Fantasy Court: The Case For Matthew Stafford in 2020

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If you are new to the Fantasy Footballers or are unfamiliar with the Fantasy Court series, this article can be one half of a tandem argument or a stand-alone read.  I detail the case for Matthew Stafford in this piece while fellow writer Aaron Larson will lay the case against him for the 2020 season.  Make sure to check out Fantasy Court: The Case Against Matthew Stafford to read the other side of the argument.

Opening Statement

To put it frankly, the Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford is often besmirched.  It may be unintentional, but when we think of fantasy producing QBs, Stafford is generally not the first name that comes to mind.  He doesn’t have the jukes of Lamar Jackson nor does he have 50 plus touchdowns in a season like Patrick Mahomes.  Recent coaching and team management can be described as laughable, it’s often joked that players go to Detroit to perish, and the Lions usually watch the playoffs longingly from their couches.

Despite the turmoil and lack of season success, there has remained a constant in the Lions’ offense who takes the equivalent of being hit by mack truck multiple times a game yet still pours his heart and soul onto the field.  That is Matthew Stafford.

Excluding last year, Stafford has played every game producing an average of 289.3 fantasy points per year while being sacked a league-leading 301 times between 2011 to 2018.  He has had six top 10 QB finishes and two top 20 appearances while being 7th in passing touchdowns during those eight years with 218.  He is 2nd in passing attempts with 4,932 behind only Drew Brees, 3rd in completions with 3,114 behind Brees and Matt Ryan, and 4th in passing yards with 35,724.  He also leads the league during that time with 24 4th quarter comebacks.

Stafford may be down, kicked while he’s down, then have dirt thrown in his face, but he gets back up, rallies his team and puts his body on the line to fight for a win.  It literally took a broken back to keep him off the field last year.

2019 Performance

As I mentioned earlier, Stafford has played every game since 2011.  During his healthy eight games, Stafford threw 187 completions on 291 attempts for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns with five finishes as the QB6 or better.  Had he been able to finish the 2019 season, he was on pace for 374 completions on 582 attempts for 4,998 yards and 38 touchdowns.  To give you a comparison, Mahomes 16-game pace was 364 completions on 535 attempts for 4607 yards and 30 touchdowns and Jackson’s was looking at 283 completions on 428 attempts for 3,336 yards and 38 touchdowns.

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Granted, Stafford doesn’t have the rushing chops that these QBs do and he also throws more interceptions, but the passing volume alone is on par with (if not better than) the two elite fantasy QBs.  Because he did get severely injured enough to miss time for the time since 2011, we will never know what 2019 could have been for the Lions’ QB.

2020 Expectations

Since we can only speculate as to what could have been for 2019, let’s take a look at what could be for 2020.  Let’s not kid ourselves, he has an uphill battle ahead of him.  He has to prove he is 100% after recovering from his fractured back for a start.  I’m sure we are all going to hold our breath with covered mouths at the first hit Stafford takes.

Another hurdle is the Lions’ mediocre offensive line.  They did make improvements in the offseason, but new pieces acquired in the draft on an abbreviated offseason could be a disaster for a unit that must be cohesive to be effective.  Stafford is used to taking a beating, but with health concerns, the less he hits the ground the better for everyone.

One thing he has in his favor is the cornucopia of offensive weapons around him like WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., TE T.J. Hockenson, and pass-catching rookie RB D’Andre Swift as an additional target.  If RB Kerryon Johnson can stay healthy, Stafford will have a complete and talented arsenal at his fingertips.

Here are Andy’s 2020 Projections for Stafford.  For Mike and Jason’s projections, please check out the 2020 UDK.

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Andy, Mike, and Jason also have Stafford on their top-10 QB list for 2020.  You can read the episode recap and also listen to the podcast to get an in-depth breakdown of their consensus top 10 QBs.

Conclusion

You will be hard-pressed to draft better late-round QB than Stafford.  His risk is built into his ADP in the 12th Round.  I will concede that the path to QB1 does have its pitfalls, but it’s nothing Stafford hasn’t dealt with before.  With better protection and weapons around him, Stafford may also see his interception number regress from last year.  You can also draft a second late-round QB as a backup with little draft capital wasted if you’re concerned about his durability.  If he can get back to 2019 form, he’ll finish as a high-end QB1 that you practically stole at the end of your draft.

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