2012 Team Outlook: Detroit
WR Calvin Johnson, DET - Stud (low risk)
There are few sure things in this world, but Calvin Johnson is close to being one of them. Expectations are high and they should be. Now that Megatron has a reliable quarterback to feed him the ball, there's no stopping him. Johnson began 2011 with nine touchdowns in the first five weeks and finished the year with career highs across the board. Now if Matthew Stafford gets injured, Johnson's numbers will nosedive, but that's a risk every stud receiver has to deal with. Draft Johnson confidently if you have the chance.
WR Nate Burleson, DET - Over the Hill (decreased production)
Even though Nate Burleson had his best statistical season in many years, he's no guarantee to be the Lions' WR2 for the whole season. Titus Young is nipping at his heels and the light may have clicked on for him late in his rookie year. Burleson is a decent flex option in PPR leagues (73 receptions last year), but the stars aligned for him because he didn't miss a game for the first time since 2007. Matthew Stafford was also healthy the whole year as well. Presuming Burleson locks up the WR2 spot, he's a reasonably safe late-round pick, but there's no denying the fact that Young has the far higher ceiling.
Update (8/12): All indicators point toward Young surpassing Burleson on the depth chart.
WR Ryan Broyles, DET - Dynasty Only
Ryan Broyles ended his collegiate career at Oklahoma as the FBS all-time leader in career receptions. He tore his left ACL in early November, which jeopardizes his chances to play early. Considering he may not be healthy until the preseason, it's unlikely he contributes much early in the season. Nate Burleson's seniority and the late season momentum from Titus Young's rookie year will be too much to overcome. We may see a small flash of his potential later in the season, but it won't be enough for fantasy owners.
Update (8/12): Broyles has been removed from the PUP list. He's a great dynasty league option, but as for this year, the rookie out of Oklahoma has a lot to prove.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
WR Titus Young, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
During the last four games of his rookie season, Titus Young scored four TDs and seemed to come into his own. The only thing between Young and a productive year is Nate Burleson. Young will need to produce if he wants to stick in the starting lineup. Either way, Detroit uses a lot of three receiver sets so Young should see a ton of playing time in one of the best offenses in the NFL. Young should be a popular choice as a potential sleeper, so be careful to not reach for him in your draft.
TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET - Solid/Safe Pick
Brandon Pettigrew's continued improvement shouldn't come as a surprise. Many identified him as a sleeper last season and were rewarded for their foresight. The question entering his fourth season is whether or not he still has any more room to grow? The problem is that Pettigrew runs only short to medium routes. His longest catch was only 27 yards and he only had seven receptions longer than 20 yards -- only 19th among tight ends. Pettigrew projects to be a reliable TE1 (especially in PPR leagues), but he simply lacks that big-play potential of a Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham.
TE Tony Scheffler, --- - Deep-league Only
A nice mid-season run padded Tony Scheffler's overall numbers when he scored a touchdown in three consecutive games. While he is one of the more productive backup tight ends out there, he should only be considered in two TE leagues or if Brandon Pettigrew is injured. 2011 was Scheffler's first year with the Lions after toiling with the Denver Broncos. He's a great fit for this offense and he should continue to get red zone looks on occasion.