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 offensive coordinator info compiled by Mr. Jeff Brubach, which tries to look at the last three seasons of a coordinator’s offensive output.
Other divisions: NFC West | NFC North | NFC South | AFC West | AFC North | AFC South | AFC East
New York Giants
The Giants’ new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has never called a regular season NFL play, so we have to do some inferring here. He says he hopes to take the best of both worlds from the Packers, where he was the quarterbacks’ coach the last two seasons and the Giants, who had Kevin Gilbride as their offensive coordinator for the last seven years. Gilbride had top 10 offenses from ’08 through ’11, but the last two seasons called for new blood, and they went very new with 37 year old, first time OC McAdoo.
So far during OTAs all signs point to McAdoo implementing the Packers’ quick tempo and short passing game offense. And this is leading many to believe that Eli Manning may have a bounce back year. And it’s hard to argue. In Manning’s best fantasy season in 2011, he completed 359 passes, which were 20 more completions than any other season in his career. In the last three years the Packers’ QBs (mostly Aaron Rodgers) averaged 372 completions. Manning will need to learn this faster paced offense and be productive in it, but there is little doubt he’ll be set up with plenty of opportunities to succeed in fantasy.
The running back situation in the Packers offense has been in flux for a while now, but we did see what that offense could handle last season when Eddie Lacy carried the ball 284 times and scored 11 touchdowns. Lacy also ended up with 35 receptions after not being known as a receiver in college. The pace and dynamic play calling should keep the Giants’ running backs from being lost in the shuffle. Rashad Jennings can make plays in the passing game (he caught 36 of 47 targets averaging 8.1 yards per reception last season). David Wilson also is built well for the screen game that McAdoo will bring with him, which makes him a nice fit for this offense as well.
We’ve seen what the short passing game did for Randall Cobb when he is healthy, and that bodes well for Victor Cruz, who will have a better shot for quick hitting plays that he will be able to make something of. And there of course will be plenty of targets to go around in the Giants’ passing game if McAdoo gets everyone on the same page. The #2 receiver in the Packers offense has averaged 850 yards and 8.7 touchdowns over the last three seasons and the #3 receiver has averaged 687 yards and close to 6 touchdowns.
The tight end position has been troubling in this offense mainly due to the talent at the position. Jermichael Finley showed plenty of talent as he went for 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011, but inconsistency kept him from truly being a staple in the offense. But there is room in this offense for a tight end to succeed, especially in the red zone. If Adrien Robinson can prove himself he could be a decent TE2 in this offense.
And here we have another offensive coordinator change that should shake up an offense. Washington hired Cincinnati Bengals OC Jay Gruden as their head coach, in part to help out their young quarterback Robert Griffin III. Gruden helped Andy Dalton exceed expectations in Cincinnati, especially last season as Dalton finished as the 5th best fantasy quarterback. RGIII and Dalton are quite different in terms of style, but we will surely see Gruden help Griffin as a pocket passer, especially with two strong receivers in Pierre Garcon and newly acquired DeSean Jackson to throw to. Of course the question will be how often will Griffin run the ball? His fantasy status has depended on his legs the last two seasons, both positively and negatively. It’s not easy to tell from Gruden’s past with Dalton, even though he did have six rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons and implemented some read-option to throw teams off. So far it’s tough to know just how often RGIII will run the ball, but Gruden seems intent on not making him rely as heavily on running the ball as he has in the past. If true, that’s a little scary for his fantasy prospects unless we are confident in his ability to get the ball to Jackson, Garcon, Jordan Reed and company.
That company of receivers has a decent amount of upside in Gruden’s offense. We’ve seen the amount of targets and touchdowns A.J. Green has been able to accumulate as the #1 in Cincinnati and now we have a #1 and #1A for him in Washington. Green averaged 146.7 targets over the last three seasons, while the #2 receiver averaged 82.3. Of course that #2 receiver has been Jerome Simpson, Andrew Hawkins and Marvin Jones over the last three years. The question now is, who is the “#1” receiver in Washington? All signs would point to Pierre Garcon based on his past with RGIII and also his build and ability make him a nice easy target who can fight for possession, whereas DeSean Jackson needs to use his speed or scheme to get open. Their two styles should complement each other well and help each other see productive targets. We won’t see Garcon’s 174 targets again this season, but Jackson should help the targets he does get be more productive and vice versa.
Gruden isn’t averse to using his tight end(s), but he also hasn’t had one very good tight end to focus on. Jermaine Gresham is good enough, but not a player you showcase and in 2012 he caught 64 passes for 737 yards and five touchdowns. Last season when Tyler Eifert stepped in to eat away at Gresham’s numbers, together they managed 85 receptions for 903 yards and six touchdowns. The good news is that Reed won’t have an Eifert cutting into his targets and he is a better player than Gresham. A top 5 showing for Reed isn’t impossible by any means.
There is also a big question as far as Alfred Morris is concerned. Gruden has used his lead running back for around 275 carries a season if we remove last year when Giovani Bernard ate into BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ work. Last season Morris had 276 carries, 1275 yards and seven touchdowns. That came about due to Washington needing to throw the ball more and Morris not being an asset in the passing game. It looks very much like that could be the situation again, but more by design than last season. I think we can pencil Morris in for last year’s numbers, which were good, with a slight shot at more touchdowns if the offense can click with the addition of Jackson.