The best way to defend Calvin Johnson is to place a safety right over top of him in a cover-2 (two safeties). For this to work properly, a defense needs the talent and balance to shut down other threats without help from that safety. As Alen Dumonjic points out, defending Megatron is made easier by a cornerback who plays with flawless technique.
However, more teams are attempting to limit Johnson and force somebody else beat them. This makes the Lions’ other threats very viable fantasy options. Titus Young had already taken Nate Burleson’s starting job before Burleson went down with a season-ending injury. Young, a second-round pick in 2011, hasn’t been a favorite of the coaching staff thus far. Why? Young punched teammate Louis Delmas and was accordingly banned from the team’s practice facility. He also headbutted CB Janoris Jenkins, which resulted in a second half benching against the Rams. You could say he’s a bit of a loose cannon.
Young has never really clicked on the field with Stafford, which led to Burleson winning the starting job opposite Megatron again in training camp. If we remove his miracle, game-tying touchdown as an outlier, Young has only one week with more than two fantasy points.
Ryan Broyles is now almost a year past his torn ACL that he suffered as a senior at Oklahoma. That injury unquestionably hurt his draft stock and bumped him into the middle of the second round last spring. He’s getting stronger every day and should be nipping at Young’s heels for targets. That started on Monday as Broyles hauled in Detroit’s only TD and finished with eleven fantasy points to Young’s eight.
He’s included in this week’s watch list, along with a few other prominent backups.
Jamie Harper (TEN) – Owned in 2% / 0% of Yahoo / ESPN leagues – Harper vultured two touchdowns from Chris Johnson last week, and he may be a source of some good leaching in the future. The Titans will want to keep Johnson’s legs fresh considering the way he’s churning up yards of late. Harper is a wrecking ball – listed at 5”11, 233 lbs – and he looks to be carving out a useful role.
Ryan Broyles (DET) – Owned in 6% / 1% of Yahoo / ESPN leagues – See above
Louis Murphy (CAR) – Owned in 0% / 0% of Yahoo / ESPN leagues – Cam Newton wanted changes in Carolina, and the Panthers fired their GM the next day. There could be changes coming to the offense in the near future too. Brandon LaFell has underwhelmed thus far, as he’s recorded just one game with more than four receptions. Murphy hauled in three catches for 48 yards against a stout Dallas secondary, and he could be in line for more work in the near future.
Josh Morgan (WAS) – Owned in 3% / 1% of Yahoo / ESPN leagues – Morgan is well known for taking a bone-headed penalty that knocked his team out of field goal range in the fourth quarter as they trailed by three points earlier this year. However, he’s going to get another chance with Pierre Garcon sidelined with a foot injury and only Santana Moss showing any sign of productivity for the Redskins at wide receiver.
Chris Cooley (WAS) – Owned in 4% / 1% of Yahoo / ESPN leagues – I don’t care if he’s been sitting on his couch for the last 16 months. Cooley has great hands and was an excellent pass-catching tight end in his prime. He has likely lost a step, but as stated above, Robert Griffin III needs someone — anyone — to throw the ball to right now. Washington has an injured and inadequate defense that forces the offense to throw early and more often than they’d like to in an ideal situation.