In one of the most talked-about moves of the NFL offseason, the Detroit Lions traded away franchise QB Matthew Stafford to the LA Rams for three future picks, including two first-rounders. If the early prop betting market is any judge, Matthew Stafford fantasy owners should be very pleased with this development.
With a prop betting total of 4,595.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook, Stafford has one of the highest numbers on the passing board. TheLines will continue examining notable player props for 2021 by taking a look at what bettors should expect of Stafford in his new surroundings.
Fantasy, Betting Market Projections For Matthew Stafford in 2021
First, let’s take a look at how this line compares to some projection systems for Matthew Stafford in 2021.
At FantasyPros, the team averages out four projection systems (CBS, ESPN, numberFire, FFToday) to spit out a consensus number for each player’s 2021 production. More sources will likely be added as the season draws closer.
In any case, the consensus projections generally agree with the DK Sportsbook number. They expect Stafford to attempt 606 passes, a top-10 number in the league. They expect 28 touchdowns and 11 INTs, along with 4,546.9 passing yards. That’s a hair under his total, obviously, but right in line with where the market is at.
Stafford has some fairly reasonable odds to top the league in passing categories. He’s to lead in passing yards and to lead in touchdowns. Big-time Stafford believers can even shoot for the moon at to win MVP.
Why Stafford Will Go Over
Obviously the case for the over starts with his new head coach, Sean McVay. McVay has demonstrated an ability to get productive NFL stats out of QBs with questionable levels of ability.
For instance, Jared Goff looked like a potential all-time bust before McVay took over. In his four seasons under McVay after a disastrous rookie season, Goff averaged 4,270.5 yards, 275.52 yards per game.
With the new 17-game season in effect, that number would be enough to get Stafford to the over. He must average 270.32 yards per game if he starts all 17.
Now, maybe Goff was always going to improve to the level of a solid starter. But, for further evidence of McVay’s ability to coax yardage, check out the season finale against the Cardinals. There, he steered the lightly regarded John Wolford to an acceptable 231-yard winning effort with the playoffs potentially on the line for both teams.
In McVay’s three years heading Washington’s offense prior to his hire by the Rams, the team averaged 285.48 yards per game passing. He helped propel fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84-million deal.
Now, add in the considerable talents of Stafford, arguably the best QB McVay has had to work with. Stafford may not have reached the superstar status the No. 1 overall pick portended, but has produced at a pretty good level for most of his career.
In terms of volume, he has amassed more than 45,000 yards, averaging 273.4 per game in 165 starts. Advanced stats also show a solid starter, with an average DVOA rank of 13 according to Football Outsiders.
Given the decent roster around him and a roughly average slate of opposing defenses per Warren Sharp’s rankings, Stafford should clear his number if he plays at his usual level.
Why Stafford Will Go Under
The case for the under starts with putting this number into context. Where does 4,595.5 rank among the various passing totals out there?
For starters, Stafford opened with the second-highest total on the board. While Dak Prescott (4,795.5) and Tom Brady (4,750.5) have been pushed past him — the latter seeing his total go up more than 200 yards — Stafford still ranks fourth in market expected passing yards.
Here’s where Stafford has ranked in his past five full seasons: 12th, 16th, third, sixth and eighth.
If you’re wondering where Goff has ranked while playing for McVay, he’s averaged roughly an eighth-place finish in the leaderboard.
Aside from 2017, Stafford last ranked among the league’s passing leaders from 2011-13. Not coincidentally, those higher-volume seasons saw him paired with Hall of Fame WR Calvin Johnson.
While Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are solid, capable receivers, nobody will confuse them with Megatron anytime soon.
Perhaps the most worrying thing when looking over the Rams roster is their potential for injury- and age-related decline. The receiving corps and offensive line, while featuring solid starters, both have little depth. Given that the 2020 Rams offense ranked 19th in Football Outsiders’ snap-weighted age metric, they carry more risk than most teams in these areas.
Finally, there’s the fact that the Rams had one of the few reliable defenses in 2020 and bring most of their pieces back. That means lower-scoring games on average, which means less passing yards for Stafford. For an example, look no further than the Week 1 lines, which shows only a few totals lower than the 45.5 on the board for Rams vs. Bears.
Even with the extra game, this is just a really high number. Even with Stafford’s awesome durability, it just doesn’t leave much wiggle room. Despite friendlier new digs with a better coaching staff, a lot of things must go right to hit this mark for Matthew Stafford fantasy managers and bettors.