These days, there is no shortage of information to prepare for your fantasy drafts. Hell, there might even be too much information! Well, I’m going to add to the insanity by looking at how offensive coordinators and head coaches have managed their offenses and what it could mean for the 2021 season. After all, coaches and OCs are the minds behind the game of chess that It is the National Football League. Some coaches like to race football, which produces a ton of fantasy points at the running back position. Others prefer the aerial assault, turning quarterbacks into fantasy heroes as they load up wide receivers and tight ends with loads of targets and opportunities to score points in the passing attack.
Well, this article will break it all down for you.
Coaches and Coordinators Series
AFC: This | North | South | West
NFC: This | North | South | West
We’ve already looked at both AFC East and AFC North, so let’s continue this series with AFC North. What you will find below are the current head coaches and offensive coordinators for each team. I will discuss which positions have prospered or failed based on past stats and fantasy endings during their respective league tenures.
Trainer: David Culley (2021)
Offensive coordinator: Tim Kelly (2019-present)
Culley has a long and impressive resume as an offensive coach in the NFL, working with the Eagles, Chiefs, Bills and Ravens. Kelly has been the Texans’ offensive coordinator since 2019, during which time Deshaun Watson has produced a pair of top-five fantasy finishes. Of course, his off-field problems and his desire to be traded make Watson a real risk in fantasy drafts right now. It’s only worth a late look as a speculative QB2.
Kelly’s running backs haven’t done much on stat sheets, as David Johnson (RB21) is their best fantasy finisher. Houston has added Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead in the offseason, creating a potentially confusing backfield committee that fantasy managers should avoid in a prominent role this upcoming season.
Texans wide receivers have had some level of success with Kelly, as DeAndre Hopkins had a WR5 season in 2019. Will Fuller averaged 17.1 points per game and was on track to have a fantasy top 10 season in 2020, but it was suspended at the end. five games. In his absence, Brandin Cooks stepped up and finished averaging more than 15 points. With Fuller now in Miami, Cooks is the Texans’ most valuable receiver, and Randall Cobb deserves a look, too. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gauge the true worth of either player, as we’re not sure who will be the team’s quarterback at this point.
The best tight end range under Kelly came last season when Darren Fells finished TE17. However, Fells is no longer on the list, so Jordan Akins and Brevin Jordan will fight for the goals. Neither player will be of much value in the traditional 2021 fantasy redesigns.
READ MORE: Houston Texans fantasy team perspective
HC: Frank Reich (2018-present)
boss: Marcus Brady (2021)
Brady has spent much of his coaching career in the Canadian Football League, but he has been with the Colts as a quarterback coach since 2018. I would expect Reich to still consider offensive plays, however. that I would not expect a great change in philosophies. He has had a couple of the top five quarterbacks in his time as coordinator and head coach, one of them being Carson Wentz (2017). That’s good news for the veteran quarterback, who knows Reich’s offense and could see a renaissance with his new franchise.
Reich has produced a pair of top-six running backs, Danny Woodhead (RB3, 2015) and Jonathan Taylor (RB6, 2020), at the NFL level. He’s also had at least one running back with more than 260 touches in each of the last two seasons, so Reich will use an advantage. That should be Taylor once again in 2021, although the presence of Nyheim Hines and the return of Marlon Mack could prevent Taylor from improving his rookie total of 268 touches. Regardless, the mighty running back remains a foolproof first-round pick across all drafts.
At wide receiver, Reich hasn’t had a better player than WR14 (TY Hilton, 2018). What’s more, only two receivers have finished in the top 20 in fantasy points under Reich’s supervision. While we like Michael Pittman Jr. as a potential sleeper, this trend suggests his best-case scenario might not be much more than a No. 3 wide receiver.
However, Reich’s offensives have produced tremendous seasons of fantasy tight ends. He has coached four top-six players at the position, but Reich has also had stars like Zach Ertz and Antonio Gates at his disposal. He coached Eric Ebron to finish in the top four in 2018, but the current roster doesn’t have a tight end to get excited about right now. If the Colts make a deal for Ertz, he could easily slip back into the top 12 conversation.
