Is Matthew Stafford a Legit Fantasy Quarterback Option in 2010?

Kevin RobertsSenior Writer IJuly 27, 2010

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 20:  Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on September 20, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. The Vikings won 27-13.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Being drafted No. 1 overall has its perks. You've got the money, the fame, and an entire franchise supporting your every move and decision.

Then again, it also usually means you're playing for a dumpster team, and you're more than likely going to spend the first two to three seasons of your career crawling out of a hole.

For Matthew Stafford , his situation has been fairly similar to what David Carr and Tim Couch (former No. 1 picks) endured.

The difference? Stafford has a different personality, a more fluid approach, and Calvin Johnson.

His offensive line is arguably better than any offensive line Carr ever had, and his skills out-reach both Carr's and Couch's, at least at first glance.

But after injuries, losses, and 20 interceptions to start his career, what's there to get excited about?

After all, this Georgia boy plays for the Detroit Lions. What kind of optimism can we possibly hope for?

Well, in terms of winning and a playoff appearance, you can call off the hype of Detroit making a surge in the NFC North.

We do feel the Lions can get to six to seven wins in 2010, but with Chicago, Minnesota, and Green Bay all clearly on a completely different level, Stafford and his young crew of misfits will simply have to wait.

But that doesn't mean he can't cut back on the turnovers, stay healthy, progress, and take the fantasy football world by storm.

Let's look at the facts.

Calvin Johnson (aka, Megatron), wasn't fully healthy for most of 2009, and even missed two games. Even so, C.J. still wound up with 67 receptions, 984 yards, and five touchdowns.

Imagine what a healthy Johnson and Stafford combination could mean for the Lions.

Not impressed yet?

Good, because there's plenty more to get the saliva rolling.

Detroit was also busy in free agency and the NFL Draft , trading for athletic, pass-catching tight end Tony Scheffler, signing shifty wide receiver Nate Burleson, and drafting the explosive Jahvid Best to play running back.

With Brandon Pettigrew entering year two, he and Scheffler will form a complete tight end duo (Pettigrew is an elite blocker, while Scheffler is an elite receiver), while Jahvid Best and incumbent starter Kevin Smith (returning from 2009 injuries) will form a balanced rushing attack.

Burleson joins a Detroit passing game that looks to be vastly improved with a healthy Johnson along with Bryant Johnson filling in as the third receiver option.

But weapons are just weapons until a quarterback can mature and put them to use.

That's why a closer look at Stafford's growing pains and maturity should ease most fantasy owner's minds.

Early in the season in 2009, everyone could already see that Stafford had the arm and mojo to hang with the big boys. He topped 200 yards passing in three of four games to start the season, while tossing a touchdown in three straight games during that span.

Despite injuries that slowed down his development in year one, Stafford went on to torch the Cleveland Browns and toss the game-winning touchdown in a thrilling victory for the Lions.

Stafford was sensational in that game, passing for 422 yards and five scores.

True, it was the Browns, but progress is progress.

Stafford would end up missing the final four games of the season due to injuries and being out of the playoff race, but he ended on a solid note, throwing 10 touchdowns in the final four games he played.

Stafford's potential could have been seen from the moon in that thrilling performance against the Browns. And while injuries, interceptions, and inconsistency are questions needing answers, there is enough to suggest Stafford could be on the rise in the fantasy realm.

New weapons and another year under his belt make Stafford a very intriguing fantasy sleeper pick, and could make him an excellent value buy in the later rounds as a backup quarterback.