2018 Offseason Coaching Changes
Year in and year out NFL players are signed and traded, older players retire, and new players enter the league from the college ranks. These types of roster moves are annual occurrences and are expected and planned for league-wide. Due to the potential weight each individual roster move can have on a team and player’s future success, these changes garner a well-deserved majority of attention from the fantasy football media and community alike when it comes to determining how these changes will affect a player’s projected fantasy production. However, there is another important, but often undervalued, a factor that can directly affect fantasy production as well – coaching changes. Each year, coaches are fired, hired, and shifted around the team’s coaching structure with each team hoping that a new mind pulling the personnel strings will lead to more on-field success. Wins and losses will change, sure, but so will the fantasy production of the affected players now under the governance of said new coach or coordinator.
Heading into the 2018 NFL season, there has been a total of seven head coaches and 18 new offensive coordinators hired. We will look at how each of these new hires is set to impact the team overall and which players on their respective rosters stand to gain or lose from a fantasy perspective.
The Lone Head Coaching Hire
DETROIT LIONSMatt Patricia
After 13 seasons with Bill Belichick in New England, Patricia made the jump and is now set to be the head coach in Detroit. With most of his time spent working with the Patriots defense, Patricia will find himself in a good situation offensively with an established group across the board, including offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. It will be interesting to see how much of the Patriots offense Patricia will look to integrate in Detroit. Coming off back-to-back seasons of 7-9 and no playoff appearances, Patricia is hoping to get the Lions back to playing in January.
Big Questions: Will there be a clear RB1 or RBBC in Detroit? Can Matthew Stafford be a Top-5 QB1? Does Kenny Golladay emerge as a WR2? Can the Lions produce a productive fantasy TE?
Winners: Lions Offense, Matthew Stafford, Lions WRs, Luke Willson
Losers: Ameer Abdullah, DeAndre Washington
The Teams Replacing Both Head Coach And Offensive Coordinator
Arguably, the most impactful change for the Colts this season will be Andrew Luck stepping back under center at quarterback. Outside of that however, the Colts will be bringing in both a first-time head coach and offensive coordinator:
Frank Reich: Head Coach
Reich is coming off his most successful venture as an NFL coach after winning Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles last season as their offensive coordinator. A bit of a misnomer, as Reich more-so consulted with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson regarding play-calling rather than controlling the offense himself. Prior to his two-year stint in Philly, Reich had not had much sustained success after being fired at each of his three previous stops, including his first stint in Indy. Reich’s best bet will be to let a healthy Luck do what he can with the weapons around him before he himself tinkers with the offense too much.
Nick Sirianni: Offensive Coordinator
More suited for his new role, is incoming OC Nick Sirianni. After spending most of his coaching time under offensive minds in Kansas City such as Todd Haley and Charlie Weis, Indy’s new OC has also taken part in success while working with the Chargers offense helmed by Philip Rivers. He looks to be set up well with a healthy Andrew Luck coming back into the fold with some proven weapons at his disposal.
Big Questions: How much rust will Andrew Luck show and/or be allowed to show off? Which RB will be given the first chance to lead the backfield? What kind of offensive identity will they seek to establish?
Winners: Colts Offense, Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Colts TEs
Losers: Chances of a Colts bell-cow RB, Colts WRs not named T.Y. Hilton
After finally pulling the trigger on firing John Fox, the Bears are doubling down on their controversial trade-up pick of Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 in last year’s NFL Draft by bringing in up-and-comers at head coach and offensive coordinator along with the addition of new offensive weapons to reflect a win-now attitude across the board:
Matt Nagy: Head Coach
After nearly a decade under Andy Reid in both Philadelphia and Kansas City, Nagy is primed to jump-start one of last season’s most boring offenses. After leading last season’s historic season for Alex Smith in KC, Nagy is ready to do similar works with Trubisky in his first full season as a starting quarterback in the NFL. With a more seasoned QB in Trubisky, stub RBs (Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen), and fresh signees at both WR (Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel) and TE (Trey Burton) Nagy has all the tools at his disposal to build on a solid foundation in Chicago.
