Detroit Lions wide receivers

Detroit Lions wide receivers preview 2018

The first word that comes to mind when you think of the wide receiver position has to be diva. The Detroit Lions wide receivers do not fit that prototypical diva role, and that can actually be a great thing for the locker room.

This group of receivers is arguably one of the most balanced groups Detroit has had since the 1996 season. That group consisted of Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton and Brett Perriman.

The great Herman Moore had 106 catches for 1,296 yards and nine touchdowns. Morton caught 55 balls for 714 yards and six touchdowns. Perriman hauled in 94 passes for 1,021 yards and five touchdowns.

For those who do not know Moore’s greatness, he was one of the great red zone threats and amassed 670 receptions for 9,174 yards and 62 touchdowns in 12 seasons.

The 1995 and 1996 season is in the discussion for the two best seasons ever had by a receiver duo (Herman Moore and Brett Perriman) in NFL history. Perriman had 202 catches for 2,509 yards and 14 touchdowns. Moore brought in 229 passes for 2,982 yards and 23 touchdowns. That puts their combined totals at 431 catches and 5,491 yards with 37 touchdowns.

The Individuals

Detroit Lions wide receivers

Marvin Jones Jr. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Marvin Jones Jr.: Since signing a free agent deal to join the Lions in 2016, Jones has flashed moments of greatness. He has shown he has the ability to take the top off the defense.

In two seasons, Jones has 116 catches for 2,031 yards and 13 touchdowns. He arrived in Detroit at the perfect time to help fill the shoes of Calvin Johnson, who retired earlier than most expected.

Jones has endeared himself to fans with his ability to get the ball at its highest point. The chemistry he has with Matthew Stafford continues to develop and bring excitement and enthusiasm to the offense. Jones routinely found a way to make himself available when plays would break down, and Stafford had to use his legs to extend the play.

Golden Tate: Golden Tate is another great signing in free agency. Tate has proven to be worth the money spent to bring him in from Seattle.

Detroit Lions wide receivers

Golden Tate (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

There have been up and down feelings with Tate as he struggled with dropped passes, and some fans questioned his effort during the 1-7 start to 2016. He upset quite a few fans with his comments in 2015 after a 42-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. In a moment of frustration, he pointedly directed disappointment toward fans for booing and “turning their back on [the team].”

 

Having said all of that, he has redeemed himself and developed into a leader in the wide receivers meeting room. He has shown he knows what it means now to represent the city of Detroit and its hardworking fans.

Even through all of this turmoil, he has caught at least 90 passes in each of his four seasons in Detroit. He failed to reach 1,000 yards only once (2015). He also has not missed a single game (toughness much appreciated in the Motor City).

Kenny Golladay: The Lions drafted Golladay in the third round of the 2017 draft. He is a promising receiver for the future.

Detroit Lions wide receivers

Kenny Golladay (Photo by Mike Mulholland, mlive.com)

Due to injury, Golladay only appeared in 11 games in his rookie season. However, he was able to catch 28 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns.

 

He showed off his awesome playmaking ability in Week 1 against the Cardinals. He had four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

Unfortunately, injuries slowed down his progress and involvement in the offense. The Lions are expecting him to make great strides this offseason as he develops his chemistry with Stafford.

The Corps

Jones and Tate are just the seventh duo in Lions history to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. Jones accumulated 1,101 yards and Tate had 1,003 yards.

Herman Moore believes the Lions could have one of the scariest passing games in the NFL in 2018. He told detroitlions.com, “It gives you balance with your quarterback because he knows he has options… We had the same rapport with myself and Brett Perriman with Scott Mitchell… Stafford [will not] have to make ill-advised decisions on where to put the football because he feels stressed.”

Factoring in players like Eric Ebron (more on him in the next article) and Theo Riddick as dynamic receivers makes the Lions passing attack even more versatile and dangerous to defenses in 2018.

Overall, the Lions look to have a reliable receiving corps. Detroit had the second lowest dropped ball percentage in the league in 2017, at 3.4 percent. Time will tell if the Lions pursue more depth or if they are comfortable with players like T.J. Jones, Jace Billingsley and Keshawn Martin competing for reps as the fourth receiver on the depth chart.

