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Detroit Lions July Scouting Report
James Hintz

With training camp about to get underway, we will look at some of the training camp battles, questions, early fantasy rankings, and interesting numbers to look at over the next few weeks.

QB: Even with his strong finish in 2021, the overall body of work over his career shows that QB Jared Goff is not a QB1 in fantasy football going into 2022. Last year in 14 games he had 3245 yards and 19 TD passes, both his lowest since his rookie year when he only played 7 games. I suppose one thing he has going for him is job security, so depending on your format, that could give him some extra value. It sounds like the Lions want to build the offense around what Goff does well, to hopefully build on his strong finish in 2021. For fantasy purposes, despite a stronger surrounding cast, I just don't see the upside until he can find a way to have more success on downfield throws. I did see a stat that said Goff was one of the most efficient passers last season inside the 10 yard line, I didn't catch the source on this, but if you are looking for positives with Goff that is a reason to be optimistic. He isn't a threat to give you much production on the ground, further limiting his upside. Most early fantasy rankings have him in the mid 20s and I think that is fair.

RB: I am seeing some buzz around RB D'Andre Swift, and many experts have him in their top 10 at the running back position. I can see that happening. Injuries have been an issue for Swift, but as we mentioned in earlier reports, the word is he has bulked up a bit and the coaches are challenging him to stay on the field. With his receiving ability, and with only RB Jamaal Williams to share touches with, Swift does have that upside. Add in a strong offensive line and a commitment to the ground game, and Swift can be a value in your drafts. He has big play potential, but is also someone who doesn't necessarily need to be removed at the goal line. I did read one article that speculated Williams might not be a lock to make the team. I wouldn't go that far. You can draft him late in deeper leagues as either a handcuff or bench filler. There will be good depth and competition in camp among the likes of RB Jermar Jefferson, RB Craig Reynolds, undrafted rookie RB Greg Bell, and RB Godwin Igwebuike.

WR/TE: I feel like there are varying opinions among fantasy experts on WR Amon-Ra St. Brown as we enter training camp. Just to recap, he had 51 catches for 560 yards and 6 TDs over the final 6 games. Usually when a rookie does something like that, it is a sign of things to come. But St. Brown was heavily targeted in those games, and his volume won't be as high as it was in those games. But he can still be a productive slot receiver, so I guess I am not feeling strongly on either side of the debate at this time. Not much new to report recently on WR Jameson Williams. Expect him to join the active roster at some point midseason. Maybe WR DJ Chark is a little under the radar in the fantasy rankings and I think he is worth a late round flier. Check his stats - this guy had 15 TDs for the Jaguars over his last three seasons, in just 32 games due to injuries. If Goff can find that deep ball, Chark would benefit and he could surprise early in the year while Williams continues his injury rehab. WR Josh Reynolds and WR Quintez Cephus figure to battle for snaps while Williams recovers but neither seems draftable. TE TJ Hockenson is ranked between 6 and 8 on almost every early cheatsheet I have seen. At this point, I think what you see is what you get with Hockenson. But some still hope he has what it takes to break into that top tier of tight ends.

K/DST: You will have to look pretty far down the list to find a Lions kicker in the fantasy rankings, mostly because the job is up for grabs between PK Riley Patterson and PK Austin Seibert. If I had to guess, I would say Patterson emerges with the job. You won't want to draft the Detroit defense, even though they should improve this year. DE Aidan Hutchinson will be the guy many focus on in the preseason. The Lions have consistently failed to pressure quarterbacks over the years and that has been the root cause of their defensive issues. Maybe they can at least improve enough on defense to the point where they could be a streaming option when they have a favorable matchup.

The first preseason game is set for Friday August 12 against the Falcons. In my next report I will have observations from that game along with all other news coming out of training camp. The Lions have announced their schedule of practices that will be open to fans but I think I am going to skip it again this season, especially since they will be on Hard Knocks.


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