Fantasy Football projections autopsy: Where I was right, wrong, calling Trevor Lawrence breakout and more

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Yes, after 20 years of trying, I’m finally getting married. It’s been a long journey — often frustrating — filled with hilarious failures and lessons learned. While I wish I could have gotten here quicker, I learned a lot, making me cherish this next step in life. Where did I go wrong? What correct choices were made to get me to Nicole? As I ask these questions, I think of where I went right and wrong in the 2022 fantasy football projections. It’s not just, “Yay! Nailed It!” or, “Whoops, that stinks.” This is about what hit or didn’t… and why. Let’s look back, and as with my love life, learn what got me here so I can do better in the future.

Quarterback Projections


Trevor Lawrence, JAX: 289.5 FPs, 311.8 Projected — One of my top breakout quarterbacks, I missed Lawrence’s completions by just nine, with yards and touchdowns off by 6-8%. Never underestimate what a coaching change can do, and don’t be too quick to write off top-tier talent after one season. Justin Fields was finally breaking out after the season’s midpoint, and with more weapons, he could follow Jalen Hurts’ path. Tua Tagovailoa is in this conversation with the coaching change and addition of Tyreek Hill helping his breakout this past season.

Kirk Cousins, MIN: 285.6 FPs, 307.2 Projected — I undercut Cousins on volume, but the projected touchdown rate offset those differences. Sometimes, we “know who the quarterback is,” but you can see in the customizable projections how an offense’s pass/run rate and plays per game can be significant factors. If you didn’t use and tinker with them last season, give it a go for 2023, as it can help guide you to potential values.

Jared Goff, DET: 279.0 FPs, 263.8 Projected — Just about 5% off on the passing, but the accuracy in predicting a better passing year for Goff was the reason for this “hit.” The talent shift (additions and health), plus reports that Dan Campbell and staff were planning to pass more, pointed to an uptick in Goff’s volume, and like Cousins, Goff is fairly predictable.

Jalen Hurts, PHI: 389.0 FPs, 373.9 Projected — I didn’t initially include Hurts because he missed games and fell short of his passing projections by 477 yards and 5 TDs, but he ended up close to projected points because he ran for four more touchdowns. So, 755-9 rushing wasn’t far from 763-13 in theory, but if Hurts played an entire season, he could have easily hit the passing but stomped his rushing by even more. Nevertheless, my boss man Nando yelled at me for not including him, as I had Hurts QB2 in projections and QB3 in rankings (finished QB3 overall and QB1 in FPPG). So, let’s take this as a win (and lesson) — it ties to Lawrence (youth and development), talent additions and the offense designed and developed to enhance ability. Happy, Nando?

Not So Much

Geno Smith, SEA: 303.9 FPs, 220.4 Projected — This significant miss is easy. I don’t include misses (or hits) that involve injuries, but projecting Drew Lock to account for 15% of the quarterback snaps — plus Smith’s great touchdown rate — had Smith way too low. Even without factoring Smith as the all-year quarterback, the move, surrounding talent and offensive style, should have brought more optimistic projections.

Aaron Rodgers, GB: 235.2 FPs, 342.5 Projected — Similar to Tom Brady, Rodgers shows the volatility in projecting the quarterback’s talent 1) to maintain a high level of performance and 2) to make up for lower-level weapons (the latter only applies to Rodgers). The attempts and completions were there for Rodgers, but his YPC and touchdown rate took massive hits.

Russell Wilson, DEN: 224.7 FPs, 322.4 Projected — Wilson draws similarities to Brady, Rodgers and Lawrence, with the Lawrence comparison showing the downside of poor coaching (as with Lawrence’s rookie season). The signs of decline were there for Wilson, so projections should have leaned more toward that trend versus pointing to improvement with a new team and coach. Uncertainty needs to be a factor.

