Matthew Stafford has had a disappointing five games to start the 2012 season. Disappointing compared to last year, definitely. Stafford tossed 41 touchdowns and threw for over 5,000 yards. He had just 16 interceptions.
This year, we expected the Lions' QB to have more touchdowns than picks heading into Week 7, and definitely more than only four TDs. However, let's stare at the bright side for a moment: He's thrown for 300-plus yards in all but two of his games (he threw for only 230 against the Niners), and he has a completion percentage of 62.4 currently, which is just under his mark in the category last season.
Still pretty darn good
But fantasy football is about the points, and Stafford isn't cashing in where it really matters: Touchdowns. He has probably the best receiving target in the game in Calvin Johnson and an excellent red zone tight end in Brandon Pettigrew. So what's wrong?
Most of his and the team's struggles have been in the first halves of their games; all five of Stafford's picks have come in the first half, and all of his touchdown passes have come in the second half.
The absence of a dominant running game - or at least a running back that can keep the defense honest - is lacking in Detroit. Jahvid Best (concussions) won't return this year, and his career is likely over. Mikel Leshoure can be that guy, but he's still adapting to the speed and intricacies of playing in the NFL.
Last year they were without Best for most of the year, too, but they were able to stretch the field better than any other team. This year, not so much. Defenses are playing their safeties deep and using zone coverage to prevent the big play, forcing Stafford to stay small and short, something he prefers not to do. Calvin Johnson hasn't benefitted from any man coverage at all.
Detroit must prove they can sustain drives without relying on big-yardage plays in order to give Stafford more opportunities in the red zone. They need to find ways to utilize Titus Young more underneath to move the chains consistently. Joique Bell can be used out of the backfield in the passing game, too.
Defenses have made adjustments to Stafford's strengths, it's time he made some adjustments to counter. And he will. His next two matchups, the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, will pose stiff challenges, but it'll be interesting to see how he fares early in those games and if progress can be made.
A QB doesn't just throw for 5,000-plus yards by accident. Stafford is a legitimate gunslinger that has faced a bit of adversity so far this year. It wouldn't be a bad idea to gauge his owner's faith in him in your league. If you own him, stay patient, he'll turn it around in the second half.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
Don't miss these great reports....