In recent seasons the fantasy football world has had little luck pinning down who will catch passes from Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford other than the one-and-only Calvin Johnson. In 2011 it was supposed to be Nate Burleson. In 2012 it was Titus Young being touted as the man for the job. And in 2013 another name was floated around during the preseason leading up to fantasy drafts. Another year, and another guy is expected to come save the day.
Ryan Broyles was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Lions with hopes of him developing into their starting WR2. Like those who once found themselves in his position in the years prior, Broyles struggled, and after two full seasons he has only played in 16 games. His 2012 season ended with an ACL tear in his 10th game, and his 2013 season was cut short in the Lions’ Week 8 matchup against the Cowboys — the same game Johnson caught 14 passes and turned them into 329 yards and a touchdown. It was the second-most receiving yards in a single game behind only the Los Angeles Rams WR Flipper Anderson’s 336 receiving yards in a game against the New Orleans Saints in the 1989 NFL season.
The possibility of Broyles being placed on the PUP list going into the season is present, but Broyles recently spoke with the team website about how his rehab is progressing. “Every day I’m getting stronger,” said Broyles. “I’m four months out and can’t wait to see where I’ll be 10 months out. Right now I’m happy with my progress.” He also talked about his place in the Lions’ offense. “I want to go out there and produce. Those guys brought me in two years ago (to produce). If my body is capable of doing it, I want to do it.”
It is unlikely the Lions will use Broyles in their return game in the early stages of the upcoming season, considering his 2013 injury occurred while he was returning a punt. He could return to that role when he is feeling capable later in the season. The Lions already cut Nate Burleson in mid February which denotes the organization either likes the group they have or they plan on selecting a shiny new toy for Stafford in May’s NFL Draft.
Broyles’ health is obviously the determining factor as to whether or not he can excel in the Lions’ offense. His future with in Detroit is very much in the balance entering his third season.