Ever since the news broke that injury-plagued wideout Ryan Broyles was recovering brilliantly from a torn ACL, almost everyone assumed that he would step in and serve as the Detroit Lions number two wide receiver.
Well, you know what happens when you assume…
Instead, all of the Lions roster is praising rookie wide receiver Patrick Edwards. After a very impressive camp, as well as a solid preseason outing, Edwards appears to be the favorite to land the number two spot outside of Calvin Johnson. The Detroit Free Press reported that Edwards “will see see plenty of playing time outside of Johnson.” At 5’9″, 175 pounds, Edwards has dangerous speed, but according to the article, he “has to get off the line better.” One of Edwards’ teammates that knows a thing or two about receiving is quite high on the 24-year old.
“Patrick Edwards is playing helluva ball right now,” Burleson said. “He was my dark horse last year before he tweaked his hamstring. He’s not so much of a dark house now. He’s just a guy who needs to prove he can stay healthy and consistent with his play, and I guarantee he will be a big-time playmaker for us this year.”
From a fantasy perspective, I agree with Burleson. Edwards has the skills and opportunity to be a playmaker for both the Lions, as well as fantasy owners. Obviously, playing alongside a guy like Calvin is very beneficial for his success. Megatron is by far the best receiver in the game right now and will draw boatloads of double teams, which will allow the speedy Edwards to see a ton of single coverage. And of course, no team in the league throws the football around as much as the Lions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford will continue to play (in the words of the great Nathan Zegura) a little “huck-chuck football”, having thrown the ball a whopping 1,390 times over the past two seasons alone. Edwards will strongly benefit from that volume. As for number two receivers in Detroit over the last few seasons, there hasn’t been a ton of fantasy relevance, but again, the volume is there. In 2011 and 2009, Burleson saw over 100 targets in both seasons. In 2009, even Bryant Johnson saw a respectable 87 targets. There is a lot of fantasy potential for wide receivers who line up across Calvin Johnson in this high-octane offense.
I’m also a believer in the talent, despite going undrafted this past April. Many say that Edwards reminds them of T.Y. Hilton, and if you ask me, that’s an awesome comparison. I mean, can you imagine a guy like Hilton in an offense like the Lions? I’ve recently moved Edwards all the way up to number 72 in my wide receiver rankings, and to be honest, as the season progresses, I believe that ranking can continue to climb upwards. He’s definitely worth a late-round flier.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.