Dynasty Capsule: Detroit Lions

Levi Chappell

Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.

Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”


Matthew Stafford (JAN ADP: 166, QB21)

Stafford had been one of the most consistent quarterbacks over the past five years before this season – he had thrown for at least 4,200 yards and at least 22 touchdowns each season. He took a step back this year, as did the Lions as a whole. There are always going to be factors that can play a part in a quarterback’s success, and many times that is coaching. Many are not sold on whether or not Matt Patricia is a good coach that can get the most out of his players, but we will have to wait and see. If one year is any indication of future performance… I am not liking what I saw.

Stafford threw for just 3,777 yards and 21 TDs. Those are his lowest totals in both categories since 2012. With the departure of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones‘ injury history, Stafford seems to be searching for playmakers.

His ADP has been tanking towards the end of the 2018 football season. While his ADP sat at 117 just two months ago, it has dropped almost 60 spots in that time. Hopefully Stafford’s best days are not behind him.

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Matt Cassel (JAN ADP: N/A)

It’s Matt Cassel. Enough said… move on.


Kerryon Johnson (JAN ADP: 31, RB13)

The most exciting prospect (no offense to Kenny G) on the Lions’ roster has to be the rookie running back out of Auburn. Johnson looked like the running back the Lions had been hoping and dreaming about for a long time. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to injury, but he showed plenty of flashes in his rookie year to have people very excited about what 2019 might have to offer.

Johnson finally ended the terrible streak of not having a rusher run for over 100 yards in a game for what seems like an eternity. He finished the season with 118 carries for 641 yards and three rushing TDs. He was also very adept in the receiving game, catching 32 balls for 213 yards and added another touchdown. The most impressive stat out of all of them, though, is that he averaged 5.4 yards per carry every time he touched the rock.

His ADP reflects that many people expect big things from him in 2019, myself included. The Lions have always struggled with balance in their offense, simply because they have been so poor at running the football. With Johnson healthy and running strong, it may free up the entire offense to perform at a much better rate.

Johnson would be tough to pry out of another owner’s hand at this point because his value is so high, and many people expect him to be a top ten running back in 2019.

Theo Riddick (JAN ADP: 168, RB62)

Riddick has always made his mark by catching the ball. He is essentially a WR who lines up at tailback. He had a very productive year in 2015, in which he caught 80 passes for almost 700 yards. But every year since then, his catches and targets have been down. With Johnson now in the mix for pass-catching duties, Riddick’s value takes a big hit.

DLF Rankers have him averaged at 193, with a high of 141 and a low that is outside the top 200. Riddick is stuck in a hard place of not having much upside with Johnson around, and also not being a handcuff because of LeGarrette Blount.

He played in 14 games in 2018 and did not register a touchdown. Riddick will be an UFA agent after the 2019 season and his value is very minimal at this point. If he stays with the Lions, he will have limited pass-catching upside, while he could slightly benefit from relocating to a new team to become their ‘third-down back’.

LeGarrette Blount (JAN ADP: N/A

Blount was signed this season to be more insurance than anything else. While Kerryon missed some games, he stepped in and ended up splitting time. He signed a one-year contract in 2018 and will most likely be wearing a different jersey in 2019. Most likely a contender will pick him up for a cheap one-year contract.

His 2016 campaign will always be his high point, but no one expects him to even come close to those numbers anymore. Blount is best kept on the waiver wire unless you are completely depleted at the position.

Zach Zenner (JAN ADP: N/A)

Unlike Blount, Zenner is intriguing enough to hold onto in deep leagues. The South Dakota State star has played well when giving the opportunity. When Johnson missed the last four games of the season, Zenner seized the starting role and played very well. Over the last four games of the season, he had 51 carries for 237 yards, good for 4.65 yards per carry. He also finished those last four weeks with three touchdowns.

If I was a betting man (which I’m not), I would guess that Zenner is the handcuff to own in 2019. He may very well get some carries when Johnson needs a break, and has shown enough explosiveness to be relevant and stay on the Lions’ roster.


