Matthew Stafford can be really, really, really good. Incredible arm strength, makes quick reads, has great accuracy, and, most importantly for fantasy purposes, plays for the Detroit Lions and their stacked offensive unit. Stafford finished as the number four quarterback in fantasy last year, tossing 29 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. However, while a 4th-place finish is solid, Stafford could have been even better, leaving a healthy amount of points on the table. So what should owners expect from the Lions gunslinger in 2014?
Calvin Johnson is really good at football. Stafford gets to throw to Johnson as much as he wants, 16 games a year. Yep, sounds good to me. Obviously, the Lions offense has the potential to be the most explosive in football. They have the best receiver in football, a capable new number two in Golden Tate, two running backs that routinely catch 50 passes out of the backfield and now, an insanely athletic rookie tight end in Eric Ebron. What’s not to like? And, of course, not many passers have seen the volume of Stafford’s lately, ranking inside the top-five in pass attempts in each of the last three seasons. He’s also been durable during that span, failing to miss a game.
Obviously, not having a guy like Megatron isn’t fun, but it’s a little concerning to see how badly Stafford struggles when Calvin Johnson isn’t in the lineup. Luckily for him, that is a rare occurrence, but it’s something to monitor throughout the season. Also, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is no longer in Detroit, who has helped the Lions rank 6th, 3rd, 1st, 1st and 5th in pass attempts during his five seasons. Detroit has talked about becoming a more balanced offense and featuring the run a bit more, but they should still rank at least inside the top-10 in pass attempts. Other than that, there really aren’t a ton of negatives with Stafford. I mean, I guess he could work on his sometimes ugly mechanics and inconsistent footwork, but that shouldn’t really be a problem for fantasy purposes.
Outside of the big three at the quarterback position, Stafford is the next best thing. One of the best offenses in football, playing in a dome and an NFC North that could feature a handful of shootouts, Stafford and the Lions should score plenty of points. If you don’t want to invest an early pick on Manning, Rodgers or Brees, don’t feel bad about having Stafford on your team, who could easily emerge into the top-three in scoring this year.
Bye Week: 9
Projected Round: 4th
Auction Value: $21 (via ESPN)