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.
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Green Bay Packers
Tom Clements was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in 2012. Not a bad job to have when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback. They run a west coast style offense with Rodgers and when Rodgers is healthy they pass around 57% of the time. Last season when Rodgers was hurt, they ran the ball more with their rookie Eddie Lacy and finished ranked 7th in total rushing yards whereas they had finished 20th and 27th the two seasons before. Last season was a convergence of them finally getting a somewhat healthy go to running back and also losing their star quarterback for seven games. In a perfect world they hope to move the ball with Rodgers as their focal point and let Lacy feast on defenses more worried about getting beat through the air unlike last season when teams knew Lacy was going to get the ball, a lot.
Rodgers has been an elite quarterback for a while now and that isn’t going to change this season, especially if Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin can stay healthy. When healthy Rodgers is a top three fantasy quarterback without fail.
Of course the problem recently has been injuries to receivers and Rodgers himself. Nelson was injured in 2012 and Rodgers, Cobb and Jermichael Finley were injured much of 2013. And this offense easily allows for three receivers to put up good fantasy numbers on a weekly basis. In ’11 there were four receivers that topped five touchdown receptions while the tight end Finley had eight. In ’12 the top three receivers topped seven touchdowns each and 745 yards each. And last season, even with Rodgers out for a big chunk, the top three receivers topped 681 yards, with Nelson going over 1300. Of course the touchdowns declined without Rodgers, but thankfully he is back. Assuming health this gives high ceilings to Nelson, Cobb and Boykin, especially without a dynamic tight end to take away many looks.
Eddie Lacy rushed for 11 touchdowns last season, which is more than the total amount of rushing touchdowns Packers’ running backs had total in the two previous seasons. They had TWO in ’11. TWO. And that came with Lacy facing stacked boxes for many of those games. This season we can expect a bit more passing from Green Bay, but that shouldn’t stifle Lacy much as he’ll have more room to run and plenty of goal line chances. He also had 35 receptions last season and that number should rise with a healthy Rodgers. Health really is the only thing that could derail this offense in 2014.
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Like the Packers, the Bears lost their star quarterback for a decent amount of time, but backup Josh McCown didn’t miss a beat as far as offensive output. This was Marc Trestman’s first season back in the NFL since he was with the Raiders in 2003, where he had mixed results, but when his offense was on, like it was in 2002, it led the league in passing. And last season he, like McCown, didn’t miss a beat as the Bears finished second in total points scored and fifth in passing touchdowns and total yards.
If you add Josh McCown and Jay Cutler’s stats together you get 4,281 yards, 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That would put Jay McCown squarely in the top five fantasy quarterbacks for last year. If Cutler could have done that on his own, we would have had ourselves a guy going in the top 10 of ADP rather than 14th. Of course injuries have been a big problem for Cutler, so that is factored into his ADP somewhat, but we can see the upside is there in this offense.
In 2012 we saw Brandon Marshall get an insane number of targets in what was an extremely telegraphed offense in that regard. Trestman kept up the passing, but the emergence of Alshon Jeffrey allowed both Marshall and Jeffrey to shine, with both gaining over 1294 yards and scoring a total of 19 touchdowns. There wasn’t much room for a third wide receiver with tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte combining for over 1350 yards receiving.
Going into last season the talk about Trestman’s offense from the good old days was his proclivity of passing to running backs. So the PPR hype for Matt Forte was out of this world, and amazingly he ended up catching 74 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 289 times for 1339 yards and nine touchdowns. Trestman’s offense is perfect for the multi-talented Forte and it looks like age or injury or both will be the only things that could slow him down in this offense now.
Bennett saw 89 targets last season, which puts him around eighth for tight ends. That’s a respectable number when you consider the huge volume Forte, Marshall and Jeffery get in this offense. He finished as the tenth best fantasy tight end and it’s pretty safe to put him in that 8-10 area this season.