Game Predictions & Player Projections - DET vs. SD

Game Predictions & Player Projections - DET vs. SD


Game Predictions & Player Projections - DET vs. SD

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Prediction: DET 20, SD 24 (Line: SD by 2.5)

Injury Report
Wednesday – (Limited) Eric Ebron (ankle)

The Lions come off an 11-5 season but were only 4-4 on the road. The Chargers only managed a 9-7 record with a 5-3 home mark.

Detroit starts on the second season for head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. 2014 saw a decrease in offensive output but that was mostly due to injuries to Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Johnson is healthy again and Bush is gone. Ameer Abdullah already sparked optimism that the rushing effort will be much improved and a healthy crew in their second year of the system should mean a bounce back year.

The Chargers return all of their coaches and head coach Mike McCoy enters his third season. Like the Lions, injuries hit the Chargers hard and the backfield was a work in progress all year after losing Danny Woodhead and Ryan Matthews for the majority of the season. But Mathews is gone and the Chargers used their first round pick on Melvin Gordon – AKA the first round back with two good knees. Eddie Royal left but Stevie Johnson came over from the 49ers and already looks great in the passing offense. This should be a bounce back season for the Chargers as well.

This is a coin flip game but should favor the homefield Chargers. The Lions defense won’t make it easy though.

Detroit Lions

1 @SD —— 10 @GB ——
2 @MIN —— 11 OAK ——
3 DEN —— 12 PHI ——
4 @SEA —— 13 GB ——
5 ARI —— 14 @STL ——
6 CHI —— 15 @NO ——
7 MIN —— 16 SF ——
8 @KC —— 17 @CHI ——
9 BYE ——  
News | Stats | Roster
DET @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 240,2
RB Ameer Abdullah 20 5-50,1
WR Andre Caldwell 2-30
WR Marvin Jones 3-40,1
WR Golden Tate 5-70,1
TE Eric Ebron 2-20
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: With a backfield that regressed and the spotty health of Calvin Johnson, the Lions were at a big disadvantage for Jim Caldwell’s first season. Joe Lombardi came from New Orleans to lend some Saints-style flair to the offense but that was undercut with Megatron on the mend. Golden Tate proved a tremendous pick-up though and was a huge benefit for a team that had long looked for a suitable #2 wideout that could take advantage of not being Calvin Johnson. At least for now, the pieces are in place for a better season and many more fantasy points.

QUARTERBACK : Matt Stafford had a down season of sorts when he only managed 4257 yards and 22 touchdowns but his effort was saved by Golden Tate or it would have been much worse. Stafford posted 4650 yards and 29 scores the previous season. That level is entirely possible this year with a healthy crew and an improved rushing effort for support.

RUNNING BACK : Ameer Abdullah was only supposed to be the third down replacement for Reggie Bush but the second round product of Nebraska has consistently turned heads this summer and spawned more optimism in the backfield. While a bit smaller at 5-9, 195 pounds, his open field moves have caused the first comparison to a past rusher for the Lions named… well… let’s not get too far ahead of where a rookie in a committee backfield really is but for a backfield that has been devoid of a big time runner since… that guy… anyone that sparks optimism attracts plenty of hype.

Joique Bell stepped up last year with Bush largely ineffective or out and ended with a career high 223-860-7 but only gained 3.9 yards on average and spent the offseason getting surgery on his knee and Achilles which kept him out of training camp. Bell is expected to play in week one and be the primary back but the fantasy world waits for Abdullah to take over and start generating significant fantasy points in an offense that should be formidable this year.

A side note must be added – Zach Zenner was “that guy” who led the league in preseason rushing and looked great against mostly defenders who are back to paving driveways or working at Home Depot. But he made the team and hope springs eternal. Especially with Bell being 29 years old and breaking down.

WIDE RECEIVER : No changes here and none needed. Calvin Johnson turns 30 and comes off his first “bad” season that still posted 71-1077-8 over eight games thanks to a balky ankle that robbed him of three games and lingered many more. He already has six 1000 yard seasons and should bounce back nicely in Lombardi’s second season running the offense. Golden Tate led the team with 99-1331-4 though it will be interesting to see what happens this year. Tate and Johnson both had several big games but never at the same time. Jeremy Ross remains the #3 here but lacks any fantasy value.

