Five Offenses Slated to Improve in 2022

by Shervon Fakhimi · NFL

Things change. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. It’s true in every facet of life. It’s also true for football both real and fantasy. There are always teams with poor finishes a year ago that jump to the top of the league and vice versa. This, of course, has a big impact on the fantasy side of things. Nailing the teams who are poised to make these jumps can help fantasy gamers pinpoint values others may ignore. Five teams, in particular, can make such a leap. Targeting players in value spots on these teams can provide a spark to fantasy teams across the globe. This article covers five offenses slated to improve in 2022.

Minnesota Vikings

It is finally time to embrace modern offense in Minnesota. The Vikings were always formidable under the stewardship of former head coach Mike Zimmer, but his expertise came on the defensive side of the field. He preferred his offenses to milk clock, run the ball, and not mistakes that could compromise his defense as opposed to unlocking an offense full of playmakers. Since being named head coach of the Vikings in 2014, the Vikings finished in the top ten of Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA metric just three times in eight seasons. Minnesota had as many seasons accumulating at least the third-fewest pass attempts in a season as they did inside the top 11: two. The average number of Vikings pass attempts under the Zimmer era comes out to roughly 535 attempts, which would’ve tied the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans for the seventh-fewest attempts in the league last season.

Kevin O’Connell

Change is likely on the horizon, however. Beat writers have speculated for months now that new head coach Kevin O’Connell will skew the offense to emphasize the pass more frequently. O’Connell took over as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders midseason in 2019. After they fired Jay Gruden, interim head coach Bill Callahan also prioritized running the ball, prompting Washington to finish with a meager 479 pass attempts that season. But, O’Connell was hired by Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams to be their offensive coordinator in 2020 and 2021. The Rams finished top 12 in pass attempts in both seasons and averaged 599 attempts between the two seasons. It’s a much safer bet to expect the Vikings to finish closer to that number of pass attempts than the 535 average under Mike Zimmer.

Justin Jefferson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

This, of course, would bear plentiful fruit for fantasy gamers everywhere. Justin Jefferson‘s stranglehold on the offense (his 29.9-percent target share ranked No. 3 amongst receivers last season) isn’t going anywhere. If that’s the case, with more volume coming his way, then it’s legitimate to think that arguably the best receiver in the NFL can finish as the WR1 in fantasy this season.

I’m not as bullish as most on Adam Thielen but more volume could insulate him from being as touchdown-dependent as he’s been the last couple of seasons. Dalvin Cook has been lining up as a receiver frequently in the offseason. Why can’t he push 60+ targets for just the second time in his career? K.J. Osborn makes for a great sleeper candidate late in drafts who could catapult should an injury occur. Lastly, this is great news for Kirk Cousins. He’s stocked on weapons with a coach (who also served as Cousins’ Quarterbacks coach in Washington in 2017) who is ready to give him the green light. The Vikings are not an expensive offense to target (save for Jefferson) but are shaping up to be a very potent one in 2022.

New York Jets

The Jets are a team that drafted what they are hoping to be the team’s franchise quarterback (Zach Wilson) with the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft. They also drafted a prolific receiver at the top of the second round in the same draft (Elijah Moore). Yet again, the Jets drafted another high-end receiver in the top ten of the following draft (Garrett Wilson). Sound familiar? Yeah, the Jets seem to be following the Bengals’ blueprint of surrounding Joe Burrow with as much talent as possible. Now, sure, you can definitely assert that Ja’Marr Chase, one of the best receiver prospects to ever enter the NFL, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon are a much more lethal group than Moore, Wilson, Corey Davis, and Breece Hall. However, none of them are slouches either. There are a lot of weapons to get excited about here.

<a href=

Breece Hall Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Jets’ offensive line looks robust too. Pro Football Focus ranks the Jets as the No. 13-best heading into the 2022 season after snagging Laken Tomlinson away from the San Francisco 49ers. That’s fantastic news for Breece Hall who has already been dubbed ‘the Batman‘ of the Jets’ backfield.