Mark Helfrich: Offensive Coordinator
After helping Chip Kelly turn Oregon into a college football powerhouse on offense and even leading it himself upon Kelly’s departure to the NFL, Helfrich is now trying his hand at bringing a prolific offense to Chicago. Despite lesser results leading to his firing at Oregon in 2016, Helfrich is putting on the headset once again as the new OC for the Bears. With fresh talent already in Chicago, Helfrich will be tasked with getting the most out of what John Fox’s previous regime could not.
Big Questions: How much will the Bears let Trubisky throw now that he has better weapons? How much does Nagy shift towards a more versatile running game by using more of Tarik Cohen? How will the pecking order in the passing game shake down?
Winners: Bears Offense, Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel
Losers: Jordan Howard, Adam Shaheen, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy
Another team also phasing in both a new head coach and offensive coordinator. Both are former Raiders coaches, both with coaching triumphs, and both also with coaching disappointments:
Jon Gruden: Head Coach
Now in his second stint as the head coach of the Raiders, Gruden was quick to get to work by bringing in high-profile players such as: Martavis Bryant, Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, Derrick Johnson, and Leon Hall – while also letting the likes of Michael Crabtree and Marquette King go. With eyebrows being raised right out of the gate, Gruden will be expected to produce especially with franchise quarterback Derek Carr’s back injury from last season looking to be behind him.
Greg Olsen: Offensive Coordinator
Also in his second run with the Raiders, Olsen will feel the heat as well with plenty of talent on offense expected to fall right into place and leading the Raiders back to success similar to their 12-4 season in 2016. After producing successful offenses with both the Rams and Buccaneers, Olsen has shown he can utilize talent when given the opportunity.
Big Questions: Will Raiders have an RBBC, 50/50 split, single workhorse, or just two washed up RBs? Will QB Derek Carr make “the jump” to elite or will he settle in as “pretty good”? Who are the odd men out in the WR corps?
Winners: Derek Carr, Jared Cook, Amari Cooper
Losers: Seth Roberts, Raiders backfield, WRs not named Amari Cooper
NEW YORK GIANTS
After their worst record in franchise history, the Giants were quick to hit the reset button heading into 2018 after going through three head coaches and two general managers during the 2017 season alone. The Giants have continued to show faith that their 11-5 season in 2016 was not a fluke by drafting running back Saquon Barkley 4th overall in this year’s draft rather than looking for their future quarterback after Eli Manning. With a WR group decimated by injuries in 2017, the Giants have all the pieces in place on offense to bounce back into the playoffs:
Pat Shurmur: Head Coach
Shurmur has shown himself to be a QB guru of sorts after leading breakout campaigns for Donovan McNabb, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Nick Foles, and most recently in 2017 with Case Keenum. Arguably, the biggest question for Shurmur will be how much can he raise the play of an established, two-time Super Bowl champion, 37-year old quarterback in Eli Manning?
Mike Shula: Offensive Coordinator
Also with a quarterback pupil in Cam Newton from his time with the Carolina Panthers, Shula will be tasked with putting together all the pieces that the Giants have on offense. Shula had to overcome lackluster talent pools at times in Carolina, so he should be primed to get a loaded offense in New York back on track.
Big Questions: After back-to-back seasons of QB20+ finishes, can Eli crack the QB1 ranks after doing so in the 6-of-7 seasons prior? Can rookie Saquon Barkley become the Giants first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012? Can Sterling Shepard be a reliable WR2 with the addition of Barkley, a healthy OBJ, and TE Evan Engram in the fold? Can Evan Engram repeat as a TE1 after leading NY in receiving yards, targets, and TDs in now-crowded offense?
Winners: Giants Defense, Eli Manning, Giants Offense, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr.
Losers: Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Giants WR3, Jonathan Stewart
Coming off a 9-7 season and Wild Card playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs; the Titans are going against the grain by bringing in both a new head coach and offensive coordinator rather than doubling down on what most teams would deem as a highly successful season:
Mike Vrabel: Head Coach
Just seven years removed from his time as an NFL linebacker, Vrabel has spent his time in the coaching ranks solely on the defensive side of the ball up to this point at Ohio State and most recently with the Houston Texans. One of the later hires this offseason, Vrabel’s success will be riding on how him being Marcus Mariota’s third head coach in four seasons will produce results setting both up either for future contracts or on the job market. His unfamiliarity overseeing an NFL offense should see him defer to his new OC Matt LeFleur and Mariota’s natural ability quite a bit this season.
