LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: 5 Lions with fantasy potential

Posted Jul 9, 2017

Tim Twentyman takes a look at five Lions with fantasy football potential.

Training camp is right around the corner, which means we’re not too far away from fantasy football drafts going down all over the country.

Here are five Detroit Lions players with fantasy potential in 2017:

Ameer Abdullah, RB

Abdullah enters the season as Detroit’s No. 1 running back, and the expectation is that he gets at least 200 touches as a runner -- at least that was GM Bob Quinn's plan heading into last season.

The third-year back has only four career games with at least 15-plus touches, so it’s kind of hard to project what his fantasy outlook could be.

In his only full game last season, Abdullah rushed 12 times for 63 yards, caught five balls for 57 yards and had a receiving touchdown in a win over Indianapolis. That’s 17 fantasy points and a glimpse into Abdullah’s weekly potential.

Theo Riddick is going to get his reps as well, and Abdullah isn’t expected to get a whole lot of goal line carries, both of those factors will play into Abdullah's overall production.

The bottom line is Abdullah has the potential to rack up well over 1,000 total yards, which makes him a No. 2 fantasy running back come draft time with the potential for even better results.

Matthew Stafford, QB

Stafford consistently finishes among the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks each season, despite being one of the more inconsistent fantasy stat producers.

He recorded 20-plus fantasy points just six times last season, but three times totaled more than 30 points. He finished with 24 touchdowns and totaled at least two scores in less than half of his games.

An improved offensive line and run game could open more play action opportunities and bigger play possibilities with more touchdowns for Stafford in 2017.

Only five opponents (Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Green Bay and Cleveland) on Detroit’s 2017 schedule allowed an average of more than 20 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season.

Golden Tate, WR

Tate doesn’t rack up a ton of yards or touchdowns, but his PPR appeal remains high after catching 91 passes last year for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns.

After a tough fantasy start in 2016 (14 total fantasy points in his first five games), Tate finished with at least nine fantasy points in six of his last 11 games. There was a 22-point performance (vs. Los Angeles) and a 20-pointer (at New Orleans) in there.

Tate was targeted 8.3 times per game on average and reached double-digit targets in seven games.

He is a solid mid-round fantasy selection as a good No. 2 fantasy receiver.

Eric Ebron, TE

Ebron set career-highs in catches (61) and yards (711) last season, but scored just one touchdown, which hurt his overall fantasy value.

What’s really concerning to fantasy owners is that Ebron was targeted just six times in the red zone in 13 games, per CBSSports.com statistics. That must change for him to be a top fantasy tight end.

Ebron’s catch and yardage totals have increased every season he’s been in the league. That should continue in year four. One must think his one-touchdown performance last season was more an anomaly than the norm. He got into the end zone five times in 2015.

Ebron's fantasy potential is there because of his natural ability, but he’s probably a No. 2 tight end to kick off the year based off last season’s fantasy totals and the fact that he reached 10-plus fantasy points just twice.

Theo Riddick, RB

Riddick will continue to be a key element of Detroit’s offense, but his opportunities could be fewer in 2017 with a healthy Abdullah back in the fold.

Riddick is still one of the best receivers and run-after-the-catch players from the running back position in the NFL. He’s certainly an option as a No. 3 back for those fantasy owners in PPR leagues.

In 2015, when Riddick and Abdullah played together, Riddick rushed just 43 times, but caught 80 passes for 697 yards and scored three times. He had five receiving touchdowns last season and caught 53 passes despite missing five games.

In the one complete game Riddick and Abdullah played together last season Week 1 in Indianapolis, Riddick rushed seven times for 45 yards with a rushing touchdown and caught five passes for 63 yards and had a receiving touchdown. That was good for 22 fantasy points.

Could we see a lot more of that dual-threat production from Riddick in 2017 with a healthy Abdullah in the fold?