|Ht / Wt:||6'7" / 261 lb.|
|Born:||June 4, 1994|
|Drafted:||2015 / Rd. 5 (160)|
James, who caught two of three passes for five yards in Sunday's season finale against the Packers, finished the 2019 season with 16 catches (27 targets) for 142 yards and no touchdowns over 16 games.
Analysis: Detroit signed the former Steeler in the offseason to help the Lions offense establish its identity in the run game. For the most part, James played his role well. While fantasy owners likely hoped for more production as a receiver -- especially when T.J. Hockenson (ankle) missed time due to injury -- prolific pass-catching has never been James' game and it probably never will be. Instead, the 6-foot-7 James excels in opening holes for running backs and that's exactly what the Lions are likely hoping from James in 2020 and beyond. The 25-year-old tight end is under contract through 2023.
James caught his only target for 12 yards during Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Broncos.
Analysis: After seeing five passes come his way last week, James was much less involved this time around. In fact, he's only seen more than one target in five of 15 games this season despite regularly seeing a healthy amount of playing time. Logan Thomas will remain the team's top receiving threat from the tight end position during Sunday's season finale in Green Bay.
James caught three of five targets for 31 yards during Sunday's 38-17 loss to Tampa Bay.
Analysis: Both James and Logan Thomas opened the game in the starting lineup and both players commanded roughly two thirds of the available offensive snaps. While James was somehow the only one who made a dent in the stat sheet, Thomas was targeted four times and still remains the higher-upside receiving option of the two. However, it will continue to be difficult to have optimism for either as long as Matthew Stafford (back) remains out of commission.
James caught one of two targets for 23 yards during Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Vikings.
Analysis: Getting the start in place of T.J. Hockenson (ankle), James unsurprisingly failed to match the 11 targets Hockenson saw last week with interim quarterback David Blough. Somewhat more surprising is that James ultimately finished with less snaps than backup Logan Thomas, who also doubled James with four targets of his own. James probably shouldn't have been counted on for fantasy production anyway, but there's at least possibility for a rebound in Week 15 against a weak Buccaneers secondary.
James is expected to serve as the Lions' top tight end for the team's final four games of the season after T.J. Hockenson (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Monday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
Analysis: James looked like he might have been in store for a significant role with Detroit in 2019 when he inked a four-year, $25 million deal in free agency in March, but he soon became a pricey No. 2 option on the depth chart after the Lions selected Hockenson with the eighth overall pick in the draft a month later. Hockenson's injury clears the way for James to take on more prominence in the game plan, but the veteran will most likely provide his biggest impact as a blocker rather than a pass catcher. With nine catches for 71 yards this season, James actually ranks third among Detroit tight ends in both categories, as Logan Thomas (11 catches for 120 yards) has seen similar involvement in the passing game despite playing 156 fewer offensive snaps.
James was not targeted during Thursday's 24-20 loss to the Bears.
Analysis: Even with T.J. Hockenson (leg/shoulder) banged up, James still only saw about a third of the available snaps. Moreover, quarterback David Blough locked in on Hockenson front he get-go considering the rookie tight end easily paced the team with 11 targets -- compared to combination of zero between James and Logan Thomas. These minor responsibilities as a receiver will continue to prevent James from attaining fantasy relevance in even the deepest of leagues.
James caught his only target for seven yards during Sunday's 19-16 loss to Washington.
Analysis: Just when it looked like Logan Thomas was threatening James' role as the No. 2 tight end, starter T.J. Hockenson was a late addition to the injury report and James consequently logged his highest snap count since Week 6. However, as usual, the 6-foot-7 blocking specialist didn't gain much in the way of receiving production despite the return to an expanded role. No. 3 tight end Logan Thomas remains the much better bet for fantasy purposes.
James wasn't targeted during Sunday's 35-27 loss to the Cowboys.
Analysis: James logged a season-low 15 offensive snaps Sunday despite interestingly opening the game in the starting lineup alongside Logan Thomas instead of T.J. Hockenson. While Hockenson (48 out of 65 offensive snaps) ended up dusting both players for playing time anyway, Thomas (22) finished with more than a handful of snaps than James, which definitely isn't a good look for the expensive offseason acquisition. With that said, it's possible Detroit simply prefers to use the more passing-acclimated Thomas in the absence of a run game instead of the blocking-oriented James. Either way, James isn't a fantasy option.
James was unable to catch his lone target during Sunday's 34-30 loss to the Chiefs.
Analysis: James was mostly used to block on a day Detroit rode Kerryon Johnson to a career-high 26 carries. However, James could become a bigger part of the passing game in Week 6 if fellow tight end T.J. Hockenson (concussion) is unable to return to form during the Lions' Week 5 bye.
Thomas caught his only target for a 13-yard gain in Sunday's 27-24 victory over Philadelphia.
Analysis: Through three weeks, the 6-foot-7 James has mostly served as an extension of the offensive line. He's caught the occasional pass, but T.J. Hockenson continues to seem like the upside play among Lions tight ends.
