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Undervalued QBs: Matthew Stafford

In fantasy football, players can be overvalued or undervalued for a multitude of reasons. Some of the primary drivers are recency bias, changes in sentiment, offseason/training camp hype, or a change in situation. Regardless of which, seeking out and capitalizing on these mispricings can give fantasy players a massive edge over the competition.

In this series, the aim is to identify quarterbacks who appear underpriced at their current ADP’s in redraft and dynasty formats.

As a precursor, I should note that QB scoring is rather volatile on a year to year basis. Due to this, I prefer to stray from selecting quarterbacks early in fantasy drafts or paying up in trades as the risk of doing so is elevated on a positional basis.

Matthew Stafford

In my never ending quest to find cheap, reliable (hopefully) QB production, it’s hard to find a more enticing option than Matthew Stafford. Currently, Stafford finds himself with an ADP of QB13 in redraft and QB14 in dynasty. At the age of 32, there’s more than a couple good fantasy seasons left in Stafford heading into this year. So, why is Stafford poised for a strong fantasy season and likely increase in long term value?

Last season

Due to his season ending injury last year, many are unaware of just how solid Stafford was as a fantasy option. On a fantasy points per game basis, Stafford finished the season 4th among all QBs. The caveat is that due to injury, Stafford only wound up playing 8 games. During those 8 games, the Lions averaged the 8th most points per game. Would he have been able to sustain that pace through a full season? It’s entirely possible with how well the passing game was clicking, how poor the run game was and how bad the defense played.

When it came to efficiency, Stafford was very impressive. Here’s how he fared in some of the most commonly used efficiency metrics.

True Passer RatingCAYAY/ANY/AANY/ATD %Fantasy Points per Game
107.9 (6th)8.3 (1st)9.1 (2nd)7.64 (4th)8.15 (5th)6.5% (4th)21.45 (4th)

While I hope that Stafford can maintain or improve upon those numbers, it’s not the most likely outcome as efficiency statistics tend to gravitate towards career averages. Having said that, Stafford has left room for some natural regression and should provide a solid floor at his current ADP. If he’s able to sustain this type of efficiency, fantasy owners will be getting an absolute steal.

Understanding that this all took place last year, let’s take a look at what this season has in store.

Supporting Cast

Over the past few years, the Lions have surprisingly done a good job of surrounding Stafford with quality players at the skill positions. To start, the outside receiving tandem of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. is nothing short of exceptional. Below are their 8 game receiving totals with Stafford in the lineup last season.

ReceptionsTargetsYardsY/RTDFP/G
Golladay356264018.3715.2
Jones Jr.425753512.7613.9

As you can see, both players were on pace for stellar seasons and enter 2020 healthy alongside Stafford.

When it comes to the slot, Danny Amendola is very capable and finished just shy of career highs in receiving yards and YPR last year, despite Stafford’s injury. At TE, the Lions will trot out last year’s 9th overall pick, T.J. Hockenson. While some considered Hock’s rookie season a disappointment it was in line with expectations when it comes to rookie TE’s. Having just turned 23, Hock is an interesting breakout candidate this year and at worst, offers Stafford another receiving threat.

At running back, the Lions used the 35th overall pick to select D’Andre Swift from the University of Georgia. Since being selected, Swift has seen his fantasy stock take a tumble with many citing the Lions’ recent failures with RB’s and his impending timeshare with incumbent Kerryon Johnson. I’m sympathetic to those burned by Lions backs before but, it’s hardly a fair comparison when the coaching staff and roster are different. Anyways, how the carries shake out are of little concern to Stafford. What does matter, is that Swift’s receiving ability will give Stafford another playmaker to utilize.

Not stopping there, the Lions made the prudent decision to bolster their offensive line. In free agency, they added former Eagles G/T Halapoulivaati Vaitai who will slide in as an immediate starter. Additionally, the Lions spent 3rd and 4th round picks on guards Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg, respectively. The impact both rookies will have this year is up for the debate however, there’s no denying the added depth bodes well for Stafford.

External Fantasy Factors

Outside of his supporting cast, there are a couple more factors that stand out as potential tailwinds for Stafford.

Schedule

While the Lions are T-5 in Strength of Schedule this season, they often find themselves matched up with the softer pass defenses in the league. For context, they will play the NFC South, the AFC south, their divisional opponents, the Redskins and the Cardinals. Not only are there a host of bad pass defenses on that slate, there are also a number of dynamic offenses. This brings me to my next point.

Shootouts Galore

As mentioned, the Lions will be playing a large constituency of above average offenses next season. While above average doesn’t sound scary, it should when we take the Lions defense into consideration. Last season, the Lions defense managed to allow the 2nd most yards per game, the 6th most yards per play, the most opponent plays per game and the 7th most points per game. The Lions made some moves in the offseason to help rectify these issues but they’ll still enter the 2020 season as a bottom 10 defense. Consequently, Stafford should find himself in more than a couple shootouts next season.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, we all have our own preferences and price points that we look for in a fantasy QB. For those who choose to wait, or simply miss out on their guy early, Stafford offers a superb low risk, high upside investment in the 9th round and beyond. The combination of the Lions skill position players, poor defense and necessity to win make him a safer option than most QBs in his range. Barring any dramatic changes, Stafford should provide a top 12 QB floor with a chance at cracking the top 8. 

For those of you interested, my previous series took a look at cheap receivers and the most recent article can be read here https://fantasyfuru.com/2020/07/03/cheap-wrs-brandin-cooks/

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