Fantasy football owners got a lot of production from the Detroit Lions in Week 1, highlighted by running backs Reggie Bush (90 rushing yards, 101 receiving yards, one touchdown) and Joique Bell (92 total yards, two rushing touchdowns) along with quarterback Matthew Stafford (357 passing yards, two touchdowns). One disappointing performer for the Lions was wide receiver Calvin Johnson, as he had just four receptions for 37 yards without a touchdown.
Does another Detroit wide receiver belong on fantasy rosters?
Nate Burleson had a team-leading six catches against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and he posted 78 yards as the clear No. 2 wide receiver for the Lions. Ryan Broyles (knee) was inactive for the game as he works his way back from a torn ACL, and his status going forward looks uncertain.
Burleson only played six games in 2012 after suffering a broken right leg in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears, and he finished with 27 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns. In 2011 with the Lions, he had 73 receptions (a career-best) for 757 yards and three touchdowns while playing all 16 games. Burleson also had six touchdowns for Detroit in 2010, so when given the opportunity he has been reasonably productive and thus roster-worthy in fantasy leagues.
Burleson’s best days are behind him at age 32, and he has clearly lost a step since the best season of his career with the Vikings back in 2004 (68 receptions, 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns). But if he maintains a role in what looks to be a prolific Lions’ offense, and is able to stay healthy, solid production should follow.
The eventual return to action, whenever it happens, of Broyles will cloud Burleson’s fantasy outlook and perhaps make him waiver wire material in all leagues once again. Even in a best-case scenario Burleson’s value is limited in yardage and touchdown-heavy fantasy leagues, but for now he is worth adding as a WR4 or WR5 in PPR formats.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.