The ingredients for a very good offense are there. The Jets just need Zach Wilson to make it coalesce. He had his bright spots last season. Wilson finished No. 12 among quarterbacks with a 7.8 accuracy rating and No. 15 in deep ball completion percentage (39.5-percent). But he also finished No. 25 with a 72.2 true passer rating and No. 30 in QBR (28.5). The Jets finished last season No. 22 in offensive DVOA. If Wilson makes the leap to mere competence, it isn’t farfetched to see the Jets finishing closer to a top ten offense than a bottom ten offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The same case can be made for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Phenom prospect Trevor Lawrence enters year two with a revamped crew of weapons surrounding him including the additions of Christian Kirk, Evan Engram, and Zay Jones. This also includes the return of Travis Etienne, Marvin Jones Jr. and potentially James Robinson. That isn’t quite the cast of weapons the Jets boast, but it is at least feasible.

Trevor Lawrence Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

What wasn’t feasible was the coaching and direction, or lack thereof, from Urban Meyer. Everything about Meyer’s brief tenure as head coach was a complete disaster that manifested on the field. Lawrence did all he could, but he was overwhelmed as a rookie without much help. Here’s a stat that encapsulates that statement: Lawrence threw a touchdown on less than two percent of his 602 attempts last season. The league average is typically around 4.5-percent. It is nearly impossible to finish with a mark that low.

Luckily for Lawrence, help is on the way. We mentioned the additions, most notably Christian Kirk. Kirk finished No. 21 among wide receivers in formation-adjusted yards per route run (1.98), No. 14 in yards per target (9.5), and No. 10 in expected points added. Did the Jaguars overpay him? Yes, but he’s still a very good receiver.

Help is also coming on the coaching front. Coaching analysis can be faulty, but Doug Pederson will at least bring legitimacy and competency to the Jags. The Philadelphia Eagles finished No. 20, No. 7, No. 16, No. 14, and No. 28 in offensive DVOA under Pederson’s watch. The No. 20 finish was with a rookie Carson Wentz, and the No. 28 finish took place during a season rife with injuries. The Jags finished No. 27 in the stat in 2021. They showed improvement once Meyer was fired after Week 14. There is momentum for that to carry onward into the 2022 season.

Indianapolis Colts

Unlike the rest of the teams listed here, the Colts were a good offense last season. Of these five teams, only the Colts finished in the top half of offensive DVOA at No. 13. It’s hard to go from bad to good, but it’s even harder to go from good to great. The Colts have that capability thanks to the addition of Matt Ryan at quarterback. Carson Wentz was fine last year but Ryan, even at age 37, is still a sizable upgrade.

Not only is Ryan an upgrade, but he should add more diversity to Indianapolis’ play sheet. Per The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz on Underdog Fantasy’s Charles McDonald’s ‘The Exempt List’ podcast (fast forward to roughly the 39:46 mark but also subscribe to his podcast), the Colts were the best play action team in EPA (expected points added) in the NFL last year. It makes sense when defenses have to worry about the best running back in the NFL, Jonathan Taylor. The problem? Carson Wentz wasn’t good at it and had to resort to an RPO-heavy offense. Wentz only completed 59-percent of his play-action passes. That ranked No. 29 among quarterbacks according to Ryan’s completion percentage in play action? 65.6-percent, a number good for No. 11 in the NFL.

Matt Ryan Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

This situation reminds me of when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved on from Jameis Winston to Tom Brady. Brady looked to finally be slowing down some in his last season as a Patriot. Winston moved the ball a lot though the ride was very bumpy and rife with turnovers. Tampa finished No. 23 in offensive DVOA in 2019 under Winston but rose all the way up to No. 3 under Brady.

Ryan isn’t Brady, and I don’t expect quite *that* leap, but a leap looks very possible for Indianapolis this season.

New York Giants

Look, it’s impossible to be worse than the worst. The Giants were so inept last season that late in the year, as the tires fell off, they decided to completely forgo the concept of throwing the football. They finished their second-to-last game against the Chicago Bears with 11 pass attempts and -6 passing yards when including sacks. They followed that disaster-class of offense with a QB sneak on a third and nine at their own four-yard line. The Giants finished dead last in offensive DVOA. Again, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Saquon Barkley Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Luckily, there’s other reasons for optimism. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley are both finally healthy. Like the Minnesota Vikings, the Giants’ offense will finally embrace the modern NFL after hiring former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their head coach.

The Giants have also invested plenty into their offense. The previous regime signed Kenny Golladay and drafted Kadarius Toney, but the new regime also brought in Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger, and established offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Mark Glowinski. Barkley in particular, is poised for an incredible season. They won’t be world beaters, but the Giants will almost surely be at least a competent offense in 2022. This would be a mark that is lightyears ahead from where they were last season.