Playing for a new team for the first time in his 13th NFL season, Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford has arguably the highest fantasy football outlook of his career. How high should Stafford be in rankings on a potent offense and a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and is he a value at his current ADP?
Matthew Stafford’s fantasy outlook for 2021
Imagine this, if you will. Over the last four years, you go 43-21 with two division titles and a trip to the Super Bowl and go, “you know what, we need a better QB.” Because that’s literally what head coach Sean McVay did when the Rams made a trade with the Detroit Lions to acquire Stafford.
Sure, Goff was doing well, but his last two seasons left a lot to be desired. After having the No. 1 and No. 2 offense in 2017 and 2019, respectively, they fell to No. 22 last season. Goff’s ultra-conservative nature simply was not getting it done anymore. You could not find a more drastic change in skill sets than that of Goff and Stafford.
Perennially underrated likely due to the market he played in, Stafford is one of the most gifted passers in the NFL. He creates more upside for the offense as a whole, adding a downfield element that has been missing. Last season, Goff ranked 56th out of 63 quarterbacks in average throw depth (6.0) compared to Stafford at 15th (8.5).
Can Stafford break his pattern of disappointing fantasy seasons?
Amazingly, Stafford gets even better the further the target. Since 2016, he has a passer rating of 95.9 on targets between 0 to 9 yards. On passes 20 yards or more, that jumps to 123.8.
The issue for fantasy, though, is that this has not always translated to fantasy success. After going on a run of six out of seven seasons as the QB10 or better, Stafford finished as the QB20, QB29 (8 games), and QB15 over his last three years.
He averaged 458 attempts for 3,453 yards with 22 TDs and 8.7 interceptions with 257.1 fantasy points (18.9 ppg) since 2018. There are two things to note, however.
It should come as no surprise this decrease in production came in the Matt Patricia era. In the seven previous seasons, Stafford averaged 625 attempts, 4,563.9 yards, and 28.1 TDs with 341 fantasy points (21.3 ppg). It also did not help that Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones combined to miss 25 games over the last three seasons.
Stafford has significant upgrades around him in Los Angeles
With all of this said, Stafford has never played on a team like this before. Outside of the OL being a slight downgrade, everything from the defense to the coaching, all the way to the receivers, are significant upgrades. The core of Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee is the best he has had as a collective. Although you could make the debate that Calvin Johnson equaled all three.
There are some concerns that having an elite defense will keep Stafford from upper-tier numbers, but I’m not necessarily in that camp. I believe the upgrade in offensive talent and the clear commitment from the organization shows they are all in on Stafford driving this offense forward.
The lack of rushing does hurt his upside, but what Stafford will do with his arm more than makes up for it. For me, he is a low-end QB1 that could have several weeks inside the top five at the position, especially in 6-point passing leagues.
Since McVay took over in Los Angeles, the Rams are top five in the NFL in passing yards and top eight in passing attempts. When you add in the Rams being second in drives reaching the red zone over the last two years, Stafford, who is the ninth-best in fantasy points per attempt since 2019, could easily be in store for a career season.
You also have to factor in McVay and how great he is at scheming an offense. Adding Stafford allows him to open up the offense and brings an element we haven’t really seen before out of the Rams. Additionally, the Rams signed one of the greatest deep threats of all time in DeSean Jackson. Assuming Jackson can stay healthy, that could be a lethal combination.
I expect the defense to keep the Rams in the majority of games which is fine. In neutral game scripts, the Rams attempted passes on 58% of their plays. But given they play in what should be the most challenging division in the NFL, there are still several chances where the Rams get into a shootout.
While there is an adjustment period anytime a player changes teams — especially at QB — I believe the Rams will come out on fire. And with that, Stafford could end up with a career year and, if not, likely the best he has had since 2011 and 2012.
Current projections have Stafford slated for around 610 attempts, 4,900 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He could also add another score and 130 yards on the ground.
Matthew Stafford’s ADP
According to Sleeper, Stafford is currently the QB13 with an ADP of 93.2 in PPR formats. In superflex formats, where quarterbacks have an increase in value, he rises to 39.3. Meanwhile, on Fleaflicker he has an ADP of 92.8.
Should you draft Stafford at this ADP in 2021?
In 1QB formats, I am usually one of the last to select a QB. There are just so many solid QBs that the urgency to use an early pick isn’t always worth the value. Seeing someone like Stafford go as the QB11 to QB13 should be a prime example of the depth of value there really is.
I have zero issues with Stafford if you choose to wait on QB. While he lacks the rushing of someone like Jalen Hurts, the stability and consistency of his arm skills make Stafford the likely more reliable quarterback.