Three and out: Buying into high Stafford expectations

Here are fantasy takes on some of the NFL news of the day:

Expect big things from Matt Stafford. The Lions QB has proclaimed himself in great shape and ready to go. Most fantasy owners already are well aware that a healthy Stafford can post huge numbers. It’s just the concern over avoiding further injuries. Well, reports are that he’s worked hard this offseason to strengthen his upper body, and NFL Network Insider Jason La Canfora wrote an article Monday on NFL.com on the potential for Stafford to have a breakout season in 2011. According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Lions coach Jim Schwartz is just as excited. Schwartz apparently told Brandt that if you broke down the actual playing time (less than three full games) in which Stafford threw six TD passes last year, it would project over a 16-game season to 48 touchdowns! Not quite sure how that number was reached, but I’ll put Stafford down for 3,500 yards and 36 TDs.

Don’t sleep on Steven Jackson. So former Rams great Marshall Faulk said he thought current Rams RB Steven Jackson was ranked too low on NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2011” series? I say, who cares where a bunch of NFL players rank him? I want to know where he stands in fantasy land. Well, guess what? NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano also has Jackson ranked too low. He’s got Jackson ranked 25th overall heading into the 2011 season, 14th among running backs. Jackson, who turns 28 in July, has averaged 1,681 yards from scrimmage in the last two seasons with a sub-par offense. With teams a little more focused on Sam Bradford and the passing game this year, Jackson could easily mount a challenge to be one of the most valuable RBs in fantasy this season.

Rivers already a champ. In yesterday’s Pick Six, NFL.com’s Adam Rank expressed his desire for Chargers QB Philip Rivers to win a Super Bowl – just so he can put to rest the idea that fellow 2004 draft picks Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are better. Well, it’s true that Roethlisberger and Manning have three Super Bowl rings to Rivers’ none. But it’s safe to say that Rivers has helped win a lot more fantasy championships than the other two combined. And isn’t that what counts? The Chargers QB passed for 30 touchdowns and a career-best 4,710 yards last season – and that was with a team that struggled early and played most of the year without star WR Vincent Jackson. In a more competitive AFC West, look for Rivers to find himself in some shootouts and put up another monster season.

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