Projecting Receptions by Position: NFC North

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Detroit Lions

2017 Totals
Matthew Stafford: 371 completions on 565 attempts
WR Group: 214 Receptions
RB Group: 82 Receptions
TE Group: 74 Receptions

2018 Projections
Matthew Stafford: 365 completions on 550 attempts
WR Group: 215 Receptions
RB Group: 80 Receptions
TE Group: 70 Receptions

Detroit may have a new head coach, but offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter is still whispering into Matthew Stafford’s ear. What has changed with the offense is the dedication to getting the run game going. I guess they want to give Stafford a balanced offense or something. Weird. Stafford’s total attempts already noticeably dropped last year when Detroit finally figured out how to play some level of NFL-caliber defense. Assuming this investment in the running game finally accomplishes something, Stafford’s total attempts should continue to drop. As for what he does with his attempts, a more balanced offense should lighten up some coverage but the NFC North is in the middle of a DB arms race to counter the elite QB’s in the division. All told, I would expect Stafford to match his last two seasons with a 66% completion percentage, which comes out to about 365 completions.

Beyond Stafford and Jim Bob, most of the notable skill position players are also returning (in terms of receiving). The one big change is that Eric Ebron has been replaced by Luke Wilson. However, it’s not like Ebron was the favorite security blanket for Stafford anyway (that would require the occasional clutch catch to not bounce off his hands), and there’s a legitimate argument that Luke Wilson has flown under the radar for years due to being buried behind Jimmy Graham in Seattle. Besides, any shortcoming Wilson has in filling Ebron’s shoes should be able to be picked up by fellow free agent acquisition Levine Toilolo. Toilolo is more blocker than receiver, but you could do worse for a second TE. Overall, there is little reason to suspect any major shift in target shares for each position group so they should resemble their shares from last year.

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