Fantasy football preview: Lions vs. Browns

Leon Halip

Week two of the preseason kicks off on Thursday night when the Browns host the Lions. Here are the major fantasy storylines going into the game.

The Cleveland Browns host the Detroit Lions on Thursday night in the second week of the preseason. Both teams got wins in their respective preseason openers and will be hoping to carry that momentum forward as the rosters begin to take shape. Before the game starts, let's break down the fantasy outlook for each position, starting with the Browns.

Cleveland Browns

Quarterback--Brandon Weeden struggled in his rookie year and is already 29 years old, but the Browns' new coaching staff isn't giving him any competition for the position beyond lip service. Barring any drastic improvement, Weeden isn't any more than a late-round flier in two-QB leagues. Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer are competing for the backup job, though neither is a fantasy threat.

Complete Browns coverage at Dawgs By Nature

Running back--Trent Richardson missed last week's game with a shin injury, but he's back in practice and expected to play a couple series Thursday night. This will actually be his NFL preseason debut--he missed all of last August with a knee surgery. Richardson is locked in as a first-round pick despite the injury concerns.

The real competition at this position is for the handcuff spot. Montario Hardesty is out indefinitely with a knee scope, so Dion Lewis may end up winning the job if he performs well for the rest of the month. Brandon Jackson could also be in the mix.

Wide receiver--Josh Gordon is dealing with patellar tendinitis, accusations of a poor work ethic, and a two-game suspension to start the regular season. It hasn't been a good offseason for the talented but enigmatic wideout. Gordon has the talent to produce as a high-end WR2 once his suspension is over, but fantasy drafters should know what they're getting into.

Not much else at this position worth noting, though Greg Little has WR3 potential if his drops decrease.

Tight end--The Browns are banking on Jordan Cameron to stay healthy and produce in Norv Turner's new offense. Cameron had a big 30-yard catch in last week's preseason game but dropped his only other target. He remains an intriguing sleeper in deep fantasy leagues, particularly with the tight end position so thin this year.

Detroit Lions

Quarterback--At this point, you know exactly what you're getting with Matthew Stafford--tons of passing yards and a frustrating amount of turnovers. What's most concerning is that his touchdown number dropped from 41 in 2011 to only 20 last year. He's too streaky to trust as a No. 1 quarterback, but you could do much worse as a QB2. It's worth noting that his injury history seems to be behind him--he hasn't missed a start since 2011.

Complete Lions coverage at Pride Of Detroit

Running back--Reggie Bush and the Lions' offense are a match made in heaven. He has a good chance to lead all running backs in receptions, making him an easy No. 1 back in PPR leagues.

The handcuff battle is something to watch in preseason. Mikel Leshoure maintained minor fantasy value due to his nine touchdowns last year, but he's behind Joique Bell on the depth chart now and hasn't had an impressive training camp. Leshoure is only worth monitoring if he's getting goal line carries, which doesn't seem likely this year with Bush now in the fold.

Wide receiver--Calvin Johnson needs no introduction and should be the first receiver drafted in all league formats. It's at the No. 2 spot where this position gets interesting. Ryan Broyles has made an incredibly speedy recovery from a December ACL tear. The Lions aren't rushing him back for the preseason, but he should be ready for Week 1 and is worth a roster stash.

Tight end--Brandon Pettigrew has the talent to be a TE1, but drops and nagging injuries continue to bother him. He still managed to get 59 catches last season, making him somewhat useful in PPR leagues, but don't expect anything after the catch. Tony Scheffler wasn't much better with six drops. There's not much at this position to get excited about.

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