I’ve never been a great gardener even though my mother Toni was such prolific that our house had a “plant room” that was inhabited by a jungle of house plants that had effectively reclaimed the room via an impenetrable web of leaves and stems. My soulmate Cate has helped me find my inner green thumb with a big assist from the strong New Orleans om/breath of life and the fun of creating a garden for our box turtles to live in on our balcony overlooking St. Mary street in the LGD or Lower Garden District. So you’ll have to forgive me for having gardens on the brain while I project the upcoming season. Good players, schemes, and offensive minds can create fertile soil that allows numbers to grow beyond our most optimistic projections. Some offenses look primed to bear more fruit this year via better-worked land and a good reading of the climate in the NFL. They are well-fertilized if you will. Alternatively, my imagination could just be loading up a wheelbarrow of poop.
Our job at this time of year is not best accomplished through early rankings, but instead of assemble the information we have compiled to date to set the stage for the open of training camp so we can identify the most meaningful stories that are precursors to changes that will affect the outcome of fantasy matchups and championships in the upcoming season. We can’t pay attention to everything equally while we’re drinking from the training camp firehose of news, so I set out here to help prioritize which offenses deserve the most scrutiny this summer.
It’s possible that some of the time spent projecting every player and team in the league for the season is effectively wasted. Not every offense presents the potential to create overachievers who exceed expectations in a way that affects the outcome of fantasy leagues. Focusing on those offenses in your preparation and stacking your roster with them is part of a strategy to draft effectively and get significantly more than your initial wallet of draft capital on your roster. This doesn’t mean that you should exclusively focus on offenses on this list, but that your player/situation analysis should include additional room for growth simply because a player is part of one of these offenses. That becomes even more important to weight when we stock our benches in the second half of drafts because upside is all that should matter at that stage. Who are the ten offenses with the most potential for explosive growth this season?
10. Baltimore Ravens
This one hinges on your view of Lamar Jackson’s potential growth as a passer and Greg Roman’s ability to implement an offense to maximize Jackson’s budding abilities. Jackson will have a full offseason to prepare as the starter and Roman can pull from successful stints with Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor leading his offenses in San Francisco and Buffalo. The running game will continue to be robust, and it added Mark Ingram II and Justice Hill. The passing game lost John Brown and Michael Crabtree, but added Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin in the draft, and should get a healthier Hayden Hurst. As long as we assume rational coaching, we should see a lot livelier passing game leverage a dominant running game with more speed and experience than the 2018 version.
Draft Targets: Jackson is an ideal leadoff hitter in a quarterback streaming approach with an opening run of Miami, Arizona, and Kansas City on the schedule. Hill costs little in redraft leagues and could have a key role with explosive play potential right away. Ingram is reasonably priced for a lead back in a run-heavy offense. Mark Andrews had historic efficiency for a rookie and could make a big leap in year two - perhaps even becoming the most productive receiver - not just tight end - in this offense. Chris Moore has been toiling away and he could start the year as the #1 wide receiver, although he’s more early waiver wire target than late-round target because he’s almost completely off of the fantasy radar.
Monitor: Brown and Boykin’s injury recovery is big as it could hold the key to Moore and Andrews early season ceilings. Hill’s role is big not only for his value but for Ingram’s weekly ceiling. Jackson’s growth as a passer and Roman’s ability to make him comfortable overshadows any other storyline here. Based on Kaepernick and Taylor’s performances, this offense should produce one or two reliable fantasy pass-catchers, which is one or two more than they had with Jackson last year.
9. Chicago Bears
We shouldn’t overlook the possibility of an already sometimes potent offense turning the heat dial up a few notches this year. Mitchell Trubisky will get his second year of grooming under Matt Nagy. Kyle Long might actually play more than ten games. Allen Robinson won’t be coming off of an ACL rehab offseason and new quarterback/offense acclimation. Anthony Miller will be healthier. The addition of Mike Davis and David Montgomery should keep the offense in multiple modes of attack settings more often. Adam Shaheen should be healthier and activate two tight end sets to their fullest potential. Cordarrelle Patterson will do his thing on special teams and on packages designed to use his open field running ability. The offense tailed off after Trubisky got hurt last year, which could be responsible for the general bad taste in the mouths of fantasy analysts when they consider Trubisky, and by association, the lukewarm feelings towards the Bears offense.
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