2013 Team Outlook: Detroit Lions
WR Nate Burleson, CLE - Gamble (high risk)
Burleson has only played a full season once in the last five years. The Lions are a pass-happy team, yet when factoring his age and injury history, the upside is limited. To his credit, he appears to have the No. 2 spot on the depth chart all but locked up. Detroit is certainly looking for someone like WR Ryan Broyles to step up. In a pinch, Burleson is a solid bye week add, but he is not a player to hang your hat on.
WR Calvin Johnson, DET - Stud (low risk)
How can Calvin Johnson improve upon a season where he caught 122 receptions for 1,964 yards? Well, he did only score five touchdowns, a number so small it seems like a joke thinking back to the crazy season Megatron had. Johnson more than tripled that total in 2011, catching 16 touchdowns. The NFL's top receiver could manage to score more points if he finds the end zone more often. He was actually brought down six times at the one-yard line. Johnson's average draft position has slipped toward the back half of the first round with teams scrambling to acquire RBs early. Don't let him slide past the seventh or eighth overall pick if you've got it.
WR Ryan Broyles, DET - Sleeper (undervalued)
With WR Titus Young out of town and potentially dealing with mental illness, the Lions must soldier on and Ryan Broyles will be asked to step up. He tore his left ACL his senior year at Oklahoma and then tore his right ACL last year. Broyles was a second round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He caught 22 passes for 310 yards and two scores last year. Most of that production came in a big game against the Houston Texans where he hauled in six balls for 126 yards. Broyles will work the slot at 5'10" and 188 pounds. Once fully recovered, he could challenge WR Nate Burleson for the No. 2 role.
WR Mike Thomas, HOU - Deep-league Only
Mike Thomas used to be the No. 1 receiver over in Jacksonville just a few years ago. Now, he's struggling to find a home in Detroit after being traded halfway through the 2012 season. He finished the year with only 18 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. He ended up being benched in favor of WR Kris Durham late in the season. The Lions are now also locked in for $1 million of his salary guaranteed in 2013.
TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET - Quality Backup
Expectations were high for Brandon Pettigrew in 2012 and he will need to rebound from a mediocre season to become a fantasy starter again. He has 100-plus targets in each of the last three seasons. Hauling in only 59 of 100 targets last year has to be improved upon first and foremost. It isn't as though Pettigrew is stretching the field vertically, as most of his routes are short and intermediate. If he couldn't get the job done last year with Detroit's receiving corps decimated, it is unlikely he suddenly becomes an elite playmaker.
TE Tony Scheffler, FA - Bust (overvalued)
For a No. 2 TE, Tony Scheffler sees reasonable production. He had 84 targets, 42 receptions for 504 yards and a touchdown. Certainly nothing to write home about, but on the off chance that TE Brandon Pettigrew is injured, Scheffler may be worth consideration for a roster spot. If he can establish himself in the redzone, which Pettigrew has not either, that's another way he can emerge in deeper formats.