The NFL schedule release drops bombs
Despite actually knowing which NFL teams will play each other months ahead of time, when the teams play each other is what counts to football fans. The NFL schedule was released Thursday night, and it’s filled with showtime matchups across the board. Right off the bat, we get two of the most strong-armed quarterbacks in the league Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen facing off as the Bills head to So-Fi stadium to take on the champs. Not to be outdone in Week 1, the league wastes no time in setting up Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle as the Broncos go up against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Tom Brady and the Bucs will head to Dallas to take on Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in the season's first Sunday Night Football matchup. The Bucs will also host another showdown against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 4. A juicy New Year's Day Primetime matchup will pit the Rams against Justin Herbert and the Chargers, who loaded up their defense this off-season. Although the schedule sets up nicely, the league may have dropped the ball in one area. The Ravens' Week 4 matchup against the Bills is not Primetime! How could you not want to see Lamar Jackson vs. Allen on the big screen? It’s ok, we’ll make it through.
A big part of the NFL schedule is seeing how it stacks up when building a fantasy roster. Something you will want to note is Week 14, a crucial week in fantasy, will have six teams on a bye. Make sure you know that you will be without players like Jonathan Taylor, David Montgomery, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Alvin Kamara and Kyle Pitts to name a few if you roster them. Week 9 is another occurrence in which six teams will be on their bye. The Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Giants, Steelers and 49ers, who are all littered with fantasy starters and studs, will be out that week. Don’t let this affect your drafts. Get the best players possible and adjust accordingly. In Week 6, the Lions, Texans, Raiders and Titans will be on bye. This is earlier in the season and not as gut-wrenching. You should be able to persevere.
Some teams will start with decent schedules, so you can take advantage of getting out of the blocks quickly. The Colts will face off against the Jags (twice), the Texans and the Commanders within their first eight games. They were three of the 10 worst fantasy defenses in 2021. In that span, they also will go against the Chiefs, who were the fourth-worst team against opposing quarterbacks for fantasy. This all bodes well for Matt Ryan and company. Look to target players on the Colts as they have a fantasy playoff schedule that includes the Vikings, Chargers and Giants, three of the 10 worst fantasy teams against running backs last season. Another team I expect to light it up out of the gate is the Eagles. Now that Jalen Hurts has A.J. Brown, I expect them to feast on the Lions, Vikings, Commanders and Jags (Weeks 1-4), who all gave up at least 19.8 fantasy PPG to quarterbacks in 2021. In three of their four games after that, they’ll face the Cardinals, Texans and Cowboys, who were all among the 10th worst against receivers in 2021 fantasy wise.
Lamar Jackson and his team will prevail, but the start to the season will be a challenge. The Ravens will face the Dolphins, Patriots, Bills, Bucs and Saints in their first nine games in 2022. All of these teams finished as top-six fantasy defenses in 2021. They’ll have a couple of breathers in that stretch with the Jets and the Giants, but otherwise, it’ll be tough. The Ravens offense will get relief during the second half of the season when they face the likes of the Jags, Panthers and Falcons. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will see a mix of good and bad fantasy defenses from 2021 to start the season. Keep in mind, they no longer have Davante Adams. In the first eight games the Pack will face tough defenses in the Bucs, Bills and Patriots. They’ll get most of their fantasy production vs. both New York teams, the Lions and expect a shootout in Week 1 against the Vikings.
Up and coming star receiver gets jammed up
Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy was arrested this week in Arapahoe County, Colorado in connection with a domestic dispute. The 23-year-old was due in court on Friday and has since been released on bond. Every time a player gets into a legal situation, we as fans always expect the worst and hope for the best. As the information about the case started to leak, fans started breathing a sigh of relief. There was no physical violence between Jeudy and the mother of his child. As fans, however, it’s always best to sit back, let it play out, receive the facts and let the professionals do their job. We don’t know what effect it’ll have on Jeudy’s playing status if any at all. Jeudy is looking towards having a breakout season with newly acquired quarterback Russell Wilson. Last season his numbers suffered due to an ankle injury and average quarterback play (38 receptions for 467 yards and no touchdowns). He and Wilson have put in a lot of work to build that onfield rapport and we look forward to seeing it in 2022.
…And with one throw, the world went wild
Tua Tagovailoa is making waves this week because of the arm attached to his left shoulder. The Dolphins' official Twitter page/social team thought it’d be a good idea to post a video of him under-throwing Tyreek Hill. That’s fine, except for the fact that there’s a living false narrative from arm-chair football warriors that he can’t throw deep. To make matters worse, they used the rocket emoji as if Tua had thrown it 75 yards on a rope. Whatever engagement they were seeking, good or bad, it worked fabulously. Fans and sports media went absolutely nuts on their social accounts. There was no one in the middle. You saw what you saw: a noodle-armed quarterback or you were defending him.
Tua has shown flashes in his first two seasons, but leaves much to be desired. Once touted as a “no brainer” first overall pick, he’s been quickly surpassed by fellow draft classmates Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. The Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle in 2021 and signed Hill this off-season to give Tua the weapons he needs. His two top receivers even went out of their way to defend their quarterback on Twitter.
Furthermore, the Dolphins signed Terron Armstead and Connor Williams to help what was the worst offensive line in the league. Per PFF, the Dolphins' offensive line surrendered a league-leading 235 pressures and no lineman graded out over a 68. The Dolphins are pushing in all of the chips on Tua.
As the season draws closer, many are wondering if Tua, with the help of Mike McDaniel, can finally live up to his draft pedigree. The simple answer is yes. If you believe Tua has major arm talent issues, you’ve not watched enough football and that’s ok, just say so. With an improved offensive line and weapons on offense to fit his style of play, Tua’s fantasy upside is easily mid-level QB1. With that being said, his floor is no worse than a high-end QB2. I currently have Tua ranked as my QB15. Fantasy managers who are wary of Tua being able to support two top-15 receivers in fantasy need not worry. Russell Wilson, while finishing as QB16 in 2021 with only 17.77 Fantasy PPG, held down DK Metcalf (WR14) and Tyler Lockett (WR16). Here are a few more similar examples:
- 2020 — Kirk Cousins, QB11, Justin Jefferson, WR6, Adam Thielen, WR10
- 2019 — Jared Goff, QB13, Cooper Kupp, WR4, Robert Woods, WR15
- 2018 — Kirk Cousins, QB13, Adam Thielen, WR7, Stefon Diggs, WR10
Push your chips in on Tua too, don’t get left behind.
You can never fade and legend
The GOAT is doing GOAT things. Tom Brady is entering his 23rd and age-45 season in the NFL. While you can expect him to be solely focused on the Bucs' quest for another Super Bowl, Brady already has plans for what’s next. The NFL legend signed a 10-year deal worth $375 million with Fox Sports to jump into the broadcast booth. This will go into effect as soon as Brady retires. The timing is interesting as it likely signals that this could be Brady’s final season in the league. Fox Sports nor Brady wouldn’t let this information out if it wasn’t a strong possibility. Still at the top of his game, Brady went 5316/43/12 en route to finishing second behind Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race. In a league now built for more mobile QBs, Brady stands strong as an elite fantasy option as a pocket passer. He finished as QB3 in 2021 and looks to run it back with the likes of Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette and newly acquired Russell Gage. He also would welcome back the return of Chris Godwin from injury and Rob Gronkowski who has yet to re-sign with the team. TB12 is in it to win it in 2022.