2023 Fantasy Football Detroit Lions Preview

by Jordan Schultz
2023 Fantasy Football Detroit Lions Preview

Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Football Detroit Lions Preview. 

The Detroit Lions closed out the regular season playing as well as any team in the league. After a rough five-game losing streak they flipped the script and rallied off victories in eight of the last ten weeks, ultimately falling just one game short of punching their ticket to the playoffs. Their turnaround didn’t go unnoticed, as they earned the right to take on the defending Super Bowl champions in the opening game of the 2023-23 season. 

The Lions’ roster features several intriguing fantasy options, ranging from superstars to high-level role players, to incoming rookies that have incredibly high ceilings. The majority of the coaching staff is returning as well, which should allow a fairly seamless transition into building upon the foundation that was laid last season. 

Despite the excitement that the Lions rightly carry with them into the upcoming season, they also have a few areas of the roster that stick out as question marks. They will roll with an entirely new backfield, likely count on a rookie Tight End for production, and will need to find a way to bridge the gap until Jameson Williams is able to return from his suspension for gambling. 

With that being said, let's dive into the 2023 Fantasy Football Detroit Lions Preview. 

2023 Fantasy Football Detroit Lions Preview

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Jared Goff was one of the biggest surprises of the 2023 fantasy season. After a subpar first season in Detroit where he finished with the least amount of passing yards and TDs since his rookie year, he came into the year on the hot seat. Not only did he bounce back, but he exceeded all expectations. Goff likely locked himself in as the franchise QB for at least the next two seasons. 

Jared Goff finished as the QB10 in fantasy last year. Butt when you really look at the numbers, he is likely more of a high-end QB2 heading into 2024. Goff failed to break 15 Fantasy points in eight starts, but closed out the season strong, clearing that mark in five of his final six starts. If he continues to play like the guy we saw those last six weeks, he is a steal at his current ADP. Chances are he remains solid, but regresses slightly back to the guy he’s been the rest of his career. 

Hendon Hooker is a guy I’m really high on in dynasty leagues. I don’t expect him to see the field at all this year, but he’s a great stash for those looking down the road. He dominated the same conference that ate up Will Levis who went a full round ahead of him in the draft. Hooker has a well-rounded game and can do a bit of everything.

After seeing what Dan Campbell can get out of Jared Goff, I want to see what he can do when Hooker is fully healthy and back in the fold. 

Running Back

The Lions' backfield is going to look completely different in 2024. Despite breaking off a career season, they opted to let Jamaal Williams walk via free agency and then shipped D’Andre Swift to the Eagles on day three of the NFL Draft. Despite this, the Lions invested heavily in the running back position this offseason and look to have one of the more potent rushing attacks in the NFC on paper. 

The Lions' biggest splash in free agency was locking up David Montgomery to a two-year contract disguised as a four-year deal. The set-up of the contract (only 2.25 million guaranteed into next year) leads me to believe he’s going to get close to as many touches as he can handle between the tackles and in short-yardage situations. While he hasn’t finished above four yards-per-carry since the 2020 season, he is perfectly suited to step into and thrive in the role that Jamaal Williams flourished in last season. Think of Montgomery as a strong rotational flex play with upside. 

After signing Montgomery, the Lions shocked the world on draft day when they used the 12th overall pick on Alabama’s standout RB Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs is an elite pass catcher (44 catches for 444 yards), finishing behind only Evan Hull in receptions in this year's RB draft class. This skill set is going to allow him to carve out a sizable role in the offense right away.

Gibbs is more than a passing down back, as he racked up over 900 yards (6.1 Yards per carry) and 7 TDs in addition to leading the Crimson Tide in catches in 2023. Montgomery will probably start the year seeing 50-60 percent of the work out of the backfield, but Gibbs will pass him sooner rather than later and I fully expect to be the unquestioned RB1 of this backfield by the time we hit the fantasy playoffs. Gibbs has some of the highest upside of any potential RB2 and could be a league winner at his current ADP. 

Mohamed Ibrahim was a guy I liked quite a bit in the pre-draft process, and despite sliding in the draft I don’t know if he could have landed in a better spot to develop. He is better suited to take over the carries in between the tackles should anything happen to Montgomery this year. There is no reason for him to be drafted in redraft leagues, but he’s a name to keep on your watchlist. 

Wide Receiver

Amon-Ra St. Brown quickly silenced any critics who thought his strong second half in 2022 was a fluke, picking right back up as Jared Goff's preferred target in the passing game as he finished as the WR7 in PPR leagues. He was consistently productive on a weekly basis, finishing 2023 with a career-high 106 catches for 1161 yards and six scores. I’m expecting more of the same this season as he will be a strong WR1 option in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of your drafts depending on size and format. 

While it sounds more ridiculous as more details emerge, Jameson Williams is going to miss the first six games of the season due to a gambling suspension. It’s undoubtedly a setback for a player that is primed to break out as he is another year removed from knee surgery.

The suspension will cause him to slide in drafts, but if you have deep enough benches that you can be patient while he serves his suspension he could be a strong WR3/flex play in the second half of the season. Don’t forget about the guy that went for over 1500 yards and 15 TDs in his final season at Alabama. 

It gets a little bit dicey behind St. Brown and Williams, as some combination of Josh Reynolds, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kalif Raymond battle it out for the leftover targets. While a lot of the early depth charts I’ve seen list Josh Reynolds as the WR3, I actually think Kalif Raymond is the guy you want to target here. 

Over the past two seasons, Raymond has quietly racked up 95 catches for 1192 yards and four touchdowns. He is the guy who has experience with this system and playbook. He's shown he can be counted on to produce when called upon in back-to-back seasons.

If your league scores punt and kick returns, then bump Raymond up even higher. He chipped in an additional 330 yards and a touchdown as a returner in 2023. 

Tight End

It’s never smart to bet on a rookie Tight End for fantasy production, but if there is one that is set up to break that trend it’s Sam LaPorta. LaPorta was my pre-draft TE4 in this class and I was worried I might be a little too high on him. Then the Lions turned around and made him the seconnd TE drafted when they snatched him up with the 34th overall pick. 

The Lions had the chance to draft Michael Mayer out of Notre Dame who was the TE1 for a lot of draft experts and opted for LaPorta instead. When you look at the rest of the depth chart there really isn’t anyone standing in the way of him seizing the starting job and earning a role in the passing game right out of the gates. 

Brock Wright had the chance to seize a role following the departure of T.J. Hockenson last year and didn’t do anything with it. James Mitchell and Shane Zylstra are the two other TEs currently hanging around on the roster. Whether it is dynasty or redraft, Sam LaPorta is the only Lions TE I'm interested in rostering. 

Final Verdict

Draft as many Lions as you can!

If you're also trying to solve a muddy situation and get ahead of the curve, check out my 2023 Houston Texans Fantasy Football Preview. It's worth the read, trust me.

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