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2023 Fantasy Football Preview: Detroit Lions

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Player Outlooks (2023)


QB Jared Goff: Entering his age-28/29 campaign, Goff remains one of the game’s most accurate passers, and Detroit’s offense has turned into a machine under offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. The selection of explosive running back Jahmyr Gibbs in Round 1 will only further boost the attack, and Goff should be highly confident after a 14:0 touchdown-interception ratio and 5-2 record down the stretch last season. He’s a definite QB1/QB2 target.


RB Jahmyr Gibbs: David Montgomery was signed this offseason and could handle the goal-line work that was so valuable for Jamaal Williams last year, but Gibbs has a game reminiscent of Alvin Kamara with his ability to create mismatches in the passing game and could be a fantasy star in Year 1. We don’t think it was at all a reach for Detroit to take him with the No. 12 overall pick (Gibbs was our No. 11 overall prospect), and 20+ weekly touches won’t be needed for him to make a substantial impact.


RB David Montgomery: Signed to a three-year, $18-million contract this offseason, Montgomery will be running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league and stepping into a role that resulted in 17 touchdowns for Jamaal Williams in 2022. He also has the mindset that Dan Campbell surely loves, and Montgomery can thrive as a standalone RB2 option if the Lions play up to their potential as an offense.


RB Craig Reynolds: Detroit’s backfield is expected to be a two-man show, but Reynolds has been on the roster for the past two years and will be worth keeping tabs on as a potential handcuff. One underrated part of Reynolds’ game is his reliability as a pass-catcher with 17 receptions for 171 yards on 19 career targets.


WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown had a couple of duds early in 2022, but the Lions were a different team with the offense hitting its stride by November—resulting in a 17-game pace of 121 receptions, 1,369 receiving yards, and five touchdowns on 9.6 targets per game over the final 11 weeks. Although the selections of Jahmyr Gibbs and second-round pick Sam LaPorta might take some opportunities from St. Brown, he should be a very safe WR1/WR2 option (with a boost in full PPR formats) as the most-trusted target of Jared Goff.


WR Jameson Williams: It takes a special combination of speed and explosiveness to pick up 40+ yards on each of the first two touches of a career, but that’s what Williams was able to do as a rookie—and they ended up being his only two touches after returning from a torn ACL suffered at Alabama. Of course, the second-year weapon will miss the first six games of 2023 due to a suspension for gambling, but he’ll be an upside FLEX when he returns and will certainly be worth holding onto (just know that suspended players aren’t considered IR-eligible in most leagues).


WR Marvin Jones Jr.: Jones decided to return to the Lions as a free agent, and the 33-year-old had his most productive seasons in the Motor City with a 17-game pace of 71/1,058/9 across five years. Jameson Williams being suspended for six games will open for the door for him to be the No. 2 wideout, but Detroit will have a very balanced offense with a gritty group of options that chip in behind Amon-Ra St. Brown; the touchdowns will determinate how much value Jones holds to begin 2023.


WR Josh Reynolds: Reynolds was acquired in a midseason trade two years ago, and he’s performed very well with the Lions by averaging 13.8 yards per reception and 8.3 yards per target. The familiarity Jared Goff has with him from their time together in Los Angeles should lead to some nice games for Reynolds with Jameson Williams out of the lineup, but he’ll probably be more of a DFS play than redraft start.


WR Kalif Raymond: Coming off a strong campaign with 47 receptions for 616 yards, Raymond can easily be Detroit’s No. 2 wide receiver to open 2023, as he’s a guy that fits into the offense very well. That said, the upside probably isn’t what it is for Marvin Jones Jr., and Raymond will likely be splitting reps with Josh Reynolds for the most part.


TE Sam LaPorta: LaPorta being the second tight end off the board—ahead of Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer—was one of the early surprises of the 2023 NFL Draft, but it’s easy to follow the thinking of Detroit because of his skillset in the offense. We saw the damage done by a collection of tight ends last year in Ben Johnson’s system with a combined 12 touchdowns out of the position, and LaPorta’s speed can allow him to be consistently schemed open. The rookie should open his career as a TE2 option with big-game potential.


TE James Mitchell: Mitchell caught all 11 of his targets for 113 yards and a touchdown as a rookie, and he’s listed second because of the advantage in terms of upside over Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra. The Lions will feature LaPorta as their top option, but Mitchell should get a chance to work vertically and can be a factor in the red zone.


TEs Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra: Value in the red zone is also true for Wright and Zylstra, as they both had four scores last season, and there are no favorites in the Detroit offense. Still, touchdowns are extremely unpredictable, and fantasy owners are better off looking at other options in normal-sized leagues.


Other Notes


Best IDP value: LB Jack Campbell

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Campbell is a three-down linebacker that can immediately be a tackling machine for Detroit. The former Iowa standout can also make plays in coverage with tremendous overall athleticism, and we’d imagine he will be an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year contender.


Stat to know (via draft guide)

Jared Goff threw for 274.7 yards per game with a 23:3 touchdown-interception ratio at home last season.