Matthew Stafford, a player who was often injured early in his career, has bounced back over the last 4 years to be one of the most durable players in the league. His durability & toughness has shown in his overall play. He had over 4,300 yards last season – an improvement over 2015 & 2014.
It was the first year Stafford was in the full-time offense under Jim Bob Cooter, the Lions offensive coordinator. While Stafford had a big year yardage wise, his touchdowns dropped off significantly, from 32 TDs in 2015 to 24 in 2016. We feel that that is just a blip in the radar, and Stafford should be in for a strong season.
He will have another full year with his receiver unit, led by Golden Tate for the second straight year. Marvin Jones is a strong #2, but will also need to make sure TE Eric Ebron becomes a true stud in the pass catch game. Ebron had a strong sophomore season, having 61 receptions for 711 yards, but with the absence of WR Anquan Boldin – who left for the Buffalo Bills, Ebron will have to quickly become one of the elite tight ends in the game, which he definitely has the ability to do.
Stafford Needs Help In Running Game To Get Big Numbers
Matthew Stafford will have the most success if he can get any assemblance of a consistent running game. Most Detroit sports fans know this is a broken record, but the team hasn’t had a consistent running game since Barry Sanders, who is now in the Hall of Fame. Football fans know that a great running game opens up passing for a quarterback to have single coverage on his WRs to make plays downfield.
The Lions were 30th in the NFL in rushing with a miserable 81 yards per game. That is not going to get it done in the league & will put too much pressure on Stafford & the Lions passing game. The main running back unit returns with Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington & Zach Zenner. All of them had right around 90 carries- and none over 400 yards rushing. Combined, the three running backs had only 6 touchdowns.
Stafford will lean on Kenny Golladay To Make Big Plays
The Lions got a big, physical receiver to help Stafford out in the 2017 NFL Draft in Kenny Golladay from Northern Illinois. At 6’4″, Golladay is a tall, big receiver who should be a home run threat for the Lions, allowing Stafford to air the ball out much more, a skill that he used almost all the time when Calvin Johnson was wearing the #81 for the Lions two seasons ago.
In his last two seasons, Golladay had 1127 & 1156 yards receiving in 2015 & 216 respectively, and had 73 & 87 reception seasons. He had 18 touchdowns over the two seasons, so he is used to getting to the end zone regularly. If Golladay can become a strong slot receiver early on, he should be able to work nickel backs easily, allowing the Lions & Stafford to go 4 WR much regularly, which should open up the running game & relax the blitzes a bit.
Matt Stafford Should Be A Strong GPP Play in DraftKings DFS
In DraftKings, Stafford was only OK for most fantasy owners last year. He only got over 20 DK points in 5 games last year, and all of those games were against the lower third of defenses in the league. However, 4 of his first 6 opponents are rated 23 and lower against the pass (New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers & New Orleans Saints).
I would play Stafford in those games as a GPP play, as those teams, from what I can see, have not improved their defenses to the point where they will be much stronger against the pass this year. Stafford is a great matchup play in DraftKings. Definitely not a guy who you want to spend a ton of money for, but if you need a guy at about $6200 to about $6700 at the QB position that won’t completely screw up your fantasy roster, Stafford is a good play.