Matthew Stafford
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When Calvin Johnson retired my first thought was why does Detroit’s best football players retire so soon? My second though was Matthew Stafford’s value just took a hit. I currently have Stafford ranked at 18th, but I’m thinking that may need to be adjusted.
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It appears that the Lions will be looking to employ a more fast-paced offense in 2016. Quite simply, more plays should translate into more stats.
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Stafford threw for 4,262 yards and 32 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions. Over the past five seasons he’s averaged 4,634.8 yards and 28.8 touchdowns. I know losing a hall of fame wide receiver hurts your value, but perhaps I am overdoing it.
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Detroit has three solid options at wide receiver. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will stretch the field while Anquan Boldin gives them a tough inside presence. T.J. Jones gives them another option that could end up surprising fantasy owners.
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Theo Reddick caught 80 balls last year and Ameer Abdullah added 25 of his own. Dynamic receiving backs will certainly help Detroit’s fast-tempo plan.
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Eric Ebron is dealing with an ankle injury, but he should be ready for the season opener. Ebron caught 47 passes for 537 yards and five touchdowns last year. In his third season, Ebron is a breakout candidate.
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I’m not Stafford is quite a QB1 entering the year, but he definitely has the potential to perform like one.

Calvin Johnson walks away
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In a cruel twist of fate Detroit’s all-time wide receiver is taking a page out of their all-time running back Barry Sanders’ book by calling it a career prematurely. Unlikely Peyton Manning, this one is a bit of a head scratcher.
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Johnson, only 30, is leaving millions of dollars on the table as well as an opportunity to climb the record books. He finishes a brilliant nine-year career with 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. Megatron played in all 16 games last year, catching 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. It was the fifth time in the past eight years that Megatron topped 1,200 yards and the sixth time he had at least eight touchdowns. Production like that will be missed.
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Golden Tate finished with 90 catches for 813 yards last year, but carried a heavier load in 2014 when Megatron was limited to 13 games. Tate responded with 99 catches for 1,331 yards. Look for a bump in production for Tate.
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Tight End Eric Ebron caught 47 passes for 537 yards and five touchdowns last year. He figures to take another step forward with additional targets.
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Youngster T.J. Jones could possibly take on a larger role with the Lions in 2016. Stay tuned to their offseason moves.
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Matthew Stafford’s value takes a hit. He can no longer be counted on as a QB1.

Boser’s Tweetbeat

24 February 2011

Boser’s Tweetbeat – Sifting through the hashtags to bring you the hottest trending Twitter topics in the Fantasy Football industry.
By Ryan Boser

