Yeah, yeah, I get it Stafford lost Calvin Johnson and has been a fairly mediocre fantasy quarterback his entire career outside of his one pop year in 2011 when the Lions signal caller amassed more than 5,000 passing yards and tossed 41 touchdowns. He fell off hard in the years following, averaging just 23 touchdowns per season over his next three.
But in the second half of last year we saw a resurgence from the former Georgia Bulldog; 19 touchdowns to just two interceptions and a completion percentage that was nearly 70 percent. That's an outrageous number for a guy who has a career completion percentage that is a shade under 61 percent.
The back-half resurgence was directly tied to Jim Bob Cooter taking over as offensive coordinator and running the offense at a significantly faster pace.
Statistically speaking, because the run game could be a mess and because most of their offensive talent resides in their pass catchers it's not crazy to think Stafford could go for 4,500 yards and 35-40 touchdowns. He's a lock to be a top-10 quarterback with the potential to push for top five production. At his current asking price in the Rounds 12 to 15, there is almost no question in my mind he will vastly outperform his draft position.
More news and notes:
- Fantasy spin: This is significantly worse news than we were anticipating. Earlier in the offseason there was at least the glimmer of hope that Eifert could be back for Week 1 in some capacity. He's currently the fourth tight end off the board in NFL.com mock drafts but we'll see his value slide considerably closer to season start. If he comes back in Week 6, the Bengals still have their bye in Week 9 and the fantasy season for most folks ends in Week 16 meaning you'd get eight games of production. If you're comfortable burning a bench spot on a tight end for that long (you shouldn't be), taking a stab at him in Round 12 or later makes sense.
- Fantasy spin: The highly-touted rookie from Ohio State is the real deal. Zeke was picking up chunks on the ground at will and perhaps most impressively, Elliott met Kam Chancellor head on and won. He didn't necessarily truck Chancellor but Elliott did drive him backward, an impressive feat against arguably the hardest-hitting safety in the league.
- Bottom line: Elliott confirmed what most fantasy analysts already knew; he is 1,000,000,000 percent a top-ten pick in fantasy this year and knocking on the door of the top five.
NEWS: Desean Jackson seems "motivated" and "disciplined" according to a report from Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
- Fantasy spin: Just FYI, Jackson is in a contract year. If you don't think the 29-year-old will work as hard as possible for what is likely his last big-money contract you're kidding yourself. The former Cal product has largely been an up-and-down contributor on a weekly basis but he's been a top-20 fantasy wide receiver in five of his past seven years, the only times he hasn't have been due directly to injury. He played just nine games last year and missed five games in 2012. His current ADP on NFL.com is near the end of Round 9 and has a similar value on other mock draft sites. That is tremendous value.
- Bottom line: Given the weak defenses in his division, the Washington pass-crazy offense and again, this can't be overstated, his contract status, D-Jax has great chance to be a top-20 wideout in fantasy with big-game potential that could win you some weeks.
- Fantasy spin: First it was Jay Ajayi's backfield. Then they drafted Kenyan Drake. Then the team tried to sign C.J. Anderson. That didn't work so they signed Arian Foster instead. Now we're seeing Pead getting first-team reps and ripping off 45-yard runs in preseason games. In their most recent preseason game, Daniel Thomas had a few impressive runs as well. It's a long way of saying, read between the lines. They haven't come out and said they're abandoning ship on Ajayi but it's also becoming painfully clear the coaching staff doesn't trust him.
- Bottom line: Pead, despite the nice reports, is still undraftable in all formats. Foster is the back to own here but don't get crazy and take him before Round 7. Move Ajayi way down your draft board into the double-digit rounds.
- Fantasy spin: Tyrod came out of nowhere last year to be a high-upside, match-up based quarterback. He had six games of 20-plus fantasy points in standard leagues with 10 total games of 15 or more fantasy points. Taylor was one of the safest quarterback plays last year as well. Only once did Taylor have a single-digit fantasy performance last year. As a comparison, Ben Roethlisberger had four such games last year. Despite having a better fantasy season than Big Ben, Taylor for some reason is going five to eight rounds after Roethlisberger.
- Bottom line: Taylor's current ADP in Rounds 12 to 15 is absurdly low and he presents one of the many value options you have at the quarterback position.
- Fantasy spin:Zach Zenner has had a good camp and made Ridley's strengths redundant. It clears up the backfield a bit but not much. Ameer Abdullah is still projected to be the starter, Theo Riddick will get heavy work in the passing game and then who knows. Zach Zenner? George Winn? Zenner is probably the most talented and could legit make an impact if Abdullah again falters/fumbles like mad/isn't healthy.
Shameless cross promotion:
NFL Media's Lance Zierlein is a borderline insane person when it comes to the draft; he watched tape and wrote scouting profiles for like 1,764,297 prospects last year, roughly. Probably closer to 400 but whatever. He's a tape fiend and he's now applying this same dedication to NFL running backs. He created an advanced analytics stat he is calling IPI (individual production index) that measures how much yardage a back is able to generate on his own versus getting what the offensive line opens for him. It's an eye-opening study. Jeremy Langford fans, I'm so sorry.
Hot take alert! The Magical Beard of Fantasy, Matt Franciscovich tells us why he thinks taking Rob Gronkowski in the first round is a pretty terrible idea. That and his other players to avoid at their current price can be found here.
Want all the the NFL.com's fantasy staff's lists of sleepers, bargains, breakout players, et al? Want to do zero reading? We got you! Here are all the top-10 lists you could want in one super convenient place with zero analysis.