A team that won three games last season normally wouldn't garner many fantasy players worth drafting. However, the Detroit Lions actually offer several, including a few with tremendous potential. Keeper league or head to head single season, the Lions offer players that would be worth acquiring in any situation.
In this pre-draft edition, we will go over what Lions are worth taking and where to pick them or when NOT to pick them. And of course, it all starts with the Lions cornerstone.
QB Joey Harrington didn't set the league on fire last year, quite the contrary. However, his performance was one expected from a rookie quarterback. Fans should and will expect to see a noticeable difference as Harrington continues his maturation towards becoming a better player and franchise quarterback. With that in mind, he'd make an excellent late round pick in a keeper league, because you can get him late and hold onto him until next year. If he continues improving, he will shoot up the draft boards next year. He's not worth being your starter every week in a head to head single season league, although he'd make a decent backup and occasional starter. With new target Charles Rogers and the rest of the corp healthy, he should improve on last year's numbers drastically. Projection: 4th - 5th round
QB Mike McMahon will only see the field if Harrington goes down. McMahon is the type of player who shows excellent performance on one play and poor timing and accuracy the next. He has a knack for making plays though, and has a cannon arm. Can also run for the TD. If he can improve his accuracy and throw less INT's, he'd be worth picking up from the free agency pool if Harrington is your starter. Projection: Undrafted
RB James Stewart is likely in his last go-round as starting halfback for the Lions. However he rushed for over 1,000 yards last year and got a decent amount of TD's. His problems with staying healthy will hurt his cause, however, and his inconsistent numbers will lower his chances of starting in a head to head league. However new head coach Steve Mariucci will run the ball more than former coach Marty Mornhinweg did, and Stewart will have the chance to prove whether or not his 4+ yards per run average was a fluke last year. He'd make a decent second starter and an ideal backup. Projection: 3rd to 4th round
RB Shawn Bryson is likely to be the backup to Stewart. Before hurting his knee last year, Shawn was slated to start ahead of Bufallo star Travis Henry. Bryson has very good speed and runs between the tackles well, too. If Stewart goes down, which isn't such an odd occurrence, Bryson is likely the man to step in for him. In that case, Bryson would likely be worth a look. Unless Stewart flops in the preseason, look for Bryson to see sporadic playing time as a relief back. Projection: Undrafted
RB Luke Staley could be a huge sleeper for Detroit. A former Doak Walker award winner, Staley has had trouble staying healthy. He has impressed coaches however and looks to stay healthy this year. If he does, it will be hard to keep him off the field. When healthy, Staley fits this offense like a glove. He has ideal size, speed, strength and catches the ball with fluidity. If Stewart gets injured and Staley is healthy, it'd be hard to start anyone ahead of him. Could compete for next year's starting RB job as well, if he can find a way to stay off the PUP. Could be a steal for fans in the know off of the free agency wire. Projection: Undrafted
WR Charles Rogers is a boom or bust pick. He'd make an excellent value pick in a keeper league. Has blazing speed, and uses his height well. Draws comparisons to Randy Moss, who put up gaudy number his rookie campaign. If the comparisons are true, Rogers could very well put up un-rookie like numbers as Joey Harrington's #1 wideout while still going pretty late in your draft. If you're in a keeper league, it might be worth it to make a stretch pick for him. Projection: High 6th round pick
WR Bill Schroeder has been burning CB's all camp long. Nobody can cover him and he has been very aggressive in his efforts to get open. Has excellent speed, great height, and is a wideout who can stretch the field. If he stays healthy and is utilized correctly, he could be a huge sleeper. The amazing thing is he could very well go undrafted. He'd be worth a late round selection. If he carries over his training camp dominance to the regular season, the sky is the limit. Projection: 6th to 7th round
WR Az-Zahir Hakim was on pace for a career year and a 1,000 yard season before nearly ending his career with a season ending hip injury. He has fully recovered though, and has regained his excellent speed and agility. He will return to the slot position, the same place where he made a name for himself in St. Louis. Was easily the best WR for Detroit last year before hitting the IR. He might see some action at punt returner too, which means if your league counts return yards and TD's he gains value quickly, as he is one of the best punt returners in the league. Keep an eye on him later on in the draft. Projection: 8th round
TE Mikhael Ricks was Joey Harrington's favorite target before a groin injury sidelined him. Although he won't put up Tony Gonzalez numbers, he was a Pro Bowl alternate, and if healthy will be a good red zone target for QB Joey Harrington. May not electrify your fantasy league, but has good potential and would make a solid backup. Projection: Undrafted
Detroit Defense: This unit made a lot of key additions, such as CB Dre Bly, MLB Earl Holmes, OLB Boss Bailey and DL Cory Redding. DE Kalimba Edwards led the team in sacks last year even though he hardly played. If he gets a starting spot, he will gain sacks in the double digits, as he has gained muscle in the off season. Bailey has unprecedented speed as a linebacker, and, if he starts, will do well in blitz packages and will be able to keep up with any TE in the league. Brian Walker will start the season healthy and CB Andre Goodman will have a year's experience. This unit has very good potential, although has it's holes. Might be worth starting on occasion if your primary unit is suffering or you failed to pick one up. Would be worth a bench spot. Projection: 6th to 7th round