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2020 Detroit Lions Team Outlook: Can Matthew Stafford Fuel a Franchise Turnaround?

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Author: Shawn Childs

It’s been 27 years since the Detroit Lions won a division title. Fantasy owners would be happy with a full, healthy season after 2019’s offensive disaster.

Coaching Staff

The lifeline of

Halfway through 2019, Stafford was on pace for 4,998 yards and 38 TDs, which would have been his second-best season (2011 – 5038/41). He set a career-high in yards per pass attempt (8.6) thanks to explosive plays (41 completions over 20 yards and eight over 40 yards).

After a stellar game (406/3) in Week 9, Stafford missed the rest of the season due to fractured bones in his back.

Kenny Golladay (65/1190/11) gives him a developing WR1 while also having viable receiving options at RB, WR2, WR3, and TE. D’Andre Swift should be the missing link at running back, which helps the Lions’ offense in all areas.

Overlook player at times with an early draft price (ADP – 98) as the 13th QB off the board. An excellent QB2 with matchup value at the minimum. I set his bar at 4,179 combined yards with 27 TDs and 11 Ints.

The development of TE T.J. Hockenson and RB D’andre Swift set the tone for Stafford’s success in 2020.

Other option: David Blough, Chase Daniel

Running Backs

Over the last three seasons, the Lions running backs only scored five passing touchdowns with regression in their yards per catch (6.7 in 2018 and 6.6 in 2019). Last year their RBs gained 1,902 combined yards with nine TDs and 76 catches.

The Lions will be challenged in three games (ATL, TB, and NO) via the pass. They have seven contests (ARI, IND, WAS, MIN X 2, and CHI X 2). The Cardinals and Colts should be improved passing the ball in 2020.


The Lions dropped to 21st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (1,855) with 13 TDs and seven runs over 20 yards. Runners gained only 4.1 yards per rush while averaging 28.4 rushers per game.

Detroit fell to last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (4,551) with 33 TDs and seven Ints. Their defense finished with only 28 sacks while allowing 72 catches over 20 yards.

DE Romeo Okwara

After setting career highs in tackles (39) and sacks (7.5) in 2018, Okwara struggled to get to the quarterback (1.5) last year with regression vs. the run. His ceiling is low showcased by his one start in 2019.

DT Da’Shawn Hand

Over his first two seasons, Hand missed 16 games. In his rookie season, he played well defending the run while flashing upside in the pass rush. Hand looks the part of a high-end run defender with questions with his motor and value as a pass rusher. He offers a foundation piece to a defensive line thanks to his strength and power.

DT Danny Shelton

In his second season with the Patriots, Shelton set a career-high in both tackles (61) and sacks (3). He grades as a plus in run support with some improvement rushing the quarterback over the past two seasons. Shelton is a former first-round draft pick (2015).

DE Trey Flowers

Flowers rewarded with a productive season after signing a big contract in 2019. Over his last three seasons, he averaged 57 tackles and seven sacks while grading well against the run.

LB Jamie Collins

In his second chance with the Patriots, Collins turned into a top playmaker. He finished with 81 tackles, seven sacks, three Ints, seven defended passes, one TD, and three forced fumbles. His run defense isn’t ideal while continuing to miss too many tackles.

LB Jarrad Davis

Last year Davis missed five games due to an ankle injury. He played great in his second year in 2018 after getting drafted in the first round in 2017. Davis finished with 100 tackles, six sacks, and five defended passes. Even with his success, Davis did have risk vs. the run, which wasn’t helped by a high number of missed tackles.

LB Reggie Ragland

In 2018, Ragland picked up 86 tackles with minimal value in the pass rush (0.5 sacks). The Chiefs only gave him seven starts last year. He held his own vs. the run while chipping in with some pressure on the quarterback.

CB Desmond Trufant

Trufant set a career-high in interceptions (4) in 2019 while only playing in nine games. He’ll help in run support, but his cover skills aren’t where they were when coming into the league.

CB Jeff Okudah

The Lions believe Okudah has the talent to fill the vacated shoe of Darius Slay in his rookie season. He should start in his first NFL game while offering upside in coverage.

S Duron Harmon

The Lions are expected to give Harmon plenty of snaps in 2020 after seeing plenty of action for the Patriots over the previous seven seasons. He’ll create turnovers with improvement in run support.

S Tracy Walker

In his second year, Walker posted 103 tackles, one Int, and eight defended passes over 13 games. Even with success, he did allow too many touchdowns with only league-average value defending the run.

Team Defense Outlook

Detroit has some interesting pieces on their defense, but they need to put pressure on the quarterback to correct their failure in pass coverage last year. I expect the run defense to be improved while still lacking the overall playmakers to make a push higher than league average as a fantasy defense. Possible matchup value if their cornerbacks play at a high level.

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Author: Shawn Childs