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Wed, May 28, 2014

Fantasy Impact: 2014 Coaching Moves

While most fantasy players look to big name free agents and the NFL draft to identify breakouts, sleepers, and busts, a savvy player looks at coaching changes to identify potential values in their draft.  Last season, we saw Chip Kelly's offense produce a thriving rookie QB, a revitalized Desean Jackson, and a Shady Mccoy return to the spotlight.  Offensive guru Tressman brought out a breakout year for Alshon Jeffrey, and a career year for Matt Forte.  Mike Mccoy made Phillip Rivers once again relevant and made Keenan Allen a star.  Rob Chudzinske, as predicted, was indeed very effective with TE Jordan Cameron.  And Andy Reid's philosophies translated into a dominant year for Jamaal Charles.

So with the changes that happened this year to coaching staffs, here are a few situations and players to look at when evaluating your draft options.  Use these to analyze value and maybe circle a few bounceback candidates or busts on your cheat sheets.


1)  Gary Kubiak takes over the Ravens offsense, and I expect their running game to take on a zone scheme.  This could be good as their offensive balance went all out of whack with Rice and Pierce struggling last year.  So with the running game in tact, it will mean better play action passing.  Look for whoever gets the job to be onto a nice bounceback season.  And look for Pitta to have a nice year, as Kubiak has typically done a nice job with TE's in Houston.

2)  Jim Shwartz gets back on the defensive side of the ball coordinating for the Bills.  They have a loaded roster talent-wise, and perhaps he can pull it all together and make them fantasy relevant, and also a nightmare matchup to avoid for fringe QB's.

3)  Hue Jackson in Cincinatti may be my favorite hire as it will showcase Giovani Bernard and all of his versatile talents.  Look for Bernard to touch the ball early and often, and I see room here for rookie RB Jeremy Hill.  Bernard is by far my favorite player to breakout in 2014.  Also, look for a more selective approach to passing, as Hue has mentioned Dalton's armstrength and outside-the-numbers passing struggles.  This could mean fewer deep balls to Green, but perhaps a little more of a steady stat-line for the stud wideout.

4)  Shananagans 2.0 heads to Cleveland, and brings with it his zone blocking scheme for Ben Tate.  I like the fit, but Tate's health means you'll need to also have your eyes on rookie Terrance West.  The loss of Gordon sucks for this situation, as now it seems teams will be able to key in on the run and jam the line of scrimmage early.  Still, Tate will be able to produce in closely played games and I like him to get plenty of work.  On a side note, their pass defense was already near the top in the NFL and they add Justin Gilbert as a toy for new coordinator Jim O'Neill.  They could be fantasy relevant especially as a matchup play again this year.

5)  Scott Linehan enters a bit of a confusing playcalling situation in Dallas, but man, the potential here is tantalizing.  To quote from " Not only did Linehan’s Lion teams throw it a lot, but they also threw it downfield quite often. According to the team’s site, Tony Romo threw just 42 passes of 21+ yards last season. During stints in Minnesota, St. Louis, and Detroit, Linehan regularly had his QBs throwing 20+ yards 70-85 times in a season"  You know what that means?   Dez.  Bryant.  Blows.  Up.  Linehan typically kept multiple backs in the mix as well and utilized pass catching out of the backfield, so Murray when healthy could remain a top 10 back while Joseph Randle could see weekly touches and be in line for nice work if Murray takes on another injury.

6)  Jim Caldwell and former Drew Brees QB coach Joe Lombardi bring a steady approach to the Lions, meaning a more efficient and steady stat-line for Stafford.  Stafford was unbelievable in the first 2/3 of the season, and a hot mess at the end.  He needs Caldwell to round out his form, and I see a similar overall finish for Stafford, but a more consistent week to week fantasy performer.  I like consistency, so this move is appealing to me.  Caldwell did decent work with tight ends, so rookie Ebron should have a chance to impact in the second half of the year, and Calvin is Calvin, Caldwell knows where his bread is buttered.

7)  Norv Turner comes to the Vikings with a decent amount of playmakers, but huge questions at QB with Cassel trying to hold off rookie Bridgewater for the starting job.  Norv track record is undeniable, and regardless of the QB, there is potential for Cordarelle Patterson to take off, still, he is already overvalued heading into next year.  Josh Gordon was a revelation, and Turner's aggressive passing offense will be revealing of where Greg Jennings currently sits in his career as well.  Peterson is a stud, but there are rumbilings that the back will see alot more plays as a pass catcher as well, so note that for PPR leagues.  Potential here for Adrian to be back as the top value in fantasy when the year ends.  And finally Kyle Rudolph, in a contract year, will be used heavily, so if he stays healthy, he'll be a nice value on draft day.  And jot this down for next year, the Vikings defense is still a year away personnel-wise, but Zimmer has a plan and it will eventually come together to make this a solid fantasy defense.

8)  Ben McAdoo comes over as the Giants OC.  His time in Green Bay as QB coach should come in handy when figuring out what ails Eli.  Eli was enigmatic, and we've all seen his talent in big spots, so maybe McAdoo can work his Aaron Rodgers magic and get Eli back on track.  If he does (and I expect him to given the offensive line improvements), this is a team poised for bounceback all over.  Cruz will be in the slot and Reuben Randle and Odell Beckham bring a nice 1-2 on the outside in 3 receiver sets.  Throw in Jennings and (maybe) Wilson at running back and you have an extremely strong, youthful core of talent to give Eli a chance to succeed.

9)  Finally, we look at a coaching move with some potentially mixed results.  Jay Gruden led Andy Dalton to a record breaking start to his career with 3 seasons of 3000+ yards and 3 playoff appearances.  Gruden now heads to Washington where his offensive philosophy somewhat clashes with RG3's playing style.  Will Gruden hang onto some of the read-option and pistol plays?  Will he keep RG3 upright and turn him into a pocket passer?  Either way, with their easy schedule, it should be a nice bounceback year for Griffin with his added weaponry.  And as the offense gets more balanced with an aerial attack, it should give Morris a little more room to run, as well as a bunch more visits to the redzone without the head games and tricks that Shanahan was pulling at the goalline.  All told, it should be a plus for those two.  On the other hand, I see a dip in Desean's catch total, and likewise his yardage and TD's.  Same for Garcon who sees more of his work to to the other capable targets now on the field. 

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