The Detroit Lions remain in the hunt as the season presses on, and if they want to continue to hang around the periphery of the playoff race, they will have to find some more big wins.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of players who should be able to help them do just that, and as the team gets a bit healthier, more reinforcements could be on the way for the weeks ahead.
So where do things stand right now in the stock watch? Here’s a look at a quick reset after Thanksgiving Day and a tough defeat on the field that provided plenty of hope.
Stock up: James Houston, Edge
Where did James Houston come from, besides the Detroit practice squad? The rookie edge was a force in his first game on an NFL roster with two sacks and a humble approach, leading to some excitement about what could be in store for the youngster.
If there’s one thing the Lions have missed this season, it’s been a dynamic and consistent presence off the edge. Now that he’s going to be on the roster, it will be interesting to see if Houston can maintain the momentum moving forward. If he does, that could be huge for the Lions and their draft class.
Stock Down: D’Andre Swift, Running Back
Yes, it’s true that D’Andre Swift continues to produce touchdowns for the Lions in a limited role coming back off injury. It’s also true that he should make way more out of the opportunities he gets.
In Week 12, one play summed this up. Swift was targeted in the red zone with the Lions driving late in the third quarter. He whiffed and dropped a pass that would have been a sure touchdown near the goal line. A few plays later, the Lions bricked a short field goal. It made a big difference in a close game.
Swift needs to make big plays any time he touches the ball, and a drop in crunch time may have done nothing to prove that he needs to be fed more. While he is still productive, his overall stock is declining, especially with Jamaal Williams continuing to slam the ball and Justin Jackson offering the Lions plenty as a runner and pass catcher.
Stock up: Alex Anzalone, Linebacker
Fans might not like Alex Anzalone for some of his struggles, but the fact is, the veteran has been a steadying presence for the Lions at one of the weakest spots on the roster overall this year.
Anzalone was solid for the Lions in grabbing his first interception of the season in Week 12, and he’s likely going to continue to see more chances to be productive down the stretch. Other players might put up better stats, but Anzalone has been dependable for the Lions this season. There’s something to be said for that.
Stock Down: Austin Bryant, Edge
Detroit has needed players to rush the passer, so Austin Bryant has been useful this season. The biggest problem recently was his silly roughing the passer call that cost Detroit a late touchdown against Buffalo.
Bryant will continue to see time, mostly because the Lions need bodies up front. Could Houston now surpass him? It’s more than possible given the fact that Bryant hasn’t piled up the sacks this year and made a bad impression in Week 12 with a penalty.
Stock up: DJ Chark, Wide Receiver
Most of this season, the Lions haven’t seen wideout DJ Chark be much of a factor thanks mostly to nagging injury. That changed a bit on Thanksgiving Day with his 16 yard, one touchdown performance.
That stat line isn’t likely to make many folks jump up and down, but it does prove that Chark is starting to work his way back into the conversation as a featured offensive weapon. The Lions have lacked those thanks to injury, so it will be interesting to see if Chark can do anything with his newfound momentum.
It seems important to point out that the Lions were targeting a very wide open Chark on the critical play of the game Thursday. In the coming weeks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the end zone way more or at least gaining targets.