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.”
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Matthew Stafford (Jan ADP: QB12)
Stafford’s 2017 campaign was quietly one of his best seasons yet as a pro. The former number one overall pick threw for over 4,400 yards, 29 touchdowns, and only ten interceptions en route to finishing as the QB7 overall in fantasy football this season. Along with setting career highs in Passer Rating and Yards per Attempt, Stafford had his fewest interceptions since 2011, third most touchdowns in his career, and most pass yards since 2013. He was able to achieve all of this while throwing the fewest amount of passes in a full season he’s played. Talk about efficiency.
It goes without saying, but Stafford is clearly the future at the quarterback position for the Detroit Lions. So where does the community value him? A quarterback entering his age 30 season, in the midst of his prime and coming off one of the best statistical seasons he’s ever had, surely is a… borderline QB1? Coming in as the QB12 in the most recent January ADP, Stafford sticks out as a value player in my eyes. He’s one of the models of quarterback consistency, finishing no lower than QB14 overall since 2011 and having finished QB7 or better four times in that same stretch.
Comparing him to players around him in ADP, I would rank Stafford as my dynasty QB7 heading into 2018. That’s ahead of Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, and others who are in front of him. When searching for a quarterback to start week-in and week-out in fantasy football for the next five years, look no further than Matthew Stafford. He and the Lions will have plenty more years of success together.
I was actually rather surprised to find that the Lions only had one other quarterback on their roster. I would expect the Lions to address this position in this year’s draft in the very late rounds. Rudock is not someone to be rostered even in 2QB leagues.
Ameer Abdullah (RB40)
The subject of plenty of hype throughout the years since he was drafted in 2015, Abdullah has been nothing more than a disappointment. He’s an explosive athlete capable of breaking off for a home run any time he touches the football but hasn’t shown any sort of consistency in his three-year career. He’s struggled with fumbles, injuries, inefficiency, and now in year three, playing time. Towards the end of the season, Abdullah barely saw the field at the running back position.
He was impossible to start with any confidence in your fantasy lineups, and the Lions finally felt they’re seen enough. Ameer does have one year left on his rookie contract, so it would be a surprise to see the team part ways with him this off-season. However, I and many other analysts expect the Lions to address the running back position in this year’s loaded draft class.
Theo Riddick (RB42)
The man behind the “Theo-Riddick-type” running back comparisons, Riddick produces year-in, year-out in the pass-catching running back role. He has not caught fewer than 53 passes since 2014 and is an extremely reliable source of PPR fantasy points on a weekly basis thanks to his reception totals. The fantasy community nor the Lions try to make him something he’s not.
The 2013 sixth-round pick from Notre Dame never topped more than ten carries this season and has not registered a season with more than 100 total carries. The Lions put Riddick in positions to succeed on the football field, utilizing his skills in the best way possible. His contract does have a potential out this summer for the Lions to save roughly two million dollars in cap space this year, but I think they keep him around. He’s a great football player and a great dynasty asset to have as your RB3/4 on your roster.
Though filling in perfectly fine for the Lions when called upon, Green isn’t a starting NFL talent. He’ll likely serve in a backup role on the Lions for a few years, but he’s not worth a spot on your dynasty roster at this time. Should the Lions not address the running back position in the off-season, Green could be in line to get the majority of carries early next season. This isn’t a scenario I would bet on.
I admit it. I stashed Zach Zenner on my dynasty rosters for the better part of three years. If you want to have some fun, look up his college production. The day I dropped him from my dynasty rosters was saddening. But if even I, one his biggest advocates, have dropped him, I suggest you do the same. Fun Fact: He is interested in going to Medical School, so stash him in Doctor Devy leagues, if those exist.
Washington is an average goal-line back at the NFL level. He’ll struggle to find a consistent role on this depth chart, especially if another high-profile player is added. He’s not worth a roster spot at this time.
Though some might remember Mike James from his days in Tampa Bay, he’s not making an impact in the NFL anymore. He hasn’t for the better part of four years.
