2014 Outlook: Think about this: Since 2011, Megatron has over 1,000 receiving yards more than the next-best wideout. So don't read too much into his No. 3 ranking in WR fantasy production last year; it was actually remarkable he finished that high. Hampered by knee and finger injuries (both of which required offseason surgery), Johnson still totaled 12 TDs and nearly 1,500 yards. Finally back to 100 percent, Johnson will again be the undeniable focal point of the Lions' offense; he's the only player to garner 150-plus targets in each of the past three seasons. Don't get cute: Megatron is your No. 1 WR.
2014 Outlook: Taken in total, Bush's first year in Detroit was a success. For the first time in his career, he eclipsed both 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season. But it was a bit of a wild ride. Bush missed two games with knee and calf injuries and also battled fumble issues. Most disconcerting was the emergence of Joique Bell, in whom the Lions made a significant investment this winter. While Bush is still a devastating receiver and lightning-quick in space, Bell is a better pure ball carrier. Bush deserves to be a fantasy starter in all leagues, but this is shaping up as a committee.
2014 Outlook: New head coach Jim Caldwell's offense probably won't be as pass-heavy as the record-breaking scheme Stafford played in under Jim Schwartz. After all, Stafford has chucked more passes in the past three years -- 2,024 -- than any QB in NFL history has over a three-year span. But he could see his fantasy value increase via a trade of quantity for quality. Calvin Johnson should bounce back from an un-Megatron-ish season of "only" 1,492 yards and 12 TDs. And the Lions added Golden Tate, whose 31 yards per vertical reception ranked second among WRs with 10-plus vertical targets. That should turn a so-so part of Stafford's passing game (10.1 vertical ypa, ranked 26th) into a strength and make him a worthy choice as your starting QB.
2014 Outlook: This winter the Lions could've kept Bell for one year at the second-round tender but instead worked out a two-year extension guaranteeing him $4.3 million -- more than they gave Reggie Bush a year ago. That says everything you need to know about new coach Jim Caldwell's plans. Bell is no longer merely an adjunct to Bush; he's a more physical and consistent rusher who also catches passes, and he'll warrant slightly less than half the Lions' halfback snaps. Bush has the game-breaking quicks that can win you weeks, and as such he's still the better fantasy commodity. But Bell is an acceptable flex in standard leagues and is more like an RB2 in PPR leagues.
2014 Outlook: Tate may have been brought in to be a complementary receiver, but he's still one of the league's most dangerous deep threats. Last season he led all WRs in vertical air yards per target (26.2) and ranked second in vertical yards per reception (31). Since he'll play opposite Calvin Johnson, no defense is going to consistently load Tate's side of the field. So what's the bad news? No Lions WR other than Johnson has received more than 90 targets the last two seasons. And without consistent looks, Tate's upside is limited.
2014 Outlook: To validate Ebron as the No. 10 overall pick in May's draft, some folks invoked Vernon Davis' name. But let's be clear: Ebron is not Davis. He's not as fast or as fluid an athlete. Big Vern is truly one of a kind. Ebron might eventually be a stud, but for now he'll share time with Brandon Pettigrew (who received $8 million guaranteed over the winter) and last year's red zone sensation Joseph Fauria. So while dynasty-leaguers are entitled to dream about the future, folks drafting for this year should approach Ebron with caution.
2014 Outlook: Sometimes we watch this group and scream, "How can a defense with this many studs up front finish 20th in fantasy points!?!" Despite more greatness in 2013 from DT destroyers Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley and OLB DeAndre Levy, the Lions were mediocre in just about everything. They didn't get to the QB and, of course, made head-clutching mistakes in the secondary. Maybe Jim Schwartz's exit will mean more discipline, and maybe second-year DE Ezekiel Ansah is about to become a pass-rushing force. But you have every right to be skeptical.