Detroit Lions Fantasy Football 2021: What to Remember

Dan Campbell Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions finished their season on an upward swing, beating the (maybe not really trying) Green Bay Packers to finish their year at 3-13-1. Luckily, this didn’t really muddle their prospects at the top of the draft. It’s a two-man draft at the top, and the Lions pick second, meaning they likely get whichever of Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux is available to them there. But, the 2021 Detroit Lions, despite their dismal record, have a lot to think about for 2022 fantasy football leagues. So, what should we remember about the Lions in our 2022 fantasy football drafts?

  1. Prior to week thirteen, Amon-Ra St. Brown had four games with more than five targets. In those games, he went 6/70, 7/65, and 4/61. So, he had some pretty good lines in that span. Starting in week thirteen, he had at least ten targets in each game and went thermonuclear. In the last six weeks of the season, ARSB averaged 93.3 yards per game in the air, and 10.2 per game on the ground. Since Calvin Johnson retired, Amon-Ra St. Brown has the seventh-most yards in a season from a Lions wide receiver. His hot stretch, where he had 621 yards in six games, would rank eleventh. Amon-Ra St. Brown, overall, had the thirteenth-most yards per game from a rookie wide over the last five seasons, over players like D.K. Metcalf, Chase Claypool, and classmates DeVonta Smith & Elijah Moore.
  2. If you want the guy who is most likely to make the Austin Ekeler jump into fantasy superstardom next year, look no further than D’Andre Swift. Swift was a multi-talented force, averaging 11.6 carries and 4.8 receptions per game, for just over 82 yards per game. His main issue? Just seven touchdowns in thirteen games. Swift does have an issue, namely in the form of Dan Campbell doing things like inexplicably giving him 33 carries in a game. This led to the wheels coming off eleven days later, as Swift played just 10 snaps before leaving with an injury. Prior to that ten-snap game, Swift averaged 97 yards—and over five catches—per game. He’s a locked and loaded late first or early second-round pick who has the ability to be in the top-three discussion in 2022… If he isn’t already.
  3. We all had J. Hockenson pegged as a top-five tight end headed into his third season in the league. But, like draftmate Noah Fant, he once again failed to live up to expectations. Hockenson played twelve games and finished with 5.1 receptions for 49 yards per game. This marks a slight increase from his 2020 numbers but he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Through his first three seasons in the league, he averages 4 receptions for 42 yards per game. This is fine for fantasy, but not top-five. Luckily, the group of guys to average 4-5 catches for 40-50 yards per game over their first three seasons has a lot of encouraging names on it: Mark Andrews, Jason Witten, T.J. Hockenson, Zach Ertz, and Noah Fant. Unfortunately, it also has borderline relevant players like Brandon Pettigrew, Jermaine Gresham, Owen Daniels, and Zach Miller.
  4. I am at a loss to talk about a fourth fantasy football-relevant player for the 2021 Detroit Lions. While this is unusual, it is not unprecedented. If you start with the idea that a fantasy football-relevant player is everyone in a starting spot (1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE) and half that many as backups, sorted by total fantasy points, the Lions do in fact have three fantasy football-relevant players, tied with Carolina, Indianapolis, Miami, Tennessee and Washington for 21st. Chicago, Jacksonville, New Orleans, the Giants, and the Jets all had two. Tied for last? Nick Chubb and Brandin Cooks, for the Browns and Texans, respectively. Oh, and Buffalo, Dallas, and the Rams tied for first with seven fantasy football-relevant players apiece.
  5. We drafted Jamaal Williams with the idea that if D’Andre Swift, who missed four games this season, Williams would crush the competition. After all, he was a lot like a mini-D’Andre Swift. This didn’t really come to pass, and before long, Jamaal Williams had his own injury. In the two games Williams played without Swift, he averaged 79.5 yards per game. Unfortunately, he scored no touchdowns and caught just one football. But this is a rope-a-dope because I actually want to talk about Craig Reynolds. Reynolds took over the backfield in weeks 14-16 and he turned it into His Backfield. Reynolds averaged 89 yards per game in those contests, averaging two catches as well. Much like Williams, he failed to score, but he had games of 99 yards and 117 yards in those three starts.
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