Quarterback/ Offensive Coordinator Bonding
There are 8 teams this year bringing back their QB/OC combo for year 2, and they all expect significant growth from their QBs. These teams are drunk on the Kool-Aid of “improvement through system comfort”, and not surprisingly, the stats bear it out. On average, Quarterbacks perform better their second year with the same OC. Of all active OCs, their QBs saw an average improvement of 300 passing yards and 4 TDs in year 2.
Ryan Tannehill / Bill Lazor
Ryan Tannehill finished as QB10 last year and with the replacements to Miami’s WR corps, (Wallace/Hartline/Gibson out, Stills/Jennings/Parker in) there’s every reason to think he can improve on last year’s numbers. Lazor designed a system around Tannehill’s talents, and we found that the only holes in it were a seriously inconsistent deep ball, and poor red zone efficiency.
Tannehill showed a big improvement in his second year under Mike Sherman in 2013, going from QB24 to QB11, so it isn’t unreasonable to expect him to crack the top 10 again. His ADP is currently QB13, and while his ceiling might not be much higher than that, his floor should be higher than most in that range.
Andy Dalton / Hue Jackson
Fantasy-wise, Andy Dalton took a pretty big step back last year under Hue Jackson, dropping from QB3 to QB26. Going from 7 games of 40+ attempts in 2013 to only 1 last year will do that. By all statistics he had improved each of his first 3 years before that drop, but a lot of the regression can be excused by the extensive injuries suffered by the Bengals WR corps, leading to a more conservative game plan. This will be Hue Jackson’s first time getting a second offseason with a QB. His previous shot as a second year OC in Oakland resulted in a big passing game improvement in 2011 after bringing in Carson Palmer to replace Jason Campbell. He game plans to his team’s strengths, and with a healthy WR squad, don’t be surprised if he leans on Dalton more, returning him back into the top 15. At ADP QB23, you wind up with a nice return on a late pick.
Phillip Rivers / Frank Reich
In 2008, Phillip Rivers had a second offseason with OC Clarence Shelmon, and it resulted in a fantasy jump from QB15 to QB5. Last year he finished as QB9 under first year OC Frank Reich, yet his current ADP is QB14. Last year also saw the Chargers have one of the worst seasons ever for Offensive Line injury and turnover. While they didn’t address this in the draft, they have in free agency, and with the focus on improving the ground game, they’re hopeful they can relieve some of that pressure. If they can buy him enough time to operate, Rivers could find himself back in the top 5 discussion.
Eli Manning / Ben McAdoo
Eli enjoyed a return to the top 10 in McAdoo’s first year as OC, finishing as QB9 after falling to QB21 in 2013. His previous 2nd year endeavors include a fantastic 2005 under John Hufnagel and a marked improvement in 2008 under Kevin Gilbride, cutting his 20 INTs to 10. With an ADP of QB12, any improvement from last year will mean a great return on that pick. A hopefully healthy Victor Cruz returns, and with someone other than Odell Beckham Jr to lean on, Eli is a nice target once everyone else has grabbed QBs.
Robert Griffin III / Sean McVay
It’s difficult to evaluate a season like Washington’s. While RGIII certainly didn’t help himself, his multiple injuries really kept us from seeing what could have been. When he was playing, he looked unsure and hesitant to throw the ball, taking way too many drive-killing sacks. The fantasy stats were not pretty with a serious lack of TDs. On the positive side, the combined stats for RGIII, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy would have been good enough for QB12 with a sneaky number of yards gained last year.
They’ve hitched themselves to RGIII for at least one more year, but his future is shaky at best.
With an ADP of QB25, his ceiling is as high as his floor is low, and I think he could end up anywhere from QB14 to QB34. McVay, at 29 years old, will hold the title of youngest OC for a long time, but how much of the play-calling duties are his is up for debate. Jay Gruden has considerable input to the game plan, so it’s encouraging to note Dalton’s 2012 improvement in his second year with Gruden (QB16-QB12).
Teddy Bridgewater / Norv Turner
Bridgewater seemed to get more comfortable with the offense as the season went on, and as he shed his rookie-like play, Turner leaned on him more and more. His performance over the last 6 weeks gives many hope for a breakout this year and a big improvement from his QB23 finish. It’s remarkable that in all of the years of experience that Norv Turner has, he has only had two QBs for a second year, and they couldn’t be more dissimilar. In 1992, he helped guide Troy Aikman to the best season of his career, and in 2003 he helped Jay Fiedler to… well, he finished as QB23. This will be the third time Norv has had a second offseason with a QB, but with Bridgewater’s ADP at QB15, you may be drafting him at his ceiling.
Matt Stafford / Joe Lombardi
Stafford started the year much better than he finished it. Whether it was because of a lack of a healthy Calvin Johnson and a stronger than expected defense that led to more conservative play calling, or just another outdoor weather collapse in accuracy, Stafford seemed to lose comfort late in the season. I tend to think it was a combination, and with this year’s late season schedule packed with indoor away games, I think Stafford could climb into the 10s. His cold weather splits are that remarkable. After losing 2010 to injury, Stafford returned with Scott Linehan and had his best year as a pro. If he sees half of that improvement under Lombardi, and Lombardi can take the gloves off this Brees-like system utilizing Abdullah and Riddick in the passing game more than pounding the line with Bell, Stafford could deliver nicely on his QB11 ADP.
Tony Romo / Scott Linehan
While Scott Linehan wasn’t officially the OC last year, he was the playcaller, and with Bill Callahan moving on and Linehan moving up, I’m including him in this list. Linehan has seen much improvement from QBs in their second year together, with Culpepper’s(QB1) passing stats improving significantly in 2003, and Stafford with that ridiculous 2011 (QB5) after losing his 2nd year to injury. Last year saw Romo throwing the ball 100 times fewer than he did in 2013, yet he repeated as QB13, due to improved accuracy and efficiency. The offense leaned heavily on DeMarco Murray, but Romo threw enough TDs to counter any drop in volume. This year, with Murray gone, I expect the game plan to tilt back toward pass-heavy, and Romo gets a nice bump in attempts. He’ll need them if he is to meet the expectations of his QB9 ADP.
It’s interesting that most of these guys are in the QB9-QB15 range, and all could improve significantly yet still finish in that same range. With today’s pass-heavy game, the difference between the QB3 and the QB17 gets smaller and smaller each year, so grabbing a few of these QBs late and playing matchups should be a great draft strategy. Having a top 5 guy sounds great, but it doesn’t give you the advantage over your opponents that it used to.
My advice: Target a few of these “2nd year in a system” QBs to build an upside stream team and save those early rounds for dominating the other positions. See where Gridiron Experts has them in our 2015 Projections