The wide receiver group in the 2018 NFL draft is not an overwhelming one. Therefore, it would be a shock if the Lions add a receiver in the first two days of the draft.

However, the only receiver worthwhile in the first round would be Calvin Ridley of Alabama. The Lions have much greater needs than a fourth wide receiver though. Either way, this offense should be fun to watch in 2018.

 

Featured image by Rey Del Rio; AP

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Josh Gordon fantasy

Josh Gordon fantasy football: Fantasy impact unlikely

Josh Gordon is set to play this week for the Cleveland Browns for the first time since 2014. Gordon has been on a roller coaster ride the past three years, being suspended for all of 2015 and 2016. He has not played in a regular-season game since December 2014. But head coach Hue Jackson per Pat McManamon of ESPN  has big plans for him to be a big part in the Cleveland offense.

“My plans for him? Oh boy, let me tell you,” Jackson said. “I got big plans for him. I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle.”

Jackson also praised the type of player Gordon is and how talented he is and we have seen it before. In 2013 he led the league in receiving yards with 1,646 even though he was suspended the first two games and receiving yards per game (117.6) and posted three consecutive 150-plus-yard games. That has been only done six other times in NFL history and only by Gordon since 1995. In 2014, he was suspended 10 games and finished 303 receiving yards and no touchdowns, catching 24 of 47 targets in five games.

Even though fantasy players are excited to see his return, the impact in fantasy looks unlikely he will perform at a high level. For one reason is the fact he hasn’t played in three seasons, the other is the quarterback situation.

Why Gordon is a Risk

There’s a similar story of Gordon’s return this year. We’ve seen this with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant. He had a solid in 2014 when he had 549 yards and eight touchdowns on just 26 catches. In 2016 he was suspended for the whole season.

When he returned in 2017 he was expected to return to form, but he has been one of the biggest disappointments. In his 10 games, he’s averaged 2.7 catches for 34.6 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per game. This has resulted in him asking to be traded and even one week as a healthy scratch.

Gordon has proven to be a better player then Bryant but is possible to become a bust as it has happened to a lot of players who have missed a year for substance violations, some have even never made it back to the NFL.

Josh Gordon fantasy

Josh Gordon (Photo by: seattlepi.com)

The other major factor is Cleveland’s quarterbacks. Cleveland hasn’t had a solid quarterback in a long time. But Gordon has proved to play well with a lower tier quarterback and even went through a trio of them including Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. He caught at least one touchdown from all three. But the difference in this situation is that they were experienced.

This year it is quite different. Rookie DeShone Kizer has struggled with only five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Along with that he could see Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. Not the best group of quarterbacks compared to his monster 2013 season.

A small factor to consider but rather more side note is his game shape and if he’s fully ready to go. He hasn’t played a down in three seasons, so he may not have a big game right off the bat especially late in the season.

Why Gordon is worth the risk

But if there’s glimmer of hope, Gordon has proved to play well and posting huge numbers in a broken system. His 2013 season is the big reason why. He’s only 26 years old and still looks to be in his prime. Along with that, he’s their best receiver even missing this much time. The fact that Jackson is starting him right away and giving him a big workload gives the indicator that Cleveland needs some help anyway they can get it.

Josh Gordon fantasy

Gordon (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

Gordon can also be a big turn around in the Cleveland offense. Per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke pointed out Gordon resides in impressive company when it comes to his field-stretching capabilities: “Most Yards Per Route Run since 06 (min 1000 routes): Julio, Brown, Odell, Green, Andre, Demaryius, Megatron, Steve Smith, Evans, Josh Gordon.”

And the good part about that is Kizer is good throwing the ball deep. In 2013, Gordon had the longest reception of 95 yards as well had the most 20-yard plus receptions with 30 and with the most 40-yard plus receptions with nine. The Browns are looking for some big plays and Gordon could be the x-factor to spice up the offense.

Don’t expect Gordon to return to Full form – yet

In the end though I don’t see Gordon producing much in the next four weeks. But Gordon is an intriguing add especially if your team is in the playoffs. For a team that needs to take that big risk, he’s definitely worth a roll of the dice if you’re a fantasy underdog but don’t expect a big game from him. For teams in no contention he isn’t worth the risk unless you like to steal him away if he hasn’t been picked up.

