Fantasy Football: Researching and ranking the league's newest offensive coordinators
From long-time schemers to first-timers, the outlooks for the league's nine newest offensive coordinators with play-calling duties range from optimistic to nerve-wracking.
The Bengals, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Jets and Packers all hired head coaches who will call plays for their teams. Their tendencies have already been checked out and early Fantasy determinations have been made:
The Broncos, Cowboys, Dolphins, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions, Ravens, Titans and Vikings all have new playcallers getting ready to roll in 2019. It's time to figure out their strengths and weaknesses.
I dug into each of the new offensive coordinators around the NFL to get some initial ideas on how they'll operate. And, since this is all about Fantasy Football, I ranked them based on how much they'll improve their players' performances in 2019.
1. Dirk Koetter, Falcons
- Has coached offense in some capacity every year since 1983
- Been in the NFL since 2007, including with the Falcons 2012-2014
- Known for aggressive style with lots of downfield plays
- Matt Ryan had career year with him in 2012 (4,719-32-14); has since bested those numbers
- Julio Jones averaged a touchdown every two games with Koetter; had only 10-score season in 2012
- Running backs have tallied at least 21 percent of all receptions under Koetter in nine of the past 11 years, including 24 percent or more in all three seasons in Atlanta.
- Tight ends have caught 20 percent or more of Koetter's team's passes in eight of the last 11 years, including each of the past three seasons in Tampa Bay.
What it means: The Falcons have typically been slow to adapt to coordinator changes but this one should be different since Koetter has been with the team before. Koetter's track record suggests sizable roles for the running backs and tight ends in the passing game, though that shouldn't scare you from drafting Calvin Ridley (you're already drafting Julio Jones). You'll want to keep tabs on the running back situation here, and Austin Hooper has some potential if he keeps the starting job.
2. Kellen Moore, Cowboys
- All-time winningest quarterback in college football (50-3)
- Former NFL backup quarterback
- Has exactly one year of NFL coaching experience (Cowboys QB coach in 2018)
- Replaces Scott Linehan as playcaller; spent five of six seasons as a backup in Linehan's offense
- Reputation for being smart about creating variations to existing plays & dissecting defenses
- Just 31 years old
What it means: The Cowboys aren't overhauling their offense.They're just putting their own version of Sean McVay in it. Moore is considered a football genius, one who has helped Dak Prescott evolve since he backed him up. Legend has it that Moore, the son of a high school coach, collected playbooks as a kid! Moore was a stud at Boise State by being a slick anticipatory thrower while working out of a slew of formations and shifts to trick defenses. In other words, he ran a wildly creative offense, something the Cowboys have sorely lacked. Without changing playbooks, bank on the Cowboys becoming more clever -- and thus more productive -- under Moore.
3. John DeFilippo, Jaguars
- Son of a football coach, former quarterback
- Runs a version of the West Coast offense
- Known for being very pass-heavy; was fired last year for it
- Has coaxed big seasons out of slot receivers (Adam Thielen, Nelson Agholor)
- Was the offensive coordinator for Gary Barnidge's lone big season (79-1043-9)
What it means: The Jaguars know how to run the ball. They need help creating a good pass game. Hiring the guy who got fired for throwing it too much actually makes sense. DeFilippo will not only help the Jaguars find their next quarterback but should give him a lot of opportunities to get solid yardage. Only in Cleveland did running backs and tight ends pick up over 20 percent of his receiving play calls, so there is a little worry about Leonard Fournette being ignored in passing situations. Keep an eye on Dede Westbrook on Draft Day.
4. Darrell Bevell, Lions
- Former collegiate quarterback
- Vikings playcaller 2006-10, Seahawks playcaller 2011-17
- Has reputation for being a run-heavy playcaller
- Worked with some greats including Brett Favre, Russell Wilson, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch
- Ranked 15th or better in total yards in each of his past four years (twice in top 10)
- Ranked 20th or lower in total yards just three times in 12 seasons
- Only twice in Bevell's 12 seasons have receivers accumulated over 59 percent of the team's receptions
- Only five receivers have amassed 100-plus targets under Bevell (none more than 125).
- Running backs have caught at least 20 percent of the passes in 11 of 12 years
What it means: Bevell is known for being running-back focused, but wouldn't you be if you had Peterson and Lynch as your feature backs?! In his past two seasons in Seattle, both without any capable feature rusher, Bevell called pass plays 60 percent of the time. Kerryon Johnson will get every opportunity to be the primary guy for the Lions, making him drool-worthy as a top-40 pick. Bevell does seem to like spreading the wealth in the passing game, so don't rush to judgment on Kenny Golladay erupting -- he'll have to be a touchdown beast to leap into the top-12 among receivers.
