As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into the starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.

Marvin Jones — WR, Detroit Lions

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp

Typically this segment will cover injury or suspension news that thrusts a backup into the spotlight. But when a top-5 WR in the game decides to retire out of the blue, a special exception can be made.

We heard all the rumors, but it was hard to buy in until it became 100% official — Calvin Johnson is walking away from football at the peak of his powers. He has his health and his money, so in this day and age all you can do is respect the decision.

But enough of the fluff. When it comes to fantasy football, this leaves a HUGE void to be filled in the Lions’ receiving game. But the guy that’s in line to potential fill it may surprise you

Marvin Jones is the next man up.

Without Megatron, Detroit’s offense might take a step backwards in 2016, but that doesn’t mean you have to fade the receiving options. Actually just the opposite. With Matthew Stafford slinging it around, there’s WR production to be had.

The obvious name to replace Johnson is Golden Tate. Full disclosure — In two of the three games Tate’s played as a Lion without CJ on the field (in 2014), he went for 150+ yards and a TD. Stick with me here on Jones, though.

According to multiple reports, Tate hasn’t been impressive thus far in camp and continues to drop a lot of passes. Tate still deserves a bump in value since one man can’t replace Calvin by himself. However, when it comes to getting the best value, Jones has a great chance to produce a better season at a cheaper price.

The same Detroit media members that are reporting on Tate’s struggles are watching Jones develop right before their eyes. Here’s some of what we’re hearing courtesy of MLive.com:

“During these rough few days for Tate, Marvin Jones has emerged as the Lions’ clear No. 1 receiver. And in recent days, it hasn’t been all that close.”

“In Tuesday’s joint practice with the Steelers, Matthew Stafford attempted 14 passes in live drills, and Jones was the target on seven. He caught six of the passes, while no other Lions receiver caught more than two.”

“Jones has been ‘catching everything in his orbit’ this summer, and has taken over as Stafford’s ‘favorite target’ and the ‘clear-cut deep threat’.”

That’s good enough for me to go on, especially considering each player’s Week 1 salary on DK — Tate ($7,300), Jones ($4,600). The same is true in season-long drafts where Jones can be had roughly four rounds after Tate is off the board.

After missing all of 2014 with a broken foot, Jones played in all 16 games for the Bengals last year, reeling in 65 passes for 816 yards and four touchdowns. Obviously, this was alongside A.J. Green, who ate up most of the targets from Andy Dalton. It’s worth noting that back in 2013, Jones did haul in 10 touchdowns, so he does have experience as a red zone target (Tate has 10 TD in his two seasons with DET combined).

If the reputation Jones is building with Stafford can hold on through the regular season, there’s no reason Jones can’t approach 90 catches with 1,200+ yards and 8+ TDs.

Frankly, Jones and Tate could both have career years in 2016. But Jones will have the higher ceiling at a much more appealing cost. Marvin Jones has the inside track on the WR1 spot in Detroit.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.