Matchup Analysis: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Lions 25, Cardinals 22

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Lions Rushing offense

Great matchup vs. the Cardinals defense.

Matt Patricia clearly intends to win football games by physically dominating opponents in the trenches. The Lions enter week one with Kerryon Johnson alone atop the depth chart for the first time. Johnson posted an impressive 5.43 yards-per-carry during his rookie season, but in a crowded backfield, he only eclipsed 15 carries on 3 occasions. Johnson managed no fewer than 87 yards in any of the 3 games he bolstered a significant workload. Spelling Kerryon Johnson on occasion will be C.J. Anderson. Anderson proved that he is still capable of contributing to an NFL offense when he filled in for Todd Gurley midseason for the Los Angeles Rams. The Lions' offensive line enters week one as one of the league's better run-blocking units, sporting a B+ run-blocking grade from Matt Bitonti. The volume in this backfield will almost certainly be the driving factor behind the overall fantasy success of the running backs, but this ground game will likely be one of the more efficient units in the NFL in week one.

In 2018, the Arizona Cardinals had the worst run defense in the league by almost every measure imaginable. Arizona ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns allowed in 2018. On the defensive line, Corey Peters returns as the team's top run defender from 2018. This season, Peters will shift to the nose tackle position in Vance Joseph's new 3-4 system. The impact of this shift on Peters' productivity is unknown at the time, but the general lack of a supporting cast does not bode well for Peters. Elsewhere on the defense, the most impactful addition to the team's defense is former-Eagle Jordan Hicks. Hicks signed with Arizona in free agency following an injury-riddled start to his career. Hicks, when on the field, will be Arizona's top run-stopping linebacker. In the secondary, safety Budda Baker has impressed in run support throughout his first two years in the NFL. While this defense features a few standout run-stoppers, there is very little depth in this regard. This lack of depth, coupled with an expectedly steep learning curve in Vance Joseph’s new defensive system will leave the Cardinals defense susceptible against the run to start the season.

Lions Passing offense

Good matchup vs. the Cardinals defense.

Matt Stafford finished 2018 with his worst passing totals in nearly a decade. Stafford hadn't posted a yardage total lower than his 2018 mark of 3,777 yards since his rookie year (aside from an injury-shortened year in 2010.) His 21 touchdowns were also the fewest in his last 6 seasons. Matt Patricia's imprint on this team's offense is clear: he wants this team to run the ball early, often, and well. While this approach certainly limits the aerial attack's upside, the weapons in this offense are primed to maximize the efficiency of the passing game. Kenny Golladay burst onto the scene last year with 1,063 receiving yards, and Marvin Jones, Jr.'s efficiency numbers consistently challenge the league's best (he led the league in yards-per-reception in 2017 with an 18.0-yard mark.) The Lions also invested a first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft in T.J. Hockenson, a tight end from Iowa University. Hockenson was praised as one of the most talented players in the 2019 NFL Draft, but due to his position, few thought he would be drafted as highly as he was (8th overall.) This sizeable investment proves Detroit believes he will be a difference-maker in this offense sooner rather than later. Detroit's offensive line is a very serviceable unit, with clear strengths at the two tackle positions. A preseason injury to center Frank Ragnow has forced some shuffling before the season's opener, but Matt Stafford should have no significant issues with the pocket closing in on him in week one.

The Arizona Cardinals finished the 2018 season with one of the league's worst run-defenses which inflated their passing statistics a little bit last season as they were the fourth-best aginst the pass last season, but the problem is this is a unit that will look very different this season with Patrick Peterson being suspended and Robert Alford being out. In 2019, Vance Joseph has been brought in to attempt to provide Kliff Kingsbury with a formidable defense for once in his coaching career. The team will transition from a base 4-3 defense to a base 3-4 defense, as Joseph has typically used throughout his coaching career. This change will shift Chandler Jones, one of the league's top edge rushers, into a stand-up outside linebacker with both coverage and pass-rushing duties. Aside from Jones, however, there is a startling lack of impact pass rushers. The team drafted Zach Allen in the third round of this year's NFL draft, and he is slated to come in and immediately start at defensive end. Allen was widely scored as a second or third-round pick before the draft with the expectation that down the road, he may have the opportunity to become a starter in the NFL. In coverage, the Cardinals will be led by Tramaine Brock, but behind Brock is second-year undrafted rookie free agent Chris Jones and second-round rookie corner Byron Murphy out of the slot. Safety D.J. Swearinger, Sr. turned in the best season of his career in 2018 in every phase of the game. Arizona is poised to struggle against the pass here in week one as they rely upon rookies and aging veterans such as Terrell Suggs to pressure the quarterback and lock-down opposing wide receivers.

Cardinals Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Lions defense.

