New 2019 OC Hires: The Fantasy Impact
As we enter a new season, we see new offensive coordinators in new situations to go along with rookies and veterans. Where in most cases we like to assume that a new coach hire will benefit the players; that is more of a theory rather than reality. Case in point, last season most analysts saw the addition of Todd Haley as a positive for the Cleveland Browns. Or Matt LeFleur’s presence to get Marcus Mariota to reach his potential. All that glitters is not gold.
In this piece, we will take a look at all the new offensive coordinator hires in the AFC, and which fantasy football players will see the largest negative impact from them. Keep in mind that there will be references to new head coaches as well who predominately serve as their team’s offensive coordinator in addition to their head coaching role. Buyer beware! And with the 2019 NFL Draft in the books we have rookie analysis thrown in as well!
Also Checkout: Fantasy Impact: NFC Offensive Coordinators
American Football Conference
Miami Dolphins: Offensive Coordinator – Chad O’Shea
If there is anything we can take away from O’Shea’s time in New England, it’s that he knows the value of a strong player in the slot. Now looking at the roster of specific receivers, Kenny Stills has the most experience in his career playing out of the slot so he’s safe. DeVante Parker, however, as the primary outside wide receiver presumably on the Dolphins may struggle in a New England Patriots offense that is not built around getting the ball to the outside receivers. So even with newly acquired Josh Rosen as their new presumed quarterback, expect the middle of the field to garner more attention. Mike Gesicki rebirth in the making?
New York Jets: Offensive Coordinator – Dowell Loggains
Loggains is essentially tied with head coach Adam Gase at the hip. Loggains is coming over from Miami like Gase to assist in running Gase’s offense in New York. With Sam Darnold leading the offense, the Jets are an exciting team to project into 2019. But the player that concerns me is the tight end, Chris Herndon. Historically in Gase’s offense, the tight end position has never performed well outside of that one season with Peyton Manning and Julius Thomas. In 2013, Thomas reached 788 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Since Gase left Denver, 53 receptions, 439 receiving yards and three touchdowns by Martellus Bennett in Chicago was the best performance by a tight end under Gase. In his last three seasons in Miami, the top tight-end has averaged 29 receptions, 282 yards, and 2.3 touchdowns. Yikes.
Additionally, with the signing of Le’Veon Bell, his usage in the Gase offense will cause another negative impact on Herndon. We have seen in the past between a running back that catches passes and a productive tight end. There’s actually a slight negative correlation between the two. Especially in team target market share to the position. So if it’s between Bell and Herndon competing for targets, Bell is going win.
Baltimore Ravens: Offensive Coordinator – Greg Roman
Offensive purgatory for most fantasy gamers, the current consensus on the Ravens is any pass-catching weapon is doomed to succeed in Baltimore. Before the draft, the depth chart included wide receivers: Jordan Lasley, Willie Snead, and Chris Moore. But the Ravens went full-on upgrade at the position.
The Ravens took a wide receiver highest of any team in the 2019 Draft when they selected Marquise Brown with their first-round pick and later Miles Boykin with their third-round pick. However, as Gridiron Experts’ own Jesse Jones explains in his extensive article on the 2019 Ravens offense, receivers have shown some fantasy value in past Greg Roman offenses. So do not be sour on these guys! Fantasy owners need to be excited about Brown. Jackson can get the ball down the field. He has a strong arm. Brown is an elite playmaker. He makes all Heisman trophy winners he plays with great. In 2017 Marquise Brown when targeted by Baker Mayfield (135.5 passer rating) fifth highest in the NCAA. In 2018 you ask with Kyler Murray? (135.1 passer rating) fourth highest in the NCAA (82 target minimum in both cases).
Do you know who Lamar had last season? The likes of Michael Crabtree (100.3), Willie Snead (74.1), Chris Moore (73.3) and John Brown (41.0). Jackson has had less than stellar play at the receiver position in college and in the pros. Brown changes that dynamic. Not as excited about Boykin though.
Was not high on him through the draft process, but his size and speed are truly special. Gives Jackson a large target to throw to, but I worry that he could get lost in the offense that Baltimore creates this season. We have seen Boykin with mobile quarterbacks before…and that is the basis of his lackluster college production. He actually graded out via PFF has a pretty solid run-blocker. Does not play a whole lot in the slot, so not so sure how the Ravens will use him, but I doubt that he has featured role in the offense. Still, at the end of the day, both of these players have a chance to be the number one option.
