Matthew Stafford has battled a sprained right ankle injury that he suffered on the final offensive play of last week’s loss to Atlanta. His status for Sunday’s game at Denver has been iffy all week long, but it looks like he will be a go for the Week 8 contest. He was a full participant in Friday’s practice after being limited the previous two days.
And even if he is a go, you might want to look somewhere else despite the Detroit Lions playing a Broncos pass defense that has been very friendly to opposing fantasy quarterbacks.
The Lions have a bye after Sunday’s game and they certainly need it to get some of the kinks worked out. Three of the last four weeks for Stafford have been sub par fantasy performances.
After having scored 23-plus fantasy points in the first three weeks, Stafford began a run of three out of four games at 16.5 points or less, including last week’s 11.32 effort at home against Atlanta.
The lack of a running game for the Lions has certainly hurt their offensive performance. They are 27th in the NFL at 92.7 yards per game with just three rushing scores. It’s pretty easy for defenses to key in on Stafford when they don’t have to respect the ground aspect of Detroit’s game.
Stafford is sixth the league in pass attempts per game at 38.4, and after having been sacked six times in the first five weeks (five coming in Week 3 against Minnesota), Stafford has been dropped eight times in the last two weeks.
Luckily for fantasy owners, Stafford has not turned the ball over the last two weeks, but you just wonder when it all will catch up with the Lions. The last two weeks, he has completed 56 and 46.9 percent of his passes, and four times altogether this season he has completed 59 percent or less.
He may get a reprieve this week vs. Denver‘s suspect pass D, but the Broncos are a different team when defensive back Champ Bailey is in the lineup.
The Broncos are 14th in the NFL with 16 sacks, but have just three interceptions. They are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68 percent of their passes (ranking them 31st in the league), throw for 247.5 yards per game and are tied for 20th in the league with 11 touchdown passes allowed.
Then there’s Bailey.
He missed Weeks 2-4 with a hamstring injury. In that time, the Broncos allowed Cincinnati to have two double-digit fantasy receivers, Tennessee to have one and Green Bay to have three. San Diego No. 2 receiver Malcom Floyd caught three balls for 100 yards and a score in Week 5 while Vincent Jackson was held to 3-for-34.
With Bailey in the lineup, the Broncos allowed Jason Campbell to throw for 105 yards and a score in Week 1, Philip Rivers to throw for 250 yards and a score in Week 5 and Matt Moore to throw for 197 yards and a score in Week 7.
So is Stafford going to play like Campbell and Moore or like Rivers?
Well, the ankle injury, the lack of a running game, only one consistent threat at receiver in Calvin Johnson, a Broncos team which is also solid against tight ends (only two scores and 19 catches all season) and it being a road game, I would look away from Stafford and seek a better option if available.
Bye weeks may not make that possible, but Denver’s a different Denver with Bailey and Stafford’s a different Stafford then he was a few weeks ago.
By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter