The Detroit Lions enter the 2023 season as one of the most exciting offenses in Fantasy Football after a surprising breakout in 2022. The great news is that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson returns after receiving some head coach interest. He's up there with the elite of the elite when it comes to play design and play calling. Jared Goff has developed lights-out rapport with Amon-Ra St. Brown that raises both of their floors, the Lions will have more speed on the field with first-round rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs and second-round tight end Sam LaPorta as well. It's an exciting time to be a Lions fan and it's an exciting time to roster Lions players in Fantasy Football.
- NFC North: | |
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Lions' entire team outlook, including a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for notable Lions players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
Lions 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
The defense still needs some work, but the offense took a huge leap forward in 2022 behind an elite offensive line and an efficient passing game. Whether Jared Goff can keep playing at that kind of level remains to be seen, but this team is going to have one of the toughest rushing attacks to slow down, with plenty of room for multiple backs to thrive.
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Burning question: How do they split the backfield up?
The Lions' top three running backs combined for 403 carries and 105 targets last season, so there's going to be plenty of room for multiple backs to be Fantasy viable. That's not the question. The question is whether Montgomery simply slides into the Jamaal Williams role while Jahmyr Gibbs takes on the D'Andre Swift usage. Montgomery is a good enough pass catcher to justify more than that, and Gibbs will hopefully be able to avoid Swift's injury woes, which could lead to a much more balanced split, which might be enough to make them both must-start RBs.
Lions player projections
|PA: 582, YD: 4073, TD: 26, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT: 23, YD: 70, TD: 1
|CAR: 234, YD: 1031, TD: 9; TAR: 41, REC: 31, YD: 229, TD: 1
|CAR: 164, YD: 722, TD: 6; TAR: 76, REC: 57, YD: 454, TD: 2
|Amon-Ra St. Brown
|TAR: 157, REC: 113, YD: 1244, TD: 7
|TAR: 82, REC: 49, YD: 587, TD: 4
|TAR: 58, REC: 38, YD: 480, TD: 3
|TAR: 81, REC: 55, YD: 546, TD: 4
2023 NFL Draft class
Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 10th easiest
- RB PSoS: 15th easiest
- WR PSoS: 12th easiest
- TE PSoS: 24th easiest
|Sep 7, 2023
|GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
|Sep 17, 2023
|Sep 24, 2023
|Sep 28, 2023
|Oct 8, 2023
|Oct 15, 2023
|Raymond James Stadium
|Oct 22, 2023
|M&T Bank Stadium
|Oct 30, 2023
|Nov 12, 2023
|Nov 19, 2023
|Nov 23, 2023
|Dec 3, 2023
|Dec 10, 2023
|Dec 17, 2023
|Dec 24, 2023
|U.S. Bank Stadium
|Dec 30, 2023
|Jan 7, 2024
Lions 2023 player outlooks
By Dave Richard unless otherwise noted
QB Jared Goff
Goff is considered a modest breakout candidate by some, but there are some issues.
For one thing, he's averaged more than 20 Fantasy points just three times over his seven-year career, and never more than 22.6 points per game. And while the Lions have added some pretty serious talent in the draft over the past two seasons, they've leaned away from being pass-heavy, especially inside the 10-yard line where they've passed on just 42.5% of their plays last year, seventh-fewest in the league. Goff doesn't run much and also doesn't take a lot of chances with the football.
RB David Montgomery
Now in Detroit, Montgomery will theoretically replace Jamaal Williams as the team's physical running back.
In that role over two years, Williams averaged 13.8 carries and 1.3 catches per game with 20 touchdowns (17 in 2022). It's fair to expect Montgomery to get close to that workload with a shot at scoring several times near the goal line. But the Lions' other running back addition -- rookie Jahmyr Gibbs -- should not only handle passing downs but could eat into Montgomery's role. Montgomery averaged 11.1 PPR points per game splitting in Chicago last season, a number he should be able to match in Motown with upside to hit the 13.3 PPR points Williams had in 2022.
It's just enough to put him toward the top of the No. 3 running back group (and the very bottom of the No. 2 tier) as a worthy Round 6 pick.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
Gibbs is expected to be the Lions' passing-downs back while also splitting rushing duties with David Montgomery.
Detroit was a running back stat-factory last year, leading the NFL with 27 RB rushing touchdowns while ranking fifth in RB carries and ninth in RB targets. That should continue. Gibbs was an elusive three-down player at Alabama, totaling 10 touchdowns in 12 games with raucous 6.1-yard rushing and 10.1-yard receiving averages last year. He profiles just like Jamaal Charles: a fast, lean runner with very good receiving skills. If D'Andre Swift averaged over 13 PPR points in each of his first three years in Detroit, Gibbs should too -- and with the chance at seeing more touches.