Running Back Projections


Christian McCaffrey, CAR/SF: 308.5 FPs, 317.0 Projected — McCaffrey fell 24 carries short of projections (and three touchdowns). Even if you chalk that up to the team transition, the main takeaway by missing his total yards by a mere 6.3 yards is health. Unless a player is starting the season injured/limited or has a high level of repeated and related injuries, I always project for an entire season, given the fruitless attempt to predict missed time. Saquon Barkley and CMC playing full seasons is why they came so close to their projections.

Devin Singletary, BUF: 164.9 FPs, 153.5 Projected — Singletary fell short of his rushing projection by just 20 yards but missed the receiving side by 140. However, the slight uptick in rushing touchdown rate offset his overall scoring, and yet the main takeaway is that no matter how much we want some backfields to rely on just one option, some offenses won’t change (Bills, Lions, Cowboys, etc.).

Dameon Pierce, HOU: 155.4 FPs, 186.1 Projected — The touchdowns skew things, as Pierce was a mere 9.2% short of his yards projection, and that’s with missed time. Forecasting “talent winning out” can occasionally bite you, but more often, the upside — if what we and the beat writers see happening — is worth the risk.

Rachaad White, TB: 120.1 FPs, 106.1 Projected — Somewhat similar to Pierce but different at the same time, White’s rookie yards were a bit under projection but with a touchdown boost. White’s talent had many, including me, projecting for more of a Buccaneers’ timeshare even with Leonard Fournette’s big receiving jump in 2021. Interestingly, Fournette saw a higher receiving volume, but the rushing share remained (in addition to brief missed time). White’s season is a bit like Singletary’s situation in that some teams won’t lean on a bellcow, whether due to the player (talent or health) and/or system.

Not So Much

Josh Jacobs, LV: 303.8 FPs, 176.3 Projected — I wasn’t buying into the “played too much of the preseason” noise, but I was projecting the Raiders to get more work for their rookie, Zamir White, as they considered moving on from Jacobs (free agent). Josh McDaniels came from one of the most nightmarish backfields for predicting weekly touches. While Jacobs was a big miss, he shows how some incumbent running backs can have value if they hold off the competition.

Jamaal Williams, DET: 221.9 FPs, 111.8 Projected — Back to Singletary, even I can get caught projecting for a team to use their “better talent” more often. There had been signs of D’Andre Swift getting 17-20+ touches weekly, even with a healthy Jamaal Williams. I was one of many who believed the split could be 55/45 or even 60/40 in favor of Swift. Of course, Swift was rarely 100% (and I know I said no accounting for injuries here, but…), yet even in Swift’s highest-touch games, Williams regularly found the end zone, maintaining his crazy pace. Of course, Williams is a touchdown-reliant risk (similar to Ezekiel Elliott), going from three touchdowns in 2021 to 17 this year. I would never suggest drafting more “Williams-type running backs” as the lesson learned — projecting Williams for even 10 scores next year is lofty — but aiming for the goal line option in backfield splits can return high dividends in the mid-late rounds.

Cam Akers, LAR: 138.8 FPs, 219.5 Projected — Okay, you knew this was coming… and I don’t want to hear, “But you were finally right at the end of the season, Jake!” No. I got Akers wrong. So, what can we (well, I) learn from this? Even with the late-season run as RB4 from Week 13 on, I have to consider that while Achilles injuries aren’t career-enders anymore, they at least limit the player for some time. Akers was the lead in the 2021 playoffs and facing tough defenses, so I gave him a bit of a pass. However, seeing his lack of burst, and that James Robinson started hot, then faded midseason, plus D’Onta Foreman looking good years removed from his Achilles injury, the smart money would be on a rehab timeline of 1.5-2 years being the hope for best case… and even then, the best case might be 90% of what we knew.

Chase Edmonds, MIA: 66.2 FPs, 168.9 Projected — This is more about the wrong running back. The projected split backfield was there, but Edmonds wasn’t the lead for long (one game) and then was cast aside as Jeff Wilson was the complement to Raheem Mostert. While projecting a split worked for Singletary, Edmonds shows the zero-level floor if the split is involved and a player is replaced in that timeshare.

Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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