Dynasty Decision: Matthew Stafford

Richard Cooling

We all know the pain of holding onto that stud player too long as their production evaporates and your once highly-priced asset is essentially worthless. There are also plenty of cases of players being sold expecting that decline only to go on defying the odds. This series will examine what you should do as players approach these decision points.

Matthew Stafford, QB LAR

It’s amazing the difference a year makes. In February 2022, the Los Angeles Rams were fresh off a Super Bowl, and Stafford was being held up as the final piece that pushed them over the top and would keep them as a contender for the foreseeable future. Fast forward to this year and the Rams cratered unbelievably, and the franchise could struggle to have the resources to climb back up the mountain. So what does that mean for Stafford and his dynasty value?

Previous Performance

Since Stafford became an established starter in 2011, he has been a reliable fantasy option. One noticeable blip was the 2019 season, where he finished as the QB29. However, that came in eight games where he was the QB4 in points per game. Furthermore, last year was almost a write-off the second the season started, and he finished as the QB32. Outside those two seasons, he has seven top-12 finishes and three finishes in the 12-18 range. That’s an excellent career for a player who doesn’t add any value in the rushing game.

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On a week-to-week basis, Stafford has been incredibly reliable, producing as a top-12 QB 44.94% of the time and a top-24 QB 86.51% of the time. He may not have the extreme ceiling of others, but a lot can be said for a player who gives you reliable and bankable production whenever he is on the field.

Situation and Usage

The situation in Los Angeles is up in the air. The pieces we know are returning next year are Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Cam Akers, and head coach Sean McVay. They have the making of a decent offense. Kupp, when healthy, is one of the best receivers in the league. Robinson should be better in his second year with the franchise, and we know that McVay is an elite play caller.

The biggest question is the offensive line; last season, the Rams were a turnstile across the line with a mix of poor play and many injuries. Limited resources are available to improve the offensive line and they are without a first, fourth, and fifth-round pick, and currently projected to be $15m over the cap. However, with a Super Bowl window closing as Stafford, Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey head toward the twilight of their careers, you can guarantee they will turn over every available rock to answer what is an apparent glaring hole. With an improved offensive line, this offense should rebound to an above-average unit and allow Stafford to produce impressive fantasy numbers again.

The biggest question around Stafford this off-season was the rumors surrounding a potential retirement. After several concussions and yet another injury to his back/neck, there was plenty of speculation. However, he ended that and seems committed to playing at least for this season at a minimum.

Contract and Health

Health has been a question mark for Stafford throughout his entire career. Despite only missing 16 games in the last 11 seasons, he has played through a plethora of injuries, including spinal fractures, broken ribs, ankle sprains, and ligament tears in his thumb, amongst others. Looking at this last year, he struggled while playing through an elbow injury that affected his arm strength and accuracy. Having sat out the season’s final eight games, he should be fully healthy and not have any lingering concerns heading into this season.

Contractually, Stafford is likely to be around on the Rams next season. He is in the first year of his four-year, $160m extension he signed last off-season. In 2024 the Rams would save $13.5m if he isn’t on the roster, but that would come with an unpalatable dead cap hit of $36m. So unless he retires or restructures his contract, it feels, at a minimum, that he will be around for at least two more seasons.

ADP and Trade Value

He is currently the QB23 in January Superflex ADP, and the trade analyzer has him worth around a late 2023 first-rounder. Recent trades are below; as you can see, his value is even lighter than the trade analyzer suggests, with multiple examples of him being traded for a second-round pick in value.

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Conclusion

There is no doubt that he comes with significant risk. There is a chance that 2023 will be Stafford’s final season in the NFL. The Rams could struggle again, and the season could peter out into nothingness. However, at the current price, he feels like a bargain currently. Even if this is the final year of his career, a solid, reliable QB2 in a superflex format is worth more than a random second-round pick or even two random second-round picks.

If you add in the potential that he could go on beyond this year or produce fringe QB1 numbers, he is grossly undervalued right now. As a potential third quarterback on your roster, if you have a riskier boom/bust type second option, it makes too much sense not to try and acquire him. Even if you’re in a rebuild scenario, it is highly likely that if you acquired Stafford now, you’d be able to sell him for a profit in August or September as we ramp up to the season.

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Dynasty Decision: Matthew Stafford