FantasyLions: Start Johnson at San Fran?

The Detroit Lions have started the 2008 season off in disappointing fashion both from a real-world perspective and a fantasy-football perspective. Week 3 will provide the Lions with an opportunity to get back on track in both areas.

The Detroit Lions have started the 2008 season off in disappointing fashion both from a real-world perspective and a fantasy-football perspective. Week 3 will provide the Lions with an opportunity to get back on track in both areas.

The Lions' Week 3 opponent will be the San Francisco 49ers, who own the 19th best defense, 14th passing defense and 23rd rush defense. The Lions' have the 8th best pass offense but seem to lack the needed ground game to take advantage of the 49ers' biggest defensive weakness.

Start

Calvin Johnson – Johnson has been the lone fantasy bright spot for the struggling Lions. Johnson's performance last week was nothing short of impressive, as the second-year receiver grabbed six catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson has become the top target in Detroit and will continue to be for the remainder of the season. Johnson's matchup isn't the best; however, the same could have been said last week when he had to line up against Charles Woodson. Johnson is developing into an every-week player for fantasy teams and could be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 option this week.

Consider

Kevin Smith – The lions haven't been able to use Smith as much as they anticipated due to the fact that they've found themselves down in games early. Against the 49ers, the Lions should be able to keep the game close, at least in the early stages, and may be able to get Smith more involved. So far this season, the rookie has gained 88 yards on 26 carries for a somewhat disappointing 3.4 yards-per-carry average. The 49ers rush defense is in the bottom 10 of the league, which speaks volumes considering their two previous opponents (the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals) rank 13th and 19th in rush offense, meaning Smith may have a good opportunity for a big game. Consider Smith a low-end No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy back this week.

Roy Williams – Williams production has been curbed by Johnson's early success as the Lions have targeted Johnson much more in the passing game. Williams has had two very similar games to start off the season catching three passes in each for 47 and 48 yards respectively. Williams did manage to reach the end zone in Week 1 but without that touchdown he has averaged less than five fantasy points a game - in most scoring formats - hardly desirable numbers for a receiver that was generally selected in the first six rounds of fantasy drafts. Williams is a talented receiver with potential to produce any week but he is becoming a risky start. Consider him a No. 3 receiver this week.

Jon Kitna – A fourth-quarter meltdown last week prevented Kitna from having a fine fantasy performance. Kitna had well over 200 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions before the fourth-quarter collapse but then he threw three interceptions, which is generally a six point penalty in most leagues, severely hurting his fantasy numbers. Kitna has tremendous talent at his disposal, meaning he is always going to have the opportunity to throw touchdowns and put up yards but if he can't make better decisions with the football, his fantasy numbers will always be anchored by his turnovers. Consider him a low-end start at quarterback this week.

Bench

Shaun McDonald – McDonald is being targeted about as often as Williams is, warranting mention on this list. With that said, McDonald is not the playmaker that Williams is and will not be able to create as much with his chances. In two games, McDonald has eight catches for 56 yards and no touchdowns. He shouldn't start for your fantasy team this weekend.

Rudi Johnson – Johnson has received only four carries this year and until he gets the ball more – a lot more – he shouldn't even be on a fantasy roster


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