Matt LaFleur: Offensive Coordinator
In what will be his first true chance to lead an NFL offense, LaFleur is coming from a L.A. Rams team that made huge gains offensively in 2017 under the guidance of LaFleur and Rams coach Sean McVay. With LaFleur now solely in charge of the offensive play-calling, both fans and the Titans organization alike will be looking for innovation and aggression from LaFleur in high contrast to 2017’s stagnant and predictable, bottom-half ranked offense. With a healthy Mariota under center and a wealth of talent and youth at the other skill positions, LaFleur should be able to get the most out of what he has inherited in Tennessee.
Big Questions: Will Mariota finally break out as a consistent QB1? Will a healthy Corey Davis emerge as a WR1? What type of fantasy RBs will the Henry-Lewis tandem produce? How much work with Delanie Walker cede to Jonnu Smith at TE?
Winners: Titans Offense, Marcus Mariota, Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Titans RBs
Losers: Titans WR3
Coming off a 2017 season that saw the team’s star running back lost for the season in Week 1, veteran quarterback missing the second half of the season before then retiring along with their head coach at season’s end, the Cardinals were left scrambling on multiple fronts to rebound in 2018. With a new stable of quarterbacks and coaches, Arizona will be looking to get back on track:
Steve Wilks: Head Coach
After spending time as Ron Rivera’s assistant coach in Carolina, Wilks is getting his first crack at leading a team himself. Bringing most of his experience from the defensive side of the ball to an already solid unit in Arizona, Wilks will be able to spend time working out the kinks that are sure to come with integrated a new quarterback on offense.
Mike McCoy: Offensive Coordinator
Well-traveled and experienced, McCoy could potentially find himself going from one terrible quarterback situation to another. With Carson Palmer’s retirement, the Cardinals resorted to signing journeyman Sam Bradford and drafting talented rookie Josh Rosen in hopes that one of two will emerge as the clear leader of the offense. Despite an unsettled situation under center, McCoy should have decent fallback if things start going south assuming running back David Johnson returns to form after last season’s injury along with the stability that will come with having Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver. The wild card for McCoy will be how much improvement he can muster out of one of the league’s worst offensive lines from 2017.
Big Questions: Does the presence of the other make both Bradford and Rosen undraftable? Can Ricky Seals-Jones be a consistent TE2? Does a drop off happen for Larry Fitzgerald this season? Will the Cardinals produce a reliable fantasy WR2?
Winners: David Johnson, Ricky Seals-Jones, Larry Fitzgerald
Losers: Cardinals WR3, Cardinals RB2, Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen
The Teams With New Offensive Coordinators
With a dart throw on raw talent at quarterback in this year’s draft with the selection of Josh Allen, a looming potential suspension for LeSean McCoy, and an injury-prone receiver corps, Daboll could potentially find himself in a tough spot in Buffalo despite last season’s Wild Card playoff appearance. He can easily prove his worth if he can help get the Bills back to the playoffs.
Big Questions: Do the Bills have a viable fantasy QB on the roster? What will happen to LeSean McCoy? Can Kelvin Benjamin be a WR2 over a full season in Buffalo? Can Charles Clay be a TE1 this year?Winners: Chris Ivory, Charles Clay, Kelvin Benjamin
Losers: LeSean McCoy, Bills QBs, Zay Jones, Bills WR3
A contributor in the poor play of the Chicago Bears offense over the past two seasons, Loggains will now be reunited with his predecessor in Chicago, Adam Gase, who is now the head coach of the Dolphins. Loggains did help Jay Cutler have one of his best statistical seasons with the Bears, but now he will be tasked with helping a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill coming back from an ACL tear in getting to his next level as well.
Big Questions: Can Kenyan Drake be an RB1, or will the Miami backfield dissolve into an RBBC with Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage? Will Tannehill have enough passing volume to be a QB1? Are there too many passing options for there to be a WR1 in Miami? Can Mike Gesicki be Miami’s first TE1 since 2014?Winners: Dolphins Offense, Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Ryan Tannehill
Losers: Dolphins RBs, Dolphins WR3, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson
NEW YORK JETSJeremy Bates
Another coach who has seen some success with Jay Cutler as their quarterback, Bates will find himself in a tricky situation at quarterback with the Jets from the start. His options are a 39-year old veteran in Josh McCown, a Teddy Bridgewater coming off almost two seasons of knee rehab, and rookie Sam Darnold. With the rest of the offense in flux as well, things won’t be easy for Bates.