The main cause for concern is that play volume will most likely not be in high demand, so this offense will most likely be concentrated to Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and whichever pass-catcher (wide receiver or tight end) emerges as the primary option. Roman’s offensive passing ranks fall to the bottom of the league where his teams have ranged between 29th to 32nd in total passing attempts and 23rd to 30th in total passing yards.
Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive Coordinator – Brian Callahan
Another situation where Callahan is more or else just the man with the title with new head coach Zach Taylor calling the offensive shots in Cincinnati. Taylors stems from the polarizing Sean McVay magic coaching tree and has been with the Rams since 2016. He had a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins as interim offensive coordinator in 2015 but did not help the offense improve over the former in Bill Lazor. In that season, the Dolphins averaged 20.4 points per game under Lazor, ranking in the bottom third of the league. During the five games Taylor served as OC, the Dolphins went 2-3 and averaged 17 points per game.
In those five games, Lamar Miller saw a massive running back carry share. 38% of his total carries came in those last five weeks. Jarvis Landry also saw upwards of double-digit targets in four of those five games. Taylor also gets credit for helping “develop” Ryan Tannehill. Though its a small sample size it bodes well for guys like Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and even possibly Andy Dalton for 2019. However, if you were considering targeting Tyler Eifert or C.J. Uzomah as tight ends late in fantasy drafts, that may not be worth considering if you factor Taylor’s impact on the offense.
The Rams offense under McVay has not heavily utilized the tight end for fantasy purposes, and with Taylor stemming from that tree, it’s possible we see something similar in Bengals’ 2019 offense. Besides Eifert has shown zero reliability in terms of staying healthy, and Uzomah was a brutal streamer last year despite great matchups.
In the draft, the focus of the Bengals was to address the guys up front on the offensive side of the ball. Jonah Williams at offensive tackle and PFF’s highest graded run blocking tight end Drew Sample. Could be a big year for a Mixon.
Cleveland Browns: Offensive Coordinator – Todd Monken
Head coach Freddie Kitchens looks to be the man calling the shots in Cleveland, but Monken has experience in producing effective offenses as well. We saw in 2018 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up massive passing stats under Monken. Overall in 2018, the Buccaneers ranked fourth in pass attempts per game, first in passing yards per game, third in passing touchdowns per game, second in yards per pass attempt, and second in third-down conversion percentage. They did not run the ball effectively though under Monken ranking outside the top 24 in all major categories especially with yards/rush which ranked 30th. Now it remains to be seen how much input Monken will have, but his experience seems to further support a down the field-passing offense. Could that mean Nick Chubb could see the drop in production? Well…no. The “Air Raid” offense under Monken creates space for offensive players to operate; something Chubb did not benefit from in 2018.
In 2018, Chubb according to Sports Info Solutions saw 36.5 percent of his total rushing attempts when the defense had eight or more men in the box—among running backs with at least 150 total carries, that was the highest rate in the league. However, under Monken, Chubb and the Browns’ rushing attack can be set up for more success by spreading out defenses with multiple receiver sets. Again, according to Sports Info Solutions, Tampa ran the ball with three or more receivers on the field 59.9 percent of the time in 2018, the eighth highest rate in the league. The Browns ranked 23rd at 47.0 percent. When the Browns had three or more wide receivers on the field, Chubb averaged 5.56 yards per carry.
It’s very difficult to find a loser in all the Browns-hype has it stands right now with their new coach, but the closest loser would have to be Jarvis Landry. If the offense trends towards larger passing plays, that suits Landry the least of the Browns’ wide receivers. Consider that Landry ranked behind Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway in average air yards per target last season, and ranked behind them in yards/route run. Landry could easily find himself in the Adam Humphries role from last season where Humphries was no more than a No.3 wide receiver. Humphries averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game last season in PPR formats.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Offensive Coordinator – John DeFilippo
Well, you sure won’t find Nick Foles as a loser here! DeFilippo and Foles worked together in Philadelphia in 2017, when he was Foles’ quarterback coach with the Eagles. I would not consider Leonard Fournette a loser here either, because both Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook put up solid stats in 2018 with DeFilippo calling the shots. And in the NFL Draft, all the Jaguars did was add running back Ryquell Armstead in the fifth round. They also added Josh Oliver a tight end out of San Jose State.
Oliver led the nation in contested catches at the tight end position in 2018. According to PFF, Oliver led NCAA in yards from the slot and deep passing yardage at tight end. Also ranked second most in slot receptions and fourth in receptions over 20 yards downfield. Foles loves to target the slot and the tight end position so Oliver needs to be on your radar especially with all the unproven talent surrounding the Jaguars offense.
