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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value.

In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New York Giants wide receivers combining for 61 receiving yards. After these types of performances, it's important to look at each of these team's coaches and their play-calling tendencies to see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvements Ahead?

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

Houston Texans Running Backs

Tim Kelly

The Houston Texans fell to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday in a 42-36 overtime thriller. One area that could improve is the team's running backs. Against the Titans, the Texans running backs combined for 23 carries, 66 rushing yards, two receptions (four targets), 14 receiving yards, and one touchdown.

After this performance, on the season the running back room is averaging 17.5 carries, 67.67 rushing yards, 2.83 receptions (4.67 targets), 25.5 receiving yards, and 0.50 touchdowns (all rushing) per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Tim Kelly, has traditionally gotten out of his running back room in his time as an offensive coordinator. Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has had his running back room average 21.38 carries, 95.63 rushing yards, 0.50 rushing touchdowns, 4.94 targets, 28.81 receiving yards, and 0.19 receiving touchdowns per game in the 16 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

Based on this information, there should be some slight improvement from the Texans running backs going forward. Now would be as good time a time as any to acquire David Johnson or Duke Johnson shares in your fantasy leagues.

Fantasy players this impacts: David Johnson and Duke Johnson

 

Indianapolis Colts Running Backs (Run Game)

Frank Reich & Nick Sirianni

The Indianapolis Colts won a close game against the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday. In the game, the Colts running backs combined for 13 carries, 59 rushing yards, nine receptions, 11 targets, 82 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the running back room is averaging 24.67 carries, 94.67 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, 7.33 receptions (8.33 targets), 60 receiving yards, and 0.17 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what Colts head coach Frank Reich has traditionally gotten out of his running back room. Reich has had his running back room average 23.47 carries, 97.89 rushing yards, 0.61 rushing touchdowns, 7.16 targets, 42.09 receiving yards, and 0.18 receiving touchdowns per game in the 96 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, in the 32 games that Nick Sirianni has been the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator, the Colts running backs have averaged 23.34 carries, 106.66 rushing yards, 0.78 rushing touchdowns, 6.78 targets, 35 receiving yards, and 0.09 receiving touchdowns per game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins

 

Minnesota Vikings Running Backs

Gary Kubiak

The Minnesota Vikings lost to the previous winless Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday. In the game, the Vikings running backs combined for 13 carries, 32 rushing yards, three receptions (five targets), 11 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the running back room is averaging 25.17 carries, 126.5 rushing yards, 1.33 rushing touchdowns, 3.83 receptions (five targets), 22 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, has traditionally gotten out of his running back room. The Vikings offensive coordinator has had his running backs combine to average 25.27 carries, 113.12 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 3.55 receptions (4.92 targets), 27.83 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 349 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

While Sunday's performance was disappointing, over the course of this season the Minnesota Vikings running back room is still performing on the higher end of what we would expect from Gary Kubiak's running back room.

Fantasy players this impacts: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Ameer Abdullah, and Mike Boone

 

Denver Broncos Wide Receivers

Pat Shurmur

In Sunday's 18-12 victory over the New England Patriots, the Denver Broncos wide receivers combined for six receptions on 16 targets for 133 receiving yards and no touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the wide receiver room is averaging 10.2 receptions on 18.8 targets for 153.2 receiving yards and 0.6 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, has historically gotten out of his wide receiver room. Shurmur has had his wide receivers combine to average 20.36 targets, 150.47 receiving yards, and 0.88 receiving touchdowns per game in the 169 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Pat Shurmur's past tendencies suggest there is potential for a few more targets and receiving touchdowns per game for this group. With starting quarterback Drew Lock finally back from his injury, the Broncos wide receivers appear to be on the upswing.

Fantasy players this impacts: Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, and K.J. Hamler

 

New England Patriots Running Backs (Run Game)

Josh McDaniels

The Patriots running backs combined for 15 carries, 41 rushing yards, nine receptions, ten targets, 79 receiving yards, and touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the Patriots running back room is averaging 22.4 carries, 111 rushing yards, 0.60 rushing touchdowns, 6.8 receptions (8.6 targets), 55 receiving yards, and 0.20 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, has traditionally gotten out of his running back room. Josh McDaniels has had his running backs combine to average 24.54 carries, 104.03 rushing yards, 0.87 rushing touchdowns, 7.1 targets, 44.98 receiving yards, and 0.28 receiving touchdowns per game in the 220 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Based on this information, we should expect the Patriots running backs to perform better on the ground than last Sunday. However, the season totals are right in line with what we would expect from a Josh McDaniels' running back room. There isn't much of a buy-low opportunity at the moment for this group.