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Adrian Peterson
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ADRIAN PETERSON VS. ARIAN FOSTER
That didn’t take long. The debate for the rightful No. 1 pick in next season’s redraft leagues has already materialized. After compiling 18 touchdowns and 2,218 combo yards last year, Arian Foster did more than enough to earn the top billing for me. However, Adrian Peterson backers certainly have a solid case — he’s finished as a top-5 fantasy back in each of his first four seasons. His most productive year was 2009, with 18 scores and 1,825 combo yards. It’s no coincidence that it was the only season he’s lined up behind a quarterback better than Shane Falco. When Brett Favre struggled to move the chains in 2010, Peterson saw less scoring opportunities and got a preview of what’s to come in 2011. In addition to the probable lack of a passing threat, Peterson’s patty-cake offensive line does him no favors. Moreover, the Vikings’ offense will be in transition under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, with a (potentially) shortened offseason program to acclimate. Peterson cleaned up the fumbling issues last season, and he’s dispelled early-career injury concerns. He’s the best running back in the NFL, and I consider him a safe, worthy top-3 selection.
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Arian Foster’s only done it for one year, but while some see this as a negative, I see it as fresh legs. Sure, things likely would have been different had Ben Tate stayed healthy last season. Instead, Foster emerged as a bona fide superstar, and Tate will enter 2011 as a redshirt rookie coming off a severe ankle injury. Gary Kubiak will return (by the skin of his teeth) with his zone-blocking scheme that fits Foster perfectly. He’ll have plenty of incentive to lean on the 2010 NFL rushing king — the pitchforks are sharpened and the torches are ablaze in Houston. Unlike fellow breakout back Peyton Hillis, Foster finished very strong, and had no problem shouldering a heavy workload. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson forcing defenses away from the line, Foster will again have plenty of room to operate, and it’s a safe bet that the No. 3 Houston offense will spend a lot more time in the red zone than the No. 23 Vikings. The versatile Foster is built for fantasy use, and at the end of the day, I think his situation trumps Peterson’s talent.
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THE FINLEY EFFECT
After a relatively slow start last season, Greg Jennings rebounded for a career year (76/1,265/12). It’s no surprise that his surge coincided with the ultra-talented Jermichael Finley’s season ending knee injury. While everybody seems to agree that Finley’s return will cost Jennings some looks in 2011, experts are split on the degree to which it will effect his production. In early mocks, I’ve seen Jennings drafted anywhere from third to eighth among receivers. Those bullish on Jennings will cite that the geriatric Donald Driver is clearly on the decline. They’ll argue that Aaron Rodgers’ magnificence can accommodate a top-level tight end, support an elite wide receiver, and part the Red Sea. I’m finding myself on the other side of the argument. Donald Driver’s decline was more than offset by the progression of James Jones and Jordy Nelson. The two had inconsistent moments, but the numbers don’t lie — they combined for 151 targets, 95 catches, 1,261 yards and seven scores. Jones’ status in Green Bay is on uneven ground, but Nelson appears ready to take the next step even if Jones departs.
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That brings us back to Finley. He’s an athletic specimen who’s literally open on every play, and with Jennings working downfield routes, Finley’s typically open quicker. The two have played exactly 16 full games together in the last two years, giving us a nice round figure to work with. Jennings’ production in the pieced-together season has been disappointing — 59/1,035/6. Coincidence or not, those numbers would’ve ranked 20th in standard scoring among receivers last season, one spot ahead of Braylon Edwards. I won’t go so far as to say he can’t be a No. 1 fantasy receiver, but unless Finley is sidelined again, I’ll have a hard time trusting Jennings in that spot.
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LION KING
Believe it or not, china doll Matt Stafford is at the center of heated draft discussions. There’s an aggressive assembly that views Stafford as a low-end QB1 with top-10 upside. Then there’s me and my red marker. I get it, Stafford has the blue chip pedigree, and he’s shown some promising flashes in his first two seasons. He has an upper echelon receiver in Calvin Johnson, and a decent set of secondary pass catchers that includes Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Jahvid Best. You could even recklessly extrapolate his 2.5-game 2010 sample size into a mouth-watering 45-touchdown, 3,424-yard fantasy feast. Stafford certainly appears to have all the skills to excel in the NFL, except one — the ability to stay on the field. Yes, that’s a skill. Brett Favre wasn’t just the luckiest guy in the league for the last two decades. And it’s not like Bob Sanders habitually walks under ladders. Where there’s smoke there’s typically fire, and Stafford’s sending off more signals than Bear Grylls.
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As a result of knee damage and three injuries to his throwing shoulder, Stafford’s missed 19 of 32 career games (59%). His offensive line has improved in protection, but quarterbacks inevitably get hit, especially in a division with Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, and Jared Allen. I don’t necessarily disagree with the premise that Stafford has top-10 potential, but he shouldn’t be drafted that way. Until he can correct his horrific rate of DNP’s, I see him as a mid-to-low level fantasy QB2.
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MOCKING 2011
I’ve recently had the pleasure of partaking in a series of 2011 mock drafts with a group of around 25 fellow industry writers, analysts, and amateur comedians. We’re using a slow draft format with several drafts going on simultaneously, and this first series is strictly PPR. It’s been a blast, and with about a dozen mocks in the books, we’re beginning to accumulate some early ADP knowledge. There have been a few interesting nuggets that have jumped out to me. The momentum of Aaron Rodgers’ outstanding postseason run has propelled him past Michael Vick for top quarterback honors. There appears to be no consensus top wide receiver. And if you’re high on Josh Freeman, Jamaal Charles, and Hakeem Nicks heading into next season, join the club — their stocks are soaring.
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The “Draftmaster” series is organized by Jim Day of FantasyFootballWhiz.com, and with the help of Pro Football Focus’ Mike Clay, here’s a first glimpse at our early results. If you’re a strong drafter with interest in participating in the Draftmaster series, feel free to reach out to Jim Day (@Fantasytaz) on Twitter for more information.
That wraps up my first installment of “Lester’s Tweetbeat.” Be sure to check back here in two weeks for the latest insider buzz circulating throughout the Twitterverse.
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Ryan Boser has contributed writing and analysis for FantasyVictory.com, KFAN AM 1130′s Fantasy Football Weekly program, and numerous other fantasy football outlets. Ryan’s own website, Out of My League, covers both fantasy football and the Minnesota sports landscape.


