With both the return of Ndamakong Suh, as well as the possibility of running back Kevin Smith on the field, the Detroit Lions could come out of the gate roaring when they head out west to take on the Oakland Raiders this Sunday in NFL Week 15. Many of the highest fantasy player scores of the day will likely come from the match ups will see in this NFC/AFC clash.
According to the Lions' official website, running back Kevin Smith didn't practice Wednesday. With that said, earlier reports indicated he's still been moving around well, thus if you have Smith on your team, he could end up being a game time decision. Last week, the Raider's defense allowed Green Bay running back Ryan Grant to run all over them. Grant ended up with two touchdowns. Considering Grant isn't one of the league's premier running backs, and the fact that Smith was on fire before getting hurt - well, you can do the math.
Another interesting match up will be to see how the Lions defense fairs against Oakland's offense, especially with Detroit's Ndamkong Suh returning. If the penalty-loving Lions defense can remain calm, cool and collected, they could end up shutting down the Raider's offense led by quarterback Carson Palmer.
Last week, Palmer threw four interceptions against Green Bay and if Detroit's defense gets Suh back it could be a long day for Palmer. With Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford possibly returning this week it doesn't look like Palmer is going to be getting much love when it comes to fantasy points.
Speaking of Ford, you may want to keep an eye on him. If he ends up getting the OK to play, you're going to definitely start him in your fantasy leagues, especially against a Lions' defensive secondary which has been riddled with injuries the last few weeks. It still remains to be seen whether or not Ford will actually hit the field Sunday.
Matthew Stafford has remained vertical this year and has really grown into a solid NFL starter this year. Although Stafford has yet to ever go up against the Raiders in his career, it does present an interesting matchup even though Oakland has been getting a number of picks this year. The Raiders are the in the top five of teams which allow the most points to opposing QBs. This is largely in part because Oakland is designed as a points-scoring machine, and because of this, allow opponents to rack up touchdowns as well.
Despite his large number of interceptions, Stafford is one of the league's premier QB's this year and should have a strong performance on Sunday. "Megatron", Calvin Johnson should once again draw much of the attention from the Oakland defense. Either drawing double coverage opening things up for other Detroit receivers, or going long and grabbing many balls himself. The Raiders coming off a terrible performance against Green Bay (they allowed Packer wide receivers to gain 250 yards), and the fact that they're in the top 10 when it comes to allowing opposing wide receivers to score, could make things interesting for Megatrong and the Detroit receiving crew. Also, despite the fact Johnson hasn't been lighting up the points board as much lately due to being double teamed, he could still bust out this week now that many of the Lions' other receivers have begun stepping it up.
When it comes down to it, this is going to be one high scoring game and entertaining game.