Someone in every seasonal draft will take Gibbs before 60th overall, maybe as high as 40th overall, with the hope he accomplishes more than any Lions running back has since Barry Sanders.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
Over the past two seasons, St. Brown has finished top 12 in total targets, receptions and red-zone targets (35).
It's the backbone of these stats that have helped St. Brown become a must-start volume-reliant No. 1 Fantasy WR worth a top-30 pick. Lions QB Jared Goff has locked in on the slot specialist for over 25% of his throws since 2021, and St. Brown has turned that opportunity into at least 15 PPR points in 13 of his last 22 games overall. He had more 20-point games for PPR than A.J. Brown and just as many as Ja'Marr Chase.
Detroit's offensive additions this spring shouldn't shrink St. Brown's targets much, if at all, making him a reliable must-start worth taking between 16th and 22nd overall in PPR and between 20th and 35th overall in non-PPR.
WR Jameson Williams
Through six career games, Williams has one touchdown on one catch and a 40-yard rush.
Normally we'd tell you to ignore someone like this -- especially someone with a six-week suspension to start the season -- but Williams is a talented receiver. His speed is good enough to compete with Tyreek Hill, his size gives him a large catch radius and his practice experience in Detroit both last fall and this summer should eliminate any remaining learning curve. Once Williams comes back in Week 7, he should begin seeing at least six targets per game with game-breaking potential on every touch.
He's the perfect kind of high-upside flex to pencil into lineups once he serves his suspension. If you like the depth at receiver this year, you could draft Williams in late Round 8 and find someone else to fill in. By Thanksgiving, we should know if Williams is a stud or a bust.
WR Josh Reynolds
Reynolds has a pretty good shot at being a starter for the Lions for at least the first six weeks of the season.
After that, his playing time could take a nosedive depending on how ready to play Jameson Williams is. In the 11 games Reynolds played at least 50% of the snaps, he averaged 3.3 catches and 12.7 yards per catch with three touchdowns. Nothing good there. But in the five games he had at least six targets, Reynolds came through for 15-plus PPR points four times. That's pretty darn good.
If it's clear Reynolds will start in Williams' absence, he could be snared with a final-round pick as a potential early-season flex.
TE Sam LaPorta
A second-round pick, LaPorta is expected to start right away in the Lions offense and contribute much in the same way T.J. Hockenson did.
In seven games before he was traded last year, Hockenson averaged 6.1 targets per game, but caught only 3.7 per for 56.4 yards on average and three scores. That came out to an average of 12.2 PPR points per game, which isn't far off from Hockenson's 11.7 PPR points per game in 2021. Unfortunately, LaPorta isn't a replica of Hockenson -- he was a strong tight end for Iowa but only scored once over 58 receptions in 2022 and totaled five touchdowns while averaging 11.7 yards per catch over 46 career games. LaPorta is agile, but not fast, so he'll need really good volume to make an impact. Typically rookie tight ends do not make an impact, plus the Lions offense will be more explosive than ever this year.
Don't get too excited about LaPorta -- he's worth a late-round flier at best in seasonal leagues but does have long-term appeal in rookie-only drafts after 15th overall.
K Michael Badgley
Badgley is expected to square off with ex-Jaguars kicker Riley Patterson for the team's kicking job. It's going to be an interesting battle as both men nailed over 90% of their field goals in not just 2022 but over the past three seasons combined. But Patterson is a perfect 49 for 49 on extra points while Badgley has missed three of his past 111 tries. The reality is that one of these guys will kick for the Lions, which isn't a bad thing anymore, and the other will probably latch on with another team. Neither are must-add kickers to begin the season.
The Lions DST actually amounted to a startable unit over the final 10 weeks of last season, averaging a good 10.0 Fantasy points per week. This year's unit should be better after the team altered its secondary with the additions of cornerbacks C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Cam Sutton, along with rookie picks Jack Campbell at linebacker and Brian Branch at safety and nickel corner. The worry is that even with Aidan Hutchinson coming into his own, the Lions pass rush won't generate enough pressure to force sacks and turnovers. And if that isn't enough to worry you, then their Week 1 matchup at Kansas City will. Detroit does have some appealing matchups after Week 2, so think of them as a mid-September call-up to your roster from waivers and not as a must-draft unit.