Lions Fantasy Football 2022 preview: Can young stars stay healthy, step forward?
The Lions were fiercer than expected in the first season of the post-Matthew Stafford era, but they were still pretty bad. They’ll likely still be pretty bad this season, although if Jameson Williams is ready for training camp after his torn ACL, he could be the playmaker missing from this offense. Jared Goff isn’t a great QB, but a healthy Williams would give the Lions a pretty vibrant group of playmakers, with potential in every spot on the court to go along with a solid line. It’s a good start.
Registration: 3 – 13 (31)
PGP: 19.1 (25)
YPG: 322.6 (22)
Skip YPG: 211.6 (18)
YPG Rush: 110.9 (19)
PAPG: 34.9 (15)
RPG: 25.1 (21)25.3
Fancy finishes 2021
QC: Jared Goff QB24
RB: D’André Swift RB15, Jamaal Williams RB43
WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown WR22
AND : TJ Hockenson TE15
* No longer with the team
Number to know: 25.3
That’s how many PPR points Amon-Ra St. Brown averaged in five games missed by TJ Hockenson last season. He also averaged 22.4 in four games without D’Andre Swift, a streak overlapping with time missed by Hockenson. In games played by Hockenson, St. Brown averaged just 9.6 points per game, and it wasn’t just because of a fluke or something; St. Brown went from 6.2 targets to 11 in games missed by Hockenson.
It would be easy enough to dismiss this as a looter in a riot situation, except St. Brown wasn’t just putting up empty stats on high volume. In those five games Hockenson missed in particular, he averaged 8.6 yards per target; in his last six games overall, St. Brown has paced for 144 catches, 1,587 yards, 14 touchdowns, and has even been used out of the backfield at times. Teams knew he was the center point of the offense and he had six straight games with at least eight catches, scoring a touchdown in five of six. ProFootballFocus.com had St. Brown as the second-highest-ranked rookie wide receiver in 2021, so it wasn’t just the Fantasy production that looked good.
Still, it took him a while to earn a valuable role in the offense, and now Detroit has brought in free agent DJ Chark plus Williams, the No. 12 draft pick — and a guy many thought would be went even earlier if not for a torn ACL sustained in the national championship game. Williams probably isn’t ready to go for the start of the season, but Swift, Chark and Hockenson will be, presenting more competition for targets than St. Brown had at any time last season, let alone his dominant run to close out the season.
St. Brown may well be the team’s best receiver this season, but it’s also possible that he was just a flash in the pan on a bad team. Which version of that turns out to be true will play a big part in its value to fantasy players this season.
1. (2) Aidan Hutchinson, DE
1. (12) Jameson Williams, WR
2. (46) Josh Paschal, DE
3. (97) Kerby Joseph, DB
5. (177) James Mitchell, ET
6. (188) Malcolm Rodriguez, LB
6. (217) James Houston, LB
7. (237) Chase Lucas, DB
WR DJ Chark, CB Mike Hughes
DE Trey Flowers, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
0 gates, 53 RB targets, 68 WR targets, 5 TE targets
Screenings by Chris Towers
|QC||Jared Goff||AP: 590, YD: 3956, TD: 24, INT: 12; RUSH – ATK: 44, YD: 153, TD: 1|
|RB||By Andre Swift||CAR: 196, YD: 824, TD: 6, TAR: 89, REC: 70, YD: 598, TD: 3|
|RB||jamal williams||CAR: 174, YD: 697, TD: 6, TAR: 30, REC: 27, YD: 206, TD: 1|
|WR||jameson williams||TAR: 89, REC: 60, YD: 612, TD: 4|
|WR||Amon-Ra St. Brown||TAR: 126, REC: 74, YD: 891, TD: 6|
|WR||Chark DJ||TAR: 83, REC: 47, YD: 612, TD: 4|
|AND||TJ Hockenson||TAR: 130, REC: 93, YD: 894, TD: 6|
The biggest question
Can D’Andre Swift stay healthy and take a step forward?
Prior to the injury in Week 12, Swift had a 90-catch pace with over 1,600 total yards, but has now missed time in both NFL seasons due to injuries. Neither was a serious long-term injury, but both derailed what looked like real blowouts. And that begs the question of whether the undersized back can handle the workload it needs to meet expectations. There’s a very friendly skill set here à la Austin Ekeler, but Swift is always a risk until he proves he can do it.
Please check the subscribe box to confirm that you wish to subscribe.
Thank you for your registration!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
An error occurred while processing your subscription.
A sleeper, an escape and a bust
Williams underwent surgery to repair her torn ACL in mid-January, so any return before October would be ahead of schedule. He’ll likely be at least limited in training camp and may not play to start the season, so Williams could struggle to get into the NFL. The Lions probably understood him when they picked him, but they clearly believe in the talent to take him as high as they have. If you can be patient – and it might even help Williams if he opens the season on PUP if you can stash him in an IL spot – Williams could be the difference maker in the second half. I bet there will be a point where he will be the first target of waivers if he is not already universally listed.
Hockenson has been a pretty big disappointment in 2021 as he failed to become one of the next stars in the job. It’s possible he was overpriced from the start, but I think he could also benefit from better complementary pieces around him – Hockenson may never make the leap to Kelce level, but he should always be the one of the few tight ends capable of winning 100-plus goals, and an increase in efficiency is not an unreasonable expectation. There’s still room for a 75-catch, 900-yard season where he scores a decent number of touchdowns. Hockenson often drops in the seventh round in drafts these days, and I think he’s a good option there at a position where breakouts can often take longer to materialize than you’d like.
To be clear, I don’t know which side I’m falling on with St. Brown’s season-ending run. I think the truth lies somewhere in between – he obviously benefited from being arguably the only NFL-caliber passer on his team for a while, but he was clearly an NFL-caliber player nonetheless. Trouble is, he’s drafted as the No. 2 WR for Fantasy, just behind Mike Williams and just ahead of Amari Cooper and Jerry Jeudy in NFC ADP. I think Jeudy is the more talented player, and he’s clearly in a better attack, so if I had to take one of those guys, Jeudy would be the choice. I would feel better about St. Brown if he closes in on the Allen Robinson/Darnell Mooney/Elijah Moore group in the sixth round of the ADP.