2016 Fantasy Report Card: Matthew Stafford

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The Lions’ season ended 2 weeks ago with a 26-6 playoff drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. It seemed like a foregone conclusion for this overachieving bunch and their franchise QB, Matthew Stafford, who now stands at 0-3 for his career in the playoffs.

Stafford’s line against Seattle: 18 for 32, 205 yards and 0 TDs…

Instead of overreacting and moping about the shortcomings of Stafford as an NFL QB, we’re going to take a look at Stafford’s fantasy season to hand out his Report Card for 2016.

Going into the 2016 draft season, Stafford was my #1 late round QB to target. He fell to me in 3 out of my 4 main leagues as I routinely snagged him as late as the 12th round in 12-man leagues. Stafford’s ADP, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, was 128th overall and the 12th QB off the board. He was being drafted behind other signal-callers such as Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning. I pegged Stafford as one of my favorite late round QBs due to the Lions incredible opening schedule and he did not disappoint.

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Through Week 7, Stafford was the QB3 in standard leagues (4 point per TD) and the 4th overall scorer in fantasy. He had a monster Week 3 showing against the Packers in which he hooked up with Marvin Jones for 2 TDs en route to a 385-yard day. He finished as a QB1 5 times in those first 7 weeks, a feat only Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck could match during that span. However, the second half of the year was a much different story. Stafford was QB17 from Week 11 on throwing only 6 TDs in 7 games.

Here’s a couple interesting nuggets diving into Stafford’s season:

  • He did lead the league in 4th quarter comebacks and game-winning drives with 8. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate into fantasy points.
  • His 207 rushing yards were a career high and 10th among QBs.
  • His 11.2 yards per completion was tied for 18th best in the league with other dink-and-dunk artists Tyrod Taylor and Case Keenum.
  • Stafford threw for 1 or fewer TDs in 9 of his 16 starts on the season. This is a huge discrepancy from the player who threw multiple TDs in 11 of his starts in 2015.

It’s clear that once Theo Riddick was removed from the offense following a Week 13 injury, Stafford’s numbers plummeted across the board. Apart from an obvious start in New Orleans and against Green Bay to finish the season, Stafford returned to a middling fringe starter in the second half. He simply wasn’t trustworthy down the stretch. Overall, if you drafted Stafford late, you likely rode him until the middle of the season and then dumped him for another viable waiver wire QB. The draft capital and investment paid off until you found another alternative.

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For 2017, Stafford will once again be available as a late round QB to use as a worthy weekly streamer. His days approaching 5,000 yards are long gone considering the offense is focused more on efficient short passes rather than the down-the-field gunslinger he was with Calvin Johnson at the helm. He still is worth waiting on but nothing should lend you to draft him any higher than 9th-10th round in standard leagues.


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