The Super Bowl prep week wasn’t completely devoid of football action, as two marquis quarterbacks ended up switching teams: Jared Goff will be going to the Detroit Lions, and Matthew Stafford will be going to the Los Angeles Rams. While most fantasy football players are in the off-season right now, it’s fair to say a number of dynasty managers are waking up to discover their QB1 will be playing in a completely different situation this fall. Let’s take a look at some way-too-early thoughts on the situation that Stafford and Goff will find themselves in come the 2021 regular season.
The Trade Itself: The Lions traded Matt Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff, a 2021 third round draft pick, a 2022 first round draft pick, and a 2023 first round draft pick. Whew! The Detroit Lions have a new General Manager in Brad Holmes, and Holmes came through the Rams system and was the scout that vouched for Goff to come to the Rams in the first place. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford gets to move to the west coast and be by his good friend Clayton Kershaw. It sounds like Stafford would have stayed in Detroit had the head coach search promoted Darrell Bevell from within instead of hiring Dan Campbell, who had never ascended beyond an assistant coach or positional coach.
Real World Analysis: Obviously this is a huge win for pundits. There are Matthew Stafford stans who think he’s a star quarterback that has been trapped in the disastrous Lions system for his entire career, and the move to the Rams will liberate his potential. These people believe that the Rams won the trade — after all, late-ish first round picks only have, like, a 30-40% “success” rate in the NFL. Stafford is a proven quantity, and the Rams are trading volatility (draft picks) for stability (a starting quarterback). QED. On the other hand, upside is upside. Goff has a sterling 42-27 record as a starting QB, which would be 42-20 if we don’t count his rookie season. He’s been to the Super Bowl, and has more Pro Bowl appearances in 1/3 the career of Stafford. With draft capital and a new front office in an NFC North division that’s regularly up for grabs, Goff could restore the roar in a disillusioned Detroit football community.
- Jared Goff: Volatility is the word of the year for Goff. He spent parts of 2020 injured and famously played through the end of the season with a surgically repaired thumb on his throwing hand that barely had a week of healing. New Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has almost no track record as a front line head coach — other than a short stint as an interim head coach for the Dolphins in 2015, Campbell has had a behind-the-scenes role for the first ten years of his coaching career. The Lions seem destined to lose offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as well. Campbell inherits an offense that leaned toward passing and had young running talent that never came to fruition. Certainly, that’s probably the Lions narrative: talent that never came to fruition. But that passing attack is going to look very different in 2021: wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are unrestricted free agents, as are most of the Lions receiving corps. But Jesse James remains on the roster as the highest paid tight end! Goff was a tough QB to roster on fantasy squads throughout 2020, and he’ll be even more volatile come 2021. It’s very early, but if I’m a dynasty manager with Goff, I recommend trading him away at this point.
- Matthew Stafford: Stafford is likely the more useful fantasy quarterback of the trade come 2021, and his fantasy value gets a boost from the known quantity of coaching and receivers that he gets in the Rams system. Sean McVay remains the Rams’ head coach and Shane Waldron ascends to be a first time offensive coordinator. Waldron was the Rams’ passing game coordinator, so it stands to reason that the Rams’ offense will continue to rely on an air attack. Moreover, the Rams have their corps of wide receivers locked up for several years, giving Stafford access to Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson, and Tyler Higbee for the foreseeable future. Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson provide a competent backfield to complement the passing attack. Stafford will be 33 at the start of the 2021 season, meaning he’s still got several years of productive quarterback play. If I’m a dynasty manager, I’m looking to acquire Stafford as a QB1 in deep leagues or a backup in shallow leagues. In my personal QB rankings, Stafford approaches the top 15 with the potential to be in the top 10.
What are your thoughts on the big trade? Let me know down in the comments!