Minicamps are wrapping up in the NFL world, meaning we are now entering one of the slowest times of year as far as football is concerned. Usually there is always something going on with the NFL, but until the end of July when training camp get going, there really isn't a ton of on-the-field stuff to talk about.
One thing that is starting to kick into high gear, however, is fantasy football. I personally prefer to wait until closer to the season to start worrying about fantasy football drafts and all that, but many people like to do them as early as now, which is why NFL.com recently released its 2010 player rankings. Specifically, NFL.com ranked the top 200 players for fantasy football for the 2010 season, and six Lions made the list.
23. WR Calvin Johnson
It's not surprising that Megatron was the highest-rated player for the Lions. He is considered to be one of the top receivers in the league by many and is almost definitely the most talented player on the Lions. Whether his numbers actually reflect that in 2010 will depend largely on Matthew Stafford staying healthy. It's important that Calvin and Stafford get on the same page all the time this upcoming season, because we got a glimpse of how great of a duo they can be when they're locked in. Not only will that be key for Calvin's stats, but it will also be key if the Lions want to win games.
36. RB Jahvid Best
I was a little surprised to see Best this high on the list, but expectations are high for the former Cal Bear. With Kevin Smith's future uncertain because he is still recovering from an injury, Best is poised to start for the Lions from day one. What's more, he can make plays in many different ways. While he is definitely an explosive running back and can turn a small gain into a touchdown, he can also catch passes and return punts/kicks. There's no telling how he will be used by the Lions just yet, but considering he is the 36th-best player from a fantasy perspective, according to these rankings, hopes are high for Best.
117. QB Matthew Stafford
Although the Lions had two players in the top 40 of this list, there was a big gap from Best to Stafford, who was the third player ranked in the top 200 for Detroit. This isn't too surprising when you consider that Stafford is the 19th-best quarterback on the list, but with all of the weapons now at his disposal, I did think he would be a bit higher. Even so, this is probably more about the fact that Stafford couldn't stay healthy last season and does have many question marks surrounding him heading into the 2010 season. Regardless, I think Stafford will prove by the end of the year that he deserved to be ranked higher. With players like Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler and Nate Burleson around him, he has a ton of weapons and could rack up some big numbers in 2010.
129. WR Nate Burleson
Speaking of Nate Burleson, he is the next Lion on this list. Burleson comes to the Lions with the hope of putting up big numbers in part because there are so many weapons on offense. Defenses have to keep their focus on Calvin Johnson at all times, and although they won't forget about Burleson, he should have plenty of opportunities to make plays in space. That is the great thing about having so many different options to give the ball to, and Burleson should benefit from that greatly. He is a solid No. 2 option for the Lions, and in the fantasy football world that may be the case as well.
169. RB Kevin Smith
A year ago Smith was viewed as a pretty good second running back for fantasy football. Now he is viewed as nothing more than depth, as he is ranked as the 57th-best RB by NFL.com. It's hard to disagree with his ranking considering he is coming off of a torn ACL, especially since NFL.com has Best so high on the list. They obviously are high on Best, which means they think he will do a lot more than Smith for the Lions. As a result, Smith's ranking is way, way down and Best's is way, way up.
183. TE Tony Scheffler
The last Lions player on the list is another new face, Scheffler. Although Pettigrew was picked in the first round in 2009 to be the Lions' top tight end, Scheffler has a chance of taking that spot away from him, especially since Pettigrew is also coming off of a torn ACL. Even if Pettigrew returns to full strength soon and picks up where he left off before the injury, Scheffler's athleticism could allow for him to be a better fantasy option. Scheffler may be able to line up in the slot as well as at tight end, so that could mean for more opportunities to rack up stats that mean a lot in the fantasy football world.
(Thanks to Joel Thorman from SB Nation Kansas City for inspiring this post.)