Detroit Lions Depth Chart and Fantasy Preview: Is Jahmyr Gibbs a RB1 Overall Candidate In 2024?

    After finishing 2023 as a top five scoring offense, can fantasy managers expect the Detroit Lions to generate a handful of big fantasy producers in 2024?

    The Detroit Lions‘ offense produced a handful of fantasy football studs after finishing inside the top 10 in every major statistical category during the 2023 NFL season.

    After managing to keep the entire core of their offensive playmakers and retaining their offensive coordinator — Ben Johnson — this offseason, can we expect more fantasy greatness from the Lions’ collection of skill players in 2024?

    Detroit Lions Fantasy Depth Chart

    QB
    Jared Goff, Hendon Hooker, Nate Sudfeld

    RB
    Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery, Sione Vaki, Craig Reynolds

    WR1
    Amon-Ra St. Brown, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Isaiah Williams

    WR2
    Jameson Williams, Antoine Green

    WR3
    Kalif Raymond, Tom Kennedy

    TE
    Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell

    Jared Goff’s Fantasy Outlook

    Many were quick to write off Jared Goff after he was traded from the Los Angeles Rams to the Lions, but all he has done over the last two seasons is produce a pair of top-10 fantasy seasons at quarterback.

    2023: QB7 (4,575 passing yards and 32 passing TDs)
    2022: QB10 (4,438 passing yards and 29 passing TDs)

    One thing that vastly improved for Goff last year was the collection of talent around him. The additions of Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta helped give this offense plenty of ways to create mismatches against opposing defenses in the passing game, which Goff consistently capitalized on last year.

    Goff isn’t renowned for his exceptional art talent, but he finished the year inside the top 10 for quarterbacks with over 400 passing attempts in both air yards (3rd) and yards per attempt (6th), which suggests he is pushing the ball down the field and not just settling for checkdowns.

    Goff has one of the best combinations of great pass-catching weapons and an elite offensive line to play behind in the NFL, which makes a valuable fantasy asset at the QB position with one of the highest floors in the league.

    Sure, Goff isn’t going to give much of anything as a runner — topping 100 yards rushing in a season just once in his eight-year career — but back-to-back years with 4,400+ passing yards and 29+ passing TDs make him a rock-solid low-end QB1 in fantasy football for 2024.

    Jahmyr Gibbs’ Fantasy Outlook

    The start of Gibbs’ career wasn’t exactly anything to write home about after seeing just 22 carries through the first month of the season when David Montgomery was active.

    However, once his role expanded in the middle of the season, Gibbs entered the league-winner territory in 2023.

    Need proof? From Week 7 through the end of the season, Gibbs was the overall RB4 in PPR formats behind only San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Rachaad White, and New York Jets RB Breece Hall with 1,012 total yards and 11 TDs.

    One of the wildest aspects of the stats mentioned above was that none of those other three ball carriers were contending with anyone for touches in their respective backfields. Just during that time frame alone, Montgomery swiped seven rushing touchdowns and 135 total touches away from Gibbs.

    Gibbs saw a total of 234 touches (182 carries and 52 receptions) in 2023 — which came out to 15 touches per game — but managed to produce 1,261 total yards and 11 TDs with exceptional per-touch efficiency.

    Gibbs’ advanced metrics speak to his excellent production last year, finishing the year inside the top 10 at the position for yards after contact per attempt (2.4), broken tackles (21), and yards per carry (5.2) for backs with more than 180 carries last year.

    A large concern for Gibbs’ shareholders heading into his rookie season was his usage as a goal-line back. Fortunately, the Lions did not shy away from giving Gibbs the football inside the 5-yard line in 2023, where he saw eight carries and scored five times last season.

    Some would argue that the presence of Montgomery limits Gibbs’ upside enough to push him outside of the top four at the position, but his top-shelf per-touch efficiency and expanded role in this high-powered offense should give him enough weekly touches to make him a rock-solid RB1 in 2024.

    David Montgomery’s Fantasy Outlook

    Montgomery may not be the first Lions back off the board in fantasy drafts in 2024, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be on your radar in the middle rounds.

