft Picks 

1. (8) T.J. Hockenson, TE
2. (43) Jahlani Tavai, LB
3. (81) Will Harris, S
4. (117) Austin Bryant, DE
5. (146) Amani Oruwariye, CB
6. (184) Travis Fulgham, WR
6. (186) Ty Johnson, RB
7. (224) Isaac Nauta, TE
7. (229) P.J. Johnson, DE

Free Agency Additions

RB C.J. Anderson; WR Danny Amendola; TE Jesse James; OL Oday Aboushi; DL Trey Flowers; DB Justin Coleman; DB Rashaan Melvin    

Key Departures

RB LeGarrette Blount, DL; Ezekiel Ansah    

Rankings and Projections

Player
Matthew Stafford QB25 QB26 QB28
Kerryon Johnson RB17 RB20 RB20
C.J. AndersonN/A RB51N/A
Theo RiddickN/AN/ARB53
Kenny GolladayWR18 WR16 WR23
Marvin JonesWR35WR34WR32
T.J. Hockenson TE14 TE9TE13
Matt Prater K19 K20 K19
Lions DST DST27 DST28 DST27

Heath Cummings' projected offensive stats
QBMatthew Stafford3,854 YD, 24 TD, 12 INT
RBKerryon Johnson217 ATT, 1,064 YD, 7 TD; 34 REC, 240 YD, 1 TD
RBC.J. Anderson143 ATT, 573 YD, 2 TD
RBTheo Riddick48 ATT, 186 YD, 1 TD; 47 REC, 335 YD, 2 TD
WRKenny Golladay118 TAR, 68 REC, 1,072 YD, 6 TD
WRMarvin Jones107 TAR, 60 REC, 887 YD, 7 TD
WRDanny Amendola80 TAR, 58 REC, 561 YD, 2 TD
TET.J. Hockenson75 TAR, 52 REC, 577 YD, 5 TD

Biggest question

Are the Lions going to give Kerryon Johnson the feature-back treatment? 

"In a word, no. Detroit signed C.J. Anderson, drafted rookie Ty Johnson and will find roles for Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick in the backfield. Team brass has said repeatedly it prefers to use multiple backs to keep everyone fresh. When the Lions did finally "free" Johnson last year, he got hurt and missed the final six games. This caps Johnson's production, making him more of a No. 2 runner rather than a potential No. 1." -- Dave Richard

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

Sleeper: Marvin Jones

One year removed from his breakout season, Jones seems a bit forgotten. The ascension of Kenny Golladay obviously plays a big part in that, but Jones was off to another great start before his injury -- a 64-906-10 pace through his first eight games. Volume will be tough to come by in this offense, but Jones' ability to get open deep should continue to play well with Matthew Stafford's big arm and an offense likely to lean on play action heavily. Jones still has the chance to be a 1,000-yard receiver with plenty of touchdowns.

Breakout: Kerryon Johnson

Johnson showed plenty of potential as a rookie, averaging 5.4 yards per rush and emerging as a surprisingly effective receiver, but missed the last six games of the season with a knee sprain. Was that just bad luck? Or did he wear down under the weight of a larger role? Hopefully, the presence of C.J. Anderson helps him stay fresh, because there's a big opportunity here. The Lions should be better up front, and we know Patricia wants to run the ball early and often. He won't come cheap, but Johnson could easily prove worth that third- or fourth-round pick.

Bust: Kenny Golladay

The question in Detroit isn't whether the Lions have the talent to support two Fantasy-relevant wide receivers; it's whether they have a coach willing to make it happen. I don't know if Jones will be better than Golladay for Fantasy, but I know he'll be cheaper. Golladay saw nearly half of his targets (58 out of 119) after Jones' injury, so if it's more of a 1a/1b situation with Jones healthy, I'll take the guy with less upside who also costs a lot less. 

So which Fantasy Football busts should you avoid in your draft? And which superstar QB isn't a trustworthy QB1 option? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Allen Robinson's disappointing season, and find out.

Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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