Why Jared Goff Can Be a QB Value in 2022 (Fantasy Football)
In the pilot episode of Ted Lasso, AFC Richmond’s new owner, Rebecca Welton, hires an American college football coach to run her Premier League soccer team. Vindictively, she ushers Ted into a press conference almost immediately after Ted lands from an eastward-bound trans-Atlantic flight, a sleepless flight for Ted, no less. Unsympathetically, the British press bombard a groggy Ted with difficult, derogatory, and downright rude questions, punctuated by Trent Crimm’s (the Independent) question, “Is this a ****** joke?” The British press were appalled that Ted Lasso was to be named a Premier League Football coach (and several cut-aways to AFC Richmond’s three biggest fans in the pub showed a fanbase in complete agreement with the press). The hate headed Ted’s way by the fanbase and those commenting on the sport was perhaps never higher than the moment when Ted couldn’t even name a single footballer (other than a pathetic attempt to name David Beckham by saying “the guy who bends it like himself”).
I found myself thinking about Ted up at the podium about to spit seltzer water at the first few rows of journalists when I looked up Jared Goff‘s ADP today. According to Sleeper, Jared Goff is currently the 29th QB taken, after quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston, Davis Mills, and even Kenny Pickett. The fantasy community feels about as strongly against Jared Goff as the Brits felt about Ted Lasso when he arrived in the UK.
After Ted had taken his beating, Rebecca stepped in to call out the press’s lack of manners in the press conference. She noted that Coach Lasso may not have the CV that the press finds acceptable, but he does have one thing going for him, a trophy from this century. Regardless of how Rebecca really felt when she revealed her true intentions to Higgins privately, she defended Ted from the onslaught of pompous hate. Today, I play the role of Rebecca Welton for Jared Goff, except I really mean it. “Just because Jared Goff may not have a name that is acceptable to you lot, he does have something a lot of the quarterbacks being drafted ahead of him don’t, three top-12 QB finishes.”
***Quick aside, I recognize that many don’t play in 2-QB/Superflex leagues. Certainly, the information in this article is much better suited for those thinking about a Superflex draft strategy, but you need to at least be aware of Jared Goff because of his great early season schedule (Eagles, Commanders, Vikings, Seahawks), and he will be a streaming option for you at some point. So, stay tuned, and go join a Superflex league (they are the best). ***
Jared Goff: A Disrespected Man
Why does it feel like the entire fantasy community hates Jared Goff?
Certainly, he did not have a great year last year, if you look at his numbers merely from a cursory, macro level. 18 touchdowns and 3245 yards in fourteen games isn’t going to win you any fantasy championships. But looking at Jared Goff‘s season as a whole fails to capture the true nature of his season.
Let’s start at the beginning. Goff was, of course, traded (along with some picks) for Matthew Stafford. Goff was joining a new team, learning a new system, and developing chemistry with a new set of pass catchers. Growing pains should have been assumed for anyone changing teams like that.
Also, Goff was moving from Sean McVay’s fantasy-friendly offense to a relatively unknown offense led by first-year coach, Dan Campbell, and offensive coordinator, Anthony Lynn. Lynn has some history in the NFL as an OC, but it had been a bit as he was the head coach of the Chargers for the three years prior. And truthfully, Lynn’s experience as an OC was pretty minimal – serving only as OC in Buffalo for a short period before being elevated to interim head coach.
The Anthony Lynn experience went poorly. Lynn lacked imagination, and he tried to force Jared into something he wasn’t. The biggest issue was that Lynn’s offense required the QB to go through his full progressions, which led to an uncomfortable amount of sacks. The rise in sacks wasn’t helped by the absence of veteran left tackle, Taylor Decker, in the first half of the season, even though first-round pick Penei Sewell filled in admirably, there was still a hole at right tackle that was supposed to be filled with that first-round draft pick. Add in a devoid of talent at the wide receiver position to open the year (the Lions’ starting WRs were Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus, and Trinity Benson), and the result was 8-straight losses, only eight touchdown passes, and six interceptions.
