Fantasy Football 2015: Previewing the Detroit Lions

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Calvin Johnson

Nov 27, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) makes a catch while being defended by Chicago Bears free safety Brock Vereen (45) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) to score a touchdown during the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

See that above photo?  That’s Brock Vereen and Kyle Fuller “defending” Calvin Johnson as he catches a TD pass on Thanksgiving of last year.  I know they were doing their best and they were both hitting the rookie wall by then, but not sure if that really qualifies as defending.  Megatron is still a beast and a handful to stop, especially without a healthy Charles Tillman around.

But is he worth a top round pick in your fantasy football draft?  A few years ago that question would’ve been blasphemous for fantasy owners but now it seems that maybe, just maybe, the freakish wideout may be slowing down.  Injuries limited him to 13 games in 2014 and relegated him to decoy status in a handful of contests where he did play, driving fantasy owners absolutely bonkers.

Golden Tate came to town in 2014 and had a breakout Pro Bowl season, making him almost in-arguably the best free agent signing of last year.  Defenses now had to be more careful with the help they sent Megatron’s way with a competent number two WR lining up with him.

May 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during OTA at Detroit Lions Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The result, thanks to Johnson’s ailments and Tate’s arrival, was a season that had Johnson’s fantasy owners pulling their hair out.  Retained as a keeper from the previous year or drafted highly with expectations of elite performance, Johnson had his lowest reception (71) and yardage (1,077) totals since 2009.

He scored eight TDs, which was down from his 12 in 2013 but up from the five he mustered in 2012.  Of course in 2012 he blew it up for 122 catches and 1,964 yards, he just seemed to be tackled at the one-yard line about 37 times on the season.  Fantasy football is a cruel mistress sometimes.

I’m not brave enough to say Megatron will have a bad year, but he does turn 30 early in the season and the injuries worry me.  Tate was the more productive receiver last year and figures to eat up some of Megatron’s production again this year.

Johnson is still one of the best fantasy wideouts without question and worthy of a high pick, but gone are the days when he was THE man.  If you’re in a 10-team league or less, perhaps consider waiting until round two for Johnson.

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