The Detroit Lions have made some major changes to their offense, which are expected to have a profound effect on fantasy teams.
Dan Orlovsky is expected to fill in as Kitna's replacement and Mike Furrey is the probable option at the No. 2 receiver position. Both can be considered downgrades and will anchor the fantasy production of the remaining offensive starters.
Calvin Johnson owners should be discouraged by the move. The loss of Williams only encourages the opposition to focus all of their attention on shutting down Johnson - who may be the Lions' only feared offensive weapon. If the double and triple teams aren't enough to scare fantasy owners, the inexperience at the quarterback position should.
Owners of Rudi Johnson and Kevin Smith may also find the recent moves will decrease the production of their players. With teams not needing to worry about two receiving threats on the outside, they will be able to focus a little more attention towards the line of scrimmage. This will only make things more difficult for the ground attack.
Calvin Johnson – Johnson's value may have taken a hit with the recent moves but he may benefit from a favorable matchup this week. The Texans own the league's 23rd ranked defense and despite their 16th ranked pass defense, Johnson should be able to have some success. The Texans have allowed at least one receiving touchdown in each game this season and have been burned for some big plays through the air. Johnson was putting together a nice game last week before leaving early with a concussion. He had four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Those who are concerned about the concussion Johnson suffered last week, should not worry. Johnson fully participated in practice on Friday and is expected to start against the Texans. Johnson can be considered a No. 2 receiver this week.
Kevin Smith – Smith yielded to Rudi Johnson in carries last week but performed much better than his running mate. The team's recent moves have sent a signal of building for the future and, if the team stays true to that message, Smith should receive more than the five carries he had a week ago. The Texans' 24th ranked rush defense is also another positive for those considering Smith. The Texans have allowed at least two rushing touchdowns in every game this season, except one, where they allowed a single rushing score. Consider him as a No. 3 running back for an injury or bye week replacement.
Rudi Johnson – Johnson received 18 touches last week but was only able to muster 42 yards. It is uncertain how much the Lions will use Johnson going forward. It is possible that they give Smith the opportunity to carry the load, as he is a potential building block for the future. However, they also may believe Johnson gives them the best chance to win now and may use him more for that reason. Either way, Johnson is a risky start because of these reasons but has some potential this week due to the Texans' struggles against the run. So if you decide to roll the dice with Johnson this week, do it as a No. 3 running back.
Mike Furrey – Furrey figures to step into the starting role opposite Johnson. This will increase his utilization and production. With that said, the Texans have been decent against the pass and it is more likely Johnson is the one who produces from the receiver corps. Keep Furrey out of your starting lineups this week.
Dan Orlovsky – Last week, Orlovsky threw for 150 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He did not display great accuracy in his throws but wasn't credited for any turnovers. This week may be different and Texans' defense end Mario Williams will most likely be causing havoc in the backfield all game. In his second career start, Orlovsky can't be expected to do much – especially with one of his biggest weapons gone.
Fantasy Starts of the Week
- Marion Barber – Barber hasn't started the season as many expected but should have a big game this week against the Rams' 30th-ranked rush defense. With Felix Jones and Tony Romo injured, Barber should see a heavy workload.
- Andre Johnson – Johnson is coming off one of the best games of his career – 10 receptions 178 yards and a touchdown. He faces the Lions this week, a team that has struggled heavily against the pass.
- Clinton Portis – Portis has been great this season and should have no problem putting up huge numbers against the Browns' rush defense – as long as he is running away from Shaun Rogers.
- Willie Parker – Parker is expected back from injury this week and faces the Bengals' 28th-ranked run defense. Parker looked great before the injury and should be expected to pick up where he left off.
- Lee Evans – Evans has 188 yards and two touchdowns in his last two contests. Against the Chargers this week, the Bills could be in for a shootout, meaning there will be a lot of throwing. It also helps that the Chargers' pass defense is ranked 31st.
- Chris Johnson – The Titans love to run the ball and the Broncos can't stop the run. This will equate into a big day for the Titans' running backs. Look for Johnson to rack up some big yardage.
- LenDale White – While Chris Johnson racks up the yards, look for White to score a touchdown or two.
- Ladainian Tomlinson – Tomlinson seems to be improving with every passing week and will face the Bills' 18th ranked rush defense this week. Oh, by the way, in his last game against the Bills Tomlinson rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
- Drew Brees – Brees doesn't have a terrific matchup this week but he is proving to be a top fantasy player every week.
- Jay Cutler – After watching the Patriots' secondary get dissected by Phillip Rivers last week , the thought of what Cutler could do is intriguing.
Fantasy Sleeper of the Week
Sammy Morris – The Patriots backfield is banged up so Morris figures to get a heavy workload this week. He will be facing the Broncos, a team that has had no success in stopping the run this season.
Fantasy Bust of the Week
Derek Anderson – After last week's performance, many are jumping back on the Anderson bandwagon. However, this week he will be on the road and facing a tough Redskins' defense – a defense that has allowed only three passing touchdowns in three home games this season.