Fresh off of turbulent bye week, that saw the exile of the team's general manager Matt Millen, the Lions will face the Chicago Bears. The matchup, on the surface, appears to be a bad one from a fantasy football perspective.
It's not that the Bears' defense has been stifling this season, they rank 16th in yards allowed and 13th in points allowed, it's the Lions' lackluster, recent history against their division rivals that is the cause for concern.
Since 2004 the Lions have faced the Bears eight times. In those games, no quarterback has thrown for 300 yards, only Mike Furrey has surpassed 100 yards receiving and the only running back to rush for over 100 is playing for the Bears – Kevin Jones. Also, the 100 yard performances by Furrey and Jones happened only once. Kevin Jones leads the Lions in touchdowns against the Bears with four, in second is Roy Williams, with two. No other player has scored more than one.
Calvin Johnson – Johnson has looked great this season, save for a poor performance in San Francisco. The second-year receiver is by far the Lions' most targeted offensive player and is averaging 92 receiving yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game. With the possibility that Charles Tillman doesn't play for the Bears, Johnson could be facing a weakened secondary. Johnson can be considered a No. 2 receiver this week.
Rudi Johnson – The Lions have informed Kevin Smith that Johnson will be talking the bulk of the carries going forward. This is good news for people who have had Johnson sitting on their bench, especially after his 131 total-yard performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Johnson also scored a touchdown in that game and showed that he is fully recovered from the lingering-hamstring injury that curbed his numbers last season. The eight-season pro has averaged 5.5 yards-per-carry this season and could reap the benefits of heavy utilization should the Lions be able to keep their games close early. Also, the Bears' Tommy Harris won't play this week, which should help open up more running lanes for Johnson. Consider him a No. 3 play this week or a solid bye-week replacement.
Roy Williams – Williams has been a complete disappointment this year – a main factor is the Lions targeting Johnson much more, but Williams' inconsistent play has also contributed heavily to his decline in production. So far this season, Williams has caught eight passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. These numbers resemble more of a single-game stat line than three-game totals. Williams has never had a 100-year receiving game against the Bears and has averaged a touchdown in every four contests. With the hope that Williams can break out of his early-season slump, he could be considered a No. 3 receiver this week. However, if Williams doesn't display some life soon, he may be riding fantasy pine for the rest of the year.
Jon Kitna – Kitna's play over the last two games has left much to be desired by both fantasy owners and Lions' fans. Kitna has thrown four interceptions in those games and has completed a shade over 50 percent of his passes. Still, Kitna was solid against the Bears last season averaging 257.5 passing yards in two games and throwing no interceptions. Kitna only threw two touchdown passes but they both came at Ford Field. Also, with the absence of Tommy Harris and possible absence of Charles Tillman, Kitna's day may have got a little easier. Consider him a decent bye-week replacement this weekend.
Kevin Smith – The Lions rookie running back was targeted by many Lions' fans as a potential sleeper candidate this season – hopefully they handcuffed Johnson to him in drafts. Smith does not appear as if he will become the fantasy option many expected and will be replaced by Johnson. If you were planning on starting one of the two, go with Johnson. In any circumstance, Smith shouldn't be playing for your team this weekend.
Mike Furrey – Furrey is an intriguing option as he has had moderate success against the Bears since coming to Detroit. With that said, he will most likely be the team's fourth receiver in this contest and the risks of playing him heavily out-weight the potential rewards.