But this is a story to root for. It looks lie he has turned his life around and ready to be a full participant in the NFL. And I expect him to rebound next season. Looking forward to 2018, I rank Gordon a WR2 but has WR1 potential.

 

Featured image from chicagotribune.com.

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Is Dez Bryant a top fantasy option?

Dez Bryant has struggled with injuries and in-season battles in the past two years. Bryant was once a top five receiver in fantasy. From 2012-14, he finished in the top five in fantasy points in the receiver group. But with struggles with injuries and a transition to a new Dallas offense and quarterback, will Bryant return to being the elite fantasy player that he was early in his career?

Throw up the X: 2011-14

After his rookie season, Bryant came to life. In 2011, Bryant became a top option for Tony Romo behind Jason Witten. He finished with 63 receptions, 928 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished in the top 20 that year in fantasy for receivers.

The following season, Bryant broke onto the scene. He had his first season over 1,000 yards and had over 90 receptions and double digits in touchdowns. He finished in the top 10 in receptions (92), yards (1,382) and receiving yards per game (86.4). His 12 touchdowns were top-three. Bryant finished third in fantasy that season.

Dez Bryant fantasy value

Dez Bryant and Tony Romo (Photo by: zimbio.com)

In 2013, he had another solid season. He saw his targets spike from 138 to 160. He finished in the top five in fantasy again under receivers and his 93 receptions ranked eighth. His 13 touchdowns again ranked third.

Bryant did see a small decline in receiving yards with 1,233 and his receiving yards per game (77.1) that both ranked outside the top 10.

However, Bryant did perform in the top two inside the 10-yard line of the red zone. He led the league in targets (16), receptions (11) and touchdowns (9). He finished second in yards (38) and target percentage (43.2).

Bryant developed into a red zone weapon and also ranked in the top 10 in receptions (13) and target percentage (29.9) inside the 20-yard line. He was also second in touchdowns with 10 inside the 20.

2014 was probably Bryant’s best fantasy season to date. He finished third in fantasy points among receivers, his third top five finish in a row. He led the league in receiving touchdowns with 16. Bryant also improved his receiving yards (1,320) and receiving yards per game (82.5), which ranked eighth and 10th respectively.

He did have less receptions (88) but averaged 14.3 fantasy points per game, a career-best that season which ranked third. He also had his best PPR fantasy points per game at 19.8. Bryant also doubled his catches of 20-plus yards with 22 that ranked fifth in 2014.

In those four seasons, Bryant totaled 4,863 yards and 50 touchdowns. During that time, just Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green had more yards than he did. His touchdowns were the most during that timeframe, and no other receiver had more than 43 touchdowns.

Injuries and quarterback issues: 2015-16

Dez Bryant fantasy value

Dez Bryant (Photo by: whatthebuc.net)

Before the season, Bryant resigned with the Cowboys on a five-year, $70 million contract that included $45 million of guaranteed money and a $20 million signing bonus.

In a game against the Giants on Sep. 13, 2015, Bryant had a foot injury. The x-ray revealed a fracture in the foot that required surgery. He returned in week eight and struggled, getting two receptions for 12 yards.

In a season in which he struggled with health issues, he caught 31 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Before the injury, part of Bryant’s success was having Tony Romo as the quarterback. They only played three games together in 2015 as Romo had a back injury.

Bryant played with two other quarterbacks (Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore) that season. All of his three touchdowns came from a different quarterback. On Jan. 6, 2016, he underwent foot and ankle surgeries.

In 2016, his favorite quarterback in the preseason went down with another back injury and rookie Dak Prescott became the starter. It proved again that Bryant missed Romo as the quarterback as he and Prescott only connected on 16 of their first 41 targets in their first five games together.

This led to inconsistent fantasy numbers, as Bryant had just three games with 10 or more points, but two games with less than two points. He also missed three games with a knee injury. However, removing week 17 where they played only one series, Bryant and Prescott came to life.

