As you may know, we've got a very robust Q&A section here at numberFire. Lots of questions get asked about everything from wide receiver issues to the fantasy basketball efficacy of Kim Kardashian's ex-husband, with the average answer time hovering right around 15 minutes. The hot topic far and away this week however has been the Detroit Lions, and whether or not they are trustable to start at D/ST.
I'll keep the answer short: abso-lutely.
Inside The Lions
Now, lets dispense with the obvious up front: the Lions are not an elite defensive unit. They rank No. 26 in our Power Rankings, giving up 93.45 more points than an "average" defense would in similar situations. To give you an idea of how rough of a number that is, that figure is worse than the notoriously awful Eagles defense, and compares historically most with the 2009 Browns. Ouch.
Of course, anyone who knows anything about fantasy football knows that so much of what makes effective starters is the matchup. Unless you were in a cave last week, you saw what the Seahawks did to the Cardinals: it was a destruction non-pareil, full of turnovers, sacks, and more quitting than "The Junction Boys". It just so happens that on the same power rankings, we've got the Cardinals as the absolute worst offense in the league and really it's not even close. They're so bad, I'm going to put the statistic on it's own paragraph for added emphasis:
The Arizona Cardinals score 159.25 points less over a season than an "average" offense would in the same situation.
Let that sink in. 159.25! And we're not comparing that number to a great offense, or even a good offense. We're talking about an average one. Most teams in an NFL season only score about 300-350 points, so being 150 points behind an average offense is atrociously terrible. It's historically bad. And it's only getting worse, with the team pretty much quitting and the only star within 300 miles, Larry Fitzgerald, calling the team out in the press. And don't you think whatever UFL-level QB the Cardinals decide to roll out is worried Suh kicking him square in the Beanie Wells? I would be!
Looking at the specific matchup itself, we see that the Detroit Lions, over the course of all of their comparable performances within our system, score more than 10 FP in seven out of the top ten predictors. We've got them in our full projections at 10.31 points, ranking No. 6 and likely ahead of the defense that got you to the playoffs in the first place.
More often than not, my advice is to dance with the girl who took you to the prom, but many of those matchups (SF vs. NE, for example) aren't all that attractive. Detroit for once is a safe defensive play, and while it might feel odd to put your faith in the Lions, you can do it and feel confident.