Fantasy Lions: Bench or Start Culpepper?

Fantasy expert Mike Mady breaks down which Lions are or aren't worth starting against Carolina.

Able to muster only 256 total yards, the Lions lost another game last week – falling to 0-9 on the season.

Last week’s contest featured solid play out of two of the Lions’ young weapons on offense but little contribution from anyone else.

As usual, Calvin Johnson was the Lions biggest threat, registering 92 yards on only two receptions.  Rookie running back Kevin Smith was the Lions’ most productive player with 96 yards and a touchdown.

An interesting note was the Lions’ use of quarterback Drew Stanton.  The team allowed Stanton to play in a goal-line situation – resulting in a touchdown pass to John Owens, while Daunte Culpepper was under center for the majority of the game, throwing for 104 yards and an interception.

This week the Lions face the Carolina Panthers, who own the league’s second best scoring defense, ranking fourth against the pass and 17th against the run.


Calvin Johnson – Johnson has been a great asset to fantasy teams this season, despite his lack of receptions.  Johnson’s 39 catches rank him 31st in the league but his 774 yards are good for fifth and his six touchdowns are tied for second among receivers.  The second-year pro will be covered heavily all season, which will be a determent towards his utilization numbers but he is proving that he only needs a handful – or less – of catches in a game to be a tremendous factor.  With that said, The Panthers have the league’s fourth ranked pass defense and have allowed one, or less, touchdown passes in seven of their nine games this season – including five contests where they allowed no passing touchdowns.  Johnson is a tremendous talent with great potential to produce every week, but this week may be too difficult a matchup for him to overcome.  Consider him as a No. 3 receiver this weekend.

Kevin Smith – Since Week eight, Smith has been the Lions heaviest utilized weapon on offense, save for Dan Orlovsky.  Smith has had his number called 55 times over that span, good for a hair over 30 percent of the Lions offensive plays – Last week, Smith was involved on nearly half of the team’s plays.  Smith has rushed for two touchdowns in his last two contests and had 123 yards from scrimmage last week.  The Panthers haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn rushed for 115 Week 6.  Smith should be considered a low-end No. 2 running back this week but is better suited as a No. 3 or flex due to the mediocre matchup.


Shaun McDonald – McDonald led the Lions in receptions last week, however, his four catches and 37 yards were not a desirable output for fantasy owners.  McDonald continues to be targeted in the offense but can’t seem to produce numbers that would warrant a starting spot on a fantasy roster.  Facing a tough matchup this week, McDonald should not be starting for any fantasy team.

Mike Furrey – Furrey recorded nothing in terms of fantasy statistics last week and continues to produce nothing that would make him an option for fantasy teams. Keep him on the bench this weekend.

Daunte Culpepper – In his debut with the Lions, Culpepper threw ten passes, completing five for 104 yards and an interception.  He was removed twice in the game for Drew Stanton, including in a goal line situation.  Culpepper is expected to start this week but may be replaced by Stanton in some situations, due to the fact that he may struggle with the silent count on the road. He shouldn’t be starting for your fantasy team.

Drew Stanton – Stanton got in the game twice last week and looked decent.  He completed six of his eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.  He was sacked repeatedly as well.  Expect him to see some action this week, although not enough to make him worthy of fantasy consideration.

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