2014 Record: 11-5, NFC Wild Card, 4-1 in last five
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1st: 19th in DVOA* overall offense (17th pass, 29th rush) | 3rd in DVOA* overall defense (8th pass, 1st run)
2nd: Second-most effective defense in the NFL against WR1s (10.3 pass attempts per game, 71.6 receiving yards per game) and top-10 against WR2s (9th, 6.2 pass attempts, 48.8 yards) and TEs (8th, 7.5 pass attempts, 51.1 yards), according to Football Outsiders’ defense vs. receiver types chart.
3rd: Key loss: DT Ndamukong Suh | Key addition: DT Haloti Ngata
4th: The Detroit Lions lost the most dominant player in the NFC North, DT Ndamukong Suh, and his co-hort on the line Nick Fairley, who missed eight games last season after a six-sack performance in 2013. They brought in Ravens star DT Haloti Ngata to help offset the loss, but this defense will not be No. 1 against the run and No. 8 against the pass again this year without their superstar DL. Typically, however, good run defenses stay good and bad run defenses stay bad, so we shouldn’t make the Lions a team to target for our running backs in Week 1. But it’s going to be a lot more difficult for their defense, which allowed just 282 points in 2014, to carry them into the playoffs in 2015. Offensively, I was surprised by how inefficient DVOA considers the Lions. Then again, Matthew Stafford isn’t the 2011 Matthew Stafford some fantasy owners still think he is. That was four years ago. And Calvin Johnson has missed five games in the last two seasons. Rookie Ameer Abdullah, when paired with Joique Bell, should help the Lions forget about the disappointing 2014 from former star Reggie Bush that helped the Lions to a 29th-ranked rushing performance. Golden Tate is an interesting pick. Tate doesn’t consider himself a No. 2 WR and led the team in receptions and yards last year to support that claim. His ADP is 5.06, behind Martavis Bryant, Amari Cooper and Sammy Watkins, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, making him a steal in drafts right now.
*Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, a Football Outsiders’ advanced NFL metric, measures a team’s performance on a per-play basis. The metric attempts to limit variance and provides a more realistic measurement of how good a team is regardless of matchup or situation, making it a strong indicator of future success. Read more about DVOA.