Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fantasy Football Roundtable - Matthew Stafford vs. Mark Sanchez

Fantasy Football Roundtable
Hosted By FantasyFootballTrader.Com  March 20, 2010

This week's question: Call your shot...the better fantasy career between 2nd year quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez based on what we think we know?...'

Ryan of LestersLegends.Com says:

I'm going to go with the #1 pick Matthew Stafford for a number of reasons. First of all, he already has a premier wide receiver in Calvin Johnson. Megatron is a physical specimen that will only get better. He also has talented second-year tight end Brandon Pettigrew that will grow with him. Having two young, talented pieces in place is a great start.

Mark Sanchez started to get with tight end Dustin Keller in the playoffs, but his options are limited. Plus, the Jets don't need Sanchez to have a big game to win. The Lions, on the other hand, don't have a good defense. If they are going to win, it's going to be a shootout. The Jets are built on defense and their running game. It's unlikely that they are going to change it any time soon. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I also favor Stafford as a long-term fantasy quarterback because he plays in a dome. While Sanchez has to deal with the elements, Stafford is at ease in climate-controlled Ford Field. Nothing derails a fantasy championship like a late-season nor'easter.

Dave of RotoPicks.Com says:

I really enjoyed looking into this comparison, because on the surface these 2nd-year QBs are so similar. Both have quality weapons in the passing game with great WR tandems (Cotchery/Edwards and Johnson/Burleson) and emerging TEs (Keller and Pettigrew). Even their 2009 stats were comparable in almost all aspects. But the one thing that did stand out is that Stafford reached nearly the same fantasy production as Sanchez in 5 fewer games last season.

To me the question of who has the better fantasy career comes down to only one thing, opportunity. The fact is that the Jets bread and butter is a ball-control offense where a strong running game is complimented by a physical defense. In this system, Sanchez will likely get few opportunities to shine.

Stafford plays in an extremely tough division, facing the Bears, Packers and Vikings twice a year. In all likelihood, the Lions will be playing from behind a lot during the course of the year. This and the Lions question marks at RB (at least in 2010) should make for a consistent aerial attack.

Simply put, Stafford will have more opportunity to post bigger fantasy numbers over the course of his career. In my opinion, the stats that make the best case for this so far are passing attempts and completions. While both QBs regular season stats were almost identical in these categories, Sanchez had a season high of only 34 attempts per game and only turned in 20 or more completions once during his 15 regular season starts (both in week 8 vs. the Dolphins). Stafford, on the other hand, aired it out a season high 51 times (in week 10 vs. the Vikings) and had 20 or more completions in 6 of his 10 starts. Stafford’s per game averages in completions and passing attempts (20.1 completions, 37.7 attempts) put him well ahead of Sanchez (13.1 completions, 24.3 attempts) in my fantasy rankings. Watching Stafford throw for over 400 yards and 5 TDs in week 11 last season gives him a little boost too.

Derek of FantasyFootballManiaxs.Com says:

Stafford was the 26th-ranked fantasy quarterback, and Sanchez was the 25th-ranked fantasy quarterback. They were both poor fantasy starts for almost all of the 2009 season.

Sanchez plays on the more competitive team, but that does not translate into a lot of throws. When the Jets went on their winning streak at the end of the season, Sanchez had fewer than 20 attempts in four of his last five regular season starts and had 68 attempts in three playoff starts, or an average of about 23 pass attempts per game. The Jets had the first-ranked scoring defense, first-ranked yardage defense and led the NFL in both rushing attempts and rushing yards. They finished 32nd in passing attempts, which really hurt Sanchez’s fantasy value.

Stafford, on the other hand, had over 35 pass attempts in seven of his 10 games and over 40 attempts in four games. Because his defense was dead last in the NFL in both points allowed and yards allowed, rarely did he play with a lead. Despite playing in five fewer games, he had more touchdowns than Sanchez, but he also had the same number of interceptions trying to bring his team back from the dead.

Both players have some nice weapons. The best weapon is WR Calvin Johnson, who plays in Detroit. The long and athletic receiver gives Stafford a go-to guy that makes big plays in the passing game. The Lions also signed Seattle WR Nate Burleson to a free agent contract, and if rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew and RB Kevin Smith can return from injury, the Lions have a chance to surround Stafford with weapons.