Kenny Golladay (JAN. ADP: 36, WR16)

Golladay started the year as the third wide receiver in most offensive sets, planted behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. He finished the year as the clear cut number one receiver on that team and will be the alpha dog moving forward. While the Lions struggled for most of the year, Golladay put up solid numbers throughout. He finished the year as one of 20 players with 1,000+ (1,063) receiving yards on 70 catches. He also added five touchdowns.

Golladay has now ascended into the “premier dynasty asset” category and his value may even rise more. DLF’s rankers seem to be pretty standard on him, ranking him as low as 40 and as high as 27. He has prototypical WR1 size (6’4” 215 LBS) and athleticism. I would expect Golladay to sneak into the top 30 before the season starts.

Marvin Jones (JAN ADP: 85, WR39)

Jones’ value has been slipping over the past year. His ADP was as high as 43 in September of 2018, then injuries and losing the number one job to Golladay knocked his value down a bit. He will still be the number two wide receiver in what is normally a high-volume pass attack with a good quarterback in Stafford.

Unfortunately, injuries seem to be the story for Jones, and he has only played a full season once in his seven years in the NFL (which was last season). Jones can still produce and be a valuable asset for a contending team, but our rankers are starting to see less and less value in him. He comes in as high as 69, and his lowest ranking comes in at 92.

The window to sell Jones with a good amount of value has passed, so if you are a contending team, your best bet will be to hold onto him and hope he can ascend to WR2 numbers again.

Brandon Powell (JAN ADP: N/A)

Powell is an interesting prospect simply because of the Golden Tate trade. Tate played most of his snaps in the slot and was very productive doing so. Jones and Golladay will play the outside receivers, so the Lions will be looking to find a long term replacement for Tate in the slot. One option is Powell.

He only played in six games as a rookie, but will definitely be on the Lions radar. The Lions may address the wide receiver position in the draft, but as of right now, Powell may be the favorite to start training camp as the slot receiver.

Bruce Ellington (JAN ADP: N/A)

Ellington was signed by the Lions in 2018 on a one-year deal. I don’t think the Lions thought he would end up playing as much as he did, but once the team traded Tate, then Jones and Golladay got injured, Ellington was thrust into action. He is a UFA this off-season and will most likely not return to the Lions.

T.J. Jones (JAN ADP: N/A)

If you are a Lions fan… you have heard of T.J. Jones, probably more than you would like. Jones was drafted in 2014 and the Lions had high hopes for him. He was given chances at quite a few different times to be the third wide receiver for the Lions, but was never able to show enough consistency for the Lions to award him that position. He is also a UFA in 2019 and the Lions may choose to completely shake up the entire wide receiver position and let quite a few players walk.

Andy Jones (JAN ADP: N/A)

Jones was undrafted in 2016, but signed a two-year deal with the Lions in 2018. He played sparingly throughout the season, but with the wide receiver position decimated with injuries, he played a significant role in week 17. He saw 12 targets which he converted into five catches and 60 yards. He is worth monitoring throughout the off-season, especially if the Lions do not address the wide receiver position in the draft.


Michael Roberts (JAN ADP: N/A)

When the Lions decided the let Eric Ebron walk, they didn’t have much of a backup plan. Michael Roberts was a player they had high hopes for, and I’m sure the plan was for him to take over the starting duties. Roberts has not been able to put it all together on the field, and the 2017 fourth round pick struggled in 2018. Roberts is still only 24 years old, and we know that the learning curve for tight ends in the NFL can be steep.

Roberts is worth a stash in deep leagues, but could lose a lot of value if the Lions decide to make tight end one of their top priorities in the draft. He still has some potential upside as of right now as a deep sleeper.

Luke Willson (JAN ADP: N/A)

Wilson was signed to a one-year deal, more as a stop gap than anything else. Needless to say, it did not work out. Wilson was ineffective when he was on the field, and also dealt with his fair share of injuries in 2018. He will most likely not be back on the team in 2019.

Levine Toilolo (JAN ADP: N/A)

Toilolo was another veteran signed to a one-year contract. Toilolo has always been a good blocker and was signed to add some insurance to the tight end position. He should not be on your fantasy radar.

The Lions are a bit scarce when it comes to talented skill position players, so the draft should be very fun to monitor.

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