Big Questions: Will QB play be the biggest hurdle to Robby Anderson being a WR1? Can Isaiah Crowell be the Jets first 1,000-yard rusher since 2015? Will there be a usable fantasy TE on the roster? What kind of role will Bilal Powell have in 2018?Winners: Isaiah Crowell, Robby Anderson
Losers: Jets Offense, Jermaine Kearse, Bilal Powell, Terrelle Pryor
CLEVELAND BROWNSTodd Haley
After spending the last five seasons overseeing an offensive powerhouse in Pittsburgh until being let go after again falling short in the playoffs, Haley now turns his attention to a division rival’s offense in Cleveland. On paper, Haley has a combination of youth and talent in Cleveland to make a big improvement: Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield at QB; Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb, and Duke Johnson at RB; Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, and Josh Gordon at WR; David Njoku and Seth DeValve at TE. The Steelers saw Haley’s window in Pittsburgh as closed so it will be interesting to see what Haley can do with another open opportunity and pieces to play with in Cleveland.
Big Questions: How productive will Jarvis Landry be with a decreased target share? Who will be the WR1 in Cleveland? Will Hyde and Chubb both be able to produce as fantasy RBs or will they handicap each other’s value? Will David Njoku receive enough targets to be a TE1?Winners: Browns Offense, Duke Johnson, David Njoku, Josh Gordon
Losers: Corey Coleman, Seth DeValve, Carlos Hyde
PHILADELPHIA EAGLESMike Groh
To no surprise, upon winning the Super Bowl this past season the Eagles were unable to keep their coaching staff intact as offensive coordinator Frank Reich left to be the new head coach in Indy. Stepping in is Mike Groh, after previously being the wide receivers coach in Philadelphia. Having only been in control of an offense in the college ranks, Groh won’t have much upkeep to do as Doug Peterson should continue to oversee much of the offense’s functions. With Carson Wentz set to make a full recovery from his knee injury, a stable receiving group, and multiple skilled running backs to balance out the offense, Groh is well set to follow-up last season’s Super Bowl win.
Big Questions: With Blount gone, can Jay Ajayi be an RB1? Will Zach Ertz regress from last year’s TE3 fantasy finish? Can Corey Clement carve out enough value as an RB2 in PPR? Can Alshon Jeffery finish as a WR1? Where will Trey Burton’s 2017 red zone TDs and targets go in 2018?Winners: Jay Ajayi, Zach Ertz, Corey Clement
Losers: Nelson Agholor, Darren Sproles
GREEN BAY PACKERSJoe Philbin
While not the most successful head coach in Miami, Philbin will head back to where he helped lead a Super Bowl winning offense in Green Bay. Philbin won’t have much to worry about other than how to integrate Jimmy Graham in the offense and sorting out the backfield. Outside of another injury to Aaron Rodgers, Philbin should keep the Packers in Super Bowl contention.
Big Questions: Can Davante Adams finish as a Top 5 WR? Can Jimmy Graham finish as a Top 5 TE? Can Ty Montgomery provide RB2 value if he stays healthy? Is Randall Cobb set for a WR2 finish?Winners: Packers Offense, Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery
Losers: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Packers WR3
PITTSBURGH STEELERSRandy Fichtner
An 11-year member of the coaching staff in Pittsburgh, Fichtner will get his shot to do what Todd Haley could not – get back to the Super Bowl. With not much new personnel to implement, look for Fichtner to bring more efficiency to an already talented offense.
Big Questions: Can Big Ben finish as a Top 5 QB1? Could both JuJu and Antonio Brown finish as WR1s? Is there room for another WR2 in Pittsburgh? Can a healthy Vance McDonald be a TE1 in a full season in Pittsburgh?Winners: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, James Washington
Loser: Jesse James, James Connor
CAROLINA PANTHERSNorv Turner
A mixed bag as far as NFL coaching success, Turner is taking his talents to Carolina where the offense is at a crossroads. After decisions to let go of Jonathan Stewart, their franchise-leading rusher and Ted Ginn Jr., lone deep-threat receiver in back-to-back seasons, quarterback Cam Newton also finds himself needing to take a step forward or settle in as good, but not great. With Greg Olsen back healthy and promising rookie D.J. Moore coming in to provide another reliable receiving option, Turner can hopefully get Newton back to his MVP-winning level of play.
