Matthew Stafford is playing well and stirring hope again in Detroit. Things got so carried away after the Lions’ preseason drubbing of the Patriots that Eminem and Kid Rock were spotted holding hands, singing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”
Generally…. this means the wheels are about to fall off the Lions’ bus, literally or figuratively. Stafford has raised hopes before, but has been completely unable to stay healthy thus far. While I wish him the best, I cannot endorse running right out and drafting him up until his track record improves. However, there are a couple of relatively low risk ways to take an indirect chance on Stafford.
Both Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew may improve if Stafford manages to stay healthy. In the case of Calvin Johnson, this could put him nearly in a class by himself. Pettigrew is more of a late round project. He showed promise at Oklahoma State and as a rookie in 2009, before an ACL tear. While he did break 700 yards last year, it often takes a year to fully recover from an ACL. Hopefully, he is now fully ready to go.
As always, you will not reap any upside benefit if you go out and draft Johnson or Pettigrew too high. Draft them where they should go based on last year’s performance and you should still get fair value for them even if Stafford does not play. If he does play and Detroit’s offense does improve, your team will be in great shape.