Koh Knows: Kenny Golladay ups Lions' fantasy ceiling

It's the maiden voyage of "Koh Knows," which is basically a weekly Next Gen Stats column dressed up with a few jokes to go along with some Daily Daps (fans of the podcast, what's up).

I'll dig into the numbers a bit harder and give you my takeaways from the week that was while spinning those forward to the weeks ahead. Will I do it shirtless in football pads with a baseball bat draped across my shoulders? I can't promise you that I will, but I can't promise you that I won't.

Let's go.


On the strength of four touchdowns, Matthew Stafford was your QB2 in Week 1 and I buy him as a top-five signal caller moving forward.

I know what you're thinking, "NOOOOOOPE, seen this story before, dude starts out hot, fades late, I'm out." Which, oh by the way, is what people were saying about Matt Ryan last year until about Week 16 at which point the critics were like, "Yeah, this guy might be good ... maybe."

Much of Ryan's mid-career re-emergence was built around working with Kyle Shanahan to modernize his game. Reliance on five- and seven-step drops with low-percentage deep shots were replaced with an effective short passing game that then opened up downfield throws in favorable matchups. Remember, Ryan looked terrible in this system in Year 1. It was in Year 2 when everything clicked and he exploded.

Similarly, Stafford is entering his second full season with Jim Bob Cooter leading the Lions' offensive attack. But in addition to the familiarity with the offensive system, the emergence of Kenny Golladay changes everything.


Effective deep shots are good for fantasy points. Connecting on a single 30-yard bomb is more points than connecting on three dink-and-dunks totaling 15 yards. However, you also want him to be effective when attacking downfield.

Now, he's no Uncle Rico, but Matthew Stafford's got a big arm and he's pretty good at slinging it downfield. Per Next Gen Stats, Stafford's quarterback rating when throwing it deep (20 or more air yards) was 91.7 last year, markedly better than the league average rating of 75.6.

Not only was he highly effective in that area of the field, but Stafford actually increased his deep passing attempts over the back half of 2016. Stafford saw his attempts downfield increase from 3.3 deep passes per game to 4.4 deep passes per game over the final eight games (league average in 2016 was 3.6 deep passes per game). This is a stat that perks my ears up if I'm a Golladay manager. I'll explain.

While it's true that you could run long routes from basically any alignment, the overall thought is that receivers who line up out wide (i.e. not the slot) will see more opportunities deep down the field.

So who lined up out wide for the Lions you ask? Well, in 2016 it was mostly a mix of Marvin Jones and 5-foot-10 Golden Tate, who surprisingly lined up out wide on 73 percent of his snaps.

In Week 1 of 2017? Jones ran nearly all his routes from the outside but Tate lined up out wide on just 17 percent of his snaps, a big fall from his 2016 numbers. Any vacuum left behind by Tate in that positional alignment was filled almost exclusively by rookie Kenny Golladay.


In addition to being an awesomely terrible (or terribly awesome) Saliva song, it's a good way to describe how the Detroit passing game now looks with Golladay, a big-bodied, physical receiver on the outside who Stafford can trust to make big-time plays. Everything clicks and the scoring could explode.

The emergence of Golladay will allow Jones to be one of the most athletic (6-foot-2, 4.46 40-yard dash time) No. 2 receivers in the NFL. It's a role he's better suited for and one he thrived in while with the Cincinnati Bengals.

It also allows Tate to slide into the slot and wreak havoc underneath. In 2016 Tate, rather remarkably, only lined up in the slot 26 percent of the time.

Wait ... Tate was in the slot just 26 percent of the time?!?

"I'll take Aging Future Hall of Famers for $200, Alex."

Anquan Boldin, ladies and gentlemen, lined up in the slot on a whopping 78 percent of his snaps. With Bolding now retired, Tate played in the slot on 82 percent of his snaps in Week 1. This should get you extremely excited about him in PPR leagues, as the Cooter-led offense features a litany of short passes. We saw the effects as Tate went ballistic in PPR formats to the tune of 10 catches for 107 yards in Week 1.

The overall effects of this shift were on display all game. Stafford ripped apart a strong Arizona defense featuring an extremely talented secondary, completing 70 percent of his passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns.


I don't know who came up with the nickname but it seems apropos given his 6-foot-4 frame and 4.50 40-yard dash time flying around in that Detroit uniform (editor's note: that honor goes to NumberFire's JJ Zachariason, @LateRoundQB on Twitter. Here's the proof).

The rookie out of Northern Illinois has terrific body control and actually thrives fighting through contact, making him an ideal downfield and red-zone threat. I absolutely buy the hype.

Stafford threw it deep twice in Week 1, both times going to Golladay. The two connected on one of those targets -- an impressive 45-yard score. It goes in the book as a 135.4 quarterback rating on the day for Stafford throwing to this part of the field.

But not only is Golladay out here making cray-cray diving catches, he's a load inside the red zone as well.

Again, going back to 2016, you know who led the team in red zone targets? That would be Boldin again. Even at age 35, the future Hall of Famer saw 22 looks from inside the 20-yard line en route to his team-leading eight receiving touchdowns. Golladay should, and most likely will, fill this role.

And keep in mind, Golladay only played on 60 percent of the team's offensive snaps, coming in mostly for Detroit's 11 personnel, which they ran on 78 percent of their offensive plays against the Cardinals. Given the team's continued struggles in the run game (2.65 yards per carry by running backs) and the impressive playmaking ability shown by Golladay, you'd be insane to think the Lions don't stick with more three-receiver sets moving forward, meaning more work for the team's third rounder.

He's exactly what Stafford and this offense needed and he helps everyone else find their natural spot on the offense, meaning a potential season-long spike in yardage and touchdowns for Stafford as we saw Sunday.

My bold prediction for both: Stafford will finish as a top-five fantasy quarterback and Golladay will rack up 1,000-ish yards with 10 or more touchdowns. I'm buying both all day long.


Fans of the NFL Fantasy Live Podcast will know what's up, but this is basically a segment where we go off the grid, mostly non-football, and give you the stuff we're giving props to.

» The trailer for "Blade Runner 2049" looks incredible. TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY.

» Vic Mensa's "The Autobiography" has been playing entirely too loud in my car. It's a bit grittier than your usual hip-hop album nowadays but give it a listen.

» Daily daps to C.J. Spiller who was cut, re-signed, cut, and then re-signed by the Chiefs in the span of a week. That roster bubble life is no joke man ... well, I just made a joke about it, but seriously, that's got to be rough.

James D. Koh is an anchor and host for NFL Network. He is also a host of the NFL Fantasy Live Podcast and a guest columnist for the NFL fantasy football editorial staff. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDKoh to tell him how much of an idiot he is for writing this column.

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