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Titans will feel Stafford's wrath
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Fantasy football is often a frustrating experience, and outside of Chris Johnson no player drafted in the first two rounds has been the subject of more expletive-laced tirades from fantasy owners in the first two weeks than Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford has tossed four interceptions in the first two games this year and as a result owns a 73.2 quarterback rating. This is not what fantasy owners expected from the Detroit signal-caller after his monster 2011 season.

Look for things to change in Week 3.

Stafford and the Lions are set to face Johnson and the Tennessee Titans, who very well could be the worst team in the NFL. Tennessee has allowed five passing touchdowns, tied for second worst in football with Buffalo, Cleveland, the Jets, Kansas City and the Giants, the last of which has already played three games.

What has happened thus far is that teams have not respected the Lions' ability to run the football, and rightfully so. Detroit has been forced to trot out the ordinary-in-name and ordinary-in-game Kevin Smith at running back in the last two games.

But Mikel Leshoure will make his NFL debut in Week 3 after missing all of his rookie season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon and the first two games this year due to a suspension. Leshoure should be able to add another dimension to Detroit's offense, and even if he can't Tennessee won't know that in game-planning for this week since we've never seen the RB in regular season action. In other words, the element of surprise should help Detroit create the illusion of balance even if Leshoure stinks.

Considering how poor the Titans have been in providing run resistance this season -- unheralded rushers Stevan Ridley and Jackie Battle have gashed Tennesee's run defense for a combined 194 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries (5.5 ypc) -- it's likely Leshoure is going to look like a future superstar.

As usual, Calvin Johnson will be paid extra attention by an opposing defense, but that hasn't stopped him so far, even if it has kept him out of the end zone. Johnson has grabbed 14 passes for 205 yards in two games.

What should help Stafford is that his other weapons will have a chance to break out. Brandon Pettigrew is a threat to post top-five tight end numbers this week against a defense that allowed three scores to Chargers backup tight end Dante Rosario last week and also gave up a pair of touchdowns to New England's TE duo in Week 1.

With Leshoure keeping Tennessee's defense off balance, Johnson drawing double teams on every play and Pettigrew breaking free for a few big plays, Stafford should also finally be able to get in sync with Titus Young, who has just two catches this season.

The onus will be on Stafford to make all of this work after he missed some throws last week against San Francisco and turned it over too much in Week 1, but I like his chances against Tennessee's defense and also believe that things tend to even out when good players are struggling.

Stafford threw 41 touchdowns a season ago, 16 to Johnson, but he has just two this year and Megatron hasn't caught any. They've got some ground to make up and I think they'll start this Sunday in Nashville.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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