2023 Detroit Lions Team Preview

Jun 14th 2023

Hayden Winks

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2022 Detroit Lions Advanced Stats

It was a smooth offensive operation last year, and a lot of the core pieces are back. The Lions will have to overcome some natural regression, however. They were top-6 in turnover rate (2nd), red zone TD rate (4th), and deep ball catch rate (6th), which are all valuable yet volatile year-to-year. Detroit's biggest and most predictable room for growth is on defense, where they were 31st in EPA per play allowed. They added starters CB Cameron Sutton, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, LB Jack Campbell, and NCB Brian Branch.

2023 Detroit Lions Starting Lineups

3-WR Sets (14th in snaps, 65% of snaps)

  • WR: Jameson Williams (S) --> Antoine Green (R)

  • WR: Josh Reynolds --> Marvin Jones

  • SLOT: Amon-Ra St. Brown --> Kalif Raymond

  • TE: Sam LaPorta (R) --> Brock Wright

2-WR Sets (26th in snaps, 21% of snaps)

  • WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown --> Josh Reynolds

  • WR: Jameson Williams (S) --> Marvin Jones

  • SLOT TE: Sam LaPorta (R) --> Shane Zylstra

  • INLINE TE: Brock Wright --> James Mitchell

RB Usage (1st in expected half PPR)

  • GOAL LINE: David Montgomery --> Mohamed Ibrahim (R)

  • PASSING DOWN: Jahmyr Gibbs (R) --> David Montgomery

Offensive Line (top five unit)

  • LT: Taylor Decker (solid returning starter)

  • LG: Jonah Jackson (average returning starter)

  • C: Frank Ragnow (great returning starter)

  • RG: Halapoulivaati Vaitai (good but missed 2022)

  • RT: Penei Sewell (great returning starter)

2023 Detroit Lions Fantasy Preview

Jared Goff had his 3rd Pro Bowl season, ultimately finishing as the QB12 and 95th overall in fantasy points over replacement per game. He was 162nd overall in his first year in Detroit. The primary difference was OC Ben Johnson balling in his first year, and the OL taking another step. Both of those remain constant in 2023 with the potential of slightly improved skill talent around him. His issues also remain constant, however. His fantasy ceiling is capped because of rushing and Goff ran quite pure with turnover rate (2nd) and red zone TD rate (4th) last season. Both likely regress. Ultimately, Goff is a fine QB2 with Lions' expectations the highest they've been since Calvin Johnson.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is a damn stud. He was the WR10 and 23rd overall player last year on an elite 2.4 yards per route run. PFF only graded Tyreek Hill as a better receiver on tape. His physicality is beyond his size. He runs great and diverse routes. And he's a perfect fit with this elite OC. His lone blemishes are natural negative regression with this offense and a potentially capped ceiling on a shallow 6.7 average depth of target. Perhaps more target competition underneath from the rookie class works slightly against him, too. He's a low-end WR1 in half PPR and a sweet Round 2 pick in full PPR... Jameson Williams didn't look right last year. He tore his ACL in mid-January and returned to action on December 4th (8 months). That was too early. He didn't look as fast as he did at Alabama and was definitely less agile/confident in his breaks. That's normal. He should be much better in 2023, after he serves his 6-game gambling policy suspension. He has to be significantly better, however. He only averaged 1.1 yards per route run and had a few bad drops in a small sample. Only 56% of his targets were "catchable", but that's because he primarily saw deep targets (19.3 aDOT). Pun intended, he has to parlay 1) getting healthy, 2) staying out of trouble, and 3) developing underneath routes to be a consistent fantasy and real life asset. It's more likely that Williams is a dangerous home run threat on low-to-mid volume...

In the meantime, Josh Reynolds ($4M) and Marvin Jones ($3M) will start. Reynolds is far more interesting to me and is entirely free on Underdog. He had two (2) games with 10+ targets last year and has connections to this staff dating back to LA. Reynolds could play the slot if something happened to ARSB, too. I mix him in. The 33-year-old Jones, however, looked pretty done last year. His 1.0 yards per route run was the lowest since his rookie year.

Unlike other Iowa TEs, Sam LaPorta only lined up inline on 48% of his senior snaps. He was 3rd in targets from the slot or out wide among all college TEs last year, leading to the 2nd most broken tackles forced. LaPorta should beat out 2022 5th-rounder James Mitchell for receiving duties, while 6'5/255 inline TE Brock Wright could be favored for some blocking duties. The latter part is key, as LaPorta has 11th percentile height and 19th percentile weight. If he's not playing enough 1-TE sets, then he'll be capped in fantasy. This is what I'll be tracking in training camp and the preseason. For now, I'm just fine with him in fantasy.

My entire profile on Jamhyr Gibbs is here. In short, he'll be quite involved in the pass game (even D'Andre Swift was the RB21 per game last year), but in half PPR best ball, his value is diminished because of TDs. 112 of his 151 Bama carries were off-tackle or to the complete outside, compared to just 4 carries inside the 5-yard line and 10 carries with 2-or-fewer yards to go. There is approximately zero power to his game and he maxed out at 192 touches in college, only averaging 12.6 carries per game as a junior. The other small fantasy RB outliers were workhorses in college. Our Underdog Fantasy projections agree, only setting his rushing higher/lower at 580.5 yards... David Montgomery essentially signed a two-year, $10M this offseason to be the primary rusher. Montgomery has bellcow size, skills, and history and offers far more bang-for-your-buck ceiling at cost. He was the 43rd and 69th overall player in unfriendly Bears offenses the last two years. Detroit was 1st in RB fantasy usage last year, allowing Jamaal Williams to shake his ass in the end zone all year long (and also to finish as the RB10 and 24th overall player in a version of this Montgomery role). He won't get as many goal line opportunities of course, but Williams only had one (1) game with over 50% snaps. Montgomery can eat more snaps than that. He will likely be my most drafted player on Underdog Fantasy this year.

2023 Detroit Lions Fantasy ADPs

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  • WR10 Amon-Ra St. Brown (13.8 overall) --> Soft fading

  • RB14 Jahmyr Gibbs (41.1) --> Fading

  • RB28 David Montgomery (87.8) --> BUYING

  • WR49 Jameson Williams (96.9) --> Mixing in

  • QB17 Jared Goff (127.6) --> Mixing in

  • TE20 Sam LaPorta (166.1) --> Fading

  • WR89 Marvin Jones (208.4) --> Fading

  • WR107 Josh Reynolds (215.7) --> Buying