Fantasy players this impacts: Damien Harris, James White, Rex Burkhead, J.J. Taylor, and Sony Michel

 

New York Giants Wide Receivers

Jason Garrett

In the New York Giants first win of the season (20-19 over the Washington Football Team), the team's wide receivers combined for five receptions on nine targets for 61 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

After this performance, on the season the New York Giants wide receiver room is averaging 10.67 receptions (16.67 targets), 128 receiving yards, and 0.50 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what the Giants offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receiver room. Jason Garrett has had his wide receivers combine to average 11.43 receptions (18.88 targets), 160.30 receiving yards, 1.26 receiving touchdowns per game in the 208 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

This year's Giants will be one of the worst offenses directed by Jason Garrett, but there may be some improvement for this team's receivers in the coming weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate

 

Cleveland Browns Wide Receivers

Kevin Stefanski & Alex Van Pelt

The Cleveland Browns got decimated by the Pittsburgh Steelers, losing 38-7. In the game, their wide receivers combined for six receptions on 12 targets for 78 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

After this performance, the wide receiver room is averaging 9.17 receptions (14.67 targets), 123.67 receiving yards, and 0.83 receiving touchdowns per game through the first six games of the year.

Now let's compare this to what the Browns head coach, Kevin Stefanski, has historically gotten out of his wide receiver room. Kevin Stefanski has had his wide receivers combine to average 13.47 targets, 128.21 receiving yards, and 1.05 receiving touchdowns per game in the 19 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

In addition, in the 16 games that Alex Van Pelt had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, his wide receiver room averaged 16.25 targets, 111.56 receiving yards, and 0.81 receiving touchdowns per game.

Overall, there should be better performances than last Sunday for the Cleveland Browns wide receivers, but as a group their season totals are right in line with what we would expect from this offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: Jarvis Landry, Rashad Higgins, and Odell Beckham Jr.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers Tight Ends

Randy Fichtner

The Steelers dominated the Browns last Sunday, winning 38-7. Because they were in control most of the game, they didn't need to pass much and it resulted in below-average showings from the team's pass-catchers. One group that struggled, in particular, was the Steelers tight ends, who only combined for two receptions on four targets for nine yards and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the Steelers tight end room is averaging 4.4 receptions on 6.4 targets for 42 receiving yards and 0.2 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what the Steelers offensive coordinator, Randy Fichtner, has traditionally gotten out of his tight end room. Fichtner has had his tight ends combine to average 6.09 targets, 47.72 receiving yards, and 0.28 receiving touchdowns per game in the 32 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Based Fichtner's previous coaching tendencies, it's likely that we see improved performances from the tight end group in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald

 

Chicago Bears Wide Receivers

Matt Nagy & Bill Lazor

The Chicago Bears won 23-16 over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, improving their record to 5-1. In the game, the Bears wide receivers combined for 12 receptions on 18 targets for 105 receiving yards and zero receiving touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season this wide receiver room is averaging 14.67 receptions (on 23.67 targets), 160.5 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown per game.

Now let's compare this to what the Bears head coach, Matt Nagy, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receiver room. Matt Nagy has had his wide receivers combine to average 18.35 targets, 145.25 receiving yards, and 0.85 receiving touchdowns per game in the 48 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, in the 57 games that Bill Lazor had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, he had his wide receiver room average 21.47 targets, 153.37 receiving yards, and 1.19 receiving touchdowns per game.

Seeing both of these coaches' data, there are likely to be better performances from this group than last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. But keep in mind the season totals for the wide receivers as a whole are actually running on the higher side of what we'd expect out these coaches wide receiver room.

