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Fantasy Football Today

Matthew Stafford: Lots of bad habits to break

By Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
Lions QB Matthew Stafford collapsed down the stretch in 2013. (USATSI)

Matthew Stafford is set up for a monster Fantasy season.

The Lions added a legitimate No. 2 receiver in Golden Tate, they re-signed running back Joique Bell and Brandon Pettigrew, and they finally have a head coach who's vowing to fix Stafford's fundamentals. Oh, and they still have Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush.

But before we get all excited about Stafford -- who's ranked fourth among QBs -- it's worth noting how bad he was in 2013 in several areas.

1. He ranked 30th in completion percentage at 58.5, his lowest mark since his rookie year.

2. He ranked that low despite facing little pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, Stafford was pressured on just 28.9 percent of his dropbacks. Only two QBs were pressured less often.

3. Stafford ranked 27th in deep ball accuracy (37.7 percent). Deep passes are defined as throws targeted 20-plus yards downfield.

5. On play-action throws, he compiled an 80.9 passer rating (24th in the NFL).

6. In the Fantasy homestretch, Weeks 12-16, Stafford accounted for seven touchdowns and 13 turnovers.

New coach Jim Caldwell believes Stafford has reached the point in his career where he can take a big step forward. But Stafford must improve more than his footwork and timing. Caldwell wants to see better decision-making.

“To know how to win is extremely important as well,” Caldwell said. “That's the key. It's a little bit more than throwing the ball accurately. It's a little bit more than obviously checking into the right play.

“It's knowing when you've got a game in the balance. What to do with the ball. Where to place it safely.

“Knowing when – ‘You know what? Let's punt this thing.'”

A little less gambling and a lot less throwing off his back foot would help Stafford, who finished as the No. 7 Fantasy QB despite last year's collapse. Do you trust him in 2014?

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