In the final eight games including the playoffs, Bryant had 66 targets, 43 receptions, 646 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a 65.2 percent completion rate. It seemed that Bryant came back to being the receiver he once was.

2017 outlook

Dez Bryant fantasy value

Dez Bryant (Photo by: sbnation.com)

In 2017, there is some concern regarding Bryant. Besides adding no receiver help to complement him, Bryant will face Janoris Jenkins twice, Josh Norman twice, Aqib Talib/Chris Harris Jr., Patrick Peterson, Marcus Peters, Desmond Trufant, Jason Verrett/Casey Hayward and Richard Sherman.

In the two matchups with the Giants last year, he was held to just two catches for 18 yards on 14 targets and fumbled once that clinched the Giants win in the second meeting.

The last time he played against Sherman, he totaled just two catches for 12 yards on six targets.

And expect Norman to shadow Bryant this year after not doing so in 2016. In the first three games for Bryant, he plays the Giants at home and then goes to Denver and Arizona on the road. We could see again early season struggles for him.

He has missed 22 games in two seasons. He is also in a run-heavy offense with a great offensive line and a premier running back. The defense in Dallas hasn’t improved, especially in the backfield which could lead to Prescott throwing the ball more if they have to play catch up. That would benefit Bryant but the game plan will be to run the ball to protect Prescott.

But how good will Prescott be if he has to throw to win? That’s a question for another article.

Bryant is a top-10 fantasy receiver that should be drafted somewhere in the third round. Be cautious with his durability, and Prescott worries me this year as he is my top bust for quarterbacks. In some leagues he will be a top receiver for most teams, but he’s a high-end WR2 with a ceiling as a middling WR1.

 

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Calvin Johnson’s Retirement

Tim Filler/ USA TODAY Sports

Tim Filler/ USA TODAY Sports

Has the lack of success by the Detroit Lions killed another great player’s career? I mean the same thing happened to the great Barry Sanders. Kind of, I guess?

Quietly, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson retired from the game of football yesterday at the age of 30. The age of 30! In his last season, he had 1,214 yards catching the ball and add nine receiving touchdowns to that. In both of those categories, he is still in the top ten.

In his career, he had 83 receiving TDs, 11,619 receiving yards, and 731 catches. His career yards and touchdowns are the most for someone who has no playoff wins. He holds 15 NFL records! He has the most receiving yards in an entire season! His 86.1 yards per game in his career is the high mark, number one of all wide receiver’s that have played 100 games. He has the most receiving yards by a receiver in his last year. He is also the only player in the Super Bowl era to have 120 yards per game in one season. With all of these stats and records, he did it with quarterbacks like Drew Stanton, Dan Orlovsky, an old Daunte Culpepper, and Shaun Hill. He had one decent QB in Matthew Stafford. Stafford in most years had many interceptions. He was blessed with the worst collection of passers of any of the great wideouts. Even worse QBs than Larry Fitzgerald.

Duane Burleson/ AP Photo

Duane Burleson/ AP Photo

He left the game only nine years in. He holds the third most receiving yards for a receiver’s first nine years. It’s not like DB found out how to defend Megatron. It was just another career cut short due to the failure of the Detroit Lions.

Calvin Johnson joins the great Barry Sanders as another Lions’ great to call it quits at the age of 30. And both players ended their career way too early. Johnson is still a top ten WR in the NFL and a number one WR on almost every 32 NFL teams. And Sanders was still making defenders look stupid in his final season in 1998.

It is just a disservice to the NFL fans across the board that we have to see these two greats not acquire great on the field team success. Between both of these great, Lions, they won only one playoff game. Just one. All because these players are just too loyal to the team that drafted them. The Detroit Lions are just killing these great careers, by not acquiring talent around them. But hopefully, for me, Johnson comes back in like a year or two. I hope that he goes to a good team and gets some playoff success. He is one of the only modern WRs that wasn’t a diva, and I wanted to see him, at least, win one playoff game.

Gregory Shemus/ Getty Images

Gregory Shemus/ Getty Images

Megatron will undoubtedly be missed by Matthew Stafford and the Lions, but also the whole league if he wants to stay retired. But those DBs in the NFL get to take a sigh of relief.