For this set of articles I’ll be looking at NFL teams, their offensive coordinators and how their coordinating has or might impact their team’s offense and in turn our fantasy expectations. I’ll be using the offensive coordinator info compiled by Mr. Jeff Brubach, which tries to look at the last three seasons of a coordinator’s offensive output.
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Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been fairly consistent over the last three seasons, hovering his plays around 57% pass and 43% run. Last season the Patriots ranked 17th in pass percentage and 16th in run percentage, but they ranked seventh in total pass attempts and ninth in total rushing attempts and second only to Denver in total plays. So they get up and go and that means fantasy points for lots and lots of players.
Of course as fantasy players we often have difficulty figuring out who will get those fantasy points from week to week with the Patriots, especially last season with Rob Gronkowski’s and Shane Vereen’s injuries, which shifted the whole offense out of whack. Oh, and God forbid somebody fumble!
With Bill Belichick always wanting to stay a step ahead of everyone, he makes it very difficult to predict fantasy statistics for his players each season. But the good news is we do know that he would very much like to throw the ball to his best offensive player, Rob Gronkowski, if he could ever stay healthy. Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare for pretty much any defensive player. And the good news is that Gronk looks ready to start the season on the field. If he stays healthy it allows this offense to do so much more.
So Gronk should be the centerpiece as he has been in the past when healthy, while we try to pick up the pieces and put them together on the rest of the offense. And those pieces are many and varied at the moment. Shane Vereen is one of the more trusted players by Belichick, but still just averaged 11.4 touches per game while Steven Ridley averaged 13.4 and LeGarrette Blount 9.4. And to make things even more annoying, in his first five games Vereen averaged 15.6 touches, 8 receptions, 111.8 yards and had two touchdowns. In his last three he averaged 4.3 touches per game. However you look at it that’s a bunch of running back touches in total, but for fantasy we want those funneled into one or at the most, two players. Blount is now gone, but rookie James White has been getting a lot of work in preseason and could give us another three headed monster. There’s a lot of upside if you can figure out who gets the ball week-to-week, but that is often close to impossible.
The wide receiver position was perilous last season, but anchored by Julian Edelman who caught 105 passes for just 1056 yards and six touchdowns. Those yards per reception are a little bit embarrassing and they would very much rather have Gronk’s 14 yards per reception than Edelman’s 10 yards per. Oh, and the touchdown production of Gronk would be a step up as well. If they have their druthers I don’t see the Patriots relying on Edelman as much unless injuries force them to. Once again. He is a big part of their offense, but he can’t be the main man for the Patriots to be successful.
The other receivers have plenty of potential, but have yet to step up and dhow it game to game. Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and now Tim Wright all have great upside in this offense if they can win the eye of Belichick.
New York Jets
Last season was Marty Mornhinweg’s first as offensive coordinator of the Jets after spending seven seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. It was not the best offensive season in Jets’ history as they finished 21st in total yards, but did manage to finish sixth in rushing yards. In the past Mornhinweg has been more pass heavy, but he had a rookie in Geno Smith to manage, which led to more rushing attempts.
The Jets went out and got even more rushing help in the offseason by acquiring Chris Johnson from the Titans and with a quarterback who can also run, there should be many rushing plays this season. Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell make up a pretty potent rushing attack, but of course for fantasy purposes it leaves us with a decent three-headed headache. Last season the rushing yards were there, but most of the rushing touchdowns actually went to the quarterback Smith who finished with six while Ivory and Powell had just four between them. They will continue to run the ball and as Smith gets better, the touchdowns should rise.
In another offseason acquisition the Jets picked up wide receiver Eric Decker. No matter what you think about Decker he is an upgrade over last season’s receivers. The Jets leading wide receiver was Jeremy Kerley who caught just 43 passes for 523 yards and three touchdowns. We won’t compare Decker’s numbers since he was in Denver’s high-powered offense, but his size and red zone ability will be a huge boon for Smith and the passing game. We can also add rookie Jace Amaro into that red zone equation with his 6’5” frame and scoring options look much better this season for the Jets.
The Dolphins new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor gets his first NFL coordinating job and should bring the Dolphins offense into the modern age. Lazor spent last season as the quarterbacks’ coach for the Eagles under innovator Chip Kelly and looks to bring an up-tempo offense to Miami.
Last season the Dolphins offense under Mike Sherman was vanilla at best and Ryan Tannehill ended the year averaging a 1.5 touchdown to 1.06 interception rate. Lazor wants Tannehill to use his athleticism more to give the offense as many looks as possible. It’s hard to know how this offense will look, but they should use the run more after finishing 30th in rushing attempts, 26th in rushing yards and 27th in rushing touchdowns last season. They have talent in Lamar Miller and a steady pass blocker and receiver in Knowshon Moreno. If Lazor gets Tannehill to run a bit more it should also help the run game open up for those two. We can’t expect the dedication to the run that Chip Kelly has, but we can expect a more interesting offense with plenty of hurry-up.
Their top receiver, Mike Wallace, didn’t even lead the team in receptions and yards last season as Brian Hartline had 76 receptions for 1016 yards while Wallace had 73 receptions for 930 yards. Wallace ended up with just five touchdowns and all and all it was not a good year. The hope for fantasy players is that last season Wallace lined up in the same place every time and ran a very mundane route tree under Sherman, while Lazor plans on varying where Wallace lines up and making him much less predictable.
One of the bright spots last season for the Dolphins was Charles Clay who has been a hybrid running back, fullback and tight end, but played tight end last year and led the team in receiving touchdowns with six while also adding one rushing touchdown. He seems like a good fit for Lazor’s burgeoning versatile offense.
Last season was Doug Marrone’s first season as a NFL head coach and Nate Hackett’s first as an offensive coordinator. So last year’s numbers are what we have to take from and they were pretty telling. The Bills led the league in rushing attempts and were second in rushing yards while they were 24th in passing attempts and 28th in passing yards. So they run the ball it seems. The fact that they had a rookie quarterback didn’t steer them away from that plan either.
The duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson totaled 2,395 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while Spiller averaged 4.3 yards per carry and Jackson 4.6. Those are very good numbers for a team that had very little in the way of a passing game to help spread defenses out. This season the Bills went with wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the first round and are looking to improve the passing game, but still are struggling at quarterback. They will most likely need to continue running the ball well and now with Bryce Brown as the backup they have plenty of talent throughout their top three backs.
I’ve been alluding to the fact that the Bills have quarterback problems and so far E.J. Manuel is not making a great impression in his sophomore season. So much so the Bills just gave Kyle Orton five million dollars to come out of “retirement.” That leaves this passing game in flux to say the least. Last season their leading receiver was Steve Johnson who caught just 52 passes on 101 targets. He is gone now and rookie Sammy Watkins and free agent Mike Williams along with Robert Woods make up a receiving core that has plenty of upside, so maybe, just maybe a more seasoned passer in Orton can help them along a little. But any way you look at it, this team should once again be run focused, splitting work fairly evenly between Spiller and Jackson.