Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford finally left Detroit ahead of the 2021 season. All he did was post the best season of his career en route to a Super Bowl victory. With his elite WR1 back and a new WR2, what is Stafford’s fantasy football outlook for 2022, and should fantasy managers target him at his ADP in fantasy football drafts?
Matthew Stafford’s fantasy outlook for 2022
It’s become difficult to evaluate quarterbacks for fantasy football because there are just so many good ones. Last season, 11 QBs averaged over 20 fantasy points per game, including Stafford.
In years past, Stafford’s 20.4 ppg would’ve rendered him a high-end QB1. Even a mere five years ago, in 2017, it would’ve made him the QB3. Yet, in 2021, Stafford finished as the QB9 (minimum eight games played).
Last season, Stafford threw for 4,886 yards and a whopping 41 touchdowns. He also completed a career-high 67.2% of his passes. Given how prolific Stafford was, how come he wasn’t more productive from a fantasy perspective?
In the modern NFL, almost every starting quarterback is mobile in some capacity. That’s not to say everyone has to be Lamar Jackson, but most are at least able to scramble when necessary.
Stafford is your throwback statue QB. He had all of 43 rushing yards last season. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts, who threw for 1,772 fewer yards and 25 fewer touchdowns than Stafford, managed to average a full point per game more than Stafford. That’s the value of rushing yards. Even a 40-touchdown season can’t beat out a rushing QB.
In 2022, there’s simply no way Stafford can be better than he was in 2021. He can be just as good, but he won’t be better. So if what he did in 2021 nets him merely a low-QB1 finish, that’s how he needs to be valued entering the 2022 fantasy football season.
How the Rams’ depth chart impacts Matthew Stafford’s fantasy projection for the season
Cooper Kupp is still around, so that’s really all that matters. Stafford and Kupp were a magical pairing last season. It’s fair to give Kupp a lot of credit for how Stafford put together such a great year.
The Rams did lose Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. However, LA did sign Allen Robinson (who I don’t think is done and is poised for a bounce-back year as Stafford’s WR2). They also return Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson, and will have a healthy Cam Akers. In sum, this offense is going to operate exactly as it did last season, except with what I consider a better WR2.
The Rams are a pass-first offense that could serve to play faster
The Rams threw the ball 59% of the time last season, which is great for Stafford’s fantasy value. At the same time, they were one of the slowest teams in terms of pace of play, running just 60 plays per game.
In 2020, the Rams ran 66 plays per game, so the pace of play certainly could improve. They also threw the ball just 55.5% of the time in 2020. The most likely scenario is the Rams throw a slightly lower percentage of the time but play a little bit faster, resulting in the overall totals for Stafford evening out.
Stafford may not be an elite QB1, but he’s a high-floor player. His performance likely won’t change much, but if the guys above him don’t perform as well, that would naturally bump Stafford up the rankings. It’s weird to consider a 40-touchdown guy a late-round QB target, but that’s exactly what Stafford is in 2022.
Stafford’s elbow issues
Last season, Stafford played through an elbow issue. For the most part, he was fine. After all, the Rams did win the Super Bowl. However, it would be foolish to not be at least a little bit concerned that Stafford is still dealing with the issue despite an offseason procedure to help clear it up.
McVay had to limit Stafford’s throwing in his offseason program and training camp. Stafford will have his throwing managed at practice throughout the entire season as well.
It’s possible, if not likely, that the Rams will make extra efforts to ease the burden on Stafford this season. That likely means more running and less passing volume for Stafford.
While I don’t think the risk is particularly high for Stafford to need to be shut down, any reduction in passing volume for a non-mobile quarterback is a concern for fantasy purposes.
Stafford’s ADP for 2022
Stafford’s ADP is around 90th overall. He’s being drafted as the QB12. While this may seem late for a guy with 40-touchdown upside, the fact that Stafford doesn’t run severely caps his ceiling. It would take a truly anomalous touchdown performance for Stafford to even crack the top eight (or a bunch of other quarterbacks failing).
Injury concerns aside, Stafford is as safe as it gets at the position when on the field. If you wait on quarterback, it’s entirely possible you can grab Stafford a round or two later than his ADP. The other teams in your league are unlikely to draft two QBs before you take one, allowing Stafford to fall if he’s one of the last QB1s remaining.
PFN’s consensus 2022 PPR fantasy rankings have Stafford as the QB13 but 110th overall. In 1QB leagues, there is every chance he could fall to that point in the draft, given the current concerns surrounding his elbow.