Fantasy Football 2015: Previewing the Detroit Lions

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Joique Bell

Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell (35) carries the ball pat Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Hitchens (59) and Orlando Scandrick (32) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Given a chance to be the featured back with the Lions last year, Bell didn’t exactly light the world on fire and owners were left feeling a bit underwhelmed.  Knee and Achilles injuries impacted his production in 2014 and it’s still unclear if he’s going to be fully ready to go when training camp starts.  Per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, the Lions are concerned about Bell’s health.

Bell is a good pass-catcher and thus can provide some value that way, especially in PPR leagues, and if healthy the initial expectation is that he’ll again be the lead back to start the year.  There is the potential, however, for an RB-by-committee approach in Detroit which is nails on the chalkboard to FF owners.  For that reason and his overall lack of explosive plays, I put Bell as no more than an RB3 mid-round pickup.

Ameer Abdullah

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah runs with the ball in a drill during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Since the days of the great Barry Sanders, the Lions have struggled to find a running back to be the featured guy year-in and year-out.  Kevin Jones, Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best were all highly drafted RBs by the Lions that failed to pan out in the long-term for one reason or another.

Ameer Abdullah is the next guy to take a crack at it and the belief by many is that he’s set to succeed Bell as the main ball carrier in Detroit’s backfield at some point this year.  With Bell likely still penciled in as the starter on FF draft day, Abdullah shouldn’t be off draft boards too early.  Once all the top RBs have been plucked off the board and you’re looking for some depth, think about stashing Abdullah.

Theo Riddick

Surprise, surprise — I like Riddick because he’s a Notre Dame grad.  All rooting interests aside, however, he is a versatile player who is a reliable pass catcher and has ample experience at both RB and WR.

With Reggie Bush gone the initial thought was that Riddick would be thrust into a more prominent role as the main change-of-pace back behind Bell.  The drafting of Abdullah, however, complicates matters.

Riddick is still worth keeping an eye on early in the season until we see how the Abdullah/Best situation shakes out.  A Best injury or rookie struggles by Abdullah could really open the door for Riddick and if he truly gets his chance, he’s a breakout candidate for me.  Worth drafting in the mid-to-late rounds.

Next: Second Year Breakout TE?