The narratives have only become more interesting as we've progressed through yet another transformational NFL offseason -- and we still have over 100 days before the 2023 regular season kicks off! Most of the NFL's roster reconstruction is now behind us, and the schedule is out, which means it's high time for forecasting. With that in mind, I wanted to explore the league's top offenses through the prism of projected win share.
Remember, win share measures the ability of each player, position group and side of the ball to earn or prevent first downs, points and touchdowns. All rosters used to simulate the season in this exercise are the forecasted 53 through May 16.
Another important preamble note: The rankings below are compiled via average results. Some offenses have great upside, but their projections are extremely volatile due to outsized personnel questions (SEE: the uncertainty around quarterback health in San Francisco and Arizona).
Lastly, don't forget that football is complementary. Thus, a few playoff-caliber offenses could miss out on a spot here, because their defenses are so strong that they change game scripts to favor more conservative outcomes. The opposite is also true: Some teams with poor defenses could field a top-10 offense because the unit has to work so hard -- for all four quarters -- to overcome a leaky D. This is also why the offensive win shares for some teams are bigger than the team's total projected win share; defense can pull down or inflate the overall figure.
Alright, enough dilly-dally -- let's get to it! Here is the rundown of my top 10 offenses, based on updated win-share projections:
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 8.7
Last season, with Tyreek Hill exiting and JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling coming aboard, the Chiefs relied more on the short-passing game than they had in the past -- and Patrick Mahomes proved he can adapt to any play style, logging 31 touchdown passes on throws of 10 air yards or less, 12 more than anyone else in the NFL (per Next Gen Stats). Kansas City, meanwhile, ranked first in the NFL in scoring and yards per play. I look forward to seeing what new plays, alignments and wrinkles Andy Reid folds into the offense this year, with the departures of Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman leaving room for Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and rookie Rashee Rice to step up around perennial pass-catching anchor Travis Kelce.
Another factor working in Kansas City' favor: the additions of veteran tackles Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith. My models have shown that improved offensive-line play is not just correlated but causal to significant year-over-year increases in first-down and touchdown probabilities. Despite the loss of Orlando Brown, the presence of Taylor and Smith on the line projects to keep the Chiefs' offense rolling, even if that success is achieved in different ways yet again.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 8.5
The Eagles' offensive line ranks first at the position in projected win share, ahead of the average O-line win share by a bigger margin than any offensive line has recorded at this point in May in at least five seasons. Then there's receiver A.J. Brown, whose presence as a deep threat (he posted seven deep TD receptions last season, after logging four in his previous three seasons with the Titans) helps create space for others in both the pass and run game. The addition of running backs D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny will force opposing defenses to take calculated risks when it comes to deciding how to slow the mobile Jalen Hurts and all of his weapons.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 8.2
The Bills' offensive line stood more spread apart than any other O-line in the NFL last season, per computer vision, which helped give Josh Allen room to run. If they choose to do that again this season, they should have even better results, given that they added guards with better lateral movement, according to computer vision. Addressing those positions (by signing Connor McGovern and stealing O'Cyrus Torrence, whom I, along with others, mocked to the team in Round 1, with a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft) and adding a running back with size (Latavius Murray) should have positive results. We can expect to see more effective rushing and play-action, as well as the potential for Buffalo to repeat as the NFL's leader in third-down efficiency. There's also the matter of 12 personnel (two TEs, two WRs, one RB), which Buffalo used at the lowest rate in the NFL in 2022, per NGS. That forecasts to change, thanks to the selection of exceptional pass-catching tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first round of the draft -- the offense will be able to run plays that defenses might not be ready for, given that there won't be film to prep with yet.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 8.0
As of right now, Joe Burrow has the second-highest projected 2023 win-share number of any QB in the NFL. Ja'Marr Chase is WR3 in win share, and Tee Higgins is WR11. Unlike fantasy rankings, win-share projections take into account what a player is doing even when they aren't the target of a pass. The addition of left tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Irv Smith Jr. helps push Cincy's offense past Dallas' unit by 0.01 wins, though this can also be attributed partially to the bigger role offense will play for the Bengals, who face a few more questions on defense (in the secondary, namely at safety) than the Cowboys do.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 7.9
