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NFL Draft

What Stafford-Goff Trade Means For Rams, Lions, Draft, Fantasy Football

  • The Draft Network
  • January 31, 2021
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Just as many were settling in for a nice quiet Saturday night during the pre-Super Bowl bye week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped a bombshell:

https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1355712045006655490

Matthew Stafford is heading to the Los Angeles Rams to join a team that’s ready to win now, while Jared Goff is going to a Detroit Lions team that won’t be winning anything but a battle of kneecaps anytime soon. While we’ll have plenty of deep analysis and follow-up in the coming days here at The Draft Network, let’s dive into some initial reactions to what this trade means on a few levels.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR RAMS

Los Angeles is an instant Super Bowl contender in 2021. It’s as simple as that, as general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay mortgage their future yet again in an attempt to win a ring. The Rams are already without a first-round pick in 2021 due to the Jalen Ramsey trade and just sent their next two years’ worth of opening-round picks to acquire Stafford. But if they bring home a Super Bowl championship, it’ll all be worth it—if not, another GM-HC duo will be forced to pick up the pieces in a few years.

The Rams know they’re in an offensive arms race in the highly-competitive NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks sit atop of the division with Russell Wilson and a pair of high-quality pass-catching options. The San Francisco 49ers are poised to upgrade their quarterback position—they were reportedly in on Stafford as well—and certainly can’t have worse injury luck than they had in 2020. Kyle Shanahan can get rushing production from nearly anybody and the young duo of Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk paired with George Kittle is a scary trio. The Arizona Cardinals have a young, ascending quarterback in Kyler Murray and one of the best receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins—but they are more erratic than Seattle and San Francisco. The Rams were poised to enter 2021 with the worst starting quarterback in the division. Now, that won’t be the case.

Pairing Stafford with reliable weapons like Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods (and a progressing Van Jefferson) and an aggressive running game spearheaded by Cam Akers is quite exciting. Stafford, if healthy, can push the ball down the field far more effectively than Goff ever could—simply put, Stafford will get far more than just what McVay schemes up for him. If the Rams’ 2021 defense plays anywhere near as stout as their 2020 unit did, they’ll not only challenge for the NFC West crown, but for the best team in the conference. But they better be happy with the guys already in the room because their current cap situation isn't pretty.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR LIONS

Detroit can finally fully tear things down and build anew. The Lions have had a strange and undeserved buzz around them for the last few preseasons. Yet, they haven’t come anywhere close to a winning season since they fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season in 2017. The Matt Patricia era was a complete disaster—not exactly a hot take—but at least the Lions can finally move on and start the slow process of getting the franchise back to relevancy.

Goff, despite only being 26, isn’t likely to be the long-term answer in Detroit. What he will be is their starter in 2021 and possibly even 2022 before turning the reins over to a quarterback in one of these next three draft classes—Goff getting cut following the 2022 season would be most advantageous cap-wise with no guaranteed money remaining at that point. Seeing how Goff can perform away from McVay will be fascinating, and new Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will have his hands full scheming up open receivers for the erratic quarterback who may not even have a chance to throw to either Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones Jr. next season.

Goff is better than what the Lions have on their roster sans Stafford, but not by a whole lot. 

WHAT IT MEANS FOR 2021 NFL DRAFT

There isn’t much of a change from the Rams’ side since they’re only giving up a third-round pick—the ramifications (no pun intended) for Detroit are far more intriguing. 

The Lions hold the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and have a decent chance of landing QB4, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, at that spot. However, even that is no guarantee. If Detroit wants either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson, they now have extra firepower to move up to No. 2 to swap picks with the New York Jets or to No. 3 with the Miami Dolphins if they don’t trade for Deshaun Watson. If the Lions do stay put and take Lance, he does not project as a Year 1 starter anyway, so sitting behind Goff for a season or two is not only not the end of the world, but beneficial. If the Lions don’t fancy any of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class, they can sit tight with Goff, build the rest of their roster, and dip their toes in the rookie quarterback waters in either 2022 or 2023. No matter what, it feels like the starting quarterback for the 2023 Lions (maybe even mid-season 2022) hasn’t yet played an NFL snap.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL

Rams: All Rams get a boost, but especially Woods, Kupp, Akers, and Tyler Higbee, who might return to fantasy relevance as we saw a strong chemistry developing between Matthew Stafford and T.J. Hockenson after the Lions spent a top-10 pick on the former Iowa tight end. I do wonder who becomes the team’s primary deep threat since Los Angeles has some quality high-floor pass-catchers for fantasy but no elite upside option. Regardless, a better, more efficient offense will lift all players’ values. My initial reaction is that Akers jumps into high-end RB2 territory, Woods is a surefire top-15 receiver, Kupp is a WR2, and Higbee is a borderline top-12 tight end. Stafford will sneak into the bottom of QB1 territory. 

Lions: There isn’t going to be a ton of fantasy value on this team. D’Andre Swift should still be a high-end RB2, Hockenson drops from a top-five tight end to the bottom of TE1 territory, and it remains to be seen who the top wide receivers even are for this team once free agency concludes. Goff should not be considered rosterable in single-QB leagues.

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