Lion WRs present buying opportunity

I think at this point it’s safe to say we all know what Lion QB Jon Kitna is. I’ve been enamored with his fantasy value for a few years, and it’s been very high at times under Mike Martz. But let’s face it: the guy’s not a franchise QB. It was too good to be true last year, under Martz, and with Calvin Johnson added to a receiving corps that was suddenly deep. But on the other hand, Kitna is no slouch. He can get the ball to his wideouts, and he’s a tough SOB who never misses time.

As you probably know, the Lions want to run the ball a lot more this year, and Martz is gone. A first impression may be that the Lion wideouts won’t have as much value this year – and that’s true for some of them, but not all. Shaun McDonald had perhaps the best season ever logged in by a #4 (79/943/6) and him and Mike Furrey combined for 140 receptions last year. If new OC Jim Colletto has his way, Kitna will put the ball up 20-25 times a game, so these guys won’t come close to that reception total. In fact, with Martz gone, McDonald and Furrey will be fortunate to catch 75 balls total, since both were terrific fits for Martz’ scheme.

But while Colletto would love to run the rock 40+ times a game and throw it only 20-25 times, does anyone really think they’ll be able to? I think rookie Kevin Smith will have a solid season, but I’m not expecting him to be anything ultra-special, and the rest of their running back corps is pretty weak. Most importantly, while they added some veteran players to their secondary, I still don’t see their defense suddenly dominating. In fact, I think it will be relatively weak again, so they will likely be forced to put the ball up a fair amount of the time. At the very least, with moving to a conventional offense, I expect them to throw it as much as a conventional offense typically does, and when they do it will be primarily to Roy Williams and Johnson on the outside. They certainly don’t have a viable TE to toss it too, and they certainly won’t waste these elite talents at receiver.

So last year, Williams, who was also banged up, gave up a lot of action to McDonald and Furrey. As for Johnson, he was also banged up, and he was a little overwhelmed by Martz’ intense offense. It will be simple for Johnson this year compared to last, and if he’s healthy, he’s too good not to excel. I wasn’t thrilled with what I saw from Johnson on TV last year, but he did show flashes of dominance. More importantly, people I speak to who studied him on tape are still convinced he’s going to be a stud. Williams already is, and he’s one of the final stud talents left at the position about 14-15 WRs deep. I like the value with getting Williams as my #2 because shortly after he goes off the board, there’s a lot of “sameness” at the position, and there are a lot of players who have some issues. As for Johnson, I think he makes for an excellent #3, and you can definitely draft him in that role. I doubt either one has a huge season here this year, but if healthy both will be top-30 wideouts due to their playmaking ability and red zone prowess. I expect Johnson, in particular, to be used downfield and in the red zone, while Williams’ catch total should be around 75-80 as Kitna’s true go-to guy.

Kitna’s getting no love at all, so he’s actually a nice value as a backup. He was exposed in Martz’ offense, but with a heavier emphasis on the running game, he should settle down and he should be more efficient. Again, he’s a proven guy, so it’s not like he’s going to severely hurt the values of these top two wideouts.

Category: Fantasy Football


6 Responses

  1. tpwaller says:

    I can see your point. You can argue value.

    Roy Williams is still Roy Williams – a soft WR with no heart.

    Calvin Johnson is somewhat undervalued based on his disappointing season last year. He could definitely come around. Let’s hope he’s not another Charles Rogers.

    I could see drafting Kitna as a QB2, but I don’t know if I can get excited about that pick.

    As far as the running game, I don’t know if I could invest it in. I drafted Kevin Jones for value the last couple years. DET running game had some good games, but not enough to win you a fantasy football games even from the RB2 position.

  2. jbeau says:

    Detroit players are totally off my radar. Won’t go near them. Kitna may be the only guy I do go near, and maybe Sims in IDP. R. Williams is soft, like TP said, and its funny how he has dropped off…at least in my mind. I think Kitna is a quality QB, and he has just been cursed with shi++y teams…see Cincy and Detroit. I would love him on my Phish. One thing you can believe is that he will always put up decent numbers, cause their defense is garbage just like in Cincy and the guy is so used to playing from behind.

    John, you need to do a daily 32 day post on each team and let us know how you feel. Like NFL Network is doing.

  3. John Hansen says:

    Not a bad idea. I wouldn’t call Williams “soft” but he is a bit “off” at times. He’s still a quality player capable of dominating.

  4. jbeau says:

    I don’t disagree, but he disappears in too many games. He will throw down 140 yards , 10 receptions and 2 tds in one week, and then get 1 reception for 14 yards in the next. That tells me that certain DBs got his number, and most likely those are the physical ones.

  5. Stork says:

    I think you are right on here John, both of these guys seem to be a bit undervalued right now. If Detroit is completing only 15-20 passes per game I’d bet these two catch 2/3 of them…meaning 5-6 each per week. Both have deep speed and redzone size.

  6. CCarter says:

    I think the bigg difference is what Detroit wants to do, run 40+, as compared to what they’ll have to do. they will be behind in almost every game and they’ll have to throw. Throwing only 20-25 times is Detroit’s foolish pipe dream. Is there anyone in that backfield thats going to average over 4 yds per carry?
    I like the 3 guys mentioned. Not early picks, but won’t mind having them on my team.

    Got my 1st invite for fall draft today! I’m starting to “Jones” badly! Only 53 days left until my 1st draft!

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