5. Chad O'Shea, Dolphins
- Was Patriots wide receivers coach for the past decade
- Instrumental in developing Julian Edelman, helped coach Wes Welker
- First-time playcaller at any level, but has playcalling experience from preseason games
- Helped with red-zone game planning for the Patriots
- Expected to use Erhardt-Perkins offense, but larger focus will be on utilizing players based on opponents' weaknesses (sound familiar?)
- Grew up in Miami, played quarterback in college for Marshall (1991-93) and Houston (1994-95)
- Also has special-teams coaching experience
What it means: Many are cautiously optimistic about O'Shea's Patriot-like approach, but until we see who plays for Miami in 2019, especially at quarterback, it's tough to lay out Fantasy implications. Some conceptual projections would include Kenyan Drake as a passing-downs back, Albert Wilson as a slot receiver (whoever plays slot for Miami should be very productive), Kenny Stills reprising his deep threat role and Mike Gesicki as a mini-Gronk.
6. Kevin Stefanski, Vikings
- Former defensive back
- Broke into NFL in 2005 with Eagles, been with Vikings since 2006
- Replaced John DeFilippo late last season in effort to re-establish run game
- Strong knowledge of West Coast offense
- Will be guided by Gary Kubiak, who is the Vikings new assistant head coach/offensive advisor
What it means: Stefanski has stuck with the Vikings despite teams sniffing around him for two offseasons. He's expected to navigate a Vikings offense that ran the ball 24.3 times per game in their last three games with Stefanski (who took the order to do so from head coach Mike Zimmer). Unless Zimmer changes his mind, expect Minnesota to remain run-centric -- that approach cost Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs some serious numbers late last December. Also, there's always the chance of Kubiak taking over at some point.
7. Greg Roman, Ravens
- Been in NFL since 2011, called plays for Buffalo in 2015 and 2016
- His teams have ranked eighth or better in rushing in each of his five full years as an offensive coordinator
- His teams have ranked 28th, 29th or 30th in passing in five of six years -- and 23rd in the outlier
- Mixes a downfield passing game with his run-heavy approach
- Uses exotic formations and emphasizes blocking
What it means: You know the Ravens offense you saw with Lamar Jackson under center last year? Expect to see more of it this year. Roman has thrived with rushing quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor, so he should be in his element with Jackson. It should result in some good rushing numbers for Jackson and the Ravens running backs (will Gus Edwards keep the main gig?), but Baltimore's receivers figure to be Fantasy busts.
8. Rich Scangarello, 49ers
- A coaching veteran of 24 years, most with non-Division I colleges
- Offensive coordinator: Carleton (2001), Wagner (2016), NAU (2012-14), Milsaps (2010-11)
- Disciple of Kyle Shanahan, working with him in Atlanta (2005) and the past two years coaching quarterbacks in San Francisco
- Credited with discovering undrafted rookie Nick Mullens
- "Roots" in the zone-run scheme, plans on being aggressive offensively
What it means: After passing on hiring Shanahan to be their head coach in 2017, the Broncos brought in Shanahan's most recent right-hand man to oversee the offense. It should result in a system familiar to Broncos fans and John Elway since Bill Musgrave ran something very similar to it last year, right down to zone-run principles. Here's hoping some of Shanahan's running back magic rubbed off on Scangarello, and Phillip Lindsay becomes even more of a boss in 2019.
9. Arthur Smith, Titans
- Former offensive lineman
- First-time playcaller at any level
- Broke into the NFL as a defensive quality control coach in 2007
- Was most recently the tight ends coach
- Has been with the Titans since 2011, surviving three coaching changes
- Will keep Matt LaFleur's playbook and verbiage so players won't have to learn a new system
- Is experienced in the West Coast offense, says he's a "big fan" of the scheme
- Intends to be balanced on offense but spoke highly of Derrick Henry and leaning on the run game
What it means: You'd prefer for Smith to have some playcalling experience, and the track record of coaches working out of someone else's playbook isn't good either. It would be shocking to see Smith get wild in his inaugural playcalling season with someone else's playbook. Bank on the Titans sticking with a conservative approach, which will help Henry out plenty, but not so much anyone else.
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