Sanchez has an excellent running game, led by second-year RB Shonn Greene (Thomas Jones has been released), but he has the always drop-prone WR Braylon Edwards as his main target. TE Dustin Keller has shown promise in his first two years, and WR Jerricho Cotchery is a good possession receiver.

Johnson gives Stafford a significant advantage in the passing game. If the Jets can find some weapons in the draft, I would have more enthusiasm when it comes to Sanchez in 2010.

Finally, Sanchez is two years older than the 22-year-old Stafford, which gives him a slight advantage in maturity and development. That will probably only make a difference for another year or so. Stafford has the advantage in intangibles, and he has a rocket arm most quarterbacks can only dream about having.

My verdict is that you probably do not want either one of them. Most quarterbacks do not become fantasy viable until their third season, and neither quarterback is in an ideal situation. Stafford is stuck on a terrible team and needs a stronger supporting cast. Sanchez is stuck on a team that plays defense and runs the ball. We have Stafford ranked #20 in our seasonal rankings and #16 in our dynasty rankings - with Sanchez #25 in our seasonal rankings and #18 in our dynasty rankings. They are both second quarterbacks that need to be paired with a superior starter.

The above was an excerpt from Derek's full article at FFManiax.

Jeff of DynastyKings.Com says:

This one is a no-brainer.

Matthew Stafford is by far the better fantasy option. Long term he has the most potential to be a fantasy QB1 with all the weapons at his disposal - Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Kevin Smith and now Nate Burleson. All that team needs is protection for their passer and they have a nice young core to build a solid offense around for the long haul.

As for Sanchez, I do like him but Braylon Edwards is no Calvin Johnson. The Jets are built for "old school football", meaning that they will try and win 23-16 or 16-13 type games with a strong ground game and even better defense. That's Rex Ryan (and for the most part, Buddy Ryan) football - that's what they know how to do, and they do it well. Thomas Jones may be gone, but Shonn Greene is now the guy for 2010 and for years to come. Leon Washington is still a Jet (and they'll fight to keep him there despite the modest RFA tender) and New York is likely to continue to add solid RBs for depth. The offensive line is one of the best in the league and they love to run the ball 35-40 times a week.

So when you get right down to it, Detroit has far more going for it than the Jets for fantasy offense - better climate (dome vs. the outdoors of the Garden State), better receivers, an offense and coaching staff that lend themselves to throwing more and even a weaker defense for the Lions, which will only add to Stafford's numbers. Both in the near term and the long haul, I'd much rather have Stafford.

Russ of FantasyFootballStarters.Com says:

I liked both quarterbacks coming out of college. As I stated in my NFL rookie reports of each both are about the same size and have very similar skill sets. Their final stats for 2009 were almost identical:

Stafford: 201-377-20, 2,267 yards, 13 TD's, 108 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD's

Sanchez: 196-364-20, 2,444 yards, 12 TD's, 106 rushing yards, 3 rushing TD's

But where Sanchez accomplished his in 15 games, Stafford got his in only 10. The situations they're both in are totally different. Sanchez was asked to manage games in 2009 and not throw a bunch while Stafford, because the Lions were usually behind by a lot in games had to throw a lot more. Stafford also has one of the elite young WR's in the game with Calvin Johnson while Sanchez gets to throw to drop prone Braylon Edwards. Sure, personnel and coaching staffs will inevitably change in the future, but I think Stafford is in the better situation for the purposes of fantasy football rankings and projections. Stafford has more of a gunslinger attitude and his coaches are more apt to let him air it out with their suspect rushing attack and porous defense than the Jets are with Sanchez. They don't need Sanchez to since they have a strong rushing attack with Shonn Greene and a dominant defense.

Sanchez is likely to have more NFL success, especially in the next couple of years, but as we learned from Troy Aikman and Jeff George back in the 1990's, there's a big difference between being a successful NFL QB and a successful fantasy football quarterback. You don't need to be one to be the other. Providing the Lions offensive line gets better at protecting him so he doesn't get knocked around and become injury prone, Stafford is my choice over Sanchez for fantasy football in dynasty leagues.

