We already know how players stack up for your fantasy fortunes. Now it is time to assess how the quarterbacks will stack up fantasy-wise.
While most offensive fantasy positions on the field depend on the quarterback, the quarterback’s fantasy fortunes are somewhat dependent on other positions. The offensive line (although Justin Herbert may be the exception to the rule) and the quality of their wide receivers will all increase or decrease the fantasy fortunes of your quarterback.
So let’s get right to it.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
The move from Detroit to the Rams alone boosts Stafford’s fantasy value; he is currently going in the ninth round, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
Last season Stafford had a 42.6% deep ball completion percentage. He had 4,084 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 112 rushing yards, and 10 interceptions. He was also in the top-five for quarterbacks with the most dropped passes (84). The Rams receivers had 33 dropped passes.
Stafford’s protection rate last season was 77.8%, while Jared Goff in Los Angeles had an 86.7% protection rate. So we know that Stafford will be a) better protected and b) have better wide receivers/running backs around him. The Rams offensive line surrendered only 25 sacks last season, tied for the sixth-best in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. This led to Goff being pressured on fewer than 30% of his dropbacks.
Johnny Kinsley of the Brick Wall Blitz noted that Stafford was the ninth-most accurate quarterback on a ball thrown over 21 yards. Justin Herbert was 10th, and Jared Goff was 30th. This meshes well with the free agency acquisition of DeSean Jackson, the drafting of TuTu Atwell, and the fantasy fortunes of Robert Woods. McVay is seemingly repping up his offense to accommodate Stafford’s abilities. While stats will be slightly skewed when talking about deep passes, Stafford last season completed 42.6% of his deep ball passes. In comparison, Goff completed 27.1% and Herbert 35.5%
Last season the Rams attempted 35.7 passes per game (expect an uptake now that Stafford is there) which was the 15th most in the NFL. The Chargers were fifth with 39.2 attempted passes per game per teamrankings.com.
Speaking of the Chargers….
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
No one can argue with the season Herbert had last year. He is currently going in the fifth round of fantasy drafts, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Deservedly so. But will he be a better fantasy play than Stafford?
In his first season in the NFL, Herbert passed for 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns, five rushing touchdowns on 234 yards, 10 interceptions, and this is with his wide receivers dropping 60 passes and his offensive line a sieve. Herbert completed 46.8% of his passes when pressured, 74.6% from a clean pocket, and had a 38.5% deep ball completion rate.
Two things to note: 1) it was a really good year for Herbert, and 2) 31 teams now have film on him.
The offensive line in Chargers baby blue has been bad for a while but is potentially better with the acquisitions in free agency and the draft. So the rookie who had a top-five passer rating while under pressure may not experience as much pressure this season. That’s a good thing. When not pressured, he had a top-three completion percentage for most of his season.
Henry was the sixth most targeted tight end in the 2020 season, averaging 6.6 targets a game, according to edraft.com. The Chargers picked up Jared Cook in free agency, but there is a gap in expectations. Cook was on the field for 109 snaps and received a 12.4% of target share last season in New Orleans. Henry’s 87.3% of target share and 248 snaps may not be replicated by a tight end who is older and brings a different skill set to the team.
Cook is in his 13th season in the NFL. In his best statistical season in the NFL, he was on the receiving end of 101 targets for 896 receiving yards and six touchdowns. That was the 2018 season.
Ekeler was injured and played in 10 games last season. Even so, he averaged 6.5 targets a game. In the 2019 season, a healthy Ekeler had 108 receiving targets for 92 receptions, 993 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. Ekeler was underutilized last season in the skill set that will be advantageous to Herbert because of injury and scheme.
This brings us to new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. While this will be Herbert’s fifth offensive coordinator in five years, he acclimated pretty well last year with his fourth. Lombardi has compared Ekeler to Alvin Kamara, which only bodes well for both Ekeler and Herbert. In four seasons, Kamara has seen under 100 receiving targets only once, and that was the 2019 season when he had 97 targets. If healthy, Ekeler is capable of matching those numbers.
The narrative behind a regression season for Herbert is valid. Regression is simply a fact of life (for most of us). The question becomes how far will he regress and how much will opposing defenses catch up to him?
Herbert’s ADP currently puts him four rounds ahead of Stafford. That would be Stafford for the value play all day if you can get him in the ninth round or later.
Who will finish higher in fantasy? Give the slight…very slight edge to Herbert because of his rushing ability. The regression narrative may be real, but that doesn’t mean he will be out of the top 10.
Vote below on who you think will have the better fantasy season and follow me on Twitter @gladysLtyler.