Last week, the Detroit Lions failed to generate their first victory of the season but they did show a little on offense to at least satisfy some fantasy owners.
Playing against an above-average Carolina Panthers defense, the Lions produced a respectable 316 yards. Kevin Smith owners enjoyed the rookie's first 100-yard game as he had 135 yards from scrimmage. Calvin Johnson owners didn't receive tremendous yardage (65) but a solid fantasy performance was solidified with a 29-yard touchdown reception.
The majority of owners would not have started Daunte Culpepper, but for the risk takers who did, they were rewarded with 207 passing yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown – although Culpepper did throw two picks.
Even Jason Hanson owners received a solid game out of their kicker, with three field goals (10 total points) – including a 56 yarder.
This week, the Lions will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owners of the league's fifth ranked defense. The Bucs are allowing 281.5 yards per game, including 182.2 yards in the air (4th best) and 99.3 yards on the ground (12th best).
Calvin Johnson – Jonson has two determents to his fantasy value this week. He missed a day of practice with a thigh-injury and has a difficult matchup ahead of him. With that said, Johnson has proven to be an outstanding fantasy asset this year and managed to produce good numbers against a tough matchup last week. Johnson averages nearly 84 yards per game and has seven touchdowns in 10 games this season. Although Tampa Bay represents a difficult matchup, there is some hope offered in the fact that they have allowed three 100-yard receivers this year (Brandon Lloyd, Greg Jennings and Steve Smith) as well as allowing Reggie Bush to record over 100-yards receiving in one contest. Also, Jonson's thigh injury shouldn't be a concern as he practiced on Thursday as well as Friday and is expected to start on Sunday. Consider him a No. 2 receiver this weekend.
Kevin Smith – Smith enjoyed his first career 100-yard rushing game. Smith did not find the end zone but offered fantasy owners 135 yards (good for a solid 13 points in most scoring formats). The first-year pro also provided reassurance to his owners by carrying the ball 24 times. The Lions are beginning to show more of a commitment to the running game and have publicly declared Smith as their primary back. Smith's matchup this week is neither favorable nor terrible. The one lingering concerns is the Lions' defense. It is also possible that the score of the game becomes so lopsided that the Lions have no choice but to abandon the run. Smith is worthy of consideration for your team this week but if you have better matchups or better players, keep Smith on the bench.
Daunte Culpepper – Culpepper enjoyed a decent statistical performance last week and appeared to have taken a step forward in his grasp of the offense. In his second game with the team, Culpepper threw 207 yards with a touchdown pass and interception – adding a rushing touchdown as well. Culpepper was not lifted in the game for backup Drew Stanton and it would appear that the offense is his to run going forward. With that said, the matchup this week makes Culpepper a must bench.
Shaun McDonald – McDonald's statistical output has declined for three consecutive weeks and he hasn't been as heavily targeted with Culpepper under center. McDonald has limited fantasy value as is and if his targets don't increase his production surely won't. He shouldn't be playing for your team this weekend.
Rudi Johnson - The offense has clearly transitioned away from the veteran Johnson in lieu of the younger Smith. Johnson hasn't received more than 10 touches in a game since Week 6, not good news for a player averaging 3.1 yards per carry on the season. Keep him on the bench this weekend.
Mike Furrey – Furrey is doubtful for this week's contest (concussion) as he is not expected to play. John Standeford would most likely take his place in the lineup, neither have significant fantasy value and both should remain on fantasy pine this weekend.