The Lions released James on Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. James had the two worst years of his career in Detroit, logging just 142 and 129 receiving yards in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Wherever he next lands, James should at least benefit from not working behind T.J. Hockensen, which could potentially allow the tight end to reprise production levels similar to what he once recorded in Pittsburgh. From 2016-18 with the Steelers, James strung together three straight seasons with at least 300 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
James secured his only target for a two-yard gain during Sunday's 37-35 loss to Minnesota. Like in most of his outings with Detroit over the past two seasons, James' playing time included the majority of available special-teams snaps plus around half of the offensive snaps. However, with T.J. Hockenson around, he hasn't had as many responsibilities in the passing game as he did in Pittsburgh from 2015 to 2018, which is almost certainly the driver of James having logged career-lows in receptions (14) and receiving yards (129) over 16 games for the second straight season. Unfortunately for the future of his production, Detroit has both him and Hockenson locked up through at least 2022, making James seemingly unlikely to see a bump in his fantasy stock anytime soon.
James caught one of three targets for a nine-yard touchdown during Sunday's 34-30 win over Chicago. While there will be days like Sunday when James comes through with a touchdown, the low amount of passing volume he sees makes the veteran too touchdown-dependent to have fantasy value.
James was targeted twice and caught one pass for three yards in Sunday's 20-0 loss to the Panthers. James continues to handle a consistent role on offense, playing about 50 percent of the snaps on a weekly basis. His production is capped behind T.J. Hockenson, though, and he's recorded just 10 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown through 10 games.
James caught one of two targets for 31 yards during Sunday's 35-39 loss to the Saints. James caught his longest pass as a member of the Lions, but he'll certainly remain a complementary piece of the Lions' passing game as long as everyone else is healthy.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||San Francisco 49ers||1||4.50|
|2||09/20||@Green Bay Packers||5||5.78|
|7||10/24||@Los Angeles Rams||8||6.33|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||29||20||231||1||10||11.55||29|