Lions WR Marvin Jones has missed the last week of practice with knee trouble and won't play in the 2nd preseason game, the Detroit Press' Dave Birkett reports. Jones, of course, missed the final 7 games of last year with a knee injury that required surgery. "Again we’re just trying to take some time off to make sure we’re being smart with it in the situation," HC Matt Patricia said Thursday. This has become a situation to monitor. Hopefully Jones can play in Detroit's 3rd exhibition.
The Lions have activated DE Trey Flowers from the PUP list. NFL.com's Jelani Scott reports that the free-agent addition joined his team for practice Saturday. Flowers opened camp on the PUP as he worked back from offseason shoulder surgery, a known issue at his signing. We'll watch his progress, but Flowers should be fine to draft as planned in IDP leagues.
Lions WR Jermaine Kearse suffered a broken leg and "associated injuries to his ankle" in Thursday night's preseason opener, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The injuries will cost Kearse the entire 2019 campaign. He was slated to serve as the #4 WR in a run-focused offense, so there's not much of a fantasy impact here.
Lions beat writer Kyle Meinke showered TE T.J. Hockenson with praise for his training camp performance. Meinke notes that the rookie “hasn’t put a catchable football on the ground,” while he’s also dominated red zone drills. Targets will likely be an issue for the run-heavy Lions, but it’s encouraging to hear Hockenson's playing like a top-10 pick. He's draftable around TE20.
Lions QB Matt Stafford played through "broken bones in his back" last season, according to Mike O’Hara of the team's official website. Stafford was listed on the injury report for the final 4 games of the year, but this is the 1st we've heard of the extent of the injury. He did struggle in those final 4 outings, averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt with 3 total TDs. But Stafford's bigger problem last season was Detroit's renewed commitment to the run, which left Stafford with a career-low 34.7 pass attempts per game. His volume might drop again in 2019 with the arrival of run-loving O Darrell Bevell. Stafford is just a lower-end QB2 in fantasy drafts.
Lions RB Kerryon Johnson said he's back to 100% after a November knee injury ended his rookie campaign. He didn't need surgery and will get in a full offseason of work. Johnson will need to hold off RB C.J. Anderson for work but has breakout potential in new OC Darrell Bevell's run-focused offense.
The Lions spent a 2nd-round pick on LB Jahlani Tavai. The Hawaii product posted just an 89.6 speed score even with the generally favorable conditions of running his 40-yard dash at his pro day. Tavai fared better in production, though, tallying 13% of Hawaii's solo tackles in 2018 and 17.6% of the total tackles. The latter number ranked 2nd in the class. We'll see whether Detroit likes Tavai in the middle or on the outside. Either way, he faces opportunity in a weak LB corps that has seen 1st-round pick Jarrad Davis disappoint.
The Lions selected Iowa TE T.J. Hockensen with the 8th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. After playing 2nd fiddle to Noah Fant in 2017, Hockensen emerged as Iowa’s top dog this past season. He led the Hawkeyes with 760 receiving yards, finishing 2nd to WR Nick Easley with 49 catches and 2nd to Fant with 6 TDs. A seam-stretching threat, Hockensen averaged 15.5 yards per catch and ranked 4th in this TE class in yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus. He made a ton of catches in traffic and dropped just 1 pass all season. Hockensen boosted his stock by registering an 85th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. He’s also a plus blocker and projects as an every-down TE for Detroit. Hockensen should at least be a spot-start fantasy option as a rookie and brings difference-making long-term upside.
The Lions have reached a 1-year deal with RB C.J. Anderson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That supports HC Matt Patricia's recently stated plan of continuing to deploy a backfield committee. Anderson joins a group that will also return Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner (who got a new 1-year deal). Anderson came on with the Rams at the end of last season after doing next-to-nothing with the Panthers. L.A. opted for youngster Malcolm Brown, however, behind Todd Gurley. Anderson threatens to take goal-line carries from Johnson, though the 2018 rookie remains the highest-upside RB in Detroit. This will be 1 of the more interesting backfield's to project over the next 2 months.
