What if Matthew Stafford is lost for the season?
By Jeff Pasquino
August 20th, 2012

This has plenty of history here. Stafford was injured several times in his first two seasons, with mixed results in the aftermath of his being sidelined. The Lions were able to muster up a good passing attack with a capable backup (Shaun Hill), but not so much if another quarterback (Drew Stanton, Daunte Culpepper) was asked to fill the role. Detroit's offense is better now than it was when Stafford first entered the league, so the offense is much more viable but it is still pass happy and the receivers will need a capable thrower to be effective.

BUY

Kevin Smith, RB and Mikel Leshoure, RB Shaun Hill is a capable backup and he can manage a solid passing game, but there is little doubt that Hill would greatly benefit from a balanced offense. Considering that Jahvid Best is still working on getting his head right after multiple concussion issues, both Kevin Smith and Mikel Leshoure are strong additions. Leshoure has the talent and pedigree to overtake Smith as the Detroit starter once Leshoure's two game suspension is over, provided that he is healthy after his devastating Achilles' injury last year and some recent bouts with hamstring issues.

HOLD

Nate Burleson, WR and Titus Young, WR Shaun Hill is a capable backup quarterback but lacks a big arm. With that in mind, possession receivers will help him out quite a bit. Burleson is a veteran target who can get open 10 to 15 yards down the field and help move the chains. Young can work out of the slot and turn quick strikes into first downs. Both players would see plenty of targets from Hill.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE For much the same reason as Burleson, Hill will target his big tight end early and often as a starter. Pettigrew is perceived as an extension of the run game (which speaks volumes of the issues with the Detroit running backs). Expect him to continue to work the middle and seams on the field and collect plenty of receptions in the 5-15 yard per catch range.

SELL

Calvin Johnson, WR Johnson will still have big play ability and be perceived as a WR1, but his value will definitely decrease. Back in 2010 when Shaun Hill had 10 starts (11 appearances), Johnson had just one game with over six catches and just one 100-yard performance (the same contest). Hill does not have a big enough arm to threaten defenses and allow Johnson to stretch the field like he should, which limits his upside.

ADD

Shaun Hill, QB The obvious choice here as he inherits the opportunity once again to lead the Detroit offense. The good news is that he has been capable in the past (39:23 TD:INT ratio for his career, including 16:12 in 11 games in 2010 with the Lions), but he has not been able to put up phenomenal numbers or be a true drop in replacement. Then again, Stafford is a Top 10 fantasy quarterback, so expecting Hill to provide more than 75-80% of his numbers is expecting far too much.

Tony Scheffler, TE This happens all the time, if you are astute enough to notice it. Backup quarterbacks often work with the second string offensive players in practice, and if the second quarterback sees live game action, his favorite practice player will have his stock rise accordingly. Scheffler is a very good tight end who will be a safety outlet and security blanked for Hill if Stafford is lost for an extended time period.

DROP

Ryan Broyles, WR The rookie wide receiver will be too far down the depth chart to get onto the field and see any significant snaps or targets. Detroit may have to block more for Hill and three wide receivers is probably the maximum that will ever see the field, which leaves Broyles with no fantasy value.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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