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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan Poised for Breakout Seasons

You know LB likes to drop in some fantasy advice when it comes up, and he’s already done so recommending a few running backs. Now it’s time to recommend a few quarterbacks who are going to take that next step to the elite level.

It goes without saying that Aaron Rodgers is a stud. So are Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Michael Vick (though Vick is more risky). Peyton Manning is elite but his neck injury is a concern for me (he should be humming by week four or five). Tony Romo and Matt Schaub ordinarily round out the top group of fantasy quarterbacks, but I think two more will join them this year: Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan.

You know I’ve been all about Matthew Stafford since the draft when he dominated the Wonderlic. His explosive preseason has done nothing to quiet my praise that began a few weeks ago. Stafford has gone 24-31 for 356 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions during the preseason. His numbers remind me of what Aaron Rodgers did in the 2009 preseason. In his second year as a full-time starter, Rodgers went 29-41 for 465 yards, six touchdowns and no picks in the preseason. He went on to destroy the league for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns — his best statistical year. Saying Stafford will put up those numbers is asking a lot, but there is little doubt he’s going to become a star this year.

Also consider that Detroit’s offense loves to sling it from the shotgun. Stafford has Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Jahvid Best as his weapons. A big year is coming from Stafford and the Lions’ offense. Now I know what you’re thinking … but what about the shoulder injuries? Hey, I would consider those somewhat fluky. More importantly, they haven’t kept him from being a preseason stud. You can’t be scared to take chances in fantasy, and I guarantee this one pays off.

Matt Ryan has been regarded as one of the league’s best young quarterbacks since his successful rookie season. He became more of a fantasy weapon last season throwing for 28 touchdowns and 3,705 yards. In the past he was considered a quarterback who was more of a winner than a fantasy stud, but that may change this year. The Atlanta Falcons aspire to run a high-flying passing attack with Ryan piloting the offense.

Roddy White said the Falcons are going to be similar to the Greatest Show on Turf. They traded up several rounds to select Julio Jones in the draft, a clear indication they intend to become a big-time passing offense. GM Thomas Dimitroff says he learned from watching the Packers and Saints win Super Bowls that opening up the offense is the way to win. They threw the ball 42 times in the first half alone in their third preseason game. That ball control offense you’re used to seeing in Atlanta will be out like kick returns from the NFL. A spread offense will be in. Between Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, and to a lesser extent, Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons have plenty of receiving weapons. Ryan will feed all of them and he should easily crack 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career. He’s being selected highly in drafts and he should reward trusting owners with a big season. The question is whether the formula will work for the Falcons which are lacking on the other side of the ball.

Anyway, I’m telling you now, if you don’t have Matt Stafford on your fantasy team you’ll regret life and say to yourself the entire season “I should have followed LB’s advice. The guy knows his stuff.”

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