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.
James caught three passes (four targets) for 28 yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 26-23 win over Arizona.
James was finally involved in the passing game after not seeing a single target during the first two games of the year. However, his track record of being a blocking specialist suggests this isn't the start of something new. It will be extremely hard to trust James in Week 4 against New Orleans.
James logged 30 offensive snaps during Sunday's 42-21 loss to the Packers.
James again significantly trailed T.J. Hockenson in playing time, and the blocking specialist didn't see a pass thrown his way for the second consecutive week despite the continued absence of Kenny Golladay (hamstring). Don't expect James to see a spike in passing-game involvement anytime soon.
James, who caught two of three passes for five yards in Sunday's season finale against the Packers, finished the 2019 season with 16 catches (27 targets) for 142 yards and no touchdowns over 16 games.
Detroit signed the former Steeler in the offseason to help the Lions offense establish its identity in the run game. For the most part, James played his role well. While fantasy owners likely hoped for more production as a receiver -- especially when T.J. Hockenson (ankle) missed time due to injury -- prolific pass-catching has never been James' game and probably never will be. Instead, the 6-foot-7 James excels in opening holes for running backs, and that's exactly what the Lions are likely hoping from James in 2020 and beyond. The 25-year-old tight end is under contract through 2023.
James caught his only target for 12 yards during Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Broncos.
After seeing five passes come his way last week, James was much less involved this time around. In fact, he's only gotten more than one target in five of 15 games this season despite regularly seeing a healthy amount of playing time. Logan Thomas will remain the team's top receiving threat from the tight end position during Sunday's season finale in Green Bay.
James caught three of five targets for 31 yards during Sunday's 38-17 loss to Tampa Bay.
Both James and Logan Thomas opened the game in the starting lineup and both players commanded roughly two thirds of the available offensive snaps. While James was somehow the only one who made a dent in the stat sheet, Thomas was targeted four times and still has the higher upside of the two. However, it will continue to be difficult to have optimism for either as long as Matthew Stafford (back) remains out of commission.
James caught one of two targets for 23 yards during Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Vikings.
Getting the start in place of T.J. Hockenson (ankle), James unsurprisingly failed to match the 11 targets Hockenson saw last week with interim quarterback David Blough. Somewhat more surprising is that James ultimately finished with less snaps than backup Logan Thomas, who also doubled James with four targets of his own. James probably shouldn't have been counted on for fantasy production anyway, but there's at least the possibility for a rebound Week 15 against a weak Buccaneers secondary.
James is expected to serve as the Lions' top tight end for the team's final four games of the season after T.J. Hockenson (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Monday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
James looked like he might have been in store for a significant role with Detroit in 2019 when he inked a four-year, $25 million deal in free agency in March, but he soon became a pricey No. 2 option on the depth chart after the Lions selected Hockenson with the eighth overall pick in the draft a month later. Hockenson's injury clears the way for James to take on more prominence in the game plan, but the veteran most likely will provide his biggest impact as a blocker rather than a pass catcher. With nine receptions for 71 yards this season, James actually ranks third among Detroit tight ends in both categories, as Logan Thomas (11 catches for 120 yards) has seen similar involvement in the passing game, despite playing 156 fewer offensive snaps.
James was not targeted during Thursday's 24-20 loss to the Bears.
Even with T.J. Hockenson (leg/shoulder) banged up, James still only saw about a third of the available snaps. Moreover, quarterback David Blough locked in on Hockenson from the get-go as the rookie tight end easily paced the team with 11 targets while James and Logan Thomas combined for zero. These minor responsibilities as a receiver will continue to prevent James from attaining fantasy relevance in even the deepest of fantasy leagues.
James caught his only target for seven yards during Sunday's 19-16 loss to Washington.
Just when it looked like Logan Thomas was threatening James' role as the No. 2 tight end, starter T.J. Hockenson was a late addition to the injury report, and James consequently logged his highest snap count since Week 6. However, as usual, the 6-foot-7 blocking specialist didn't gain much in the way of receiving production, despite the return to an expanded role. No. 3 tight end Logan Thomas remains the much better bet for fantasy purposes.
