by Andrew Teuscher
Jared Goff: Jared Goff is coming off the worst year of his career after Sean McVay broke up with him for the prettier option (Stafford). This was absolutely expected because the Lions roster last year was bare. However, coming into 2022 the Lions skill positions and offensive-line look frisky. What’s even better is that their defense will still make fans want to shield their faces with brown paper bags. Goff is not good, but luckily this is fantasy football and bad QBs can contribute. Goff has some upgraded weapons with Amon-Ra breaking out, drafting Jameson Wiliams, and signing DJ Chark. Goff somehow managed to finish with 3 top 10 fantasy weeks. He still stinks and should go undrafted in all leagues. However, the Lions brought in no other competitive backup to take Goffs job. The offense has sneaky good weapons and the defense will force the Lions to play from behind all year because they gave up the second most points last year and did little to tighten anything up. The idea of rostering Goff is foul, but in the right matchup he could be streamable in 2022.
D'andre Swift: D’andre Swift broke out last season (especially in full-ppr leagues). Even on a bad Lions team he managed to be the RB12 in ppg (half-ppr). People thought Swift was headed towards a timeshare once the Lions signed Jamaal Williams but he had the 8th highest snap share in the NFL. What will make Swift an RB1 this next season is this snap share combined with his great efficiency and large participation in the passing game. Amongst RBs, he was number two in both target share with a resounding 18.2% and route participation. This proves that fantasy managers should not be afraid of the Lions constantly having a negative game script. Quite frankly it could be good for him. Swift’s efficiency could also get even better because the Lions added some nice skill position players. This paired with the Lions already good offensive-line should mean that teams cannot stack the box against the dynamic back. D’andre Swift is the best offensive option on the team and the run game should definitely be highlighted by a coach known for wanting to bite off the opponents’ knee caps. Swift is a clear RB1 because of his receiving work and if the Lions can move the ball enough to set him up for scores, he has the opportunity to be a top-5 back.
Jamaal Williams: The 27 year-old back found his way to Detroit last season to pair himself with D’andre Swift. His role in Detroit is to take some of the first a second down work toll off of Swift. Williams only played over half the snaps one time last season, but still receives a fair amount of touches when he is on the field. Williams is one of the better handcuff backs around the league due to his talent and versatility. Despite this, he really only holds fantasy value if Swift finds himself dealing with injuries.
Jameson Williams: The rookie out of Alabama shined quite bright in 2021 after transferring from Ohio State. He was a victim of being caught behind three NFL first round talents while he was still a Buckeye. After his transition to the Crimson Tide he showed he too was a special player. He has Tyreek Hill-like, game changing speed. The biggest hindrance for Williams entering the 2022 season is that he suffered an ACL tear in the National Championship game. ACL tears take 6 to 12 months to recover from. Williams could certainly be on the very early end of that which would put him easing back into action during training camp. This will mean that Williams will be limited during training camp and he’ll completely miss out on getting acclimated during rookie mini-camp. Not being able to learn and practice will definitely set Williams back. The good news is that Williams could possibly be a good enough WR that he could still put up production in the back half of the season anyway. There are no other dominant WRs in Detroit's locker room and the speedster was drafted 12th overall because he is special. He is definitely a potential breakout candidate in 2022.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown is one of the most difficult players to project for the 2022 season. Amon-Ra was a rookie in 2021 and rookies are supposed to improve over the back half of the season. The Lions WR did more than just improve at the end of the season! He won championships for fantasy managers by averaging 20.9 ppg (half-ppr). The only WR with more points from weeks 13-18 was Cooper Kupp. The issue when projecting St. Brown comes when it is noted that both of the Lions top two options in the receiving game missed the majority of the games over that same span of dominance. This presents the problem that Amon-Ra may have mostly ascended to glory because he was just the best option in an empty offense where someone had to catch passes. The Lions slot receiver only reached 10 points twice from weeks 1 to 12 and was the WR 70. The Lions have additionally added more competition with Jameson Williams and D.J. Chark. So was Amon-Ra making the second half breakout we would like to see out of a rookie season and we should expect fantasy stardom going forward? Or, alternatively, did he just benefit from being the best option in an empty receiving room? Next year will tell but it would be risky business drafting Amon-Ra St. Brown as anything more than your WR3 for 2022.
DJ Chark: It feels like DJ Chark has been around forever but the WR will be turning 26 at the beginning of the season and just penciled in a year one commitment with the Detroit Lions. Chark broke out back in 2019 as a weekly high-floor and low ceiling player. That is Chark’s only productive season and he has never sniffed 1,000 yards since. We can’t tell if 2019 was really a fluke yet though because in 2020 the world and Jacksonville were a mess as they were tanking for the first pick and he missed basically all of 2021. Now that Chark is on the Lions he still does not have a good QB and also has some competition among receivers. Is there a chance he breaks out and becomes the WR1 in an offense that does not have a truly dominant WR? Sure. What is more likely though is that he is Detroit's deep threat option (not good for fantasy) and might have that role snatched by Jameson Williams who is just a better version of him. Chark has some upside but I wouldn’t count on it. He is a WR4 coming into 2022.
TJ Hockenson: There are very few TEs in the league who fantasy managers can be excited about and have the potential to finish as a top-3 fantasy TE. He can definitely compete alongside Kelce, Kittle, Andrews, and Pitts. Hockenson was an elite TE prospect and went 8th overall in 2019. All signs show he is ready for a breakout. He was top 6 in ppg, target share and dominator rating. He also lapped the field with an incredible 73.3% contested catch rate which was about 25% more than Mark Andrews who was the next closest TE. There are new options in town to take pressure off of Hockenson but he is still by far the best receiving option in the game. This incredible receiving share opportunity and incredible talent profile are what sets him up for fantasy stardom.There are new receivers in town that will stretch the field and take constant double teams away from the Lions TE. The juiciest thing about Hockenson is that he’s going 33 picks later in Underdog drafts.He is a post-hype sleeper after last year. If you get Hockenson at this price it is a massive win! Hockenson is a guaranteed TE1 (of course outside of injury) with the potential to easily establish himself as a top TE and finish top-3.
Andrew Teuscher is a fantasy-football enthusiast and certified fantasy try hard.