2021 Fantasy Preview – Detroit Lions

Team Overview

The Lions have had a rough go at it in recent memory, generally leaning on Matthew Stafford to lead them to a hopeful winning record. Now with Stafford not in Detroit, they appear to be in a full rebuild. Jared Goff is leading the way, and the Lions are giving him a shot at being the future of the franchise. They are building a team around him, either for Goff or a new quarterback if Goff doesn’t work out. On offense, they added much-needed offensive line help with the top offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft Class, Penei Sewell. That’ll be a big help as they look to focus their offense around the line of scrimmage with D’Andre Swift, new addition Jamaal Williams, TJ Hockenson, and Jared Goff. They lost long-time Lions Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, replacing them with veterans Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the draft. 

The defense has also been a struggle for the Lions recently. They attacked this side of the ball in the draft outside of the Sewell, St. Brown, and Jefferson picks. This team is a long way from competing for a playoff spot, but they are looking to rebuild this team with young playmakers. Hockenson is a budding star already, and they should be able to rely a lot on a running back duo of Swift and Williams. Goff has a shot to make something of this offense, but someone from the wide receiver core is going to have to take a step forward. If not, the Lions could have a new quarterback sooner than later, hopefully, surrounded by a more complete team this time next year.

2021 Fantasy Preview Detroit Lions- Projected Depth Chart

Individual Players

Studs

  • D’Andre Swift: Swift is a budding star at the position. He came out of college as a top-end running back in a loaded class. He is still only 22 with a lot of tread left on the tires. He figures to have an increased workload this upcoming year, despite the addition of Jamaal Williams. Towards the end of last season, the Lions finally started featuring Swift and really unlocked him. In the last 5 games that he played, he averaged 17.6 PPR points and ~63% of snaps. He was uber-efficient with his time on the field and the touches he received. Look for him to continue this for quite some time.
  • TJ Hockenson: In just his second year in the league, Hockenson was able to put up a top 5 TE season. He was a target hog last season, and with even fewer weapons this year, he could see more targets. He’ll be the best pass catcher Goff has available to him and he’s a red-zone monster. At the age of 24, he is a massive dynasty asset to have on a team, locking down the tight end position for years to come. He should be in store for a big season this year.

Role Players

  • Jamaal Williams: Jamaal Williams always had a role with the Green Bay Packers as a pass-catching specialist and a great change of pace back. He figures to do the same in Detroit, an offense being run by Dan Campbell and Anthony Lynn who have featured two running backs in their offenses with both the Saints and Chargers, respectively. Williams could see a bit of an uptick in usage as the team looks to feature running the ball heavily. In PPR leagues he provides a usable fantasy floor for depth or bye week fill-ins. 
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown: Taken in the fourth round, St. Brown is walking into a barren wide receiver room full of journeymen veterans that have struggled to stay healthy. He figures to be part of the organization’s future plans, so should earn playing time early in the season. If he can translate his success at USC to the next level, he could be a solid dynasty asset. If he gets on the field, he has every opportunity to produce. In future years, the Lions will probably bring in a true alpha WR that St. Brown should thrive playing alongside as well.

Keep an eye on

  • Quintez Cephus: Cephus showed flashes of his big-play ability throughout the season last year, generally being the only healthy target on the field. Both Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman have struggled to stay healthy in recent years, leaving an opening for Cephus to get on the field. He is only 23 and if he can prove himself this year, he should be a part of the Lions’ plans going forward. In the case that he can’t get a consistent role this year, he’s a solid dynasty stash for future years.
  • Breshad Perriman: Perriman has been a really good fantasy asset when he is able to stay on the field. The struggle is always if he can stay healthy consistently throughout a season. He is a great WR3 to have on your team because he has the potential to play as he did at the end of 2019 (averaging 23 points through 4 weeks) at any moment. Perriman is a solid late-round grab with good upside as there isn’t much competition for targets. 
  • Tyrell Williams: Someone out of this wide receiver core has to take a step forward for Jared Goff, right? Williams is another veteran that has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, but when healthy has been a solid low-end WR2/high-end WR3. He can be a good field stretcher that is a bit of a boom/bust player. Another wide receiver in this room to keep an eye on if he can separate himself early.

Dynasty Stashes

  • Jermar Jefferson: A 7th round Draft selection that has been getting some great buzz so far this offseason. It appears that Jefferson is a favorite to solidify the RB3 role for Detroit this offseason. He’ll serve mostly as a handcuff on your roster with minimal stand-alone value without an injury, still getting work but not enough to be fantasy-relevant. If he impresses early, he could allow the Lions to move on from Williams following this year and take over his role. It’s a long shot, but he is worth a stash on taxi squads in deeper leagues. 

***Note: All projections and discussions are assuming full PPR formats.***

IDP Analysis With IDPIggy

Key Additions

Michael Brockers, Quinton Dunbar, Corn Elder

Fantasy Football Starters

Trey Flowers (DL), Romeo Okwara (LB), Jamie Collins Sr. (LB), Tracy Walker (DB)

New Head Coach Dan Campbell will have to address the Lions awful defense. He brought former coworker from New Orleans, Aaron Glenn to run the defense. Glenn a former NFL DB will be expected to improve a young secondary. The 2020 Lions allowed the most points (519) and yards (6,716) in franchise history! Although injury riddled last year, there is no excuse for the lack of defense. DT Michael Brockers was brought in to plug the middle of the defense, which in turn should let LB Trey Flowers and LB Romeo Okwara put pressure on opposing QBs. It should also benefit LB Jamie Collins Sr. allowing him to run side to side. Collins should finish the season a LB 15 or better. The truth is the NFC North has wonderful offenses, with exception of the Lions. The Lions will be playing WRs with the last names of Adams, Jefferson, Thielen, Robinson II just in their division. Dan Campbell will bring a new attitude that should rub off on his defense. The Lions could be serviceable some weeks.

2021 Fantasy Preview Detroit Lions- Stat Projections

Passing

Player Name Pos Comp Att Yards TDs INTs
Jared Goff
QB
369
563
4,321
26
14

Receiving

Player Name Pos Targets Rec Yards Yds/Rec TDs
TJ Hockenson
TE
125
81
899
11.1
7
Breshad Perriman
WR
85
47
719
15.3
6
Amon-Ra St. Brown
WR
85
55
710
12.9
3
Quintez Cephus
WR
57
34
456
13.4
3
D'Andre Swift
RB
57
46
382
8.3
2
Tyrell Williams
WR
40
26
372
14.3
2
Jamaal Williams
RB
28
24
202
8.4
Jermar Jefferson
RB
17
13
105
8.1

Rushing

Player Name Pos Att Yards Yds/Att TDs
D'Andre Swift
RB
244
1,096
4.5
10
Jamaal Williams
RB
111
465
4.2
3
Jermar Jefferson
RB
66
299
4.5
3
Jared Goff
QB
13
45
3.4
2

***Note Player Projections are only fantasy relevant players. Team totals may not add up as we left out players that may not have a significant impact on the season. Projections provided by Rich King and are based on 16 games.***

Team Projection

Record HC OC
5-12
Dan Campbell
Anthony Lynn
Rushing Att Rushing Yards Rushing TDs Passing Att Passing Yards Passing TDs Total Yards Total TDs
443
1,950
18
569
4,365
26
6,315
44
15th
20th
7th
10th
14th
19th
19th
15th

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Image Credit: Raj Mehta – USA TODAY Sports