One of the most common ways to start preparing for the upcoming season in fantasy football is not just Look at the position ranking but also on the offense status of each NFL team.
Which teams are best set up for success? Which teams will fight? Which of these expected bottom-feeder teams has latent fantasy talent to draw from? Which of these top teams could actually disappoint fantasy managers?
In the coming weeks, fantasy football analyst Liz Loza will comb through each division and highlight the biggest fantasy issues each team faces. Next up is the NFC East!
Is Saquon Barkley Worth a Look in the Third Round of the 2022 Draft?
I did a deep dive Saquon Barkley as part of my Rest vs. Rust series last summer. In this article, I advised—despite the medical optimism of Dr. Alex Weber – refrained from using a first-round pick for the former fantasy star, citing a brutally strict schedule and reduced workload.
The analysis was solid as Barkley landed his position outside of the top 30 players in 2021.
Things are different with this go-around, however. The cost of fantasy investing has come down and the face of the team has changed. From the front office to the head coach to the offensive line, the New York ecosystem seems better suited to support fantasy production.
That’s mostly the reason yahoo fantasy Followers are bullish on Barkley’s ability to generate ROI on his current third-round ADP:
The Giants are in the early stages of an unabashed rebuild. And Saquon is not a phase II lock. He is currently in the final year of his deal and is set to become a UDFA in 2023. The previous regime’s need to “protect their investments” does not exist Joe Nice or Brian Daboll. You can brazenly feed Barkley the Rock 16-18 times per game. And that seems to be the plan, given the talent behind him (keep an eye on Rookie Jashaun Corbinhowever, who has excellent power and could play a role in transmission).
For his part, Barkley needs to seize the workhorse opportunity to secure his next deal. A bottom 12 strength of the schedule poses a challenge, but given that he’ll be nearly two years away from the ACL/MCL rift that derailed his 2020 season, there’s a 60-80 percent chance he’ll make his previous level of performance. He never excelled as a hyper-efficient grinder, but rather as an elusive playmaker who excels in space and as a receiver. Daboll can and will create those opportunities for Barkley. After all, he did it for Devin Singletar – who managed 14 breakaway runs (RB5) at 4.6 speed last year.
Barkley is still only 25 years old and likely to touch the ball 20 times per contest, Barkley deserves a top 15 consideration. FF: 1,500 total yards and 9 TDs
Will Ezekiel Elliott make top 10 fantasy numbers again in 2022?
Ezekiel Elliott has had at least Top 11 fantasy numbers over the course of his six-year career. He fell out of the top six fantasy players at that position only in 2017 (RB10, limited to 10 games due to suspension) and 2020 (RB11). Zeke finished 2021 as FF’s RB6 overall despite averaging a career-low 58.9 rushing yards per game.
It was the TDs (12) who saved him. And just like with waterfalls, you don’t want to be chasing touchdowns.
Instead, chase the volume. Unfortunately, Zeke’s has since shrunk Tony Pollard arrived in Dallas.
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Elliott’s average per game never dropped below 21.5 deaths per contest from 2016-18. However, since Pollard was drafted in 2019, Zeke’s carries per outing have fallen from 18.8 in 2019 to 16.3 in 2020 to 13.9 in 2021. A clear pattern of reduction indicates this – despite Elliott’s involvement in the passing game and the goal line – his overall stock is trending down.
Dallas is financially tied to Zeke through 2026. The team has potential at the end of this season but – unlike the Barkleys situation – they must be aware of monitoring the (almost) 27-year-old’s mileage and maintaining his health. The increase in Pollard’s workload allows the Cowboys to widen Elliott’s window while also capitalizing on a fourth-round talent who has a top-four rushing grade of PFF (91.0) last season.
Even if Zeke returns to full health and avoids physical limitations throughout the season (which would be a miracle given his age and the volatility of the position), he’s unlikely to touch the ball more than 16.5 times per game. That’s not enough volume to catapult a player of Elliott’s skills into the top 10. He is the Yahoo Consensus RB16.
Will the addition of AJ Brown help unleash DeVonta Smith?
Philly morphed from a passing-friendly offense at the top of 2021 to a run-focused operation in the back half of the season. Shane Steinen When he took on play-calling duties mid-last year, he placed a heavy emphasis on ground play, resulting in 550 rushing attempts (second only to TEN) in the season.
While the move improved the team’s record, it cost De Vonta Smith almost 2.5 goals per game. Despite leading the Eagles in looks (103), receptions (64), and yards (916), Smith averaged just 8.9 fantasy points per game (WR45). These numbers also reveal a shockingly inefficient catch rate (62.1%, WR58), suggesting that volume wasn’t the only issue negatively impacting Smith’s fantasy output.
The adding of AJ Brown will limit Smith’s volume, but it should also make him more efficient by providing the former Heisman Trophy winner with a surge of overwhelming opportunities.
Working as Philadelphia’s X receiver, Smith recorded just 87 slot snaps (WR106) during his rookie campaign. But Smith is better suited for a “Z” role. He’s a smooth and polished route runner with stunning ball skills and exciting agility. Putting Brown to work as the team’s No. 1 will take the pressure off Smith’s defense and allow him to win with finesse and wits.
It also realigns the depth map. Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor won’t see a combined 119 looks in 2022. These go to Brown, leaving almost 100 targets for Smith. Its quantities remain static during this time quality of these opportunities should only improve. FF: 73-992-5
Can Terry McLaurin finish in the top 15 fantasy WRs with Carson Wentz at QB?
Carson Wentz has drawn well-deserved heat from fantasy diehards. And we all have the right to be annoyed for/about Terry McLaurin.
But has the community overcorrected?
Wentz’s accuracy stats are amazingly similar to those posted by Taylor Heinicke last season. Both QBs averaged a 6.9 YPA and earned accuracy ratings below 7.5 (outside the top 25). However, when you factor out idle throwaways and dropped passes, Wentz fared significantly better, earning a true passer rating of 83.7 (to Heinicke’s 65.2). He also supported Michael Pittman with 88-1,082-6 and helped the wideout to a top 18 fantasy finish (11.3 fantasy points per game) as a sophomore.
Wentz may not be the QB we wanted for F1…but he’s still an upgrade.
McLaurin’s talent is as endless as it is obvious. We’ve seen him pull dusty QB after dustier QB into production for three seasons. Ohio State’s product is a real threat that can confuse and manipulate DBs to its advantage. He’s cleared under center for 1,000 yards in back-to-back efforts despite the aforementioned underperforming talent. With sure hands Jahan Dotson expected to work outside and healthy Curtis Samuel deployed across the slot, McLaurin won’t have the weight of the entire offense on his back. He can focus on what he does best: serving up highlight-worthy games.
However, the frequency of those big games won’t be regular enough to push the 26-year-old into the top-15. To clear 95 catches, McLaurin needs to improve his conversion rate by 15 percent for 2021 while attracting the same number of looks. (Wentz might be better than Heinicke…but I’m not sure he’s 15 percent better.)
Consider that Scary Terry is a solid WR2 target in the WR16-19 lineup. FF: 82-1.138-7
Connect with Liz on social media @LizLoza_FF