With five weeks of the NFL's regular season complete, the majority of the Detroit Lions have lost their fantasy relevance.
The Lions entered the season with many interesting options. They had a receiver that looked on the verge of stardom in Calvin Johnson and another receiver that had already shown he can be of contribution to a fantasy team in Roy Williams. Rookie running back Kevin Smith intrigued fantasy owners who believed the Lions ‘new commitment to the run' would result in a productive season for the rookie. Their defense even garnished some interest as they were successful in generating sacks and turnovers last season.
None of these scenarios seem to have developed the way many expected and the only significance the Lions have in fantasy football currently is knowing which offense is playing them and acquiring those players.
There still is much football to be played and some of the above expectations still may be fulfilled. However, a certain discomfort is building associated with having a member of the Lions in your fantasy football starting lineup.
This week the Lions matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions recent matchups against the Vikings have produced non-favorable fantasy numbers -– especially in the running game.
Calvin Johnson – Despite the struggles of the entire Lions offense, Johnson still remains far too great of a talent to leave on the bench, especially when he faces the Minnesota Vikings and their 24th ranked pass defense. With that said, there was an interesting stat from last week that Johnson's owners should be aware of and keep an eye on: his utilization. Johnson was only targeted six times last week, while Williams had his numbered called 19 times. This is a complete contrast to the utilization numbers prior to Week 5, as Johnson was clearly the go-to receiver during the season's first three games. This may have been only a one-week occurrence but it must be monitored because, if it develops into a trend, Johnson's value will take a hit.
This week, consider him a high-end No. 2 receiver.
Roy Williams – Williams was heavily utilized in the Lions' Week 5 contest against the Chicago Bears. Williams responded with a seven-reception, 96-yard performance. These numbers begin to look slightly worse when noted that Williams was targeted 19 times last week. With that said, Williams' increase in utilization is a positive for fantasy owners going forward. It is comforting to know that the Lions still intend to use Williams and that the fifth-year receiver still has the potential for big games. Over Williams' last three contests against the Vikings, he's hauled in 73, 85 and 111 yards, respectively, and a touchdown. Consider him a high-end No. 3 option this week.
Kevin Smith – During the bye week it was believed that Smith had lost his starting job and would yield the majority of his carries to Rudi Johnson. That was not the case last week, as the two had a pretty even workload, with Smith having the slight edge. The rookie managed 56 total yards and a touchdown last week - respectable numbers and better than his running mate, who had 31 total yards and no scores. Still, the Vikings are one of the league's top run defenses and have allowed their opposition only 68.4 rushing yards per game.
Considering the Lions are only averaging 72.2 rushing yards as a team per game, this does not look like it will be a good week for Smith.
Rudi Johnson – Johnson did not get the carries many had expected him to receive after his strong performance against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Johnson did not see many attempts last week and with the Vikings up, don't expect him to see many this week.
Lions starting quarterback – It is likely we will not know who the starter will be until Sunday morning. With that said, neither offers a desirable option as a fantasy starter.