Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down the Detroit Lions

A fantasy football perspective on the team

What can the Detroit Lions do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.

Inside the Locker Room
with John Niyo, Detroit News

Will any running back be able to stay healthy and provide fantasy production for Detroit this year, or should we stay away from all Lions’ backs?
It’s buyer beware with the running backs. Assuming Jahvid Best shows no ill effects from contact in preseason, he’s still a home run threat and an elite receiver out of the backfield. But he only made it to Week 6 in 2011, and his rookie year was derailed by turf-toe injuries in Week 2. So the Lions will try to limit his workload, using him in tandem with Mikel Leshoure, who insists he’ll be ready for the regular season coming off a torn Achilles. Leshoure also faces a possible NFL suspension after a pair of drug-related arrests this winter, though, so Kevin Smith figures to share duties as well.

Who will be the Lions’ No. 2 fantasy receiver? Aging veteran Nate Burleson, second-year deep threat Titus Young or rookie slot Ryan Broyles?
Young showed he has the talent to be the No. 2 option with 48 catches and six TDs — four in the last four weeks — as a rookie. If he can avoid the diva behavior, he’s the one who’ll stretch the field and put up the bigger numbers opposite Calvin Johnson. But Burleson’s still good for 50- or 60-plus catches while the Lions groom Broyles — coming off a torn ACL last November — as his likely replacement.

Brandon Pettigrew has increased his catch, yardage and TD totals in each of his three seasons. Can he do it again?
Pettigrew still drops a few too many passes, and with so many other red-zone options — not to mention his talent as a blocking tight end — he’ll probably never completely satisfy fantasy owners.

Athlon's Best Bets

Sleeper: Mikel Leshoure, RB
Deep-Sleeper: Titus Young, WR
Overvalued: Kyle Vanden Bosch, DL
Top Rookie: Ryan Broyles, WR
Bounce-Back: Jahvid Best, RB
Top IDP: Stephen Tulloch, LB

2012 Draft Class

1. Riley Reiff T 6-6 313 Iowa
2. Ryan Broyles WR 5-10 192 Oklahoma
3. Dwight Bentley CB 5-10 182 UL Lafayette
4. Ronnell Lewis DE 6-1 253 Oklahoma
5. Tahir Whitehead LB 6-1 233 Temple
5. Chris Greenwood CB 6-1 193 Albion
6. Jonte Green CB 6-0 184 New Mexico State
7. Travis Lewis LB 6-1 246 Oklahoma

Fantasy Impact: In order for the Lions to make a run at the Super Bowl, they have to keep quarterback Matt Stafford healthy. So it’s really no surprise that Detroit chose to address the offensive line in the first round, selecting Iowa’s Riley Reiff as someone who could play on the left or right side in 2012. Receiver Ryan Broyles suffered a torn ACL late in the 2011 season but is expected to be ready to contribute early in the year. He likely will slide into the slot receiver role.

Fantasy Playoff Run: Weeks 14-16 (at GB, at ARI, ATL)

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson played 16 games last year and were lights out. Now, Megatron lands on this year’s Madden cover. If he beats the jinx, then the QB-WR duo will face what was a score-at-will pass defense that Green Bay put up last season, an Arizona defense that was eighth-worst against fantasy WRs and a middle-of-the-road Falcons fantasy defense.

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