The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).
The Detroit Lions started the 2019 season strong, but it wasn’t meant to be. Some tough calls, such as the late calls against the Packers that cost them a win, and tough losses on the field, such as quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions were 3-3-1 after eight weeks of the season, but Stafford went down following Week 9 and the Lions didn’t win a game after Week 8, finishing 3-12-1, third worst in the league.
The team committed to Head Coach Matt Patricia for another season and added some big talent in the draft as they look to compete. The heat is on and the Lions will need to make big strides on the field to avoid big changes next off-season.
The Lions added a few pieces in free agency, including backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who was with the Bears last season. They also added receiver Geronimo Allison, who spent his first few seasons with the Packers. But the Lions did most of their work in the draft, nabbing star Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with the third overall pick. The team also added receiver Quintez Cephus in the Fifth Round.
But the big addition came with running back D’Andre Swift, out of Georgia. The Lions added Swift in the Second Round, and he instantly gives them a weapon in the backfield. Swift finished with 2,885 yards and 20 TDs in three seasons, including 1,218 yards and seven TDs in 2019. He also caught 73 passes for more than 600 yards, making him a duel threat.
The Lions start with Stafford, who was having a phenomenal year in 2019 before his injury. He finished as QB29 for the year despite playing in only eight games. Stafford is back healthy, and I think he’s a QB1 in 2020. He’s currently going as QB13, which makes him a steal. In the backfield, the Lions still have Kerryon Johnson, but he’s struggled to stay on the field. I think he’ll have a role and has RB4 appeal. I like Swift long-term, but there will likely be a split. He has RB3 appeal for me in 2020.
Among receivers, the Lions have two great ones in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Golladay finished as WR3 in 2019 despite only half a year of Stafford. He caught 65 passes for 1,190 yards and 11 TDs. I like him as a Top 5 receiver in 2020. Jones had 91 targets in only 13 games in 2019, and if healthy with Stafford back I think he could be a low-end WR2. Among the other receivers—Danny Amendola, Cephus and Allison—there will be some good games, but none figure to have sustained fantasy value. At tight end, the Lions are led by second-year player T.J. Hockenson, the team’s First Round pick in 2018. He had an uneven rookie season, but he has TE1 upside. For 2020, I feel more comfortable with him as a high end TE2.
The Lions were better than their record in 2019 and were also victims of some bad luck. I like the pieces they’ve added this off-season, and I think they have a lot of talent. This is a make-or-break season for Patricia, and I think the Lions could surprise some people. They have the talent to win the NFC North, and I think they will this season. I’m all in on a resurgent Stafford and a big 2020 for Detroit.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.