Golden Tate (WR27)
Golden Tate is consistently one of the most undervalued players in dynasty football. Despite posting 90+ catches in every season since 2014, his ADP has never climbed higher than 40. The only part of Tate’s game that is lacking in the fantasy world is touchdowns, of which he has scored an average of about five per year in his career. Despite not being a dominating red zone threat, Tate has consistently put up WR1/2 seasons for the past four years.
His past production has been great, yes, but where does that leave us going into 2018 and beyond? Despite my aforementioned comment, I think Tate is being very properly valued by dynasty owners right now. Having a January ADP of WR27, Tate ranks ahead of some “upside” wide receivers like DeVante Parker and Will Fuller yet ranks behind other aging veterans like Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas. I agree with this valuation.
Tate is going on 30 years old and is entering the last year of his contract with the Lions, though he has said he wants to re-sign with the team. If Tate gets tied to Stafford for likely the rest of their respective careers, I have no problem moving forward with Tate as my WR2 on my fantasy team for the foreseeable future.
Marvin Jones (WR33)
It’s very rare for two wide receivers on the same team to both finish top 12 in the same season, but Jones and Tate managed to do so this year. Seemingly the perfect tandem, Jones is the big-play guy while Tate is the reliable option underneath. Marvin Jones was extremely efficient this year, posting the highest yards/catch in the league in 2017 en route to finishing as the PPR WR11. Still only 27 years old, Jones looks to be reaching his full potential in the NFL, and it’s exciting to watch.
Jones will be under contract potentially through the end of the 2020 season, giving him three more years in this potent Detroit Lions offense. The team has a potential out in 2019, but given Jones’ level of success, it seems unlikely they’d opt to use it. While I personally don’t expect Jones to finish as a WR1 in fantasy consistently, he is certainly a player I’d be targeting at his ADP. I would happily take him over Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, and perhaps even Parker, all of whom are above him in the recent ADP. He’ll continue to find success with Matthew Stafford as the two build an even better rapport.
Kenny Golladay (WR38)
I really like Kenny Golladay as a prospect. He passes the “eye-test” of having all the traits you look for in a dominant NFL receiver. That said, I don’t see a path for him to have consistent playing time enough to warrant fantasy consideration in the near future. This season, Golladay failed to record more than four catches in a game and only received more than five targets twice on the year. I get it, he was a rookie, and by all accounts, he did have a successful rookie year.
Having just turned 24 years old, I don’t believe Golladay will be an every-week starter for your fantasy team for at least two more years, barring an injury to Golden Tate or Marvin Jones. He was a great third-round pick by the Lions, but I would be selling in fantasy for players like Jamison Crowder and Chris Godwin who are lower in ADP.
I remember T.J. Jones this year for all his catches that I thought Marvin had caught initially. He’s a solid role player in the NFL, but he’s not worth a spot on your dynasty roster right now.
These are all wide receivers on the Detroit Lions. That’s about all you need to know for this dynasty capsule.
Eric Ebron (TE13)
I think it’s safe to conclude that we know what Eric Ebron is at this point, four years into his NFL career. He’s inconsistent, struggles with drops, has a lot of athleticism, and can very occasionally dominate NFL football games. All of those things are true, and in my mind, that makes him a very solid fantasy tight end two on your teams. Still only 24 years old, Ebron will have one more chance to prove to the Lions that he can be a star tight end in 2018. Owners, like myself, are hoping he can build off of a successful end to the 2017 season and gain the confidence he needs to be a startable fantasy tight end.
The talent has always been there for Eric Ebron. Sometimes it takes players even four or five years to get acclimated to the NFL, but often times these players don’t get that second contract to be a starter. If we thought this past year was a make-or-break year for Ebron, next year the stakes will be even higher. In terms of ADP, I think his value of TE13 accurately reflects his potential and downside. There’s a good chance next year he slides out of the top 20, but he could also find himself in the top ten at the position.
A solid backup NFL tight end, Fells doesn’t hold any dynasty value. He’ll vulture some value away from some of the other Lions pass-catchers, but that’s the only time you’ll hear his name.
Michael Roberts and Hakeen Valles
A few more tight ends on the Lions roster, these two hold no dynasty value. Should the Lions move on from Ebron after next year, his replacement more than likely is not on the roster right now.