TIGHT END : The Lions spent a first round pick on Eric Ebron as the first tight end drafted last year but the North Carolina product was a disappointment. He only managed 25-248-1 as a rookie, had problems with drops and hasn’t looked like he’s suddenly “got it” and is ready for a second year breakout. He remains outside of fantasy relevance until he shows he’s more than a wasted draft pick.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The first game of the year is always tough to call and the Chargers have only been average on defense lately anyway. But they were very good at home against wideouts last year, allowing just three touchdown and it was week 12 before there were any. At home they never allowed more than two passing scores and just eight total over the eight games played there. No opponent scored more than 24 points there. While Stafford, Johnson and Tate are always must plays, this should be just a moderate outing for them. The backfield is also risky to rely on in the first week with Bell just now getting healthy and Abdullah still a rookie who has not played a regular season down yet. There will be many big games to follow but this should be moderate in scoring and yardage.

Gaining Fantasy Points DET 19 11 10 30 22 11
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 15 14 14 6 20 3

San Diego Chargers

1 DET —— 10 BYE ——
2 @CIN —— 11 KC ——
3 @MIN —— 12 @JAC ——
4 CLE —— 13 DEN ——
5 PIT —— 14 @KC ——
6 @GB —— 15 MIA ——
7 OAK —— 16 @OAK ——
8 @BAL —— 17 @DEN ——
9 CHI ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
SD vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 250,2
RB Melvin Gordon 50,1 2-10
RB Danny Woodhead 30 5-40
WR Keenan Allen 4-60,1
WR Stevie Johnson 5-60
TE Jeff Cumberland 3-20
PK Josh Lambo 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The injuries last year really impacted the first year of offensive coordinator Frank Reich but the Chargers have taken good steps to improving the offense with the additions of Melvin Gordon and Stevie Johnson. Losing Antonio Gates for a month doesn’t help and he’s bound to prove human and tail off eventually anyway. The second season of the offense should be better and at least the Chargers don’t have to worry about packing their bags and moving this year.

QUARTERBACK : Philip Rivers is already 34 years old and entering his 13th season in San Diego. While the rushing effort struggled in 2014, Rivers actually turned in one of his better seasons – 4286 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. He did that even though no receiver had more than 856 yards but four different receivers ended up with more than 700 yards each. Not having Gates will make a difference but one that Rivers needs to get used to since the 35 year old tight end is the oldest starter in his position.

RUNNING BACK : The Chargers spawned a lot of fantasy optimism when they tabbed Melvin Gordon as the 1.15 pick in the draft and the heir apparent to the role vacated by Ryan Matthews. He hasn’t made a splash in a preseason game so far and he turned his ankle and missed some time in camp. Gordon is also slow on learning pass blocking which will impact his role on third downs. But he brings the most pedigree to the position since LaDainian Tomlinson and will be the primary rusher at the very least.

Danny Woodhead broke his ankle and leg in 2014 and missed nearly the entire season. He is easy to forget but his first season in San Diego resulted in 1034 total yards, 76 receptions and eight touchdowns. Given Gordon’s issue with pass blocking, Woodhead will have a major role this year. The Chargers insist on there being a committee this year but it will be limited to Gordon and Woodhead.

WIDE RECEIVER : Keenan Allen suffered a sophomore slump in 2014 in the first year of Reich’s offense but he posted 71-1046-8 as a rookie. He’s had his best camp according to Philip Rivers and should see a bounce back. The Chargers also added Stevie Johnson who was a star in Buffalo but then languished in San Francisco last year. Johnson has also sparked excitement with his play in the preseason and provides a solid #2 with upside for a very nice year.

Malcom Floyd will still be involved but the 34 year old has never been more than an average player even when pressed into a starting role.

TIGHT END : Antonio Gates is the latest NFL player with a “What? Really? I did not know!” suspension for taking a banned substance in the offseason. He’ll miss the first month and at 35 years of age, he doesn’t have much time left anyway. Gates was a big surprise when he ended 2014 with 69-821-12 when he had been in decline for years. Ladarius Green enters his fourth season in San Diego and will actually get a chance to start for the first four games. He’s been the annually hyped player that never does anything. Last year was a high of just 19 catches.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Lions bring a solid defense that ranked top ten or better in nearly every category last year. The loss of Ndamukong Suh won’t make the Lions any better but this was always much more than one player. The Lions are also far more formidable at home than on the road. Their last six road opponents all threw two passing scores and while at home they held rushers to only three touchdowns, they gave up eight away from home. Look for a moderate game from Rivers with a couple of scores thanks to an improved set of receivers. Green is not a consideration this week in his first start. Gordon and Woodhead are moderate plays at best since we have never seen them together or at all for the last year. First games are always hard to call but both Allen and Johnson are also moderate plays this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 15 29 12 4 24 31
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 5 3 9 17 1 13

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