    Montgomery played 14 games in his first season in Detroit, but still managed to finish as the RB17 in PPR formats with 1,015 rushing yards and 13 TDs.

    Sure, his fantasy ceiling is undoubtedly capped with the presence of the dynamic Gibbs seeing an extensive amount of work next to him, but Montgomery is essentially a lock for a significant role in a high-powered offense. He has seen more than 200+ carries every season of his NFL career.

    Montgomery was still the preferred red-zone option on the ground for Detroit last year, seeing 50 red-zone carries, which included 17 carries inside the 5-yard line.

    Montgomery’s advanced metrics didn’t look bad either, breaking 17 tackles and generating an average of 2.1 yards after contact — which was the exact mark we saw from McCaffrey in 2023.

    Montgomery may not have the elite fantasy ceiling of some other backs in the middle rounds, but he enters 2024 as a rock-solid RB2 for your fantasy squad.

    Amon-Ra St. Brown’s Fantasy Outlook

    Amon-Ra St. Brown has simply gotten better and better every year of his NFL career, and 2023 was no exception. With 119 receptions for 1,515 yards and 10 TDs, St. Brown finished the year as the WR3 in PPR formats.

    This is the third straight year to start his career where St. Brown’s targets, receptions, yards, and TDs have all increased. That puts him in elite fantasy receiver territory heading into the 2024 NFL season.

    His usage in the passing game certainly ranks among the elite at the position, finishing inside the top 5 at the position in targets (164), receptions (119), and yards (1,515).

    St. Brown does his best work out of the slot —  where he lined up 55% of the time last year — but he is far from just a one-trick pony in the Detroit offense. He also has been heavily used as a weapon in the red zone.

    St. Brown’s red-zone usage and production both fall into the elite category. When in the red zone, St. Brown targets (23), receptions (16), and yards (107) all rank inside the top 10 in the league. This suggests he is a preferred option for Goff when the team can’t punch it in on the ground.

    St. Brown is a surefire first-round pick in upcoming fantasy drafts and has a legit WR1 overall upside for 2024.

    Sam LaPorta’s Fantasy Outlook

    What a rookie season the fantasy community got from LaPorta in 2023.

    His 86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 TDs helped finish his first year in the NFL as the TE1 overall in fantasy football. So much for the narrative that rookie tight ends can’t have a big impact, huh?

    Unfortunately, when you finish your first season as the top fantasy producer at the position, the expectation naturally becomes that he can repeat that level of success next year.

    There could be some pitfalls that come with TE1 overall expectations. Scoring double-digit touchdowns isn’t easy to do at any position, which could lead to some regression in that department.

    Outside of that though, I don’t see how LaPorta’s role gets reduced in any significant way in 2024. The Lions didn’t add any noteworthy target competition this offseason, and projecting a significantly expanded role for Jameson Williams may not come at the expense of LaPorta’s volume in the offense.

    It is also worth mentioning that it is entirely possible LaPorta actually improves as a player from his rookie season to his second year in the league, which makes another TE1 overall finish well within the range of outcomes in 2024.

    Lions Fantasy Sleepers

    For a third straight year, we are talking about Jameson Williams being a potential sleeper candidate in this Detroit offense.

    Admittedly, it was nice to see his role expand over the final month of the regular season, and he definitely made his fair share of big plays for the Lions through their three playoff games.

    Yet, Williams still finished as the WR82 last year with just 24 receptions for 354 yards and two scores. He has plenty of big-play upside as a vertical threat in this Lions’ offense and adds extra value in the manufactured touch game too.

    Williams is certainly worth a mid-to-late-round pick in fantasy drafts, but it is to envision him stealing a significant amount of work away from St. Brown, LaPorta, or Gibbs in 2024.

    Outside of Williams, it is tricky to pinpoint any potential additional sleepers in this offense without a significant injury shaking up the pecking order drastically. One name to keep an eye on is rookie RB Sione Vaki, who actually started at safety before filling in as a running back late last season for Utah when injuries devastated the Utes’ running back room.

    Vaki is a physical runner with great short-area quickness and contact balance. If an injury were to happen to Montgomery, then Vaki would potentially see some work in a complimentary fashion to Gibbs.

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