James caught three of four targets for 18 yards during Sunday's 13-10 victory over the Chargers.
Analysis: T.J. Hockenson was the lone starter in this one after both he and James both opened Week 1 in the starting lineup. James again saw significantly less playing time than Hockenson, seeing just 30 offensive snaps compared to 48. For some reason, he still outpaced Hockenson in all receiving categories - including targets - but that's not probably not something that will happen every week. James is best left on the waiver wire.
James caught one pass for 15 yards during Sunday's 27-27 tie with the Cardinals.
Analysis: James and T.J. Hockenson were both in the starting lineup to open the game, but James was ultimately out-snapped by the rookie 64 to 51. Much of that discrepancy is likely due to Detroit's need for a hurry-up offense during the final parts of the game -- namely overtime -- but Hockenson also went for 131 yards and a touchdown in his first regular-season game and the rookie probably won't be seeing a reduction in snaps anytime soon. That leaves James as nothing more than a touchdown-dependant fantasy option in virtually all formats.
James caught one pass for four yards during Saturday's preseason game against the Texans.
Analysis: T.J. Hockenson meanwhile caught one pass for 22 yards, looking like the superior receiving threat compared to James. However, James is still a valued part of the offense due to his blocking ability and he could still catch a few passes along the way as well.
James is on track to be the primary "Y" tight end, Chris Burke of The Athletic reports.
Analysis: James stands 6-foot-7 at 261 pounds and has accrued plenty of experience as an inline tight end during his previous four seasons in Pittsburgh. He's likely to command a significant role with Detroit after receiving a four-year, $22.6 million contract this spring. However, Burke also notes that T.J. Hockenson's ability as a receiver adds a new element to the Lions passing offense that it didn't have before, so it's looking like the rookie could be the better bet for receiving production in 2019.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn expects James to work in tandem with No. 8 overall pick T.J. Hockenson at tight end, Carlos Monarrez of The Detroit Free Press reports.
Analysis: The NFL transition is notoriously difficult for tight ends, but Hockenson is one of the few prospects with potential to fill a three-down role immediately. Detroit certainly hopes the rookie can beat out James, who in March signed a four-year, $22.6 million contract with $10.5 million guaranteed (all in the first two seasons), per overthecap.com. Even if he does win the starting job, it's hard to see how James would warrant more than three or four targets per game in an offense that also needs to find looks for Hockenson, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones (knee), Danny Amendola, Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick.
James said he doesn't think he'll be used in Detroit the same way he was used in Pittsburgh, Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports. "I feel like I'm going to be a key part of this offense," the tight end specifically told Kyle Meinke of MLive.
Analysis: In between a forgettable rookie campaign and last year's role reduction, James logged over 850 offensive snaps for Pittsburgh in both 2015 and 2016. Even at this peak of his tenure, James was little more than a complementary piece in an offense that ran through wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. That shouldn't be the case anymore in Detroit, as James will slot in as the clear No. 1 tight end in an offense that doesn't have a bonafide superstar. However, before getting excited about James' sleeper appeal in fantasy formats, it should be noted the Lions targeted tight ends the second-fewest times in the NFL last season, and this year's draft class is absolutely loaded at tight end.
The Lions are slated to sign James, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.
Analysis: The 2015 fifth-rounder caught 30 passes for 423 yards and two TDs for the Steelers in 2018. James will now slot in as the Lions' top pass-catching tight end, an assignment that should lead to a degree of fantasy relevance for the 6-foot-7, 261-pounder this coming season.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert suggested James may be re-signed this offseason, Chris Adamski of TribLive.com reports.
Analysis: James may want to survey the league after he played second fiddle to Vance McDonald in 2018, but it's hard to imagine many teams would view the 24-year-old as much more than a high-end No. 2 tight end. The 2015 fifth-round pick did add an element of occasional explosiveness to his game last season, piling up a career-best 423 yards despite seeing his fewest targets (39) since his rookie season. James produced 14.1 yards per catch to improve his career mark to a measly 9.9, but he didn't actually have much of an impact in the passing game after his 5-138-1 receiving line against Kansas City in Week 2. Given the poor alternatives at his position in the upcoming class of free agents, James could cash in with a surprisingly large contract if he finds one or two teams that view him as a starter. McDonald is under contract in Pittsburgh through 2021.
James was not targeted in Sunday's 16-13 win over Cincinnati.
Analysis: For the second straight game Ben Roethlisberger failed to throw a pass to James, whose playing time dwindled as the season progressed. He finished the 2018 season with 30 catches (on 39 targets) for 423 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games and is a clear second choice at tight end behind Vance McDonald. James is an unrestricted free agent worth keeping an eye on this offseason.
James caught his lone target for nine yards during Sunday's 17-10 win over New England.
Analysis: The fourth-year tight end's disappointing season continued against the Saints, and James didn't see any targets after the seven-minute mark of the first quarter. He hasn't been a factor on offense for several weeks and faces New Orleans -- who allow the third fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends (4.9) -- in Week 16.
News powered by