The 2021 NFL offseason hasn’t even started yet, but the football gods have already graced us with a highly successful trade. The Detroit Lions agreed to send Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Jared Goff, two future first-round picks and one third-round pick. It’s a big haul for the 33-year-old quarterback, who could be the missing piece for the Rams next season and beyond.
So how does this affect the fantasy football landscape?
Let’s break it down by team and start with Stafford’s new team, the Rams. Coach Sean McVay’s offense was not as productive in 2020 compared to recent seasons, and this trade seems to indicate that Goff was considered one of the reasons. Stafford, who will be 33 when next season begins, is a huge improvement at the position.
He has eight 4,000-yard passing seasons, including one with more than 5,000 yards on his résumé. Stafford has also made 24 or more touchdown passes six times. He was on track to score 38 goals in 2019 before a back injury ended his season after eight games. In general, he has been very successful in fantasy football leagues.
Since 2011, Stafford has finished in the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks six times. It could have been seven if he hadn’t lost in 2019, and the loss of his top passing option Kenny Golladay affected his totals (QB16) last season. His move to Hollywood won’t push Stafford into the top 10 at the position, but it will make him more attractive as a top-level No. 2 option with top-12 potential.
Stafford’s presence on the Rams offense is good news for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but I wouldn’t expect a monumental statistical leap. Both players are No. 2 wide receivers, and Woods was out of the top 12 last season. It could also be good news for Tyler Higbee, who was a huge disappointment in 2021 but could see more opportunities in the future with Gerald Everett becoming a free agent.
Stafford will also mean good things for Cam Akers by limiting boxes stacked on the line of scrimmage. It’s also positive for Akers in the passing game, making the Florida State product a popular candidate for next season.
Now, let’s go to Motor City.
The Lions are taking a big risk on Goff, who has seen his fantasy point totals drop in each of his last three seasons. It was unreliable and ultimately unstable in fantasy for most of 2021, and I don’t see that changing much in Detroit. At this point, Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola are slated to become free agents, so there are more questions than answers in the passing game.
Dave Birkett, the Lions writer for the Detroit Free Press, told me on my SiriusXM show Fantasy Dirt that he doesn’t expect Jones to return to the team in 2021.
Golladay, who missed most of last season due to injuries, could be tagged or could be out. If he stays with the Lions, I’ll push Golladay back to the No. 2 wide receiver level and out of the top 10 (where he was in the 2020 draft). In general, there are no winners in Detroit’s offense based on this trade. TJ Hockenson will remain a top-10 tight end with Goff at center, and D’Andre Swift should take on a bigger role in his sophomore year (which was also true before the trade). If anything, Swift is in a good place to see more receiver work, as the Lions will likely play on negative scripts often in a rebuilding season.
Goff, who I’ve never been a fan of from a fantasy perspective, will certainly have his share of decent stats aided by projected garbage time points and potential shootouts in the division. Still, he is nothing more than a No. 2 fantasy quarterback who won’t be drafted until the later rounds (if he does) in most casual fantasy drafts.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst at Sports Illustrated and a Hall of Fame member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtubeand Instagram for the latest breaking news on fantasy football and the best analysis in the industry.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.