Jim of FanaticFantasyFootball.Com says:

I could see Matthew Stafford having the better fantasy career except for one thing. He plays for the Lions. He was beat up in his first season, playing in only 10 games. Detroit must improve their offensive line for Stafford to be a more consistent fantasy football point producer. He had one more passing touchdown than Sanchez, but when looked at closer, five of Stafford’s touchdowns came in one game against the Cleveland Browns. Add to the five games he missed, two more games without a touchdown pass and he totaled 7 games without a TD pass. You only play 16, maybe 17, fantasy football weeks. Although Stafford has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL to throw to, Calvin Johnson, it doesn't help much if you're on the bench with injuries. Johnson's stats suffered greatly in 2009 (#24 among all wide receivers after being #3 in 2008). Will Detroit be able to run the ball in 2010 to help take some of the pressure off Stafford? If they don't, Matthew will have to run for his life again in 2010.

Mark Sanchez was more consistent, had a better running game to support him, and had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL protecting him. He should take a positive step forward this year after having a good year that saw him get some playoff experience. Not so fast my friend! Have we forgotten Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta Falcons? Matt was the #16 quarterback in 2008 with 290 fantasy points. In 2009 he took a step back, dropping to #19 with 254 fantasy points. Although that might not sound like a big drop it placed him in the company of both Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez.

So what is my take on the two quarterbacks? I think Stafford is the better quarterback but I think Sanchez is on a better team, giving him more of a chance to succeed as the better fantasy quarterback option. I still see both as no more than a #2 quarterback for the 2010 season.

Jake of JunkYardJake.Com says:

It’s probably not the majority opinion, but if given the choice between Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez in terms of future fantasy production, I would give a slight edge to Mark Sanchez. Clearly both quarterbacks demonstrated their abilities during the 2009 season and both quarterbacks no doubt have the requisite intelligence to blossom into fine players. I prefer Sanchez just marginally over Stafford because he seems to demonstrate a precocious ability to read defenses, anticipate the pass rush, and create positive plays when his primary options are covered. Overall, Sanchez just seems to be the more instinctive player.

As mentioned, choosing Sanchez over Matthew Stafford is probably the minority opinion. When rating the rookie QBs on pure physical skill alone, Matthew Stafford is arguably the superior option. Stafford has exceptional arm strength, a good release and impressive accuracy. Although we did not see him run much this past season, Stafford also has good speed for his size, and should evolve into a decent running threat if his offensive scheme allows him to. Sanchez has also shows good velocity on his throws, and is probably on par with Stafford in terms of accuracy, but Stafford gets the slight edge in this department.

In terms of the cerebral part of the game, Stafford has already shown potential, and if you go by Wonderlic score alone, he even has the edge here. Both Stafford and Sanchez scored well on this pre-draft test, but Stafford scored a 38 compared to Sanchez’s mark of 28.

Both Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez should end up having successful careers in the NFL, and although Stafford has the higher upside in terms of pure physical talent, it is commonly known that the ability to effortlessly hurl a ball 50 yards down the field is only one factor that portends success as an NFL quarterback. Mark Sanchez just seems to be the slightly more intuitive player, and I give him the slight edge based on this intangible.

Rick of says:

I'm with Pasquino above. The guy to have in this conversation is Matt Stafford and it's not very close at all. There's as large a gap between Matt (10th) and Mark (20th) in my Dynasty Rankings as you'll probably see from any source in the industry. As others alluded to above, Matt Stafford is simply in the superior system to breed stats for the foreseeable future.

Setting NFL quarterbacking skills aside, the systems these two find themselves in are polar opposites of each other. Merely pointing out the fact that Sanchez attempted the fewest passes in the league last year is a laughable understatement. The Jets 393 pass attempts were 48 fewer than even the second fewest Buffalo Bills (441). There's no other team that bottled up it's QB (and had greater success in doing so) than the Jets.

With a young, talented O-line paired with second year battering ram Shonn Green...and then you factor in one of league's top 3 best shutdown defenses? Hell, forget about arm strength, accuracy, leadership or any other positive QB traits at this point. Give me the guy that's going to complete a forward pass once in awhile.

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