The additions of Brandin Cooks, Ronald Jones and rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker forecast to more than make up for the win-share loss caused by the exits of Dalton Schultz, Ezekiel Elliott and Noah Brown. Cooks will make fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb even more effective. RoJo and Tony Pollard will help offset the loss of Zeke at running back. And Schoonmaker is poised to be one of the bigger steals of the 2023 NFL Draft, given the likelihood that his injury history -- and not a lack of talent -- is what pushed him into the second round, despite his college film suggesting he should have been a first-round pick. Dallas led the NFL in points per game from Week 7, when Dak Prescott returned from a five-week absence, to Week 18 (32.5) last season. The Cowboys end up ranking in the top five in scoring in a whopping 61 percent of simulations of the upcoming season, which is what drives their win share.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 7.8
Christian McCaffrey didn't even join the team until late October, and the QB injury situation was really tough, requiring them to flip from Trey Lance to Jimmy Garoppolo and finally Brock Purdy ... and still, the 2022 49ers averaged 2.7 yards of separation on downfield passes last season, fourth-most in the NFL. The Niners are known for racking up yards after the catch, and they set themselves up to earn those yards, schematically ensuring their pass-catchers will have space to run, with play design also dictating that any contact that does take place is not faced square on. With losses to the defense (in the secondary, specifically), this offense forecasts to somehow be slightly more valuable than last season's unit, in terms of win share.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 7.5
The Seahawks' 2022 draft class is one for the books, and the 2023 crop looks likely to join it. Quarterback Geno Smith returns, with his late-career ascension having played out like a fairy tale thus far. Figure in a year of experience for tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, who started as rookies last season, add the 2023 NFL Draft's best route-runner (per computer vision), Jaxon Smith-Njigba, to a receiver corps that already includes DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and bolster the running back depth with second-round pick Zach Charbonnet, and you have a pretty potent team. In fact, considering that Smith led the NFL in completion percentage over expected (4.4), and that Smith-Njigba racked up 1,606 yards in 2021 at Ohio State despite sharing the field with Chris Olave and 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, this seventh-place ranking might be too conservative.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 7.3
New offensive coordinator Todd Monken should be able to make good on his talk of wanting to throw the ball more this season. The increase in quality and depth among Baltimore's pass-catchers will open the playbook. When you add the elite catch-and-run skills of Odell Beckham Jr., the separation ability of first-round pick Zay Flowers and the health of running back J.K. Dobbins to the presence of veteran tight end Mark Andrews, you've changed the math. Taking into account how well Lamar Jackson runs, defenses will have to stay honest, leading to more space on the field and, eventually, touchdowns. When Jackson played last season, the Ravens averaged 23.8 points per game. When he didn't play, that number was 13.7 (including playoffs).
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 7.2
The Chargers hired offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, architect of a Dallas offense that ranked as the second-highest scoring unit in the NFL from 2019 to 2022 (27.7 points per game). They also used the 21st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Quentin Johnston, a field-stretching, big-bodied target who, along with Mike Williams, should help open up space underneath for Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler (I am assuming, for the purposes of this exercise, Ekeler remains with the team in 2023, despite his trade request). This all figures to boost the downfield passing game. NGS shows Justin Herbert completed just 33.3 percent of passes of 20-plus air yards (13th-lowest among players with 40-plus such attempts) in 2022. But with his strong arm, being able to work with additional space will make a big difference in his output.
PROJECTED WIN SHARE: 7.1
The Jets, Dolphins and Vikings are all extremely close in slots 10 through 12 here, with small differences separating them. Aaron Rodgers' ability to increase the effectiveness of his O-line pushes the Jets slightly ahead and into the 10th spot. Over the past five seasons, no QB has helped his O-line more than Rodgers, per computer vision. I was a bit shocked that the Jets ended up in the top 10 because their defense is also ranked in my top 10, whereas the Vikings' defense is not, meaning their offense should pick up a bigger win share. In the end, though, the Jets' schedule includes too many games where they are forecast to lean heavily on the Rodgers-led attack. If we were doing fantasy drafts right now, Breece Hall would be my RB7 in a PPR league (assuming full health).