Fantasy players this impacts: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney, and Cordarrelle Patterson

 

Jacksonville Jaguars Running Backs

Doug Marrone & Jay Gruden

The Jaguars got trounced by the Detroit Lions on Sunday, losing 34-16. In the game, the Jaguars running backs took 12 carries for 29 rushing yards and had seven receptions for 39 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air.

After this performance, on the season the Jaguars running back room is averaging 15.17 carries, 63.17 rushing yards, 0.5 rushing touchdowns, 6.5 receptions (on 7.5 targets), 53 receiving yards, and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to what the Jaguars head coach, Doug Marrone, has historically gotten out of his running back room. Marrone has had his running backs combine to average 23.40 carries, 94.15 rushing yards, 0.62 rushing touchdowns, 8.86 targets, 49.47 receiving yards, and 0.21 receiving touchdowns per game in the 144 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, in the 133 games that Jay Gruden had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, his running backs have combined to average 21.95 carries, 87.59 rushing yards, 0.54 rushing touchdowns, 5.27 targets, 34.65 receiving yards, and 0.16 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on this information, the Jaguars running back room appears to be performing below what we would expect, in particular on the ground. James Robinson is looking like a good player to be investing more into.

Fantasy players this impacts: James Robinson and Chris Thompson

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers

Bruce Arians & Byron Leftwich

The Buccaneers dominated the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers, winning 38-10. In this game, the Buccaneers wide receivers combined for eight receptions on 14 targets for 71 receiving yards and one touchdown.

After this performance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their wide receiver room averaging 11.5 receptions on 16.67 targets for 152 receiving yards and 1.5 receiving touchdowns per game this season.

Compare this to what Tampa Bay head coach, Bruce Arians, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receiver room. Arians has had his wide receivers combine to average 22.15 targets, 178.39 receiving yards, and 1.12 receiving touchdowns per game in the 240 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, across the 25 games that Byron Leftwich had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, his wide receiver room averaged 21.52 targets, 186.64 receiving yards, and 1.36 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on these previous tendencies, we should expect more targets and receiving yards for the Buccaneers wide receivers in the future, and a slight regression in receiving touchdowns per a game. The Buccaneers wide receivers are a strong hold in fantasy football leagues right now.

Fantasy players this impacts: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 5

This series continues into its fifth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value.

In Week 5, we saw performances such as Kyler Murray throwing for 380 passing yards, the Chiefs running backs combining for only 44 rushing yards, and the San Francisco 49ers wide receivers combining for 93 receiving yards. After these performances, it's important to look at each of these team's coaches and their play-calling tendencies to see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvements Ahead?

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

Seattle Seahawks Running Backs

Brian Schottenheimer 

The Seattle Seahawks had a dramatic come from behind victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football, winning 27-26. The Vikings dominated the time of possession in this game, so the Seattle Seahawks didn't get to utilize their running backs as much as they would like. The Seahawks running backs combined for 11 carries, 66 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, six receptions (seven targets), 27 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns in this victory.

After this performance, on the season the Seahawks running back room is averaging 18.8 carries, 82.4 rushing yards, 0.8 rushing touchdowns, 5.8 receptions (6.4 targets), 37.6 receiving yards, and 0.8 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, has traditionally gotten out of their backfield. Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has had his running backs average 25.34 carries, 106.54 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, 5.80 targets, 32.36 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 176 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

Even with Russell Wilson's MVP campaign happening Brian Schottenheimer will get his running backs more involved in the future. We should expect much better days for the Seahawks running backs going forward.

Fantasy players this impacts: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, and DeeJay Dallas

 

Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs

Andy Reid & Eric Bieniemy

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their first game of the season to the Las Vegas Raiders this past Sunday. One big issue that they experienced in the game was getting the team's running backs involved. The Chiefs running backs combined for 11 carries, 44 rushing yards, four receptions (13 targets), 55 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns in this game.