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

As a rookie, #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford completed 53.3 percent of his passes for 2267 yards, 13 TDs, and 20 INTs for a passer rating of 61.0. Those aren’t exactly numbers that make you clamor over him in your upcoming fantasy draft, especially when you consider 422 of the yards and 5 of the TDs came against the Browns in a Week 11 shootout. However, it is not unrealistic to foresee dramatic improvement from Stafford in 2010.

 

For starters, he gained invaluable experience by playing in ten games as a rookie. He learned how to prepare for a game, what to expect from defenses, and he became acclimated with the speed of the NFL. That gave him plenty to chew on as he prepares for his sophomore season.

 

There also is the hope that Calvin Johnson returns to form. His 2009 season was plagued with injuries. If he’s healthy this year, that gives Stafford one of the best threats in the game. He has the size, strength, and speed to put up monster numbers.

 

The Lions have provided some help for Johnson and Stafford. Defenses won’t be able to key in on Megatron like they did last year with the additions of WR Nate Burleson and TE Tony Scheffler. Assuming Brandon Pettigrew can return from his knee injury, Stafford will have a plethora of options that he just did not have last year.

 

The Lions also bolstered their running attack by drafting rookie Jahvid Best. He gives the Lions a gamebreaker that can score from anywhere on the field. He should help keep defenses honest.

 

With all of these pieces falling in place, I believe Stafford will make great strides in his second season. Enough so that I have him ranked as the 18th fantasy QB (click to see rankings).  He squares off against the Rams in Week 5 making him a nice backup to Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, who are on bye that week. Chad Henne is also on bye that week if you wait for a QB and play the match-up game.

 

Prediction:  3600 passing yards, 19 TDs, 20 INTs, 150 yards & 2 TDs rushing

 

What do you expect from Matthew Stafford?

 

Click here to enter the Best Fantasy Football Team Name Contest for a chance to win some fabulous prizes.

The Lions have added some young pieces (Stafford, Best, Megatron, Pettigrew) on offense over the past couple of years. They added some pieces on defense as well. They are far from being a contender, but they should be more competitive in 2010.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Lions face the Packers at home, the Bucs on the road, and the Dolphins on the road. Calvin Johnson is probably the only sure thing in the playoffs.  Him and your Packers and Dolphins.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Calvin Johnson – Assuming he (and Stafford) is healthy, Megatron should put up numbers more resembling his 2008 season (78-1331-12) than his 2009 season (67-984-5). Mainly because he’ll have more of a comfort level with Stafford, but also because Nate Burleson should take some of the defensive pressure away.

