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Detroit Lions Sign WR DJ Chark

NFL Offseason – The Detroit Lions addressed their glaring need for speed at wide receiver on Tuesday by signing DJ Chark to a one-year contract, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Chark played just four games for the Jacksonville Jaguars before fracturing an ankle against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns, finishing 32nd in DYAR and 37th in DVOA. Chark dropped to 68th in DVOA with a 53-706-5 stat line in 2020, but his quarterbacks that season were Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton.

Chark is a deep receiver by trade, placing his production and metrics at the utter mercy of his quarterbacks. Per Sports Info Solutions, his average depth of target was 12.0 in 2019 and 14.2 in 2020. Chark caught 15-of-35 deep passes (15-plus air yards) in 2019 for 465 yards in 2019, 14-of-34 deep passes for 368 yards in 2020 and 5-of-12 for 130 yards before getting hurt in 2021. Many of his targets and much of his production came along the sidelines. 

It’s likely that Chark’s all-around production and deep-passing metrics will improve given a functional offense and league-average quarterback play. It’s not clear whether the Lions can provide those things in 2022. But Jared Goff lacked credible deep targets due to Tyrell Williams’ Week 1 injury and subsequent release last season. Chark should at least force safeties to respect the possibility of some Goff downfield floaters.

The Jaguars chose not to re-sign Chark because they were too busy spending beaucoup bucks on Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram, who would make a fine WR2, WR3 and TE2 on a playoff team. Chark at least has the potential to be a WR1.

Overall DJ Chark Impact: The Lions still need about two more receivers, including a starting-caliber possession target. But the Chark signing is a low-risk step in the right direction.

Fantasy DJ Chark Impact: Chark leaps to instant WR1 status for the Lions. Assuming Goff remains the starter for at least the start of the season, pencil in Chark for his 2019 numbers (semi-competent quarterbacking) rather than his 2020 (Glennon-Luton Project) numbers.


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