Three Offenses You Can Trust in 2022 (Fantasy Football)
A lot has changed in the NFL over the past four months. The most active offseason ever saw multiple mega trades send fantasy superstars like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, to name just a few, to new teams. The quarterback carousel was more active than ever, with at least seven teams trotting out new signal-callers when Week 1 kicks off. It gets wilder when you consider that a whopping ten NFL teams have new head coaches this year. With so much upheaval around the league, nearly every team will head into the 2022 season with major unknowns. All this uncertainty makes it challenging to project fantasy output at the team and individual player levels.
There are, however, three teams that will look remarkably similar heading into 2022 as they did during the 2021 season. For fantasy football purposes, we can be more confident projecting what these teams and their players will produce this season. The three highlighted in this article are the only teams to feature all of the following:
- A top-seven scoring offense in 2021
- A top-eight fantasy quarterback in 2021 returning
- Their top-three (or more) non-QB fantasy scorers from 2021 returning
- The offensive coaching staff returning
- No major offensive additions this offseason
Simply put, these are the teams that have players you can trust for fantasy football in 2022.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense caught fire last year, and they may be just getting started. Burrow is entering his third season alongside head coach Zac Taylor and his coaching staff. They also return their top four offensive weapons in Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. Even their kicker Evan McPherson is primed to be one of the top fantasy options at his position, if you’re into kickers. The only real change among Cincinnati’s offensive weapons is the arrival of tight end Hayden Hurst, who replaces the departed C.J. Uzomah.
Given the consistency in personnel and staff, we can expect a similar offensive style and distribution. Looking back to last season, the Bengals tied for the seventh-most points scored in the NFL. They put up those points more with efficiency than volume. They were in the bottom seven in both total plays run and pace of play for the season. They were a relatively balanced offense, passing the ball 53% of the time and running it the other 47%. Mixon carried the rushing load with 67% of the team carries. Samaje Perine was a distant second, seeing just 13% of the carries. Chase led the team with a 24% target share, followed closely by Higgins and 20% and Boyd at 17%. It makes sense to project similar usage in 2022, making Burrow, Mixon, Chase, Higgins, and Boyd all very relevant fantasy options once again.
The Chargers are another team with a young franchise quarterback, stable coaching staff, and familiar offensive weapons. Justin Herbert finished as the second-highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2021, and he gets all of his most productive weapons back in 2022. Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams all return after they each posted over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and more than 200 fantasy points last year. Big play threat Jalen Guyton and second-year wideout Joshua Palmer are also back. The only changes in the offense are Gerald Everett replacing Jared Cook at tight end and the drafting of Isaiah Spiller in the fourth round of the NFL draft to fill in behind Ekeler.
Ekeler saw 62% of the team’s rushing attempts last season, including 59% of the carries inside the five-yard line. There’s a chance Spiller cuts into his rushing attempts near the goal line, but it’s unlikely he puts any kind of dent in his target share. Ekeler has averaged a 17% target share over the past three seasons, including the 15% target share he commanded last year. Allen led the team last year with a 24% target share, followed by Williams at 20%. The departed Cook saw just a 13% target share, while Guyton and Palmer combined for a 14% target share. Another year of chemistry with Herbert in Brandon Staley’s offense should yield solid fantasy production again from the main cast of Ekeler, Allen, and Williams in 2022, not to mention Herbert himself.
It’s reasonable to expect similar offensive production from most of the Bucs in 2022, but this team does come with a few caveats. First of all, Bruce Arians is out as head coach. The good news is that the rest of the coaching staff remains intact. Former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles assumed the head coach role, allowing offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and quarterback Tom Brady to continue running the offense as they see fit. That led to a league-high 731 pass attempts last season, and it won’t be a surprise if they lead the league through the air again in 2022.
Tampa Bay’s top three fantasy scorers from last season (Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, and Chris Godwin) are all back for 2022, though Godwin could be slow out of the gate as he recovers from last year’s late-season knee injury. The dynamic wide receiver duo accounted for 34% of the team targets in 2021, with the slight edge to Evans at 18%. Fournette had a monster season, finishing as the fantasy RB7 behind a 47% rush share and a 14% target share. Rob Gronkowski, the fourth-highest fantasy scorer for the Bucs in 2021, finished as the fantasy TE5, despite missing the better part of six games in the middle of the season. He has yet to decide if he’s coming back for another season in 2022, but we should expect more solid fantasy production from him again if he does. New additions Russell Gage and Rachaad White effectively replace Antonio Brown and Ronald Jones in the offense, at least to some degree. As long as Father Time doesn’t finally catch up to Brady, we should fully expect him to lead a high-powered offense and continue airing it out to his top pass-catchers.