Coaching affects NFL box scores more than any other sport. Certain schemes are more productive, some highlight specific positions, some like to pass in the red zone and others like to speed the tempo. Understanding how coaching leads to fantasy statistics is a vital part of winning on DraftKings.
For example, Kyle Shanahan stepping in as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator last season was a precursor to Devonta Freeman’s monstrous campaign. We knew Buck Allen would be a strong play when he started games for Baltimore because he excels in the pass game and Marc Trestman loves to throw to his backs.
Below are this year’s coaching changes and who benefits the most.
49ers: Chip Kelly replaces Jim Tomsula
Browns: Hue Jackson replaces Mike Pettine
Bucs: Dirk Koetter replaces Lovie Smith**
Dolphins: Adam Gase replaces Joe Philbin
Eagles: Doug Pederson replaces Chip Kelly
Giants: Ben McAdoo replaces Tom Coughlin***
Titans: Mike Mularkey replaces Ken Whisenhunt****
** Koetter was Smith’s offensive coordinator last season
*** McAdoo was Coughlin’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons
**** Mularkey was the Titans’ interim head coach after Whisenhunt was fired seven games into last season
49ers: Curtis Modkins replaces Geep Chryst
Bears: Dowell Loggains replaces Adam Gase
Bengals: Ken Zampese replaces Hue Jackson
Bucs: Todd Monken replaces Dirk Koetter
Chargers: Ken Whisenhunt replaces Frank Reich
Chiefs: Brad Childress & Matt Nagy replace Doug Pederson
Colts: Rob Chudzinski replaces Pep Hamilton**
Dolphins: Clyde Christiansen replaces Bill Lazor
Eagles: Frank Reich replaces Pat Shurmur
Giants: Mike Sullivan replaces Ben McAdoo
Titans: Terry Robiskie replaces Jason Michael
** Chudzinski took over for Hamilton in November of last season
1. Torrey Smith, WR, 49ers
The 49ers ranked 30th in offensive plays per game (60.6) last season under Jim Tomsula. They’ll do a total 180 under Chip Kelly, who runs his offenses at a breakneck speed even when game theory suggests he shouldn’t. The Eagles ranked 2nd, 1st and 12th in plays per game under Kelly, topping out at 70.7 per game in 2014. More plays obviously means more opportunities for fantasy stats.
Kelly also has a very strong history with his WR1, which will be Torrey’s position. DeSean Jackson produced a career outlier 82-1332-9 line in 2013. It was Jeremy Maclin’s turn in 2014 as he popped off for 85-1318-10. Last year, slot man Jordan Matthews finished with 85-997-8. Those stats came with the likes of Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford at quarterback. The 49ers are also extremely thin at WR behind Smith with Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Eric Rogers and DeAndre Smelter competing for the No. 2 WR gig. That will also funnel targets to Torrey.
2. Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts
We’re looking at a perfect storm for Dwayne Allen in 2016. The Colts chose to re-sign Allen at $29.4 million while letting fellow TE Coby Fleener walk to the Saints. Andrew Luck is healthy again after his injuries tanked the offense last year. The run game, headed by grandpa Frank Gore, projects to be ineffective. And to top it all off, Rob Chudzinski is now the Colts’ offensive coordinator.
Chud, a former tight end himself at the University of Miami, has a long history of featuring tight ends in the pass game. He’s coaxed career years out of Antonio Gates (89-1101-10 in 2005), Kellen Winslow Jr. (82-1106-5 in 2007) and Jordan Cameron (80-917-7 in 2013). Allen’s supreme natural talents have been masked by injuries and the presence of Fleener, but Chud will maximize them this year.
3. Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles
Take a deep breath and ponder this thought: What if Ryan Mathews doesn’t get hurt this season? It may sound impossible, but remember that guys are only “injury prone” until they aren’t. Matthew Stafford, Darren McFadden and Danny Amendola are some recent examples of guys who broke the label.
When Mathews is on the field, he’s set up beautifully. Doug Pederson comes from Kansas City, where he helped run arguably the most RB-friendly scheme in the league. Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware all became stars for various periods thanks to a scheme that prefers to ride one back — and feature him in both the run and pass games. Mathews was quietly spectacular last season, running circles around DeMarco Murray while averaging 5.08 YPC and scoring seven touchdowns on just 126 touches. His backups are an underwhelming trio of Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner and Darren Sproles.
4. Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
I have a ton of respect for Hue Jackson as a talent-maximizing offensive mind. That’s especially true when it comes to the running backs, a position Jackson has often coached throughout his long career. When he’s been an offensive coordinator or head coach, his running backs have typically overperformed:
2001 Redskins: Stephen Davis 356 carries, 1432 yards, 5 TDs in 16 games
2002 Redskins: Stephen Davis 207 carries, 820 yards, 7 TDs in 12 games
2003 Redskins: Trung Canidate 142 carries, 600 yards, 1 TD in 11 games
2007 Falcons: Warrick Dunn 227 carries, 720 yards, 4 TDs in 16 games
2010 Raiders: Darren McFadden 223 carries, 1157 yards, 7 TDs in 13 games
2011 Raiders: Michael Bush 256 carries, 977 yards, 7 TDs in 16 games; Darren McFadden 113 carries, 614 yards, 4 TDs in 7 games
2014 Bengals: Jeremy Hill 222 carries, 1124 yards, 9 TDs in 16 games; Gio Bernard 168 carries, 680 yards, 5 TDs in 13 games
2015 Bengals: Jeremy Hill 223 carries, 794 yards, 11 TDs in 16 games; Gio Bernard 154 carries, 730 yards, 2 TDs in 16 games
The previous Browns regime, headed by defensive-minded Rex Ryan disciple Mike Pettine, viewed Duke Johnson as a passing back (6.5 carries per game). There are signs the Hue Jackson regime will view Duke as much, much more. He fits the uptempo, vertical scheme much better than Isaiah Crowell.
5. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Bucs
Dirk Koetter was the Bucs’ offensive coordinator last season, so there isn’t a huge boost here. But the promotion to head coach means he can fully ditch “Lovie Ball,” a scheme that wants to be conservative and defensive-minded. Koetter has a strong history with tight ends, dating all the way back to his time with Zach Miller at Arizona State. He was also at the controls of Marcedes Lewis’ career 10-TD outlier in 2010 and oversaw Tony Gonzalez’s big final two seasons in Atlanta. The key for Seferian-Jenkins will be sustaining health after a shoulder injury crippled what should have been a breakout 2015.
6. Eli Manning, QB, Giants
When an icon like Tom Coughlin moves on, there is often a ton of upheaval within an organization. Eli Manning won’t have to deal with that as offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo landed the head-coaching job. McAdoo, who spent eight years with the Packers before joining the Giants in 2014, will continue to run a QB-friendly scheme which features a ton of three-wide sets and up-tempo offense. Eli ranked 4th in attempts last year and 6th in 2013, quietly helping him to two straight top-10 fantasy finishes among quarterbacks. The continuity McAdoo brings is worth plenty for the annually underrated Eli.