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Matthew Stafford Trade: Fantasy Football Winners and Losers

Matthew Stafford

The Detroit Lions traded QB Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night in a blockbuster trade. Here are the details per Tom Pelissero:

That is a hefty haul for the Lions and a big get for the Rams. If you have a very short memory, the Rams were just in the playoffs with Goff at the helm, so I would anticipate the Rams being right back their next season with Stafford behind center.

There is a ton of fantasy football implications associated with this trade so let’s get to them.


Fantasy Implications

Matthew Stafford has averaged just over 4,230 passing yards and 26 TD’s per season since 2011. Among active NFL QB’s he ranks 7th overall in passing yards, completions, and TD’s.  The Lions will now presumably have Jared Goff as their QB, and he has very similar per season numbers to Stafford. Over the past four seasons, Goff has averaged 4,270 passing yards and 25 TDs. Goff has also been to one more Pro Bowl than Stafford in his short 5-year career. This past season, Stafford ended as the QB13 and Goff was the QB16. The major difference…. their age. Matthew Stafford is 32 and Goff is 26. If Goff can improve his turnovers, he could be a solid starter. Since 2016, Goff has the 3rd most interceptions (55) and the 6th most fumbles (42) of any quarterback in the NFL.

Matthew Stafford

For running backs, the Rams did not utilize them as much as the Lions did in the passing game in 2020. Between Rams RBs Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown, and Darrell Henderson, they had 50 receptions for 444 yards and 2 TDs. The Lions’ combination of D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson, and Adrian Peterson amassed 77 receptions for 645 yards and 3 TD’s. The talent level of the trios may lean more towards the Lions, but if Stafford can use his RBs as effectively as he did in Detroit then you can see the Rams running backs taking a big leap forward in the passing game. It is all going to be a product of game plan and schemes, but Goff has the weapons in the Detroit backfield if he can utilize them more frequently than he did the Rams RB’s.

The positives for Goff after that are few and far between. The Lions’ top receivers – Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones – are both unrestricted free agents. There’s a real possibility neither of them are back and outside of them, the Lions have talented TE T.J. Hockenson and 2020 rookie WR Quintez Cephus, who ended up being integrated into the offense more the second half of the season. The Rams have a great complement of receivers. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, and Van Jefferson are all 28 years old or younger. Stafford should elevate all those receivers and with McVay’s creative offense, I think you must move the Rams’ pass catchers up your boards.

So, from a fantasy perspective, the Rams are the clear-cut instant winner. If the Lions can improve their WR room, however, then they could be a formidable opponent in that tough NFC North division for years to come.

Another aspect of this trade that may be overlooked is the salary cap situations for each team. Ian Kenyon tweeted the ages of the Rams marquee players for next season…

All those players will count over $109 million against the Rams cap this year. Here’s how the Lions top six players in salary compare to the Rams ($92.76 mil):

Jared Goff (26 y/o)- $27.825 mil

Trey Flowers (27 y/o)- $19.989 mil

Desmond Trufant (30 y/o)- $12.187 mil

Jamie Collins (31 y/o)- $11.333 mil

Justin Coleman (27 y/o)- $11.029 mil

Halapoulivaati Vaitai (27 y/o)- $10.4 mil

With the Lions taking on a huge portion of Goff’s deal, Goff will add over $58 mil in dead cap and $53 mil cap hit over the next two years, but if they decide to part with him after 2023, there is no dead cap hit for Detroit. Both teams will have to cut down considerably as they are both in the negative for the 2021 salary cap, assuming the NFL salary cap stays at $175 mil.

Overall, this trade for the Lions starts their rebuild off on the right foot. They have acquired some nice draft picks in this deal, even though they may end up being later picks. They are mid-pack on average age in the league coming in as the 11th youngest team with an average age of 26 years old. If Goff can stop the turnovers and they can get some WR help, then they could be a formidable opponent. The Rams on the other hand seem to have a window of 2-3 years before they have to blow it up. Except for Jalen Ramsey, their top 6 highest-paid players are 28 years or older, yet the average age of the team is the 3rd youngest at 23 years old. They may be young, but it is tough to replace all that talent at the top.

We will have to wait and see but this seems to be a win-now move for the Rams and a solid rebuilding step for the Lions. I am excited to see how the Lions go forward in the NFL Draft as they have 4 picks in the first three rounds and 6 picks total, while the Rams have only 3 picks (a 2nd, 6th, & 7th). Free agency can always bring some surprises, but each team will have to get creative with their current salary cap issues.


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CJ was born and raised in New England. He has been active duty Air Force for the past 18 years and is an avid fantasy football fanatic. He has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Louisville and is finishing his MBA from Western Kentucky University. When he is not spending time with his beautiful wife & daughter, he is immersed in dynasty and devy leagues. You can find him on Twitter & Instagram @Clubber_Lang83.

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