The Cardinals will shift to a spread offensive attack under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury in 2019. The difference between the 2018 offensive scheme, which primarily utilized David Johnson between the tackles, and the 2019 scheme focused on maximizing space on the field will be massive. For that reason, David Johnson's atrocious 3.6 yards-per-carry mark from 2018 should be ignored. The up-tempo philosophy behind Kliff Kingsbury's offense will also increase the number of opportunities for the team's running backs. Arizona's offensive line features very talented run blockers when they're healthy. Unfortunately, this unit's greatest weakness is the inability to stay healthy. Following a full offseason to rest and heal up, week one will provide a great look into the potential of this offensive line for the new season.

The Detroit Lions acquired one of the NFL's best run-stoppers, Damon Harrison, in a midseason trade with the New York Giants. The Lions allowed just 2 100-yard rushers over the 10 games following the deal. In 2019, A'Shawn Robinson will start at defensive tackle alongside Damon Harrison. Robinson has quickly developed into another one of the NFL's top run-stoppers under the tutelage of Damon Harrison. The Lions also added Mike Daniels in the offseason who is a formiddable run-stopping tackle to rotate through with Harrison and Robinson. The Lions' top-end defensive tackles, flanked by sharp defensive ends, come together for one of the NFL's best defensive lines at defending the run. The lone weakness of this Detroit defense is the linebacker corps. The Lions linebackers defend neither the run nor the pass particularly well. Fortunately, the linebackers are supported by Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker, two of the NFL's best run-stopping safeties. Detroit's defense, as a whole, should stop the run as well as any defense in the league.

Cardinals Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Lions defense.

The Arizona Cardinals fired head coach Steve Wilks after just one mightily disappointing season. In his place comes Kliff Kingsbury, a recently-fired college coach at Texas Tech University. Even after being relieved of his duties as head coach at Texas Tech, Kingsbury's offensive genius is unquestioned. As head coach, he led the school to 4 straight seasons averaging at least 30.4 points per game. Upon being hired, Kingsbury was able to hand-pick the quarterback he wanted to hitch his proverbial wagon to, and ultimately he selected Kyler Murray. As a product of a similar collegiate offense, Murray's transition into Kingsbury's air raid offense is seamless. Kingsbury has noted that rather than forcing Murray to learn his terminology, Kingsbury has made an effort to learn Murray's terminology when building out the team's playbook. Murray will be consistently be setting up shop in 3, and 4-wide receiver sets this season, and the Cardinals have substantially invested in the position to ensure he is surrounded by skillful playmakers. The Cardinals drafted 3 wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft and, shockingly, the most impressive of the bunch has been 6th-round pick, KeeSean Johnson. For now, however, none of these rookies are starters on the team's depth chart. Starting out wide will be two returning wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, along with free-agent signing Michael Crabtree. How much the two veterans have left in the tank is unknown, but the potential of second-year player Christian Kirk is tantalizing. In the trenches, the Cardinals have a talented offensive line, but as Matt Bitonti notes, they just cannot seem to stay healthy. Fortunately, they will enter week one of the 2019 season as healthy as ever following a full offseason to rest. It is also worth noting that Kliff Kingsbury's fast-paced offensive attack was one consistently of the least-blitzed offenses in the country throughout his tenure at Texas Tech.

This offseason, the Detroit Lions added Trey Flowers to their front four following the departure of the oft-injured Ezekiel Ansah. Flowers finished the 2018 season as one of the league's most consistent pass rushers. His sack total of 7.5 was not astoundingly high, but he registered 20 total hits on opposing quarterbacks. The Lions' pass rush will otherwise rely upon the same three-person linebacker unit from 2018 to slow down the opposition's short-passing game. Last season, the team generally struggled in this regard, and none of the linebackers stand out as particularly strong players in coverage. The team's best hope for improvement here is that second-year linebacker Jarrad Davis will improve substantially following a shaky rookie season. In the secondary, Detroit fields one of the league's top cornerbacks, Darius Slay. Slay will move all over the field to shadow top receivers as necessary, but he is unlikely to do so in a matchup against a team devoid of a true number-one option. The Lions faced the third-fewest pass attempts in the league in 2018 but allowed the eighth-most net-yards-per-attempt and overall came out to an average defense last season. While they have grounds to improve, this is a wait and see type of situation.

Matthew Stafford (FanDuel: $6600, DraftKings: $5400)

1PROJ-Dodds23342451.50.7260.118.818.818.8 (H=48)18.8 (H=59)
1PROJ-Tremblay22342351.70.9260.118.918.918.9 (H=49)18.9 (H=60)
1PROJ-Bloom21282581.50.611018.418.418.4 (H=47)18.4 (H=57)

Kerryon Johnson (FanDuel: $7000, DraftKings: $5800)

1PROJ-Dodds15680.54.0290.213.917.915.9 (H=34)17.9 (H=51)
1PROJ-Tremblay12570.44.0260.111.315.313.3 (H=25)15.3 (H=38)
1PROJ-Bloom21910.63.0250.115.818.817.3 (H=39)18.8 (H=55)