After this performance, the Chiefs running back room is averaging 19.6 carries, 82.2 rushing yards, 0.2 rushing touchdowns, 4.6 receptions (8.2 targets), 40.8 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their head coach, Andy Reid, has traditionally gotten out of their backfield. Andy Reid has had his running backs average 19.98 carries, 87.62 rushing yards, 0.65 rushing touchdowns, 6.73 targets, 42.94 receiving yards, and 0.29 receiving touchdowns per game in the 336 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Chiefs (5 games) 19.6 82.2 0.2 8.2 40.8 0
Andy Reid (336 Games Prior) 19.98 87.62 0.65 6.73 42.94 0.29
Eric Bieniemy (32 Games Prior) 18.88 82.88 0.81 6.09 43.38 0.47

In the 32 games that Eric Bieniemy has been the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, the Chiefs running backs have averaged 18.88 carries, 82.88 rushing yards, 0.81 rushing touchdowns, 6.09 targets, 43.38 receiving yards, and 0.47 receiving touchdowns per game.

Everything seems in line with what we'd expect from Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy's running back room except for touchdowns. Expect more touchdowns in the future for the Chiefs backs.

Fantasy players this impacts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, and Darwin Thompson

 

Philadelphia Eagles Running Backs

Doug Pederson

The Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and dropped to a 1-3-1 record. In the game, the Eagles running backs did the best they could to get something going against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers run defense, combining for 12 carries, 83 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, two receptions (four targets), 19 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the Eagles running back room is averaging 18.8 carries, 79.6 rushing yards, 0.6 rushing touchdowns, 3.8 receptions (6.4 targets), 28.8 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Philadelphia Eagles (5 games) 18.8 79.6 0.6 6.4 28.8 0
Doug Pederson Prior (112 games) 22.63 99.18 0.86 6.62 41.18 0.3

Now let's look at what Doug Pederson has gotten out of the position traditionally. Over the 112 games he coached prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Pederson's running back room averaged 22.63 carries, 99.18 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 6.62 targets, 41.18 receiving yards, and 0.30 receiving touchdowns per game.

If you can still buy shares of Miles Sanders and the Eagles running game, now would be the time to do so.

Fantasy players this impacts: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement

 

Washington Football Team Wide Receivers

Scott Turner

The Washington Football Team got demolished by the Los Angeles Rams. Their wide receivers, in particular, couldn't get anything going and only had five receptions on nine targets for 27 receiving yards and zero touchdowns.

This means that on the season the Football Team's wide receiver room is averaging 11.8 receptions on 18.6 targets for 137.2 receiving yards and 0.6 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Scott Turner, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Scott Turner has had his wide receivers average 22 targets, 135.25 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game in the four games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season. While this is a small sample size that is hard to have a lot of takeaways, the one thing it does show is how much of an outlier Sunday's performance was. There will be better days than Sunday for this group.

Fantasy players this impacts: Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, and Dontrelle Inman

 

Baltimore Ravens Wide Receivers

Greg Roman

The Baltimore Ravens wide receivers combined for eight receptions (17 targets), 94 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown in their dominant victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

After this performance, on the season the Ravens wide receivers room is averaging 9.8 receptions on 15 targets for 121.2 receiving yards and 0.4 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Greg Roman has had his wide receivers average 15.90 targets, 126.49 receiving yards, and 0.82 receiving touchdowns per game in the 98 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

Based on this information, we should expect improved efficiency from the wide receivers' performance Sunday, but the season averages as a whole are around what we would expect from Greg Roman's wide receiver room.

Fantasy players this impacts: Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead 

 

Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receivers

Zac Taylor & Brian Callahan

The Cincinnati Bengals got annihilated by the Baltimore Ravens, losing 27-3. The Bengals wide receivers combined for 10 receptions (17 targets), 122 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns in this loss.

After this performance, on the season the Bengals wide receivers room is averaging 15.8 receptions on 25.8 targets for 169 receiving yards and 0.8 receiving touchdowns.

Now let's compare this to what their head coach, Zac Taylor, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Zac Taylor has had his wide receivers average 23.86 targets, 173.57 receiving yards, and 0.57 receiving touchdowns per game in the 21 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In the games prior to this season that Brian Callahan has been the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, the Bengals wide receivers have averaged 24.25 targets, 172.25 receiving yards, and 0.56 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan's previous utilization of the wide receiver position, we should expect a bounce-back from Sunday's performance against the Baltimore Ravens, but the season stats as a whole for the Bengals wide receivers are right around what we would expect out of this group. Keep this all in mind when looking to buy or sell any of the Bengals wide receivers.

