Matthew Stafford has not only finished as a top-10 Fantasy option each of the past three seasons, but he's improved in each year. Sounds amazing, but there's a catch. Stafford's inconsistency in weekly Fantasy production keeps him from breaking through into the elite tier. He's notched 20-plus Fantasy points 22 times in those last three seasons (48 games), so not even a 50 percent success rate. The offense remains unchanged under the tutelage of playcaller Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford should continue improving on his efficiency without a glut of turnovers, the run game was barely altered (could Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount steal some goal-line touchdowns?) and the Lions should still be in a bunch of high-scoring games. Color us skeptical that Stafford will magically deliver week in and week out when little has changed in Motown. The good news? Stafford should still finish the season as a top-10 passer. The better news? The later you draft Stafford (figure Round 8 at the absolute earliest), the bigger bargain he'll be for your team.
Stafford is on the Lions' sideline with pads and a helmet before Friday's preseason game against the Raiders, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com reports. Stafford wasn't warming up with the Lions' pass catchers, so initial reports favored him sitting this one out. It's still not guaranteed that Stafford will play, but most quarterbacks in his situation would be in street clothes otherwise.
Stafford isn't expected to suit up for Friday's preseason game against the Raiders, Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official site reports. There's no reason to risk injury to the Lions' franchise signal caller, so backups Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock will lead the offense in the preseason opener.
Stafford displayed chemistry with second-year wideout Kenny Golladay during June minicamp, Justin Rogers of The Detroit News reports. The Lions are banking on Golladay's development along with an improved running game to make up for the offseason departures of tight ends Eric Ebron and Darren Fells. The team did sign Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo to join 2017 fourth-round pick Michael Roberts, but the trio will have a tough time matching the 751 yards and seven TDs provided by Ebron and Fells last season. The Lions otherwise devoted their offseason to building a decent rushing attack, something Stafford hasn't had since 2013. The team brought in offensive line coach Jeff Davidson and RB LeGarrette Blount, then drafted C/G Frank Ragnow at No. 20 overall and RB Kerryon Johnson at No. 43. Detroit would like to keep Stafford around last year's mark of 565 pass attempts, which was easily his fewest in a full season. He made up for it with improved accuracy on deep throws, despite playing behind an offensive line that struggled with injuries all year. Better injury luck up front could turn the Detroit offense into a dangerous, well-balanced unit, as TE appears to be offense's only weakness on paper.
Stafford completed 20 of 29 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns during Sunday's 35-11 victory over Green Bay. He also caught a two-point conversion while rushing twice for two yards. Stafford capped off another statistically-strong season in Detroit by putting together one of his most masterful games in recent memory, as his 140.4 passer rating was his highest mark since 2015. The Georgia product ended the campaign in style, too, sneaking behind the Packers defense to catch a two-point conversion on a trick play in the fourth quarter. Stafford will now finish the season with a fantastic stat line that includes 4,446 yards passing, a 65.5 completion percentage, 7.9 YPA mark and 29:10 TD:INT ratio -- while being sacked 47 times, the second-highest total in the league. He'll now proceed into the second year of the massive extension he signed last summer expecting to have the same underrated but potent nucleus of wideouts back at his disposal -- one that includes a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, along with an ascending deep threat in 2017 third-rounder Kenny Golladay. If the Lions can finally find an answer at the running back position this offseason, Stafford could realistically improve upon his 2018 numbers if opposing defenses are forced to station more players closer to the line of scrimmage. However, it's possible the Lions move on from head coach Jim Caldwell this offseason, which could signal the start of an adjustment period for the entire team.
Stafford completed 25 of 33 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns during Saturday's 20-10 victory over the Bears. He also lost a fumble while rushing once for minus-1 yard. Stafford appears to be operating at full health, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported that Stafford didn't tape up his bruised throwing hand Saturday and won't need to moving forward. Even with this recent injury, Stafford currently boasts an 80.2 percent completion rate over his past three games. He was passing at a 62.5 percent clip in the 11 games prior. While he only completed two of 10 passes that traveled over 10 yards Saturday, Stafford excelled in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field and finished with an 86.9 completion rate on passes that traveled 10 yards or under. For those who think this increased efficiency is unlikely to persist through the season's final two games, consider this: in Week 16, he'll be playing against a Bengals team that could be without both of its regulars at cornerback and possibly its entire linebacking corps. Then, in Week 17, Stafford hosts a Packers secondary that recently lost its top draft pick, cornerback Kevin King (shoulder), to injured reserve, and could be without their other starter at the position, Davon House (shoulder), as well. Even with those two healthy for most of the season, Green Bay still ranks 29th in quarterback-rating allowed (98.2).
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/10||New York Jets||26||21.00|
|2||09/16||@San Francisco 49ers||27||21.00|
|3||09/24||New England Patriots||30||21.53|
|5||10/07||Green Bay Packers||31||22.06|
|13||12/02||Los Angeles Rams||9||16.65|
|17||12/30||@Green Bay Packers||31||22.06|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||66.1||4345||28||11||155||1||345|