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Why Lions are a question mark for fantasy usage

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – You have Detroit Lions on your fantasy roster, but you don’t know what to do with them. Or maybe you’re seeing a possible waiver-wire pickup. Here’s some advice on what to do with the Lions heading into Week 5.

QB Matthew Stafford: He has been an interesting quarterback to figure out this year. From a pure football perspective, Stafford is playing well. He has seven touchdowns and just one interception. From a fantasy perspective, he hasn’t been really good for owners since Week 1. He has completed under 65 percent of his passes the last two weeks and hasn’t thrown for over 275 yards since the season-opener. The Panthers have a reasonably good pass defense, allowing less than 200 yards per game. The Panthers have allowed five passing touchdowns the last two weeks – but those were to Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Stafford plays better at home, but be wary of him as anything higher than a QB2.

RB Ameer Abdullah: Abdullah is coming off the best rushing game of his career – 94 yards and a touchdown against a difficult Minnesota defense. The Panthers have a pretty stout run defense (T-7 with 87.3 yards per game) – but the yards per rush of 4.15 is reasonable. Don’t expect a massive game out of Abdullah – that’s just not how the Lions operate – but he should be in line for a decent day. Like most Detroit backs, he’s only going to be a big scorer for you if he gets into the end zone – something that has happened only once this year.

RB Theo Riddick: It’s getting tougher to recommend Riddick on a week-to-week basis. He’s still a high-level PPR player and is second on Detroit in targets with 21, but he hasn’t been very productive. He has 14 receptions for 90 yards, a 6.43-yard average, and only one touchdown. His role is a little different, too, depending on how much pass protection Detroit feels it needs. That was part of the reason for his limited usage against the Vikings. He should get more work this week, but be wary of him as anything higher than a RB3.

RB Zach Zenner: He’s not fantasy relevant at this time.

WR Golden Tate: Detroit’s most consistent player has been good on the field. In fantasy, he has been tough to figure out. He has gone for 10 or more targets twice. He has had under five targets twice. In four games against Carolina, he has been mostly average, with no more than five catches or 57 yards in any game. Don’t be surprised, though, if Tate has a decent game against the Panthers. He should get some good slot work, as Mike Clay points out, against Captain Munnerlyn. Like many other weeks, he’s one of Detroit’s better fantasy options.

WR Marvin Jones: Jones is getting more looks per week, but from a fantasy perspective he isn’t turning in big production. He has had 13 total targets the past two weeks – more than double his targets during the first two weeks. He’s a bit of a boom-or-bust deep threat at this point. He’s a flex option in deeper leagues or if you’re looking for a bye week replacement, but his real value is going to be touchdown dependent.

WR Kenny Golladay: After missing practice again this week due to injury, he’s unlikely to play Sunday.

WR TJ Jones: He’s a fantasy flier at this point as a bye week replacement if Golladay is out. With Golladay out he was targeted on 10 percent of his routes (three targets) and while he has been a reliable receiver he’s not getting enough looks to become a fantasy player.

TE Eric Ebron: He’s the hardest player on the Lions to figure out, but you can’t count on him for fantasy points right now. He has two catches in three of Detroit’s four games this season and with the Lions needing Darren Fells for extra blocking due to offensive line issues, it has taken from his snap counts, too. The Panthers have been good against tight ends this year – not surprising with the linebackers they have – allowing 14 receptions for 154 yards. They have not allowed a tight end touchdown, either. In other words, look elsewhere for tight end help this week.

TE Darren Fells: If you’re in daily fantasy and are looking for a very, very cheap boom-or-bust flier, Fells could be in consideration. He’s going to get snaps and has run 10-plus routes in each of the last two weeks. He’s not going to be a high-production player, but Stafford trusts him, and he can be a leak-out option for Detroit on certain routes. Only go to him in the most desperate of circumstances.

Lions defense: Detroit’s defense has turned opponents over and are averaging over two sacks per game. The points allowed are top five in the league (15.75 offensive points allowed), and the yardage is in the middle of the league. If Detroit can force Cam Newton into passing situations, the Lions have a chance to force more turnovers this week. They are a borderline DEF1/DEF2 this week.