READ MORE: Indianapolis Colts fantasy team prospects
HC: Urban Meyer (2021)
boss: Darrell Bevell (2021)
Meyer has long been a collegiate coach, but Bevell has a long resume at the NFL level. He has had the advantage of coaching some elite quarterbacks, including Russell Wilson, Brett Favre and Matthew Stafford. That’s no surprise that he’s overseen six top-10 quarterback finishes based on fantasy points. It has also seen a QB11 (Wilson, 2016) and QB16 (Stafford, 2020) final. His offense was aggressive in the passing game in 2019, as Stafford was on track to finish in the top 10 before injuring his back. This is good news for Trevor Lawrence, who will be selected as QB2 in most of the new 2021 fantasy drafts.
Not only has Bevell coached several elite quarterbacks, but he has also had two Hall of Fame-level running backs (Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch). Those two have produced eight combined top-10 finishes among running backs. Chester Taylor (RB13, 2006) and D’Andre Swift (RB18, 2020) have also had success with Bevell. That seems like good news for James Robinson and Travis Etienne, but this could end up being one of the toughest backfields to measure in 2020. Robinson is coming off a top 10, but Etienne was hand-picked in the first round by the new regime. . If a committee emerges, none of the running backs will be more than a flexible starter in most leagues. Etienne could end up being more of a pass receiver, but keep in mind that no running back has had 50 catches in a single season with Bevell. Swift had 46 catches a season ago, tying Mewelde Moore (2006) for the most catches by a running back under her direction.
Bevell’s success with the wide receiver position hasn’t been that high, having seen only four top-10 fantasy finishes in his 14 years as offensive coordinator. Those final four are also the only quartet to have had more than 1,000 yards behind Bevell. While it is hard to believe, it is true. In addition, he has only had eight top 24 finishes at the position. So Lawrence’s presence should mean good things to the likes of DJ Chark, Marvin Jones Jr., and Laviska Shenault, it would still lower your expectations.
Tight ends have had a combined five top-10 finishes in Bevell’s offenses over the years, including Jimmy Graham and TJ Hockenson, but the Jaguars’ current roster doesn’t have a pass-catching player making plays at position. Sorry, Tim Tebow.
READ MORE: Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Team Perspective
HC: Mike Vrabel (2018-present)
boss: Todd Downing (2021)
Downing is getting a second chance at being an offensive coordinator after a short one-year stint in Oakland (2017). That offense wasn’t very successful through the air, as Derek Carr ranked QB19 with 3,496 passing yards and 13 interceptions. The Raiders also threw the ball 61.1 percent of the time. That’s not going to happen with the Titans and Derrick Henry in the backfield. Of course, Downing now gets to work with a veteran in Ryan Tannehill, who has been one of the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks in recent years.
Downing had Marshawn Lynch in his backfield in 2017, but “Beast Mode” was past its prime and ended up as the RB24. Henry, coming off a 2,000-yard season, is in the prime of his career. While regression is guaranteed on some level, Henry should still be one of the offensive centerpieces. It will also remain a top eight in new fantasy drafts.
The Raiders had a talented duo of wide receivers in 2017, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but neither had more than 700 receiving yards. I wouldn’t use that against the Titans’ new super duo, AJ Brown and Julio Jones. Brown, who finished as WR12 last season, should remain on the same level even with Jones in the mix. Keep in mind that the Titans lost more than 100 goals when Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith left as free agents. Additionally, Carr has rarely had a productive fantasy wide receiver due to his tendency to throw short and intermediate passes more often, which benefits the tight end. That’s part of the reason Jared Cook was the TE12 under Downing in 2017.
Speaking of tight ends, Anthony Firkser looks like the Titans’ best projected option with Smith and MyCole Pruitt no longer on the roster. While he won’t become a high-level starter with Henry, Brown and Jones in the mix, Firkser is worth a last-round midfielder.
READ MORE: Tennessee Titans Fantasy Team Perspective
MORE ARTICLES BY MICHAEL FABIANO
Michael Fabiano he is an award-winning fantasy football analyst in Illustrated Sports and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Y Instagram for your latest great news and the best analysis in the industry.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.