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

Three Star Fantasy Options
Matthew Stafford – With Megatron and the combo of Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew at TE, Stafford should have some weapons at his disposal. Nate Burleson provides an upgrade at #2 WR. Stafford had his moments as a rookie, and should make some progress in his second year. He remains a low-end QB2 though.

Jahvid Best – Best will have to prove he can hold up to the rigors of the NFL, but he has electrifying talent with little competition. He could be a nice dual threat if he’s able to stay on the field.

Two Star Fantasy Options
Nate Burleson – Burleson has a knack for performing well when you don’t expect him to and poorly when you do. He’s worth a look as a WR5 in his new home. He should have opportunities playing opposite of Calvin Johnson.

One Star Fantasy Options
Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris – I’m concerned with his knee and with the number of carries he’ll get. He’s a good low-end pick to round out your bench. If Best gets hurt or can’t carry the load, Smith could take over as feature back. Morris only has value if both Best and Smith go down.

Brandon Pettigrew & Tony Scheffler
Pettigrew could miss some time early on as he recovers from his  knee injury. Scheffler should see more looks as Pettigrew recovers, but will split duties as the season progresses.

Lions Defense/Special Teams – I like the additions of Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch, but this defense is still a long way away.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Calvin Johnson TD
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Calvin Johnson became a fantasy beast in his second year catching 78 passes for 1331 yards and 12 TDs.  He had at least 90 yards and/or a TD in 12 of the 16 games.  He should get better QB play this year with Daunte Culpepper in better shape and familiar with the team, and the addition of the first pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Matthew Stafford.

Megatron’s size, 6’5″ and 236 lbs., makes him a nightmare to cover.  Defensive Backs simply do not have the size and strength to matchup with him, and Linebackers don’t have the speed.  Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris for a talented duo in the backfield to take pressure off of the passing game.  Two newcomers, free agent Bryant Johnson and Rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew will keep defenses from keying in too heavily on Calvin. 

The only problem I foresee is the fantasy playoff schedule.  The Lions face Baltimore, Arizona (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), and San Francisco (Nate Clements).  That’s not enough to deter me from taking Megatron in the second round of fantasy drafts and projecting him for 85 receptions for 1400 yards and 12 TDs.

The NFL Draft is behind us.  Let’s check out the players and where they landed.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Did the Lions select Stafford because they believe he is a franchise Quarterback or did they take him to justify the price tag that comes with the number one pick?  Probably a little bit of both.  The NFL is a copycat league and the Lions saw what Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco did for the Falcons and Ravens respectively.  Of course, Cleveland had success two years ago when they took Joe Thomas early and Miami did the same last year with Jake Long.  The Tackles in this draft weren’t rated as high as Thomas or Long though.  Aaron Curry, perhaps the best defensive player in the draft, ultimately wasn’t look at as a #1 type player.  Stafford does have some things going for him.  He has a big, strong arm and the Lions’ possess one of the game’s best WRs in Calvin Johnson.  He doesn’t have to come in and play right away either as Daunte Culpepper is the starter for the moment.  Will he eventually get some snaps?  No doubt.  Finally, the expectation level won’t be there.  Yeah, he’s the number one pick, but when your team fails to win a game the previous year, the burden to win is delayed a couple years.  If Stafford comes in late in the year and wins a couple games, the pressure will build for 2010, but that would be a good problem for Stafford and Lions’ fans. 