Big Questions: Can Cam Newton match real life success with his fantasy numbers? Will Devin Funchess prove to be more than a steady WR2? Could D.J. Moore emerge as a WR2 in his rookie year? Will Christian McCaffrey get enough volume to be more than an RB2 in fantasy? Can Greg Olsen still be a Top 5 TE? Is C.J. Anderson in line for another 1,000-yard season?Winners: Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, C.J. Anderson, D.J. Moore
Losers: Christian McCaffrey, Torrey Smith
MINNESOTA VIKINGSJohn DeFilippo
Another coaching casualty from Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win, DeFilippo is set to provide a follow-up to Minnesota’s run to the NFC Championship Game in 2017. With Kirk Cousins stepping in at quarterback and Dalvin Cook returning from a knee injury that cut a promising rookie season short, DeFilippo will look to bring consistency to an offense that was propped up at times by a strong defensive counterpart. With reliable receiving options in the fold as well, DeFilippo should find at similar success to 2017 in his second stint as an NFL offensive coordinator.
Big Questions: With better weapons in Minnesota can Kirk Cousins finish as a Top 5 QB1? Will Latavius Murray prevent Dalvin Cook from being an RB1? Who will lead the Vikings in targets? What impact with Kendall Wright have on the Minnesota’s overall target share?
Winners: Vikings Offense, Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins
Losers: Latavius Murray, Vikings WR3, Kendall Wright, Laquon Treadwell
KANSAS CITY CHIEFSEric Bieniemy
With Matt Nagy leaving to coach the Chicago Bears, Bieniemy was moved up to leave the offense in Kansas City. After being under Andy Reid since 2013, Bieniemy is well-suited to take over an offense featuring plenty of talent. Bieniemy’s biggest test will be helping second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes become comfortable in leading an NFL offense after his lone career start being in Week 17 of last season.
Big Questions: Is Patrick Mahomes set up to be a QB1? Will Kareem Hunt get the volume to be a Top 5 RB1? Could Travis Kelce finish as overall TE1? How much will Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins hurt each other’s fantasy value?Winners: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Kareem Hunt
Losers: Tyreek Hill, Chiefs WR3, Chris Conley, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West
SEATTLE SEAHAWKSBrian Schottenheimer
Following a 9-7 season and no playoff appearance, the Seahawks will look to Schottenheimer to get the Seahawks offense back on track to Super Bowl contention. After a stellar season from Russell Wilson in which the Seattle was still only an average NFL team on offense, Schottenheimer will be tasked with garnering production from a receiving group light on talent outside of Doug Baldwin and getting a bottom-five offensive line to improve enough for either Chris Carson or rookie Rashaad Penny to bring stability to a backfield that has been in flux for a few seasons now.
Big Questions: Can Russell Wilson finish as a Top 5 QB1 after losing more talent on offense? Will the 200 targets left behind from 2017 lead to an additional WR2 other than Doug Baldwin? Who will lead the Seahawks in RB production: Penny or Carson?Winners: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Russell Wilson
Losers: Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise
LOS ANGELES RAMSAaron Kromer (running game)/Shane Waldron (passing game)
After Matt LeFleur took the Titans head coaching job, Rams coach Sean McVay will be looking to both Waldron and Kromer for game-planning purposes as he is set to continue handling the play-calling in Los Angeles. While still having the personnel on their hands, Waldron and Kromer will look to continue the optimization of Todd Gurley in the backfield while also building a connection between Jared Goff and new receiver Brandin Cooks.
Big Questions: Can Jared Goff be a Top 10 QB1? Can Brandin Cooks be a WR1 with the Rams? How much TD regression is in play for Todd Gurley? Was 2017 closer to Roberts Woods’s floor or ceiling? Will the Rams pass enough to have two Top 25 WRs? Will the Rams have a fantasy-relevant TE is 2018?Winners: Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff, Gerald Everett
Losers: Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee