Fantasy Football: What to expect from Matt LaFleur calling plays for the Packers
Matt LaFleur's lone season calling plays in Tennessee didn't show much in the way in consistency, but plenty in how flexible he can be as a schemer.
In 2018, the Titans offense ranked seventh in rushing, 29th in passing and 27th in scoring (19.4 points per game), missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
None of that bothered the Packers, who hired Titans playcaller . It is assumed he will call plays for them.
A former Division II and Arena League quarterback (he once suited up for the Omaha Beef!), LaFleur has been indoctrinated into the West Coast offense in his 10 years of NFL experience, working under Gary Kubiak, Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. It's the same type of offense Aaron Rodgers has been in his entire career, which is probably one big reason LaFleur got the job. LaFleur is also expected to keep much of the current staff in place, thus not creating the kind of coaching turnover that could force a franchise to "rebuild" for a season.
Above all, the Packers are hoping LaFleur injects some creativity into what became a stale offense. Not that the Titans were wildly creative under LaFleur. They attempted the fewest deep-ball throws, according to Sports Info Solutions (42, with 34 by Mariota), and finished 30th in completions of 20-plus yards.
There are some pretty good reasons for that -- Tennessee's quarterback issues and Derrick Henry's late-season breakout. Those two factors changed how LaFleur called games and ultimately turned the Titans into one of the most unique offensive stories in 2018.
The Titans began the year with a sizable dose of passing, going with quarterback dropbacks on 59.2 percent of their plays (40.8 percent runs) through 12 weeks. But once the team got Henry going, LaFleur flew to the other end of the spectrum, passing on just 48.8 percent of their plays (and running 51.2 percent of the time) to end the season. These wildly different results are hidden in their season-long ratio of 48.4 percent run/51.6 percent pass.
Thus, this past season probably isn't a fair representation of LaFleur as a playcaller. If anything, it shows that LaFleur is resourceful, even when things don't go his way, like when his quarterback deals with on-again, off-again nerve damage in his hand. He didn't run nearly as much no-huddle as he did when he was on Sean McVay's Rams staff, or in Atlanta when he helped aid Kyle Shanahan. He's also a big proponent of play-action passing and getting his quarterback on the move, two things Rodgers has thrived in. Fantasy owners shouldn't have any fear of LaFleur hampering Rodgers. Also bank on the Packers investing in an offensive lineman or two to help keep Rodgers healthy.
Don't expect radical changes when it comes to Davante Adams but do expect radical numbers. He's been Rodgers' No. 1 receiver over the past couple of years and that's a good spot to be in. Adams ranked as the most consistent receiver in Fantasy this past season and can line up anywhere on the field. LaFleur is going to have fun utilizing him.
As for the rest of the Packers receivers, don't expect anyone to step up until training camp. We can hope that LaFleur will utilize Marquez Valdes-Scantling's height and speed, but it's not a certainty. That also goes double for the Packers' tight end group -- Jimmy Graham is a candidate to get cut and there isn't another tight end with any serious upside already on the Green Bay roster. Tight ends have traditionally been contributors in West Coast offenses, and LaFleur leaned on his tight ends to grab 23 percent of the Titans' passes in 2018 (and that's with Delanie Walker barely playing). Bottom line: No one has a secure role in the passing game outside of Adams.
There could be some trepidation in how the running backs in Green Bay are handled. It took LaFleur 12 games to finally use Henry the right way, which isn't to say he didn't try earlier in the year. He just didn't succeed, and it led to Dion Lewis getting more chances with mixed results. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams could be headed for another training camp competition, though Jones' speed should give him an edge so long as he stays healthy. Both backs can catch the ball, which is a huge plus. You may want to plan on taking both in 2019.
While it's not right to expect LaFleur to perform like his previous mentors, it's also not right to expect doldrums based on the Titans' blah 2018. Having Rodgers around usually chases the blahs away.
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