The Lions believe T.J. Hockenson is capable of making another leap forward in his 3rd NFL season. “I think it’s been a fairly consistent message all offseason, from Coach [Dan] Campbell to [OC Anthony] Lynn, that there’s plenty of meat still on that bone for him,” TEs coach Ben Johnson said. “And I think he’s embraced that. He agrees with that. We’re really looking forward to getting more out of him now.” Hockenson turned 101 targets into a 67-723-6 line last year and should be in for a boost in targets in 2021 considering Detroit's crappy WR corps. The stars are aligning for a big fantasy season here.
Lions OC Anthony Lynn has given us a little more info on the plan for splitting backfield touches. "If you go in and you're balling, you're going to stay in," Lynn said this week, according to Pro Football Talk. Lynn added that his approach will be to get the ball into the hands of his top playmakers, pointing out that RBs can earn receiving work in addition to carries. We'll see how this situation plays out, including whether the Lions act on their interest in free-agent RB Todd Gurley. Early indications, however, point to potential for weekly fantasy frustration.
New Lions DC Todd Wash says he'll work from a 3-4 base front, according to the Detroit Free Press. Wash adds that DEs Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara have moved to OLB. For practical purposes, that shouldn't mean much difference for their roles. Each will still primarily rush the passer in passing situations. The question will be whether league-hosting sites change the position eligibility for Flowers and/or Okwara. The Lions still list both guys at DE on the team website, so we wouldn't bet on a universal position switch. But keep an eye out for that possibility where you play. In most cases, switching from DE to LB will mean a dip in IDP value, even if a player posts identical stats. That's because most scoring systems produce bigger fantasy totals among LBs, thanks mostly to tackle scoring.
Lions OC Anthony Lynn suggested in an interview with The Athletic that RB Jamaal Williams will play a bigger role than fantasy drafters are expecting. “Jamaal is what I’d call a classic ‘A’ back,” Lynn said. “I like to break the backs down into A and B. My ‘A’ backs are normally my bigger backs. They can run between the tackles, block probably a little better than a ‘B’ back, they can also run the perimeter. I can leave those guys in there for all three downs. My ‘B’ back comes in, he’s a guy that sometimes I want to use in space more. He’s my speed-in-space guy." D'Andre Swift -- who's going 11 rounds ahead of Williams in ADP -- would be the 'B' back in this scenario. No one should be expecting the 212-pound Swift to be a true workhorse. But he averaged 16 touches over his final 6 games last season and seemed in line to at least see that much work in 2021. It's worth noting that Detroit's new coaching staff inherited Swift but went out and acquired Williams in free agency. This backfield split will be worth monitoring closely this summer. Swift carries some risk at his mid-2nd-round ADP, while Williams looks like a nice value in the 13th.
The Lions signed Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt as an undrafted free agent. Surratt posted a solid 41-581-4 line as a redshirt freshman in 2018 and was 1 of the most productive receivers in the country in 2019, averaging 7.3 catches, 111 yards and 1.2 TDs across 9 games. A shoulder injury cost him the final 4 games, though, and he opted out of the 2020 campaign. Surratt’s tape gave us all sorts of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside vibes. He’s 6’3, 209 pounds and plays even bigger, consistently making grabs in traffic and in contested situations. But Surratt is painfully slow -- confirmed by his 4.7-second 40 time -- and rarely created separation against college DBs. He looked like an NFL longshot to begin with, and going undrafted doesn’t help his chances. But he at least lands on a weak depth chart in Detroit.
The Lions drafted RB Jermar Jefferson in Round 7. Jefferson broke out as a true freshman with 239 carries for 1,380 yards (5.8 YPC) and 12 TDs. He added 25 catches that year, although he totaled only 18 receptions over his final 2 seasons. Jefferson’s rushing production dropped in 2019, partly because of foot and ankle injuries. Last year he rebounded on the ground to post 133-858-7 (6.5 YPC) in 6 games. The tape shows a runner with plus vision, but there is some concern over his athletic profile. Jefferson posted a 7.38-second 3-cone (8th percentile), a 4.38-second short shuttle (28th percentile), a 31-inch vertical (10th percentile) and a 115-inch broad jump (25th percentile). In Detroit, he could be battling Kerryon Johnson for a 2021 roster spot. With D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams -- at least -- ahead of him, we wouldn't bother with Jefferson in dynasty rookie drafts.
Detroit picked WR Amon-Ra St. Brown in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Equanimeous’ brother was the #2 WR in his recruiting class and became just the 4th true freshman to lead USC in catches when he hauled in 60 balls for 750 yards and 3 scores in 2018. St. Brown then posted a 77-1,042-6 line as a true sophomore, although that came on a strong Trojans passing attack. His market shares were mediocre: 21% of the catches, 24% of the yards and 17% of the TDs. St. Brown led USC with 41 catches and 7 TDs in an abbreviated 6-game 2020 season, but sophomore WR Drake Jordan beat him 502 to 478 in yards. St. Brown is a solid all-around receiver on tape, with good contested ability, decent route running and some juice after the catch. “Steady,” “dependable” and “average” were 3 words used by scouts to describe St. Brown’s game in Bob McGinn’s excellent article on The Athletic. Durability is also a question mark here after St. Brown suffered a hand injury as a high school senior, sprained the AC joint in his shoulder in 2018 and 2020 and needed sports hernia surgery after the 2019 campaign. He lands in an offense with a clear need at the position, though. Detroit's WR depth chart currently appears to be led by Tyrell Williams and Quintez Cephus. We'll see how quickly the rookie can climb it.
