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Detroit Lions At Minnesota Vikings: A Fantasy Perspective

For the past couple of years, the "analysis" of a Lions/Vikings game, particularly one at the Metrodome, was fairly simple from a fantasy perspective: "Play as many Vikings as you can and bench all your Lions that aren't named Calvin Johnson."

Well this year, given that both of these teams are entering the game at 0-2 and are both having signficant struggles, it's not that easy this time around. In fact, each team is actually kind of limited in the players your team should be starting unless you really, really don't have a better option.

From the Lions' side of things, Calvin Johnson is always a must-play. Even though the Vikings' pass defense has been markedly better this season than it has been over the past few years, Johnson is just such a physical freak and has the kind of ability that really don't allow you to bench him. He isn't quite in the Larry Fitzgerald/Andre Johnson class of receivers because of his surroundings, but he's pretty close.

Rookie running back Jahvid Best is starting to make himself a must-play, too. At the very least, he's a good flex option or a solid number two running back. Best's. . .um. . .best value thus far has been as a receiver rather than a runner, but he's still racked up a total of 268 total yards and five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) in his first two NFL games.

Outside of those two, there really isn't anyone from the Lions to recommend, as far as I can tell.

On Minnesota's side of the ledger, Adrian Peterson is always a must-play, and he's run like a man possessed in his first two games of 2010. Even though he's only gotten one touchdown, he's third in the NFL in rushing yards and has yet to turn the ball over through Minnesota's first two games. Despite the improvement in Detroit's front four on defense, Peterson is quite likely to still get his yards on Sunday, and probably a score as well.

Visanthe Shiancoe is also becoming a must-start at the tight end position in fantasy football. To this point in the season, he's Minnesota's leading receiver, is second in the NFL among tight ends in receiving yardage, and has Minnesota's lone receiving touchdown of the season. He's proven to be the only competent receiving thread on the Minnesota roster to this point in the year, and should definitely be in your lineup.

The only other recommendation that can be made this week is the Minnesota defense. The Vikings have played two pretty decent offenses thus far in 2010, and have held them to a total of three scoring drives. They haven't racked up sacks or turnovers at the rate we've become accustomed to, but the Lions' offensive line is still suspect, so Jared Allen and company might be able to get back onto that track on Sunday.

This Sunday's game is probably going to be an ugly, low-scoring affair, but there are still a couple of potential fantasy contributors that will take the field at the Metrodome this Sunday.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.