The first major domino has fallen in the 2023 free agency period as Jimmy Garoppolo is reportedly set to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders, forcing fantasy football managers to evaluate his value for the upcoming season. Additionally, we need to dive into not only the fantasy value of Garoppolo but how the signing will impact Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller.
Jimmy Garoppolo Signs With the Las Vegas Raiders on a three-year Deal
Garoppolo spent the last 5+ seasons with the 49ers after they acquired him from the New England Patriots in the first half of the 2017 season. With Derek Carr signing with the New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers taking his sweet time to decide his future, Garoppolo was the most proven veteran quarterback on the market.
The clock was always ticking for Garoppolo following the 49ers’ acquisition of Trey Lance. Yet, after Lance suffered a broken right ankle in Week 2, Garoppolo was back in under center as the starter. Unfortunately, his 2022 season was cut short in Week 12 against the Dolphins when Garoppolo suffered a broken bone in his foot.
However, until then, Garoppolo was one of the better quarterbacks in fantasy. Between Weeks 3 and 11, he was the QB11 overall and the QB12 in points per game at 17.1 PPR. Sitting 16th in attempts at 246, Jimmy G completed 166 of his passes for 2,005 yards with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Additionally, he added one TD on the ground with 24 yards on 15 carries.
From a talent standpoint, Garoppolo is taking a step back. The 49ers are among the most loaded teams on both sides of the football, especially regarding their pass-catching options. Not only is Christian McCaffrey the best receiving back, but Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle are arguably the top trio of past catchers in the league.
The most significant change will come up front as the 49ers have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. With that said, the Raiders did see considerable improvement in 2022, ranking eighth in pass protection, ninth in sacks (35), and eighth in adjusted sack rate at 5.9%, which was slightly better than the 49ers at 6.3%.
Given the overall landscape at the position and the premium on rushing upside, it’s difficult to project Garoppolo as anything more than a mid QB2 in 2023 for fantasy. With Geno Smith and Daniel Jones both returning to their teams and Carr finding himself in a quality situation, Garoppolo is roughly the QB18 in very early 2023 redraft rankings, just ahead of the likes of Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers.
Having said this, I don’t expect a significant drop-off in his week-to-week performance, especially at the beginning of the year, where we typically see quarterbacks changing teams get off to a slow start after learning a brand new offense.
That’s not the case for Garoppolo, who played under Josh McDaniels with the Patriots. In a 1QB league, Garoppolo is outside the range of quarterbacks you would feel comfortable with as you’re starting quarterback. Yet, in Superflex leagues, Garoppolo would be a viable option as a mid QB2 who will bring a stable production floor.
The Raiders certainly have plenty of weapons, and given the track record of success for Garoppolo, even without a high ceiling, he should be a stable producer for fantasy in 2023.
How Garoppolo’s Signing Impact the Fantasy Value of Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller
While much of the focus initially is on Garoppolo, the bigger talking point is how his signing impacts the fantasy values and outlooks for Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller. All three of them are considered some of the top-ranked players at their positions.
Garoppolo appeared to be the “obvious” choice for the Raiders after it became apparent Carr would not be returning. Overall, I feel this is generally a lateral move for Las Vegas, and that will be a good thing for fantasy.
Last season, Carr saw a slight dip in some of his numbers, including a career-high interception rate at 2.8% and a completion rate of 60.8%, the lowest since his rookie year. He also averaged 7.0 yards per attempt, which was a five-year low.
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Despite this, both Adams and Jacobs had some of their best years in the NFL. Jacobs, who had his fifth-year option declined before the 2022 season, was probably the best value at running back last year based on ADP.
Jacob’s ended the season as the RB3 overall and in points per game at 19.3 PPR. The fears of Zamir White turning this into a “running back by committee” were unfounded, as Jacobs led the league with 1,653 rushing yards on 340 carries (No. 2) with 12 touchdowns. He was also a significant factor in the receiving game, finishing 11th in targets (64) and catching 53 passes for 400 yards.
He is the backbone of this offense and will be playing on the franchise tag this season. Although I don’t expect Jacobs to lead the league in rushing again, I have no doubt in my mind that barring injury, he will be an RB1 once again in 2023 and should remain one of the higher-targeted backs, given Garoppolo’s willingness to check it down and take the easy yards.
Is Davanate Adams Set To Drop Off in 2023?
The pass catchers become a little more intriguing, but after seeing what Adams did in his first year with the Raiders, I have to remain bullish on him in 2023. Adams led all wide receivers in target share (32.6%) and also finished fifth in air-yard share at 39.4%. Recording a career-high 180 targets, Adams caught 100 passes for 1,516 yards and 14 TDs to finish as the WR3 overall and WR4 in points per game at 19.7 PPR.
Additionally, Adams was also eighth in fantasy points per route run. It was the fourth time in the last five seasons he had finished with at least 100 receptions, 1,300 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns.
While I do expect the Raiders to add an additional wide receiver during the offseason, Adams is one of the best football players walking the planet and one of the best receivers of his generation. Garoppolo knows this, and so does McDaniels.
He will be an absolute target hog in 2023, and Garoppolo has proven to be a reliable quarterback in facilitating fantasy production from the players around him. While Garoppolo doesn’t necessarily elevate the ceiling, he doesn’t harm it, either. Although Adams is on the “older” side, there are zero reasons to believe he is not a locked-in WR1 fantasy in 2023.
Darren Waller Set for a Fantasy Football Bounceback
Waller is more intriguing, but not necessarily due to Garoppolo. After putting together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020, Waller has missed 14 games due to injury over the last two years. He missed five games toward the end of the season due to a knee injury in 2021, and a hamstring injury cost him virtually half the season last year.
Waller played in the first four games and didn’t see any action again until Week 15. In total, he saw 43 targets, catching 20 for 388 yards with three TDs to finish as the TE31 overall but was the TE12 in points per game at 9.4 PPR.
Waller is one of the most dynamic tight ends in the league and one of the best red-zone targets. He has to stay healthy. While Adams’ presence does impact his ceiling, especially in the red zone, if Waller stays on the field, you can pencil him in as a top-eight tight end — at minimum.
I would not put him in the upper tier with Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, or T.J. Hockenson. But it’s fair to have Waller with the next group of Dallas Goedert, Dalton Schultz, Evan Engram, and David Njoku.
Waller is essentially the No. 2 target for the Raiders. So long as he can play in 14 or more games, I see no reason why Waller should finish with anything lower than a 20% target share, which is still a massive slice of the pie, considering the only TEs to cross that threshold in 2022 were Kelce, Andrews, and Tyler Higbee.
Given how quickly the talent pool drops off at the position, I have no issue walking away with Waller as my TE1 for fantasy in 2023. We know what Garoppolo is as a QB and his willingness to utilize the tight end, as seen with Kittle. With the likelihood of a 100-target floor for Waller, the addition of Garoppolo is an excellent sign for fantasy managers in 2023.
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