Ty Johnson (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds1401.280.11.832.4 (H=2)3 (H=4)
1PROJ-Tremblay3110.10.7502.22.92.6 (H=2)2.9 (H=4)
1PROJ-Bloom0001.0900.91.91.4 (H=0)1.9 (H=2)

Kenny Golladay (FanDuel: $6900, DraftKings: $6300)

1PROJ-Dodds4.9690.41209.514.412 (H=21)14.4 (H=32)
1PROJ-Tremblay5.2720.501010.315.512.9 (H=24)15.5 (H=36)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0640.40008.812.810.8 (H=17)12.8 (H=26)

Marvin Jones (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $4800)

1PROJ-Dodds4.1570.40008.112.210.2 (H=18)12.2 (H=31)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.9510.40007.511.49.5 (H=16)11.4 (H=28)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0610.40008.512.510.5 (H=19)12.5 (H=33)

Geronimo Allison (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $4100)

1PROJ-Dodds3.5410.20005.38.87.1 (H=10)8.8 (H=21)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.7370.20004.97.66.3 (H=8)7.6 (H=16)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0520.40007.611.69.6 (H=18)11.6 (H=34)

Danny Amendola (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3600)

1PROJ-Dodds3.0320.20004.47.45.9 (H=8)7.4 (H=17)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.4350.30105.48.87.1 (H=12)8.8 (H=24)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0410.20005.39.37.3 (H=12)9.3 (H=26)

T.J. Hockenson (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3100)

1PROJ-Dodds2.2230.12.95.14 (H=4)5.1 (H=10)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.0190. (H=4)5.1 (H=10)
1PROJ-Bloom3.0410. (H=13)8.9 (H=28)

Jesse James (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds1.8170. (H=3)4.1 (H=9)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.6190. (H=5)4.7 (H=11)
1PROJ-Bloom2.0170. (H=3)4.3 (H=10)

Matt Prater (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Detroit Lions (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2900)

1PROJ-Dodds233602.30.80.600. (H=15)7.4 (H=22)
1PROJ-Tremblay22.53612.10.80.700. (H=18)8.2 (H=26)

Kyler Murray (FanDuel: $7300, DraftKings: $5600)

1PROJ-Dodds21342281.50.95330.321.621.621.6 (H=56)21.6 (H=73)
1PROJ-Tremblay21332481.60.84280.2222222 (H=57)22 (H=75)
1PROJ-Bloom21321881.31.38460.118.518.518.5 (H=42)18.5 (H=55)

Kenyan Drake (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4700)

1PROJ-Dodds12420.33.2220.18.81210.4 (H=19)12 (H=31)
1PROJ-Tremblay9370.22.4190. (H=13)9.8 (H=22)
1PROJ-Bloom11370.23.0180.17.310.38.8 (H=14)10.3 (H=24)

Chase Edmonds (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $3100)

1PROJ-Dodds4140.11.21103.14.33.7 (H=3)4.3 (H=8)
1PROJ-Tremblay4160.11.31103.34.64 (H=4)4.6 (H=9)
1PROJ-Bloom260. (H=2)3.4 (H=5)

DeAndre Hopkins (FanDuel: $9000, DraftKings: $8200)

1PROJ-Dodds7.3950.600013.120.416.8 (H=29)20.4 (H=45)
1PROJ-Tremblay7.1980.601013.520.617.1 (H=30)20.6 (H=46)
1PROJ-Bloom7.0800.5000111814.5 (H=22)18 (H=36)

Christian Kirk (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4700)

1PROJ-Dodds4.3570.41208.312.610.5 (H=19)12.7 (H=34)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.7550.30207.511.29.4 (H=16)11.3 (H=28)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0530.40007.711.79.8 (H=17)11.8 (H=30)

Larry Fitzgerald (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $4900)

1PROJ-Dodds4.6530.40007.712.310 (H=18)12.3 (H=31)
1PROJ-Tremblay4.3540.40007.812.110 (H=18)12.1 (H=30)
1PROJ-Bloom5.0440.30006.211.28.7 (H=14)11.2 (H=26)

KeeSean Johnson (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds2.2270.20003.96.15 (H=6)6.1 (H=15)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.8260.20003.85.64.7 (H=5)5.6 (H=13)
1PROJ-Bloom2.01500001.53.52.5 (H=1)3.5 (H=5)

Andy Isabella (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3400)

1PROJ-Dodds1.4190.10002.53.93.2 (H=3)3.9 (H=6)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.7250.20203.95.64.8 (H=6)5.6 (H=11)
1PROJ-Bloom1.0140.1000232.5 (H=2)3 (H=3)

Maxx Williams (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.9700.71.61.2 (H=0)1.6 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.3140.123.32.7 (H=2)3.3 (H=6)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Dan Arnold (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Zane Gonzalez (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Arizona Cardinals (FanDuel: $3600, DraftKings: $2700)

1PROJ-Dodds25.33482.40.80.600. (H=16)7.1 (H=22)
1PROJ-Tremblay253532.20.90.600. (H=19)7.7 (H=25)