James wasn't targeted during Sunday's 35-27 loss to the Cowboys.
James logged a season-low 15 offensive snaps Sunday despite interestingly opening the game in the starting lineup alongside Logan Thomas instead of T.J. Hockenson. While Hockenson (48 out of 65 offensive snaps) ended up dusting both players for playing time anyway, Thomas (22) finished with more than a handful of snaps than James, which definitely isn't a good look for the expensive offseason acquisition. With that said, it's possible Detroit simply prefers to use the more passing-acclimated Thomas in the absence of a run game instead of the blocking-oriented James. Either way, James isn't a fantasy option.
James was unable to bring in his only target of Sunday's 20-13 loss to Chicago.
The whole Lions offense was off-kilter as Jeff Driskel started in place of Matthew Stafford (back). It would be unfair to blame Driskel for James' poor performance, however, as the veteran tight end hasn't really been a factor in Detroit's attack all season. He has just one game with multiple receptions, back in Week 2 against the Chargers. Stafford's status is unclear for Sunday, but no matter the quarterback, James figures to play a minor role against Dallas' sixth-ranked pass defense.
James caught one of two targets for three yards during Sunday's 31-24 loss to Oakland.
Without running back Kerryon Johnson (knee), Detroit has gone more pass-happy over the past two games, which in turn has meant far fewer two-tight-end sets. James consequently has logged season lows in playing time in two consecutive weeks, bottoming out at 20 offensive snaps Sunday. While the 6-foot-7 blocking specialist hasn't been much of a receiving threat even when seeing up to 50 offensive snaps in a game, James is off the fantasy radar completely unless T.J. Hockenson (back) is forced to miss time, which doesn't seem likely at this point.
James caught one of four targets for seven yards during Sunday's 42-30 loss to Minnesota.
Another week, and another game where James has done his best work as a blocker despite matching his season high in targets. Rookie T.J. Hockenson remains the upside play among Detroit's tight ends.
James was unable to catch his lone target during Sunday's 34-30 loss to the Chiefs.
James mostly was used to block on a day Detroit rode Kerryon Johnson to a career-high 26 carries. While he could become a bigger part of the passing game Week 6 if fellow tight end T.J. Hockenson (concussion) is unable to return to form during the Lions' Week 5 bye, Logan Thomas is another option to see increased usage after catching a season-high three passes for 25 yards Sunday.
Thomas caught his only target for a 13-yard gain in Sunday's 27-24 victory over Philadelphia.
Through three weeks, the 6-foot-7 James has mostly served as an extension of the offensive line. He's caught the occasional pass, but T.J. Hockenson continues to seem like the upside play among Lions tight ends.
|1||Sun 09/13||vs CHI||L 23-27||0||0||-||-||0|
|2||Sun 09/20||@ GB||L 21-42||0||0||-||-||0|
|3||Sun 09/27||@ ARI||W 26-23||3||28||9.3||15||1|
|4||Sun 10/04||vs NO||L 29-35||1||31||31.0||31||0|
|7||Sun 10/25||@ ATL||W 23-22||0||0||-||-||0|
|8||Sun 11/01||vs IND||L 21-41||1||23||23.0||23||0|
|9||Sun 11/08||@ MIN||L 20-34||1||0||0.0||0||0|
|10||Sun 11/15||vs WAS||W 30-27||2||9||4.5||5||0|
|11||Sun 11/22||@ CAR||L 0-20||1||3||3.0||3||0|
|12||Thu 11/26||vs HOU||L 25-41||1||10||10.0||10||0|
|13||Sun 12/06||@ CHI||W 34-30||1||9||9.0||9||1|
|14||Sun 12/13||vs GB||L 24-31||0||0||-||-||0|
|15||Sun 12/20||@ TEN||L 25-46||1||11||11.0||11||0|
|16||Sat 12/26||vs TB||L 7-47||0||0||-||0||0|
|17||Sun 01/03||vs MIN||L 35-37||1||2||2.0||2||0|
|Career Receiving Stats|
|Career Rushing Stats|