Matthew Stafford and Why He Will Be a Top 5 Fantasy QB This Year
Are you worried that you just clicked on another article by a delusional Detroit Lion fan?
You've seen it before, Stafford is the real deal, Stafford is Peyton Manning, Stafford will lead this team to the Super Bowl. There is no limit to the hype Lion fans are giving Stafford.
Well I am a Lion fan and delusional is one of the nicer names I have been called, but I will try to give you some reasons to believe.
No hype, just some things you might not have considered.
I know you need some proof, this is serious business and it's going to take a whole lot more than some babble by a Lion slappy.
Besides, you made it this far, you might as well hear me out.
Check Out That Rookie Season
What the h3ll am I talking about?
Am I trying to tell you that 13 to 20 TD ratio and 61.0 passer rating is supposed to get you excited?
Not exactly, you have to dig a little deeper.
Maybe you heard someone say Stafford had the highest yards and TD per game in a rookie season since that Peyton guy.
It's true, in the ten games he played he averaged 226 yards and 1.3 TDs per game.
Over 16 games that works out to 3627 yards and 21 TDs. Pretty decent numbers, not what you want out of your No. 1 QB, but not bad.
Now consider this. Remember how he came back from that hit to win that game against Cleveland?
Maybe you saw him play in that Thanksgiving game four days later. If you did, it was obvious that he was nowhere near healthy and, when he followed up with a similar performance against Cincinnati, the Lions shut him down for the season.
So what if we take those two games where he was obviously less than 100 percent out of the equation?
How about he averaged 238 yards per game. Over 16 games, it works out to 3822 yards with 22 TDs.
Hmmmm. That's borderline top 10 QB stats.
What About Those Injuries or Doesn't the Lion OL Stink
Are you worried that Stafford is getting killed behind that offensive line and the injuries prove that he won't last the season.
First—about those injuries.
The knee injury happened when he rolled out of the pocket and didn't throw the ball away. While getting dragged down he twisted his body trying to keep the play alive and his knee popped out.
Apparently he had popped his knee out in high school on a water slide and the doctors say it's fixed now.
The second injury was similar in that he held the ball too long and was hit just after he released the ball. It's the kind of freak play that can happen sometimes. This isn't like Big Ben or Aaron Rodgers where he allows himself to take too many hits.
In fact, Stafford was sacked on 6.0 percent of his pass attempt which is less than the league average of 6.1 percent last year.
Stafford is showing no effects of the injury this preseason other than he has a quicker release so expect that sack percentage to go down.
Remember, Stafford is a very tough kid and despite getting some poundings against those SEC defenses he never missed a game in college.
Did He Learn Anything Over the Off-season?
You bet he did.
The injury didn't keep him from watching tape and he took full advantage of it.
Stafford is a self-proclaimed film room junkie and his knowledge of opposing defenses has impressed the Lion coaches since before they drafted him.
Watching him work now, it's obvious that he has total command of this offense and it's the kind of offense any fantasy owner can love.
Lion offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has been either head coach or offensive coordinator for seven seasons now and a look at what kind of stats those offenses have put up are interesting.
Four of those years Linehan has had a top 10 offense while three years were bottom half in the league.
In the four good years the QB was Daunte Culpepper 3 times and Marc Bulger in his Pro-Bowl year.
In the three bad years the QBs were Gus Ferrotte, an injured Marc Bulger and Stafford in his rookie year.
It's pretty clear that if you give Linehan a good quarterback he will put up points and yards.
In the four good years his QBs averaged 4301 yards and 29 TDs per season.
Would you like those kind of numbers on your fantasy team?
Stafford is ready and with his kind of talent he could exceed those numbers.
Megatron Can't Do It Alone, Where Is the Help?
If you are asking that question, you have not paid attention to what GM Martin Mayhew has done this offseason.
In the offseason, the Lions added free agent WR Nate Burleson, traded for TE Tony Scheffler, and drafted RB Jahvid Best.
