NFL Offenses That Will Make the Leap In 2022 (Fantasy Football)
Last year, I vaticinated that two NFL teams would score twenty or more touchdowns than the year prior, which occurred exactly as foretold. We termed this offensive advancement “Making the Leap.” Adding triumph to foresight, the prognostication process correctly predicted which two teams would accomplish this offensive feat: the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys.
Based on my research last season, two NFL teams making the leap isn’t unusual or rare – it’s veracity. In 2018, the Colts and Chiefs made the leap; in 2019, the Ravens, Titans and 49ers similarly leapt; and in 2020, it was the Steelers, Bills, and Packers leaping. 2021 further confirmed the hypothesis, as we saw the Bengals and Cowboys make the leap.
|2021 TDs||Plus/Minus||2020 TDs|
|Green Bay Packers||54||-12||66|
|Kansas City Chiefs||57||0||57|
|Las Vegas Raiders||37||-11||48|
|Los Angeles Chargers||58||13||45|
|Los Angeles Rams||52||9||43|
|New England Patriots||51||15||36|
|New Orleans Saints||43||-16||59|
|New York Giants||24||-3||27|
|New York Jets||36||10||26|
|San Francisco 49ers||50||5||45|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||63||4||59|
We have every reason to believe this trend will continue. We just need to find out which teams will make the leap in 2022.
The Value of Leaping Offenses
We love predictability in fantasy football – a game with so little that is predictable. Thus, having anything remotely constant is required knowledge. Knowing that 2-3 NFL teams will make the leap, and that we are pretty good at guessing who might make the leap (at least based on one year of my prognostications), we can roughly guess the number of touchdowns a few of the 32 NFL teams will score.
But more than just having something neat and tidy (for once) in fantasy football, we also learned the value of exposure to a leaping offense. Exactly as I said last year:
Offenses that “make the leap” usually finish as a top-5 scoring offense. In fact, six of the eight teams listed above finished as a top-5 offense, and five of the eight finished as a top-2 offenses! Thus, it’s frankly no surprise that an offense that “makes the leap” is nearly guaranteed to unearth league winners.
2021 was yet another year where this statement turned out to be the rule. The Dallas Cowboys scored the most touchdowns in the NFL last year, and the Bengals scored the 7th most. Notably, the Chargers – my third predicted team to make the leap in last year’s article – were still the 3rd best offense in the league, despite only scoring 13 more touchdowns than 2020. Thus, although the prediction of 20 more touchdowns was a bit optimistic, this advice still discovered a top-5 offense in the NFL. That’s beautiful.
Indeed, exposure to these teams proved fruitful as well, as the top option at each of the main three fantasy football positions (WR, QB, RB) on the Bengals and Cowboys was a strong fantasy player. For the Bengals, Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Joe Mixon finished the year QB8, WR5, and RB3, respectively. Meanwhile, for the Cowboys, Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliott finished the year QB7, WR18, and RB6, respectively. (also, FYI, Justin Herbert, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler finished QB2, WR9, and RB2, respectively).
When you break it down, the exercise is pretty simple. Find offenses ready to score a lot more touchdowns and draft players on those offenses. When you do that, you are extremely likely to find strong fantasy football producers. Then, you win fantasy championships.
Reanalyzing the Mechanics of Making the Leap
Last year, I analyzed the mechanics of making the leap. A lot of that analysis felt narrative based, rather than analytical, in nature, but some narratives are just too strong to ignore – the most notable being a long-term injury at the QB position to a top NFL passer. We saw this exact narrative play out in Dallas last season, as Dak Prescott returned from injury, and the Cowboys made the leap.
We also saw two second-year quarterbacks (Herbert and Burrow) build on the promise they showed as rookies and deliver a leaping offensive output, which was very similar to the Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes narratives we saw from the 2018 Chiefs and the 2019 Ravens.
There are outliers, of course, such as the 2020 Packers and Bills, that do not fit nicely into either of those narrative categories, so we cannot be limited to these two narratives when identifying teams that will make the leap in 2022. In fact, it’s important to remember what I wrote last year:
Lastly, it’s important to note that most teams that “made the leap” are not at the bottom nor the tippy top of the league in touchdown scoring. So, I want to identify a team in the middle (e.g. in the high 30s or 40s in touchdowns scored) because those are teams that, when they make the leap, surge to the top of the league in touchdowns scored, not just back to respectability.
Now that we again have our bearings, let’s pick the 2022 NFL breakout offenses:
2022 Offenses Ready to Make the Leap
While Denver’s 2022 quarterback is not returning from injury, Russell Wilson is a completely different quarterback than the collection of misfits the Broncos started last year. It’s extremely rare for a top-10 QB to change teams via trade, so having it occur in the 2022 offseason makes the Broncos “feel” a lot like the 2018 Colts, the 2019 Steelers, or the 2021 Cowboys because the team’s current passer is super talented and wasn’t a factor in the team’s previous year touchdown total. Thus, Russell Wilson changing teams should have the same type of impact as a top quarterback returning from injury to an already strong team, like the examples mentioned above.
The Broncos scored 37 touchdowns last year, so getting them to 57 touchdowns feels easy. If they get to 60, Russ is a top 5 QB, Javonte returns incredible dividends, and Courtland Sutton is likely a top-12 WR. That’s ROI at every position. Denver is an offense to buy into.
Miami did everything they could to give Tua Tagovailoa the tools needed to succeed. Miami paid a steep price to acquire speedster, Tyreek Hill; they signed just about every free agent running back available; and they improved their offensive line by signing LT Terron Armstead and Guard Connor Williams. While PFF only ranks this O-line at 23, that’s still a dramatic improvement over 2021 (and partly a result of unsettled camp battles). Additionally, Mike McDaniel excites me as an offensive coach who was previously with a team that made the leap.
I’ve always been impressed with Tua’s accuracy, so if this revamped offensive line can protect him, and the combination of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill can get open at will, this is an offense that could certainly make the leap in 2022.
Honorable Mention: Las Vegas Raiders
I really want to love Las Vegas this year. They made some nice off-season additions, particularly by adding Davante Adams and hiring an offensive minded coach in Josh McDaniels, but I just don’t think Derek Carr is capable of leading a top-5 offense. The Raiders only scored 37 touchdowns in 2021, so while I do think this team will improve (probably scoring around 50 touchdowns or a little bit more), it won’t be enough to make a leap.