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
The Jets made a bunch of moves the past two offseasons to win now.  Ultimately it cost Eric Mangini his job.  The Jets pretty much abandoned the draft this year, but they did come away with a potential franchise Quarterback in Sanchez.  He has a great personality and the big stage of New York shouldn’t be a problem after playing “semi-pro” ball at USC.  I would have liked to see them add a WR, but Sanchez will have plenty of weapons in Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, Dustin Keller, Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and the recently acquired Shonn Greene.  Sanchez should be given the opportunity to win the job right away as Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, and Erik Ainge aren’t very seasoned.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This pick doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Tampa has three decent QBs on the roster in Luke McCown, Brian Griese, and Byron Leftwich and one prospect in Josh Johnson, though Griese will likely be cut loose.  With some of the players that were available like Jeremy Maclin, Robert Ayers, Clay Matthews, etc., I don’t see what the Bucs were thinking.  Maybe Raheem Morris wanted to put his stamp on the team by drafting his QB.  I don’t see him making any contributions this year.  If McCown wins the job and has a Derek Anderson type season a QB controversy is bound to happen as Tampa will feel obligated to justify the contract.  The best scenario for Freeman and the Tampa Bay front office would be for Leftwich to win the job, as he is not a long-term answer.  Then they could groom Freeman to take over in a year or two.

Other QBs:
Pat White, Miami Dolphins – Drafted as a WR, but will likely get some snaps in the Wildcat formation.  He’s a heck of an athlete that has underrated passing ability. 

Stephen McGee, Dallas Cowboys - Local kid that the ‘Boys can groom to be Romo’s backup and eventual replacement.  Little, if any, value this year.

Rhett Bomar, New York Giants - Bomar will at best be groomed to hold Eli Manning’s clipboard when the G-Men are done with David Carr.  He will have to compete with Andre’ Woodson for the third spot on the depth chart.

Nate Davis, San Francisco 49ers - This was an intriguing fifth round selection.  The 49ers aren’t exactly stocked at the QB position.  Who knows, in a couple years Davis could be lobbing the ball up to Michael Crabtree.

matthew-stafford-georgia
Matthew Stafford had an outstanding season for Georgia last year.  He completed 235 of 383 passes (61.4%) for 3459 yards with 25 TDs and 10 INTs.  He had a Passer Rating of 153.54.  He played great in their Capital One Bowl victory over Michigan State throwing for 250 yards and 3 TDs.  Aside from a 3 INT performance against Florida, he was pretty solid all year long.

He has great size (6’3″, 237 LBs) with a big, strong arm.  He played in a Pro Style Offense and can make all of the throws.  He is also a very intelligent player that should have no trouble adjusting to the next level.  He has a public spat with Mike Singletary, but that should not have any bearing on his draft status.  Unless he is unreasonable with contract demands, he’ll be throwing to Calvin Johnson at some point next year for the Detroit Lions.

Here’s a look at where some of the experts have him pegged:
Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown:  #1 to the Detroit Lions

WalterFootball.com:  #1 to the Detroit Lions

Draft King:  #1 to the Detroit Lions

Consensus Draft Services:  #1 to the Detroit Lions

The Football Expert:  #1 to the Detroit Lions

NFL Draft Scout:  Top ranked QB
mark-sanchez-usc
Mark Sanchez isn’t as highly regarded as Stafford, but he’s clearly the #2 QB prospect in the draft.  He had a great year at USC completing 241 of 366 passes (65.8%) for 3207 yards with 34 TDs and 10 INTs.  His passer rating was a robust 164.64.  He saved his best game for last as he helped USC take out Penn State in the Rose Bowl.  He completed 28 of 35 passes for 413 yards and 4 TDs.  He also added a rushing TD.

Sanchez has good size at 6’3″, 225 Lbs.  He too has a strong arm, great leadership skills, working knowledge of a Pro Style Offense, and the smarts to make the NFL transition.  He comes from a great pedigree of USC QBs, that was bolstered by the play of Matt Cassel, who also spent time as a reserve Trojan QB.  My guess is he’ll be drafted in the eight spot via a trade with Jacksonville.  Who will jump up to get him?  Maybe Denver.  Maybe the Jets. 

Here’s a look at where some of the experts have him pegged:
Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown:  #8 to the Jacksonville Jaguars

WalterFootball.com:  #8 to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Draft King:  #4 to the Seattle Seahawks

Consensus Draft Services:  #12 to the Denver Broncos

The Football Expert:  #8 to the Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Draft Scout:  #2 ranked QB

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