The Lions signed K Randy Bullock. The 9-year veteran was in Cincinnati last year, where he converted 21 of 26 FG attempts and 24 of 25 XPs. He sports a career 83.2% FG conversion rate. Detroit looks like 1 of the weaker offenses in the league heading into 2021, so Bullock isn't an attractive fantasy pick.
The Lions have agreed to a 1-year, $3 million contract with WR Breshad Perriman, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus. Perriman faces clear opportunity in an offense that already lost WR Marvin Jones to the Jaguars and sure looks like it expects to lose WR Kenny Golladay. Detroit previously imported WR Tyrell Williams, signing him for more money than Perriman is getting. Holdover Quintez Cephus should compete for time as an outside receiver as well. Perriman is fine as a late-round best-ball option.
The Texans made a couple of minor moves at TE on Thursday, releasing Darren Fells and trading a 7th-round pick to New England for Ryan Izzo. Fells ranked 8th on the team and 2nd among TEs with 28 targets last season. He'll turn 35 in April and is on his last legs. Izzo totaled just 19 catches for the Patriots over the past 2 years -- although he did average a big 16.5 yards per. TE Jordan Akins looks set to enter 2021 as Houston's clear-cut starter, unless the team makes a more significant move at the position.
RB Jamaal Williams has agreed to a 2-year deal with the Lions worth "up to" $7.5 million, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Williams saw regular usage in both the run and passing game with the Packers, averaging 125 carries and 30.5 receptions across 4 seasons. His contract terms don't suggest he'll threaten D'Andre Swift's expected lead role in the backfield. We'll see about Williams vs. Kerryon Johnson, though, under new HC Dan Campbell and his staff. Williams turns 26 in April.
The Lions have agreed to a 3-year, $39 million deal with impending free agent DE Romeo Okwara, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Okwara posted career highs in sacks (10) and QB hits (18) last season and is headed into just his age-26 campaign.
The Lions have agreed to a 1-year deal with WR Tyrell Williams worth "up to $6.2 million," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That lands the former Raider and Charger with a Detroit offense set to have Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola all reach free agency. Even if the Lions re-sign or franchise-tag Golladay, there's clear opportunity for Williams. The wideout lost 18 games to injury over his 2 years with the Raiders, including a torn shoulder labrum that cost him all of last season. When healthy, though, Williams has averaged 16.1 yards per catch for his career and scored on an above-average 11.7% of his receptions. He just turned 29 in February. We'll see what else Detroit adds -- and/or retains -- to the pass-catching corps. Williams is a fine shot to take near the end of best-ball drafts right now, though.
The Raiders will release WR Tyrell Williams at the start of the new league year next month, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports. It'll save $10.6 million against the cap. Williams missed the entire 2020 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. He turned 29 today but was still effective when we last saw him in 2019, averaging 15.5 yards per catch and scoring 6 times on 42 grabs. We'll see where Williams lands.
Lions new assistant HC/RBs coach Duce Staley talked up RB D'Andre Swift on Wednesday. "When I look at D'Andre, I do think he's a three-down back and like I said, he has some special traits I can't wait to get my hands on, so I'm excited about that," Staley said. "You can get 18 carries and seven touches as far as receptions and you have 25 touches, which is what you want from your star back." It's the time of the year when coaches toss around touch projections for the coming season, so don't go expecting 25 touches per game from Swift. But it's clear the new coaching staff is high on the Georgia product, despite not being around when he was drafted. There's RB1 upside here if Swift gets feature-back usage.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport is told that there will be an "open competition" this offseason between Rams QBs Jared Goff and John Wolford. Goff has been far too inconsistent from game to game in 4 seasons under Sean McVay -- but it'd frankly be a major surprise if he lost a battle to Wolford, a former undrafted free agent who didn't even complete 60% of his passes at Wake Forest. The takeaway here, though, is that Goff is on thin ice in Los Angeles. We'll see if the Rams add any additional competition this offseason.
The Lions are set to hire Anthony Lynn as OC, according to insider Michael Lombardi. Lynn struggled -- particularly with in-game management -- as Chargers HC over the past 4 seasons, but all 4 of those squads finished top 11 in total yards. In his only previous OC stint, Lynn led the 2016 Bills to a 16th-place finish in yards and 10th place in points. That team led the league in rushing yards, yards per carry and TDs -- with RB LeSean McCoy going for 1,267 yards and QB Tyrod Taylor for 580. Lynn is a former RBs coach, and especially with Detroit breaking in a new QB, we'd expect a run-leaning attack in 2021.
The Lions are finalizing a deal to make Dan Campbell their new HC, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Campbell spent 10 seasons playing TE in the league and has been in the coaching ranks for the past 11. The first 6 of those came in Miami -- primarily as a TEs coach, with a 12-game stint as interim HC in 2015. Campbell has been assistant HC and TEs coach in New Orleans under Sean Payton for the last 5 years. It's a relatively uninspiring hire, but we'll see who Campbell brings aboard as OC.
Rams QB Jared Goff (thumb) was a full-go in Tuesday's practice, while QB John Wolford (stinger) was sidelined. HC Sean McVay wouldn't say who will start vs. the Packers on Saturday, but it's seemingly trending toward Goff. We'll continue to monitor the situation.
Rams QB Jared Goff (thumb) is active for today's game against the Seahawks. "No word yet on if he's starting or if he's the emergency QB," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted. We'll see whether Goff's actually starting this game or if it's John Wolford. You shouldn't be using him in fantasy either way.
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