Dynasty Debate: Matt Stafford vs. Marcus Mariota

Doug Green


Blonde or Brunette. Vanilla or Chocolate. Cake or Pie.

Life is all about deciding between two options. Today, DLF team members Chris Heil and Doug Green will try to settle the age-old question – Matthew Stafford or Marcus Mariota?

The Case for Marcus Mariota

mariotaWho doesn’t love the shiny, new toy? Mariota comes into his rookie season as the No. 2 overall draft pick for the Tennessee Titans. He is surrounded by young, promising talent and has an offensive-minded Head Coach.

Mariota won the 2014 Heisman and took his Oregon Ducks to the National Title game. He finished his college career with 10,796 yards, 105 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions and a 66.8 completion percentage. Now, his detractors will say he played in a wide-open offense, worked out of the shotgun and could basically just sit back and pick defenses apart. While it’s true he did not have much time under center, Mariota proved during the combine and the draft process that he was extremely intelligent and could learn new offensive concepts quickly.

Now that he’s with the Titans, Mariota has a couple of positives in his favor. First, he has an offensive-minded coach in Ken Whisenhunt, who has already adapted his scheme to fit Mariota’s skill set. He is not a traditional dropback passer, so having his coach be willing to adapt is huge.

Second, his wide receiver corps has plenty of talent, even if doesn’t always show it on a consistent basis. A steady hand like Mariota will help get the most out the likes of Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham.

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Mariota has a clear advantage over Stafford in two areas. First, he does not throw interceptions, something Stafford struggles with. Mariota is cool as a cucumber under pressure and keeps his head about him. He simply does not make foolish mistakes that lead to drive-killing turnovers. He keeps the ball safe. Yes, he had some fumbles at Oregon, but that was a byproduct of his second main advantage.

Mariota is a running quarterback and turned in a 4.52 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. He has the ability to escape the pocket and still pick up positive yardage when it all goes south. He will rack up yards on the ground and should get you a couple of bonus touchdowns that way.

The dynasty game is all about anticipating the future. We’ve seen what Stafford is. Mariota is younger and more athletic. While he doesn’t have a top-end weapon like Calvin Johnson, all of his secondary weapons are equal to or better than the Lions options. He is less careless with the football (at least thus far in his career) which will lead to more yards, more touchdowns and more points, which is what we’re all after.

The Case for Matthew Stafford

staffordWhen debating between players with a similar ADP or ranking, most of the time it’s a very close call. However, this debate isn’t going to be sweet and short – this will be a beat down.

I will start off with some of the reasons why Marcus Mariota isn’t worth the risk. One of the biggest components to being a fantasy relevant quarterback is having talent around you. The Tennessee Titans have Kendall Wright and that’s really about it at the moment. There is literally no running game and the offense will rely on Mariota very early in his career, which carries a serious chance to potentially ruin a franchise player.

Now, let’s get to Matthew Stafford and why he is someone you want to take in dynasty leagues. First thing first, he has Calvin Johnson. He is still an elite level wide receiver who will be able to make any quarterback look talented, no less one with a Pro Bowl arm. The Detroit Lions also drafted a young talented tight end last season in Eric Ebron and signed Golden Tate to a deal. This off-season, they picked up another pass-catching running back in Ameer Abdullah. The talent surrounding Stafford is building and, even better, they’re still mostly young. Since 2011, Stafford has yet to miss a game as well. He also hasn’t had fewer than 600 pass attempts in that time span, either. In short, he is going to continue to sling the ball for a long time and be efficient at it.

One of Stafford’s biggest problems is he turns the ball over often. However, I look at this as a plus, at least from a fantasy perspective. He is going to continue to try and put the ball in the best place possible for his team and will never become a check down artist like Alex Smith. Some quarterbacks are a little too aggressive, but the team will continue to stay with him as long as he produces positive plays to counteract the turnovers. While it may not be the best recipe on the field, it works in fantasy football.

The Lions let Ndamukong Suh walk and they freed up the money they need to put into other parts of the team. They have a good defense and will keep the games close and the offense will rely on Stafford to win them games. The best part of this offense is Golden Tate and the chemistry he and Stafford have been able to establish in just one season. In short, it is incredible and should continue to grow each year. Tate was able to reach 1,300 yards this past year and finally break through as a legitimate threat in both reality and fantasy.

This is a make or break season for the Lions and they have all the pieces to be successful – they have reliable running backs, two solid wide receivers and a group of tight ends with many different talents. Stafford has every opportunity to be successful with long-term talent around him that matches his own elite skill level.

I’m willing to gamble on a player who can build strong value you can get a maximum return on in a future dynasty trade when the time is needed.

So, who would you rather have on your dynasty team? Let us know in the comments below.


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