But then Dan Campbell did something drastic: he took over the play-calling himself. He involved tight-ends coach, Ben Johnson, more in-game planning, as Johnson was clearly a fresh mind and innovative approach to modern NFL offenses. These two men looked at the talent the Lions had and schemed toward the talent. After the season, Campbell noted that the Lions had quite a bit of talent in the middle of the field, with D’Andre Swift out of the backfield, TJ Hockenson at tight end, and Amon-Ra St. Brown playing primarily in the slot. The outside-the-numbers options just were not going to cut it, and trying to win games using the traditional methods when the team lacked talent at the traditional, wide receiver position wasn’t going to win games. Also, Campbell and Johnson worked with Goff to design plays and play types that were more comfortable to Goff’s skill set, looking at Goff’s LA Rams tape to find where he excelled. Campbell and Johnson set aside their egos and worked to put Goff in a position to succeed, rather than insist their method was best (compare with Nagy, Matt).
In addition, the Lions obtained Josh Reynolds to help with the lack of outside-the-numbers talent. Reynolds played well, although perhaps not the revelation needed to take the Lions to the next level.
Goff played far better after Campbell stepped in. Goff only threw two more interceptions in his final five, healthy games after Campbell relieved Lynn of play-calling duties, and he threw 11 touchdowns in 5 games. Additionally, Goff’s sack rate went from 6.5% to 5.3%, although it should be noted that the Lions lost pro-bowl center, Frank Ragnow, during the second half of the season, and so the Lions’ true ability to protect the quarterback was never seen in 2021 because the projected five starters never played a snap together.
Goff’s other peripheral numbers went up too. His QB rating went from 85.3 to 101.8; his air yards per attempt went from 6.0 to 7.1 and his percentage of 20+ air yards throws went from 8.7% to 10.1, while upping his completion percentage on these throws to 43.8% from 24.1%. In fact, after Week 11, Jared Goff averaged 17 fantasy points per game, which was tied with Dak Prescott for QB16. So, any way you cut it, Jared Goff was a good quarterback in the second half of the year once the offense changed for the better under Dan Campbell’s play-calling and Ben Johnson‘s increased involvement.
2022 is a New Chapter
Despite all this, the entire NFL draft community was convinced that Goff was a man to be replaced through the draft process. The draftniks pegged Malik Willis to the Lions, especially after the Lions traded up from pick 34 to pick 12. But the Lions did not draft a QB at any of their 8 draft picks. Instead, the Lions bolstered the weapons around Goff, doubling down on their commitment to Goff.
And yet, Kenny Pickett, a quarterback who may not even start a single game this season, is being drafted over a quarterback guaranteed to start 16 games, assuming health? It makes no sense!
So now, it’s 2022. Goff has the starting role guaranteed, he has a stud playmaker, Jameson Williams, who can take the top off a defense. The Lions brought back Josh Reynolds as a red-zone threat, and the Lions signed DJ Chark, a capable receiver. Plus, Amon-Ra and Hockenson remain as great options over the middle. And finally, the offensive line looks to be healthy and is currently ranked the third best offensive line in football according to PFF. Oh and, Ben Johnson has been elevated to offensive coordinator, a move endorsed by Jared Goff.
The fact is, Goff averaged 17 fantasy points per game with a banged-up offensive line, much less talent at the wide receiver position, and a struggling defense after Campbell took over play-calling. Goff could easily bump that number up to 19.5 with his new weapons, healthy line, and better overall team, which would have been QB12 last season.
Just like the shortsighted Brits, who didn’t BELIEVE, the fantasy community is only looking at Jared Goff‘s name and full-season stats. Ted Lasso had intangibles only seen in the locker room.
Similarly, the stats that best predict Jared Goff‘s 2022 projected season come only from the second half of the season. We need to look deeper and give Goff a chance. If you do, you’ll get a tremendous value at your QB2 slot (or streamer when necessary). I predict Goff finishes the year QB14, which makes him one of the best values at QB this year.