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32 in 32: Detroit Lions

In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!

Jared Goff (QB - Detroit Lions):

Goff saw a massive jump from his first season in Detroit to his second, going from 3,245 yards, 19 TDs, and 8 INTs (QB24) in 2021 to 4,438 yards, 29 TDs, and 7 INTs in 2022 as part of Detroit’s emergence.

The resurgence of Goff’s career was a huge factor in Detroit’s offensive explosion in 2022, ranking 3rd in yardage and 5th in scoring in the NFL. Goff really took off in the second half of the season as part of Detroit’s 8-2 run to end the year.

Goff was red hot in that stretch, going NINE straight games without an INT to end the year and ranking as the QB4 over the final six weeks of the fantasy football season, posting 17+ points in all but one of those six games.

It’s yet to be seen whether the late-season run by Goff was a ‘flash in the pan’ or an indicator of his actual self in a highly-productive Lions offense. He struggled mightily early on in 2022, contributing to his 13th-worst Consistency Rating (0.505) with just two games of 16+ points through the first seven weeks.

The potential is there for Goff to replicate his success from 2022, or even exceed it (seeing the number of one and two-yard scores Jamaal Williams had), especially with a re-vamped supporting cast. Bringing in Marvin Jones (replacing DJ Chark) at WR to go with the eventual return of Jameson Williams (suspension), Sam LaPorta at TE (replacing T.J. Hockenson), and adding the duo of David Montgomery & Jahmyr Gibbs (replacing Williams/Swift) leaves a lot of uncertainty in the offense, but so much potential.

I don’t mind the price on Goff (QB17, 11th/12th round) as a mid-QB2 option and would target him if the fit was right (dependent on my QB1), but it is worth noting that there may not be a bigger ‘boom or bust’ QB than Goff this year. It’s very likely that the Lions’ offense either clicks and he finishes borderline top-5 or the Lions’ new acquisitions struggle to fit and Goff returns to his previous production levels.


Jahmyr Gibbs (RB - Detroit Lions):

Jahmyr Gibbs was the surprise of the NFL Draft, projecting as a likely 2nd rounder, but ultimately being taken 12th overall by the Detroit Lions. That type of investment, especially in an RB, isn’t something to be taken lightly – it shows a tremendous amount of belief in the player from the coaching staff.

As we noted with Bijan Robinson, highly-drafted RBs have historically had significant success as rookies. Those taken in the top 25 picks in the NFL Draft in the last ten years have gone on to finish as top-10 fantasy RBs 78% of the time, finish as top-3 RBs a third of the time, and finish as an RB2 (or better) all but once. Draft capital means utilization for rookie RBs.

The opportunity is certainly there for Gibbs, who closely resembles Alvin Kamra (minus the off-the-field issues), to immediately step in and command a significant workload in both the rushing and receiving games, especially with the departures of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift, leaving a competition between David Montgomery and Gibbs for the lead RB duties.

Regardless of if Gibbs begins the season as the labeled “starter” in Detroit, it’s almost a certainty that he’ll have a notable role as we saw the 1-2 approach implemented last year with Williams and Swift, seeing both of them extremely successful for fantasy (when healthy). As a matter of fact, the Lions’ backfield was the highest-scoring RB room in the league for fantasy, tallying over 500 combined points in PPR scoring.

Gibbs has limited security, as is the case with any rookie that has isn’t the definitive lead back, but the upside is off the charts. Whether he receives 10+ carries per game early on is yet to be seen, but he’ll definitely be involved in the receiving game, whether it be from the backfield or out of the slot (where he’s been getting some reps throughout OTAs).

He’s projected to be a mid-RB2 off the board in the late-3rd/early-4th round range. At that price point, he’s a reasonable investment given his potential. I’m anticipating at least RB2-level production with the realistic potential to produce as a top-10 fantasy RB in PPR scoring, should he establish a significant rushing role early on as a rookie.


Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR - Detroit Lions):

Like Goff, the emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown was a major factor in Detroit’s offensive explosion in 2022, seeing the WR take a massive step forward in his sophomore season.

Coming off a solid rookie campaign (90 catches, 979 total yards, 6 TDs, WR21), St. Brown had a breakout 2022 season, seeing 1106 catches, 1,256 total yards, 6 TDs, and a WR7 finish.

The backbone of his production: 146 targets and a 24.8% target share, both of which ranked in the top-12 in the league. It was that workload that guided him to extreme consistency, posting double-digit points in all but two games. That’s a fantastic floor to have, especially with a WR1, but he oftentimes didn’t exceed that floor by much, only exceeding 15 points in five games last year.

The potential to replicate and exceed his production from last season is certainly there, especially with significant turnover in the offense (Marvin Jones for DJ Chark, rookie Sam LaPorta for T.J. Hockenson, David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs for Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift) and how unlucky St. Brown was in 2022, getting stopped on the 1-yard line FOUR separate times last season.

I like him as a safe low-end WR1 and at his price relative to the position (WR9 on ADP and ECR), but the deciding factor on whether or not St. Brown will be a worthwhile investment is how high he goes in the draft. His projected draft price is currently varying a lot from a fringe 1st rounder (2.01 on ADP) to a fringe 3rd rounder (2.10 on ECR). I’m comfortable with investing anything at or beyond a mid-2nd round pick on St. Brown as a very stable WR1 option with the realistic ability to continue his upward trajectory and possibly emerge as a top-5 fantasy WR.


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