Quarterbacks With Difficult or Easy Early-Season Schedules (2022 Fantasy Football)
With the NFL schedule release upon us, the unofficial start of the fantasy football season has arrived. Perhaps a bit too soon for some, but akin to the energy of the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” coming over the sound system at your local gas station in way-too-early October, it’s here whether you are ready or not. So it’s time to get initial rankings cobbled together and take a good look at the schedule.
To help jumpstart that process, this article will look at quarterbacks with some easier starts to the season and a couple who face tougher competition early on. But before that happens, here is a vital reminder: it is the month of May, and neither training camp nor preseason games have occurred yet. There will be injuries to all 32 NFL teams between now and the season’s kickoff. In addition, unforeseen breakouts and struggles from various position groups will occur throughout the year. Basing a draft strategy on schedule is a losing proposition, but it can be helpful initially.
Below is a convenient grid view of every team’s 2022 schedule. Let’s roll.
? 2022 Schedule Grid for all 272 games ? pic.twitter.com/Lat8ilLOxW
– NFL Research (@NFLResearch) May 13, 2022
QBs With Tough Early-Season Schedules
Do not view this as a reason to pass on Allen in fantasy drafts. The FantasyPros expert consensus ranking (ECR) QB1 sits atop the list for a reason; the man is an absolute fantasy machine. With that in mind, the Bills kick off the new year with the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams, Titans, Dolphins and Ravens, three of whom boasted some of the toughest matchups from the standpoint of Team Pass Defense Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) in 2021 per Football Outsiders.
The outlier in this category is the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, the Ravens had their fair share of struggles in 2021. Still, given the early injury/extended recovery for CB Marcus Peters and the addition of S Kyle Hamilton in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, it is well within the realm of reality to expect the purple-clad bunch to wreak havoc once again as they return to health in 2022.
With no guarantees as to how this Buffalo offense will do in terms of integrating rookie RB James Cook into the fold early on and the distinct reality that sleeper darling WR Gabriel Davis will be asked to step up immediately in a major WR2 role, there is reason to feel skittish about Josh Allen at the outset given the stout competition they face.
Copy-and-paste “do not panic” from above here for Mahomes too. Fantasy managers who look to the early-season matchups should not use this anecdote as a reason to write off the Chiefs’ gunslinger. However, there is more-than-reasonable room to be hesitant early. Between the loss of Tyreek Hill, the overhaul/new additions to the wide receiver corps (JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore) and the added dimension of Ronald Jones to the rushing attack, this will not necessarily be the same old familiar Kansas City offense.
The meat of the offense will primarily be the same under the tutelage of Andy Reid. Still, Mahomes, the noted ketchup enthusiast, had better hope his affinity for added toppings carries over from his food palette to the gridiron. It is still too early to tell how this offense will gel to begin the season.
While there is not much of a statistical or analytical basis for this argument, the overall changes to Mahomes’ weaponry and the initial onslaught of the level of competition the Chiefs have to face makes for a justifiable quaking in one’s boots. Don’t believe me so far? Just take a look at this factoid from ESPN’s Adam Schefter about how rough of a go Mahomes has ahead of him:
– Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 13, 2022
The NFL is throwing the air fryer, the dishwasher and the kitchen sink at Kansas City to open in 2022. Trusting in the team’s ability to figure it out and calibrate as the season progresses is a good bet to make. Still, the initial slate of games does not leave room for much optimism for Mahomes, in this author’s opinion.
QBs With Easy Early-Season Schedules
Jalen Hurts – (PHI)
It’s “prove-it” time for Hurts, and a four-week start of the season against the Lions, Vikings, Commanders and Jaguars certainly sets the table for an early fantasy feast. After the addition of WR AJ Brown via trade during the 2022 NFL Draft, the Eagles’ offense looks considerably more robust than it did a season ago. Excluding the Vikings, Hurts is staring down the barrel of three of the bottom-six defenses in Team Pass DVOA and four of the bottom-eight in fantasy points per game (PPG) allowed to the QB position in 2021 per FantasyData.
None of those teams did much in the way of adding impact players to their respective secondaries during the offseason either, so it certainly stands to reason Hurts can expect much of the same quality of competition from Week 1 to Week 4 this year. But, of course, that’s just considering what he can exploit throwing the ball. Between all of that being true and what he brings to the table with his legs in the rushing department, Hurts is easily the quarterback with the best start to the 2022 season for fantasy purposes.
Matt Ryan – (IND)
The wily veteran is not what he used to be once upon a time when in Atlanta launching bombs to Julio Jones. Still, Ryan’s beginning with Indianapolis sets up nicely for a quality first impression in new digs. All four of the Colts’ opening opponents (Texans, Jaguars, Chiefs, Titans) finished 2021 in the top ten in fantasy PPG allowed to QBs.
While early draft pick(s)/rookie(s) Derek Stingley/Jalen Pitre and Roger McCreary should add oomph to Houston and Tennessee respectively as the season evolves, the Colts have the benefit of facing these divisional opponents and their rebuilding secondaries early before they’ve had a chance to potentially build cohesiveness.
Ryan has been around the block a time or two, and the ability to exploit inexperience at the onset of the season is a massive blessing in his favor. Armed with an arsenal of Michael Pittman Jr., second-round rookie selection Alec Pierce and Jonathan Taylor at his disposal, Ryan should be in consideration for fantasy managers looking to stream the position to begin the season.
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