So the real losers here are the wide receivers outside of Dede Westbrook in Jacksonville. We saw Adam Thielen thrive as the main slot guy in Minnesota in 2018, and Westbrook would seem like the most likely candidate to take on that role in 2019. Westbrook saw the most snaps of all receivers in the slot last season. As it stands right now, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, D.J. Chark, and Chris Conley are all wide receivers dart throws with the likelihood of maybe just one of them emerging as a fantasy viable asset.
Tennesse Titans: Offensive Coordinator – Arthur Smith
Smith wants to ride the Derrick Henry locomotive. The new OC has come out saying that “Derrick is going to be a big part of our offense…..Derrick has a rare skill set – he’s a home run hitter. And we’re taking another step hopefully with him. What he did the last five weeks will open up a lot of things. … Derrick will be a big part of our offense.”
Now it’s important to note that Smith has been on the Titans staff since 2011, and via the Tennessean has held various positions that include: assistant tight ends coach, an assistant working with both tight ends and the offensive line, and an offensive quality control coach in the organization.
One note that I think stands out here is that the fact that it’s 2019 and a team is considering building around a running back as opposed to their presumed franchise quarterback. Mariota has not shown consistency to be available, so by focusing more on the run game that could provide that he could be less likely to sustain an injury. If Mariota can just play a full-season or get back to his potential that could help Henry from a fantasy standpoint. However, because of a more run-centric approach, I don’t see Mariota has a very viable fantasy quarterback. The same also reigns true for Corey Davis. The Titans 2019 offense looks to be anything but a pass-happy approach, so proceed with caution. And the addition of second-round pick A.J. Brown does not bold well for Davis. The Titans might not feel Davis can truly be a number one in their offense. Just look at their roster moves.
Drafted Brown with high capital. Signed Humphries aggressively in free agency. Two guys that are going to work more out of the slot and force Davis more outside. Not good. He’ll have to face all the tougher corners on a weekly basis and that is where he has struggled on film.
One thing to note about Mariota is that he does not throw the ball downfield often, but is efficient when he does so. He only attempted 34 passes downfield last season for more than 20 yards. But on those attempts, he had the highest percentage of deep passes completed (58.8%). Below is a breakdown of Davis in the slot versus outside. Concerned that Mariota’s lack of attempts outside will just make Davis again more inconsistent and unreliable in 2019.
- 2018: Davis outside: 38 receptions, 590 yards, 69 targets, 1 touchdown 8.55 yards/target(64% targets outside)
- 2018: Davis in the slot: 27 receptions for 301 yards, 39 targets, 3 touchdowns 7.71 yards/target
(46% targets slot)
Denver Broncos: Offensive Coordinator – Rich Scangarello
As I made reference to in one of my earliest articles from 2019, the Broncos are adding a new wrinkle in their offense; Rich Scangarello whom most recently worked as quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers under Kyle Shanahan from 2017-2018. His addition hurts the fantasy projection for Philip Lindsay. He’s running a run-zone blocking scheme that could easily favor Royce Freeman over Lindsay. Freeman thrived in that system at the college level and under a new coaching regime, both backs with have equal opportunity to earn the starting gig. With Lindsay still dealing with an injury, his late start could be fateful for his fantasy stock in 2019.
The Broncos did upgrade their offense further through the draft. They drafted tight end Noah Fant with the 20th overall pick and took quarterback Drew Lock in the second round. Joe Flacco should still be the presumed starter, but we have seen in the past Flacco heavily target the tight end position in the passing game. Fant could be an immediate contributor especially coming from a Shanahan offense scheme. Think George Kittle from last season in San Francisco.
Houston Texans: Offensive Coordinator – Tim Kelly
Kelly has been with the Texans since 2014 where he started as the offensive quality control coach. He was most recently tight ends coach from 2017-2018, and now entering 2019 he is the new OC. He has basically served eight years under Bill O’Brien dating back to their days at Penn State, so don’t anticipate much change in the offense with him being hired as OC. Everything still runs through O’Brien here, but Kelly will have input here and there.
The only thing to note here from the draft was the Texans did invest a third-round pick in Kahale Warring from San Diego State. Kelly was formerly the tight ends coach and the Texans roster is filled with odd end tight ends like Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, and Ryan Griffin. Griffin was most recently arrested in Nashville so there could be one less tight end Kahale has to leap over on the depth chart.
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