Every year, every draft, there’s simply one player that I can’t resist adding to my fantasy roster — the teflon kid, Matthew Stafford.
Last year, Matthew Stafford played without Calvin Johnson for the first time in his career. Let’s be real, Megatron wasn’t tearing it up the year before, mostly due to nagging injuries, but he was still no slouch — easily a Top-5 receiver year-in and year-out, he was also Stafford’s top target. Without Megatron, Stafford relied on the likes of Marvin Jones as his top wideout, Golden Tate as the target underneath, and mostly Theo Riddick out of the backfield. While Jones came through big the first few games of the season, he could later be found on a milk carton in downtown Detroit during the end of it. Golden Tate was barely even a blip on the radar outside of a few games, and Eric Ebron showed up occasionally when not battling an injury. It was primarily Theo Riddick that helped Stafford put a bandage on what culminated into a 9–7 record and Wild Card playoff birth.
Stafford’s touchdown conversions certainly suffered a bit in 2016, but his interceptions were also the fewest of his young career. At age 29, there’s still much to like about Stafford, starting with his offseason workouts under the guidance of QB coach Tom House. It’s a renewed testament to Stafford’s desire to join some of the elites of the league by putting in a little extra work to focus on both his conditioning and mechanics.
Aside from Stafford’s new offseason training regimen, I like his grit. Last year, Stafford could have easily called it quits late in the season after dislocating his finger — instead he played on. When Marvin Jones fizzled out and Golden Tate struggled, Stafford found ways to include Theo Riddick in new packages up the field and trust lesser known guys as well. Yes, Stafford only threw for a total of 24 touchdowns, but just about each one was earned in grind-it-out fashion with very little receiving weaponry at his disposal.
With a fully healthy Eric Ebron and Ameer Abdullah back to start the 2017 season, I see plenty of opportunities for this Lion’s offense to open up for Stafford. Mix in potential rookie-of-the-year candidate in Kenny Golladay, along with holdovers Tate, Jones and Riddick, and we’re talking about a chance for Stafford to notch 34-plus passing TD’s. Easily.
The more I learn about Matthew Stafford’s offseason, the perkier my ears get. I feel confident drafting him ahead of both Dak Prescott and Derek Carr.
(This article was originally published on July 30, 2017)