These days, there is no shortage of information to prepare for your fantasy drafts. Hell, there might even be too info! Well, I’m going to add to the insanity with a look at how offensive coordinators and head coaches have handled 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 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 the entire AFC, NFC East, and NFC North, so let’s now look at NFC 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: Arthur Smith (2021)
Offensive coordinator: Dave Ragone (2021)
Smith will call the plays in his first season as the NFL head coach, which is good news for the courage of many of Atlanta’s offensive skill position players. As a quarterback, he helped Ryan Tannehill rank 10th in fantasy points scored per game in 2019 before a solid QB7 finish last season. That’s good news for Matt Ryan, although one has to wonder how much value he will lose without Julio Jones. In seven games without him last year, Ryan threw 11 touchdown passes with seven interceptions and an 86.2 rating.
The runners, especially Derrick Henry, prospered under Smith’s leadership. He qualified as the RB3 last season and was fifth in fantasy points in 2019. However, the Titans also ranked third in rushing percentage a season ago, which will not happen with Mike Davis as Smith’s leader. The fact that he has little competition makes Davis a valuable RB2 in fantasy drafts, but don’t expect a workload like Henry’s this season.
Smith’s offense didn’t produce a solid fantasy wide receiver other than AJ Brown, who was WR12 last season but was sixth in points per game average. Corey Davis was the WR30 a season ago, which was the best fantasy ending of his career. The Titans threw the ball only 49.5 percent of the time, and the Falcons were eighth with 62.1 percent. Based on the talent Atlanta has in its passing attack, I would suggest a move to the mid-50s in terms of passing percentage in 2021. That would be good for players like Calvin Ridley, who blew up a season ago. Russell Gage, who had 45 goals and 30 receptions in seven games without Jones, is now on the last-round radar in draws.
A former tight ends coach, Smith likes to incorporate position into his offense. As a result, players like Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith have had some level of success. Now that Jones is no longer on the roster, don’t be surprised if the Falcons force-feed rookie phenom Kyle Pitts with the ball. He’s being cast as a top-five fantasy tight end in early drafts.
Trainer: Matt Rhule (2020 present)
Offensive coordinator: Joe Brady (2020-present)
Carolina’s offense was fantasy-friendly in season one under Brady’s supervision. Teddy Bridgewater ranked a respectable 18th in fantasy points among quarterbacks, as the team threw the ball 59 percent of the time. That’s no surprise, as Brady was the architect behind LSU’s explosive offense with Joe Burrow in 2019. All of this is good news for Sam Darnold, who is in a great position to have a career season after failing. In New York. It will be a worthwhile last-round pick in the big fantasy leagues in 2021.
Brady’s system was also positive for the running game. Christian McCaffrey scored an average of 25.2 touches and 30.1 points in three games under Brady’s supervision. Despite missing 13 games, he remains the consensus number one general pick in the new 2021 newsrooms. Mike Davis was the RB12 in the absence of CMC, gaining a touch share close to 29 percent.
Wide receivers also had success with Brady, as Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel finished in the top 25 in fantasy points at the position. The team lost Samuel in free agency, leaving 97 goals. Those opportunities will be split between Moore, Anderson and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr., who will be worth a late flight in the bigger leagues. Moore and Anderson will be on the WR2 / WR3 radar in drafts.
The tight ends weren’t heavily involved in the offense, as a total of 41 targets went to Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz and Colin Thompson. The Panthers added Dan Arnold in the offseason, but he’s unlikely to make a significant impact on the field or fantasy land.
New Orleans Saints
Trainer: Sean Payton (2006-present)
Offensive coordinator: Pete Carmichael (2009-present)
Payton’s offenses have been one of the best when it comes to statistical production, as his system has produced 13 top-10 results, including seven top-5 at quarterback. All but one of those finals have come from Drew Brees, who retired after last season. The only other rank in the top 10 was Kerry Collins, who was the QB9 in 2000 when Payton was the offensive coordinator in New York. Jameis Winston is considered the favorite to start in 2021, although Taysom Hill is also in the mix in what will be a camp battle to monitor.
The running back position has been quite fruitful with Payton. The position has been ranked in the top 12 a total of 13 times, including four top-5s and top-11s. Alvin Kamara has been a top-10 running back in his four NFL seasons, and will continue to be a top-5 pick. top in 2021 redesigns. Payton also loves to throw the ball to his running backs, as the position has finished with 69 or more catches 12 times. It’s notable that Winston threw the ball to his running backs only 17.9 percent of the time in his final season with the Buccaneers, compared to Brees’ 28.5 percent a season ago. Of course, Winston’s best options outside the backfield in terms of pass catchers were Ronald Jones and Dare Ogunbowale.
At wide receiver, Payton has produced eight top 12 finishes and eight other players have finished WR13-WR24. Michael Thomas had been the top fantasy points producer four years in a row before having a disastrous 2021 season. Still, he was attacked eight times per game. In Winston’s last full season as a starter, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans averaged more than eight goals and more than 17 points per game. So while some would be concerned about Thomas’ value without Brees, it’s notable that projected starter Winston has been at the helm with two productive fantasy wide receivers.
Payton’s offenses have been tight end friendly, churning out six top-10s combined. Of course, three of them came from Jimmy Graham (2011, 2013-2014). The other three came from Jared Cook (2019), Benjamin Watson (2015), and Jeremy Shockey (2002). That’s good news for Adam Trautman, who has a late-round sleeping appeal this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trainer: Bruce Arians (2019-present)
Offensive coordinator: Byron Leftwich (2019-present)
Arians has been successful at the quarterback position as an offensive coordinator and head coach, producing six top-10 finalists. Of course, he has also trained some top-notch signal callers, including Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, and of course Tom Brady. Even in his 43-year season, the GOAT finished as QB8.
However, the running back position has not been as productive. In fact, the only top 10 fantasy rider Arians has produced is David Johnson (2015-2016). Rashard Mendenhall qualified as RB11 (2010) and RB16 (2009), and riders have classified RB18-RB24 another five times. That’s not a great track record for 16 NFL seasons. This trend is likely to continue into 2021, as the Buccaneers will rely on a backfield committee that includes Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and free agent add Giovani Bernard. None of the trio should be considered more than an RB3 / RB4 in most new 2021 drafts.
Arians’ system has produced a combined 16 fantasy finishes in the top 24 among wide receivers, including six in the top 10. Last season, Mike Evans (WR11) and Chris Godwin (WR31) were his top fantasy receivers, although Godwin was much better in terms of points per game (WR15). Fantasy managers must take into account the target distribution in all eight games when Arians had Evans, Godwin and Antonio Brown active. Evans led the way with 7.9 targets and 17.4 points per game, Brown was second with 7.8 targets but third from a points perspective (14.6), and Godwin was third in targets with 6.9 but second. in points with 15.8. Surprisingly, Evans actually averaged more goals and points with Brown.
At tight end, Heath Miller and Rob Gronkowski are the only players to finish better than 15th in fantasy points at the position in a single season. What’s more, Miller is the only tight end in more than 45 receptions. With Brown in the mix for a full year and OJ Howard back from an Achilles tendon injury, Gronkowski should look more like a TE2 in new drafts.
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.