Matthew Stafford: Late Round Steal
Last we saw of Matthew Stafford, he was torching the Oakland Raiders for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns in a loss. That was the third game in a row of at least 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was putting up 27.0 fantasy points per game, good for 2nd overall QB in fantasy according to espn.com. Very impressive numbers to say the least. The only problem with that was the Raiders game was his last of the season. Eight games into the 2019 season Stafford broke his back. More specifically, non-displaced fractures of his upper thoracic spine. After a few more games and losses the Lions officially shut Stafford down for the year.
Matthew Stafford was rebounding in a big way after having a disappointing 2018 season which saw him finish as the QB 20 in fantasy according to fantasypros.com. Ironically, rumors of back problems towards the end of 2018 may have contributed to his down year. Prior to that, he had 3 straight seasons as a top 10 fantasy QB.
The former pro bowler and number 1 pick in the 2009 draft was also an ironman before last season. He had started 136 straight regular season games which was the 6th longest streak for a quarterback. The last time he had a significant injury was a separated throwing shoulder in 2010. The following year, he finished as the QB 5 in Fantasy, averaging 26.5/game, and won come-back player of the year.
The Lions lost their remaining 8 games of 2019 without Stafford and finished as one of the worst teams in the league. Out of sight, out of mind now though as Stafford’s current rankings are more reflective of last season’s injury as compared to his performance when healthy. The following are fantasy football sites and Stafford’s ranking on them:
- Fantasypros.com QB12
- ESPN QB13
- Yahoo fantasy QB13
- Nbcsports.com QB13
- Bestball10s QB13
- Sportingnews.com QB17
On average Stafford is getting drafted just outside the QB1 range. Clearly, when healthy, which has been the majority of his career, Stafford has produced. Going into his 12th season Stafford is still just 32 years old. As we’ve seen recently, QB’s are playing more into their late 30’s with success.
In 2020, Stafford has arguably the best set of weapons he’s had in his career. Coming off the best year of his young career, Kenny Golloday has moved himself into the upper echelon of wide receivers.
Finishing as the WR8 in ESPN PPR scoring last year, four of Golloday’s five 100 yard games came with Stafford at the helm. Golloday’s 18.3 yards per reception also shows that Stafford still has one of the strongest arms in the game.
Ever reliable, Marvin Jones will be back again. Recovered from a slight ankle injury which finished his 2019 season, Jones’s touchdown efficiency (14 TDS in his last 22 games) meshes well with Golloday’s big play ability. Rounding out the wide receiver corps you have veteran Danny Amendola and rookie 5th round pick Quintez Cephus.
Potential break out candidate T.J. Hockenson will be Stafford’s target at tight end. The John Mackey Award winner as best tight end in college and 8th pick in the 2019 draft is coming off an injury shortened season but showed promise in his rookie year.
At running back, Kerryon Johnson and rookie 2nd round pick Deandre Swift will split duties. Swift looks to be Stafford’s new main receiving back and sooner than later appears ready to be the main ball carrier too.
With Detroit’s projected win total at 6.5, according to cbssports.com, Stafford should be facing a lot of negative game scripts. Already holding the single season pass attempts record (727 in 2012), we could possibly see another high volume passing season from Stafford.
Any injury or rust concerns should be quelled as well, as word out of Detroit’s training camp is Stafford hasn’t missed a beat. “Man, he’s been awesome,” coach Matt Patricia stated. “He’s dialed in, locked into the coaching, the teaching, practice, meetings, his leadership has been outstanding. I think he’s fired up every day out there. He’s competing really hard and wants everything to be perfect, and you love the drive of everything that he does right now.”
So if you are looking to wait on quarterbacks in your upcoming drafts, as is suggested by original late round quarterback guru J.J. Zachariason, Matthew Stafford could be your late round steal.