Lions HC Matt Patricia suggested that his team will continue to deploy a committee backfield in 2019, not wanting to overwork RB Kerryon Johnson. "I think it’s a position-specific thing where those guys, they take a lot of hits,” Patricia said. “They’re in those situations a lot where their bodies are taking some pounding so you want to be conscious of how many plays they’re getting, especially early on in the year." Patricia comes from New England, where the Patriots have long utilized multiple RBs. The Lions return RBs Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner behind Johnson and might still add to the position in free agency or the draft. There are, of course, very few every-down backs in the NFL. So Johnson still has a shot to flirt with RB1 value in his sophomore campaign under run-loving OC Darrell Bevell.
The Lions re-signed RB Zach Zenner. The 27-year-old averaged a career-best 4.8 yards per carry last year after mustering just 3.5 across his first 3 seasons. But Zenner has yet to top 88 carries in a season and won't get there in 2019 without a prolonged absence from RB Kerryon Johnson.
Former Steelers TE Jesse James has reached a deal with the Lions, according to multiple reports. The contract figures to easily position James as the lead TE in Detroit and likely give him a shot at career highs in targets and receptions. James topped out at 63 looks and 43 catches with Pittsburgh in 2017. We remain unexcited about his fantasy football outlook.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that former Patriots DE Trey Flowers will be signing with the Lions when free agency opens Wednesday. Flowers tallied 7, 6.5 and 7.5 sacks over the past 3 seasons but carries further upside in the form of hidden pressures. Pro Football Focus graded Flowers 8th among all 4-3 DEs and counted the 11th most pressures for the position in 2018. Flowers rated in a similar range each of the previous 2 seasons as well. In Detroit, he'll rejoin former New England DC Matt Patricia (now the Lions HC). Expect to find Flowers in DL2 territory in our 2019 IDP projections.
The Lions signed WR Danny Amendola to a 1-year, $4.5 million deal. The 33-year-old has caught 120 balls over the past 2 seasons -- 1 with New England, 1 with Miami -- but totaled just 1,234 yards and 3 TDs. He figures to step in as Detroit's slot receiver behind Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. With run-loving OC Darrell Bevell now calling the shots, it's tough to imagine Amendola seeing enough targets to be a 2019 fantasy factor.
The Dolphins have released WR Danny Amendola. The 33-year-old caught 59 balls for 575 yards and 1 TD in his lone season in Miami. Amendola is still a reliable depth guy, but his days as a fantasy asset are over. With WR DeVante Parker also expected to be let go, the Fins are down to Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant atop the depth chart. We'll see what they add over the next few months.
The Lions have named Darrell Bevell their OC. The run-heavy play-caller fits exactly what HC Matt Patricia wants his offense to do. Bevell has spent 12 seasons as an NFL OC -- 5 in Minnesota, 7 in Seattle -- and had 7 teams finish top 10 in rushing attempts and 7 finish top 10 in rushing yards. Only 3 of Bevell's units ranked inside the top half of the league in passing attempts or yards. His arrival is good news for Kerryon Johnson and troublesome for Matt Stafford, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.
The Lions and OC Jim Bob Cooter have agreed to "mutually" part ways, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. A favorite of the Draft Sharks podcast, Cooter's tenure in Detroit got off to a nice start. But he was at the controls of 1 of the most disappointing offenses in the league in 2018, with the Lions finishing 24th in total yards and 25 in points. With a nice core in Matt Stafford, Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, this unit is capable of a big bounce back in 2019.
Lions DT Damon Harrison (ankle) and DB Quandre Diggs (back) are active for today's game against the Packers. They're OK for normal IDP usage.
Lions WR Kenny Golladay (chest) is inactive for today’s game against the Packers. It’s a surprise after he’s played through this injury for the past couple of weeks. His absence leaves Andy Jones and T.J. Jones as Detroit’s top WRs.
Lions DT Damon Harrison (ankle) and DB Quandre Diggs (back) are questionable for Sunday's game against the Packers. Both began the week sidelined before returning for limited workouts the final 2 days. Harrison played through a "questionable" tag for the issue last week despite putting in 1 fewer practice. We'd bet on him playing again but will confirm his status Sunday morning. Diggs is just a low-level IDP option. Play him at your own risk.
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