2017 Fantasy Spotlight: Matthew Stafford vs Philip Rivers

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From Last Word On Pro Football, by Scott Burke

This week in the Fantasy Spotlight we focus on two quarterbacks often overlooked on draft day. Both Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers are productive quarterbacks that can put up big fantasy weeks. In the Fantasy Spotlight this week we pit Matthew Stafford vs Philip Rivers to see who offers more value at their current ADP.

2017 Fantasy Spotlight: Matthew Stafford vs Philip Rivers

(note: ADP courtesy of fantasypros.com, percentages courtesy of playerprofiler.com)

Matthew StaffordDetroit Lions

2016 Final Fantasy Quarterback Ranking: 7th

Current ADP: 127th

Strength of Schedule: 17th

Let’s face it. When you are scouting quarterbacks for your fantasy team, Matthew Stafford isn’t usually on your radar. In his first year without superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Stafford was extremely efficient and effective. The veteran signal caller posted a stat line of 4,327 yards with 24 touchdowns and ten interceptions. That interception total was the lowest total of his career. The Lions went out and spent money to upgrade their offensive line, which will only help Stafford’s production.

Pros

  • Second in 2016 with 43 percent under pressure completion percentage
  • Seventh in red zone pass attempts (87) and tenth in red zone completion percentage 60.9%
  • 4,327 passing yards sixth highest in 2016
  • Led all quarterbacks with eight game winning drives in 2016
  • Fantasy playoff schedule (weeks 14-16), at Buccaneers, vs Bears, at Bengals
  • Has started all 16 regular seasons game six years in a row

Stafford showed an uncanny ability to bring his team back from the dead in 2016. This is a good thing if you are a fantasy football player. You want the ball in the hands of your quarterback. Stafford was given every chance to be successful in the 2016 and he took full advantage of it. Of course, you would like to see the touchdowns be higher than 24, but his yardage was solid, his interceptions were low and he produced more often than most in the red zone. Also, let’s not forget he broke the middle finger on his throwing hand week 14 against the Chicago Bears. Although he didn’t miss any time, it clearly affected is ability to throw. Tight end Eric Ebron is expected to take on a bigger role in the passing game and can be another big target in the red zone.

Cons

  • Failed to crack 2016 top ten in touchdown passes (14th)
  • Lack of true superstar playmaker around him
  • Only four games of 20+ fantasy points in 2016
  • Touchdown total dropped from 32 in 2015 to 24 in 2016

Here’s the deal. Stafford is a more than capable NFL starting quarterback. He has a big arm and has the potential to take a game over. From a fantasy standpoint he is serviceable. If you are the type of player that likes to stock up on the skill positions (running back, wide receiver) and wait for your signal-caller, then a guy like Stafford could be a solid option for you in the later rounds of your draft. Will he win some games for you? Absolutely. Will he be the reason you win your fantasy league? No!

Philip RiversLos Angeles Chargers

2016 Final Fantasy Quarterback Ranking: 14th

Current ADP: 102nd

Strength of Schedule: 28th

Philip Rivers has quietly put together a fantastic career over the last 13 years. While Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger get all the accolades from that epic 2004 quarterback draft, Rivers has more than held his own. Rivers had a solid 2016 season, throwing for 4,386 yards with 33 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. While his 33 touchdowns were the second highest output of his 13 year career, his interceptions were a career high.

Pros

  • Five seasons with 30+ touchdown passes
  • Eight total and four straight seasons of 4,000+ passing yards
  • 33 passing touchdowns good for fourth highest in 2016
  • 102 red zone passing attempts
  • Attempted 79 deep balls (20 or more yards in the air), sixth best in 2016
  • Durability, has started 16 games 11 consecutive seasons

Rivers replaced Drew Brees as the full-time starter in 2006. He has played in every single game for the now Chargers since then. He has had an amazing connection with future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. The two have connected for 84 touchdown passes over their illustrious careers. As Gates nears the end of his career, Rivers has a new emerging tight end target in Hunter Henry. Melvin Gordon is a rising star at running back that defenses must prepare for, opening the door for Rivers to sling it all around the field. His red zone and deep ball attempts are great for any fantasy owner to see, as long as he converts them in touchdowns.

Cons

  • 47.1 percent red zone completion percentage, 29th best in 2016
  • Completed only 29.1 percent of deep balls, good for 23rd
  • 32 percent under pressure completion percentage
  • Fantasy playoff schedule (weeks 14-16), vs Redskins, at Chiefs, at Jets
  • Keenan Allen, can he stay healthy?

Playing in the AFC West poses problems for Rivers and the Chargers. Not only is the division home to three of the toughest road stadiums in Kansas City, Denver and Oakland. It is also home to some of the stingiest cornerbacks in the game. Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr all present matchup problems for any starting quarterback and their top receivers. Enter Keenan Allen, the star wide receiver who can’t stay healthy. Allen has immense talent and if he can avoid injury it only boosts Rivers fantasy value. The wide receiver position has been a revolving door for Rivers while Allen has been injured. Guys like Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin have stepped up to be key contributors in the passing game. So about those 102 red zone attempts, they mean nothing if they are converted less than 50 percent of the time. The playoff schedule is difficult as well, Kansas City is an extremely hard place to play and although not much is expected of the Jets, their defense is solid and playing in New Jersey in December is never easy.

Spotlight Says

Both of these quarterbacks can start on any fantasy team. Neither one of them will be the reason you win your league. As long as you make the right moves early in your fantasy drafts and surround them with talent, you can take your chances with either one in the later rounds. As far as best value at the ADP this is a close one. We will lean towards to taking Stafford because he offers consistency in a weaker division. While Rivers may have a higher ceiling, he also faces a more difficult road to fantasy stardom.

Winner: Matthew Stafford

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