As we continue to move closer to training camp, preparation for the fantasy football season heats up.  If you’re planning on targeting players from the Lions roster, it all starts with Quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford has been a reliable fantasy quarterback throughout his career, especially in terms of availability .  He hasn’t missed a game since 2010, highlighting Stafford’s best fantasy attribute.  If you draft him, expect him to be in your lineup, as long as you want him to be.

But a reliable fantasy quarterback isn’t necessarily a special one.  Reliability at the quarterback position (at least in fantasy terms) doesn’t always lead to a deep playoff run or a season that ends with a title.  As a result, drafting Matthew Stafford most likely won’t require you to expend a high or mid-round pick that could be used on a valuable skill position player.

While Stafford finished as a top 10 fantasy quarterback last season (8th in ESPN’s rankings), his 24 touchdown and 10 interception season was rather underwhelming.  10 interceptions was a career low, but the touchdown total was concerning.  You want more touchdown production if you’re going to slot Stafford into your starting QB spot each week.

More specifically, Stafford was quite inconsistent week to week last season.  He finished with just seven games with two or more touchdown passes, and just had four games with 300+ passing yards.  The former first-overall pick often left his fantasy owners more frustrated than content.

The Lions did improve the right side of the offensive line with the additions of Ricky Wagner at tackle and T.J Lang at guard.  Both should help Stafford have more time to throw, but the loss of Taylor Decker at left tackle is a tremendous blow to Stafford’s blindside protection.

As far as Stafford’s weapons go, nothing significant has changed.  Stafford’s backfield should get a boost with Ameer Abdullah coming back from injury, but his top targets in the passing game are relatively the same.  There’s no reason to believe his touchdown totals will go up exponentially with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones again acting as his main threats through the air.

For those who aren’t familiar, an average draft position in fantasy football terms is simply the average spot where a specific player is selected. For example, Le’Veon Bell’s average draft position is 1.02, meaning on average he’s selected as the second pick of the first round.  Obviously these numbers can change based on data from different websites.

According to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Stafford’s average draft position (ADP) in recent drafts is late in the 10th round.  With the waiting on a quarterback strategy becoming more and more popular, Stafford’s late ADP is no surprise.  The combination of depth at the quarterback position along with Stafford’s average 2016 makes the 10th round or later (ideally later) a plausible spot to get Stafford.

Based on a league starting one quarterback, relying on Stafford to be your starter every week is risky.  The stats from last year show the inconsistency.  Pairing Stafford with someone like Kirk Cousins (8th-round ADP), Jameis Winston (8th-round ADP), or Tyrod Taylor (11th-round ADP) is a decent option.  You can mix and match each week with Stafford and one of the aforementioned names based on opponent, injuries to the supporting cast, etc.  This is smarter than taking Stafford with a late-round pick and then having to rely on the waiver wire to grab another quarterback if Stafford doesn’t get the job done for you.

*All Average Draft Position numbers are from FantasyFootballCalculator.com*

 

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