Then consider that RB Kevin Smith and TE Brandon Pettigrew look fully recovered from their season-ending injuries and last year's free agency signing WR Bryant Johnson looks better than ever and you get a lot of weapons for Stafford to utilize.
And utilize them he has, while Calvin Johnson has the only two TD passes from Stafford in the preseason, Matt has done a masterful job of spreading the ball around.
Of course the main man is Calvin Johnson and all the work Stafford and Johnson did in this off-season is evident. Megatron seems re-energized and ready to take his rightful place among the very top of the WR food chain.
This duo could put up historic numbers and history will start this year. Remember that when Calvin Johnson is sitting there in the second round. If you don't take him somebody will get 1500 yards and 15 TDs out of a third round pick, and that could be a conservative estimate.
Another thing to consider is the type of running backs the Lions have. They are already using Best at times similar to how the Saints use Reggie Bush and Kevin Smith has always been great out of the backfield.
All those little dump off passes to Best with his 4.3 speed will rack up Stafford's passing totals.
What the running backs don't do well is play smash mouth football. Inside the 10 the Lions will be far more likely to pass the ball than try running the ball.
Of course that's great news if you want TD passes out of Stafford. With all those big weapons like Calvin, Scheffler, and Pettigrew 30 TD passes seem like a given.
Consider this, head coach Jim Schwartz has said many times that the team held Stafford back, his knowledge of the offense and skill level was beyond what the rest of the team could do.
That problem has been fixed.
With Stafford, You Get the Lions Defense Too
Great, who wants a defense that was ranked dead last two years in a row?
While there has been tremendous improvement in the talent level on the Lions defense, this is still a bottom ten squad.
What that means is you don't have to worry about the Lions running out the clock very often. The games will be high scoring and Stafford will be throwing the ball right up to the final gun in pretty much every game.
You can draft the Mannings and Bradys, but then you live with all those games where they shut it down in the fourth quarter.
With Stafford you get an all-out assault against those prevent defenses in the fourth quarter.
While this defense will give up points, they are building an aggressive defense that should be a lot of boom or bust. Of course a fantasy owner knows that means more possessions for the Lion offense.
Don't Worry About the Schedule.
You know the Lions play in the NFC North and you might know they play the NFC and AFC East this year so you probably have visions of Stafford trying to throw the ball through a snowstorm in Green Bay or New England right?
The closest thing to a cold weather game they will play is when they go to Buffalo on the 14th of November.
After that the Lions play four home games at the domed Ford Field and the three road games left are at Dallas, Miami and Tampa Bay. No snow there.
Speaking of domes, besides the eight home games they also play at the Metrodome and the yearly trips to Green Bay and Chicago will be over by week four.
Oh, those tough games against the AFC East two powerhouses, New England and New York Jets are at Ford Field.
That can only help keep the Lions in those games so you shouldn't have to worry about those blow outs where nothing happens in the fourth quarter.
There is even a little extra motivation for Stafford against those two AFC East beast with Sanchez on the Jets and the Patriot game is on Thanksgiving.
Get Ready To Party If You Play Your Cards Right.
Maybe the best reason to draft Stafford is what it does for your draft board.
By now, I hope you understand why I am calling for 4200 yards and 30 TDs out of Stafford this year.
This offense should get that out of a QB on an average season and Stafford looks ready to take full advantage of it. The Lions are committed to throwing the ball often and with the weapons they have the yardage will pile up.
The Lions will be in a lot of high scoring games this year, you might as well benefit from it.
So when those fantasy stud QBs like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tony Romo are snapped up in the first couple of rounds don't fret. Take your top running backs or consider Calvin Johnson.
When that run on the second tier of QBs starts late third round sit back and get that second running back or wide reciever. Philip Rivers or Jay Cutler won't win you anything anyways.
If you have some guts you might even take a TE in the fourth round because odds are that you know you have a fantasy stud QB waiting for you in the fifth round.
So wait for Stafford and get ready to celebrate because you just won your league. Like the picture shows, invite Matt and he will bring the beer.
Unless you have one of those delusional Lion fans in your draft. Then you better take Stafford before he gets to take his second pick because he won't wait long.