It’s going to be impossible to not like Jalen Hurts
If you're fading Jalen Hurts this year, you must assume he's going to get benched at some point. I would argue there is just about zero evidence there's even any sort of tangible risk that happens. There's no other logical reason for being out on Hurts at his QB8 ADP.
Hurts had a 25.2 percent rushing share of the Eagles’ offense in 15 games last year. I’ve got him at 28% for a full season in 2022. With the Eagles all too likely to be one of the top-10 most run-heavy offenses in the NFL, Hurts should soar over 700 yards on the ground. If he maintains anywhere close to his career rushing touchdown rate (6%), he can easily pop in six to eight scores.
Hurts should see a boost in his passing efficiency as well. Taking Jalen Reagor's targets and handing them to A.J. Brown in a projections model is massive.
Brown has averaged 14.6 yards per catch with a 7.6% touchdown rate over the last two years. It's not as if he's been playing with an elite quarterback either. Some of that efficiency has to bleed into Hurts' passing numbers and that's on top of the efforts of two strong holdovers in DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert.
If you miss out on the Tier 1 quarterbacks in fantasy, nothing should be holding you back from looking at Hurts as an every week answer with a high-ceiling and steady floor combo.
Brian Daboll should be a big boost for Daniel Jones
All of the Giants’ skill position players are going from the outhouse to the penthouse in terms of offensive design and play-calling.
Leaving behind the Joe Judge/Jason Garrett brain trust and entering a unit with Brian Daboll and former Chiefs’ assistant Mike Kafka at the controls is such a win. My projections heavily weigh the last three years of former team-level data for new head coaches and offensive coordinators.
So, the Giants get infused with a blend of 2019 to 2021 pace and play-calling data from the Bills and Chiefs. Not bad.
As such, my projections love the Giants' offensive structure. New York checks in 10th in the NFL in plays run and sixth in pass attempts. Taking Daniel Jones' passing stats and projecting them out in that type of offense, combined with his 4.5 rush attempts per game career average, makes him look like a fantasy star.
Of course, raw projections don’t always take in volatility and we know Jones is a volatile player. The team didn’t pick up his fifth-year option and offseason reports have been shaky thus far. There’s a chance he doesn’t even start 17 games and even if he does, he might not play well enough to have this offense hit its theoretical ceiling.
As much as fantasy managers seem to like the Giants’ offense as a place to mine sneaky fantasy value there’s still a chance Jones sinks the entire operation.
So while projection models might love Jones, rankings should reflect some of that low floor along with the solid fantasy ceiling. I have him settled in at QB17.
Trevor Lawrence hits a play-calling jackpot
The 2021 Jacksonville Jaguars were an unserious operation. You can give Trevor Lawrence a pass for his output while playing in that clown show.
Doug Pederson might not be some young, upstart offensive mind but the outlines of his Eagles’ offense would be a big boost for Lawrence. The Eagles ranked eighth in passing play percentage in 2020, 20th in 2019 and seventh in 2018. They ranked sixth, first and ninth in plays run per game during that same span.
So we can expect the Jaguars to play fast and be a pass-leaning offense. My projections have them top-10 in pass attempts and plays run.
As long as the supporting cast coalesces around Lawrence and he shows the same skills he displayed on film last year, the Jaguars' offense could be good soil to grow fantasy value. Lawrence also had an 18.6% share of his team’s rush attempts as a rookie, which only adds to his fantasy QB1 sleeper appeal.
I don’t know how to project the Patriots with Mac Jones
If you're leaning heavily into the last three years of play-calling data, it's going to be tough to love the Patriots' passing game. New England has played slower than the Tom Brady years, and quite run-heavy over their last two seasons.
How much of that was because they were playing with Cam Newton in 2020 and a rookie passer in 2021?
Projections help form a baseline and guide you toward a "most likely" outcome. In that model, I have the Patriots ranked just 25th in pass attempts for this year. I'm open to that being wrong and actually imagining the upside case with Mac Jones and this passing game.
There’s a chance Jones — who doesn’t get enough credit for a rock-solid rookie campaign — leans in more to the accurate, passing point-guard model of quarterback in Year 2. The Patriots don’t have stars at pass-catcher but have a suddenly deep and diverse group of receivers and tight ends. Jones could operate as a Philip Rivers/Drew Brees-style distributor if the Patriots go back toward the model they played with under Brady prior to 2019.
I want to be open to that possibility because I think Jones is good and these pass-catchers go so late for the volume they can absorb.
We know Bill Belichick has been a chameleon coach based on his personnel and this roster looks like it has the type of players to lean into either style of offense. Couple that with the fact we don’t really know who is the top offensive coach (and our options are either Joe Judge or Matt Patricia) and this is one offense where projections simply can’t bake in the upside of the unknown.
Kirk Cousins might be undervalued
There's a chance that Kirk Cousins throws for 5,000 yards this season with the way the Vikings are going to call plays.
Minnesota has ranked an average of 24th in passing play percentage (54.8%) the last three seasons. I’ve got them down for the 15th most pass attempts in the NFL this season based on new head coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips’ history with the Rams. Those teams were closer to a 59% passing play rate and operated at a faster pace.
Cousins isn’t a star but has always been an efficient passer, clearing 8.0 adjusted yards per attempt in each of his last three seasons. He even has a near-5K passing season on his resume, hitting 4,917 yards with Washington in 2016.
If we're all on board with Justin Jefferson as a top-two fantasy receiver this season because of this offensive shift, we should be reasonably excited about the guy throwing him the ball.
I won’t be ranking Cousins as a QB1 because of his lack of rushing upside. But once I miss out on that tier or need a QB2 in Superflex, Cousins will be a prime target. Spike weeks are going to be there.
Carson Wentz is going to have to be really bad to mess this up
Ron Rivera definitely comes across as an old-school, hard-nosed style of coach but his offensive coordinator is a pretty progressive play-caller. Scott Turner took over for his father under Rivera in Carolina and has run fast-paced offenses that throw the ball at a decent clip.
Washington ranked 17th and ninth in plays run the last two years and Carolina was sixth in 2019. These teams have averaged a rushing play rate of just 39%. Turner’s slowest and run-heaviest year was last season and you can chalk most of that to playing with an inferior passer.
The way Turner calls plays is exactly what we want in a fantasy-friendly offense. Especially one with a potential WR1 in Terry McLaurin and other intriguing names. Washington didn't exactly make a massive upgrade in the offseason but Carson Wentz is still better than what they rolled out in 2021. He'll have to be really bad to mess this up for his pass catchers.
Pace is a problem for Aaron Rodgers
The Packers traded away the best receiver in football this offseason and didn't add a proven above-average player at the position. But that's not the biggest problem for Aaron Rodgers this season.
The Packers have ranked 18th, 24th and 19th in plays run over the last three seasons under Matt LaFleur. They were one of the rare teams to dip below 1,000 in Rodgers’ 2020 MVP season. They’ve also ranked 14th and 11th in run play percentage the last two seasons. Some of that is boosted by how often they’ve won but that shouldn’t change heading into 2022.
Green Bay has already leaned a bit conservative-leaning since LaFleur arrived. There's a chance they could go further in that direction this season. They've invested into their defense and could feature a top-10 unit. The two best players on their offense after Rodgers are Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. It makes all the sense in the world to feature them.
Receiver isn't a premium position in Green Bay and the passing volume overall could be trending down. Rodgers will have to be hyper-efficient to put up stats like he has the last two years. Of course, he can do that because he's Rodgers but all that is why he's going to come in toward the back-end of QB1 rankings this year.