Fantasy players this impacts: Tee Higgins, A.J. Green, John Ross, and Tyler Boyd

 

San Francisco 49ers Wide Receivers

Kyle Shanahan

The San Francisco 49ers got annihilated by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, losing 43-17. In this game the 49ers wide receivers combined for seven receptions (18 targets), 93 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown.

After this performance, on the season the 49ers wide receivers room is averaging 7.6 receptions (14 targets), 96 receiving yards, 0.2 receiving touchdowns.

Now let's compare this to what their head coach, Kyle Shanahan, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Kyle Shanahan has had his wide receivers average 19.94 targets, 162.49 receiving yards, and 0.90 receiving touchdowns per game in the 192 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Based on this information, we should expect better performances from Sunday and the start of the season as a whole. In particular, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are strong buys right now and you should be doing your best to acquire them while their value is low.

Fantasy players this impacts: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Kendrick Bourne



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 4

This series continues into its fourth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value.

In Week 4, we saw performances such as the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers only totalling 67 receiving yards, the Cleveland Browns running backs taking 35 carries for 228 rushing yards, and the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers catching 20 passes for 271 receiving yards. After these performances, it's important to look at each of these team's coaches and their play-calling tendencies to see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvements Ahead?

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

Dallas Cowboys Running Backs - Run Game

Mike McCarthy & Kellen Moore

The Dallas Cowboys lost 49-38 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. While the passing game was great with Dak Prescott throwing for 502 passing yards, the run game did not perform to the level we have expected out of this team in the Ezekiel Elliott era. In this game, the Cowboys running backs took 15 carries for 70 rushing yards and a touchdown. Through the air, they had nine receptions on 10 targets for 87 receiving yards.

After this performance, on the season the Cowboys running back room is averaging 19.25 carries, 76.25 rushing yards, one rushing touchdowns, seven receptions (on 9.25 targets), 48.75 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their coaches, Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore, have traditionally gotten out of their backfield. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has had his running backs average 21.17 carries, 89.18 rushing yards, 0.57 rushing touchdowns, 5.38 targets, 31.44 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 304 games he coached (as either a head coach or an offensive coordinator) prior to this season.

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had only been an offensive coordinator for 16 games prior to this season. In this time, his running backs combined to average 24.19 carries, 113.25 rushing yards, 0.88 rushing touchdowns per game, 5.69 targets, 32.94 receiving yards, and 0.19 receiving touchdowns.

RB Room Carries RB Room Rushing Yards RB Room Rushing Touchdowns RB Room Targets RB Room Receiving Yards
RB Room Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Dallas Cowboys (4 games) 19.25 76.25 1 9.25 48.75 0.25
Mike McCarthy (304 games prior) 21.17 89.18 0.57 5.38 31.44 0.1
Kellen Moore (16 games prior) 24.19 113.25 0.88 5.69 32.94 0.19

Based on these coaches' previous history of utilizing the position, expect an increase in carries and rushing yards for the Dallas Cowboys running backs in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard

 

Detroit Lions Running Backs - Run Game

Darrell Bevell

The Detroit Lions lost to the New Orleans Saints 35-29. In the game, the Lions running backs didn't see as much usage or produce as many yards as we are used to seeing, putting up 18 carries, 67 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, five receptions (on seven targets), 33 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. Now on the season the Lions running back room is averaging 21.75 carries, 89.5 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing touchdowns, 4.75 receptions (6.25 targets), 43 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and his running back room historically. In the 208 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season, Bevell's RB room averaged 24.06 carries, 104.92 rushing yards, 0.73 rushing touchdowns, 5.63 targets, 35.75 receiving yards, and 0.14 receiving touchdowns per game.

While we should expect better usage and yardage from Sunday's performance, overall the season totals are roughly in line with what we should expect from a Darrell Bevell offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: D'Andre Swift, Adrian Peterson, and Kerryon Johnson

 

Miami Dolphins Running Backs - Run Game

Chan Gailey

In Sunday's 31-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Miami Dolphins running backs ended up totalling 15 carries, 51 rushing yards, seven receptions, 58 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. On the season the Dolphins running backs have combined to average 21 carries, 69.5 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing touchdowns, 6.25 receptions (seven targets), and 40 receiving yards per game.

Now let's compare this to Chan Gailey's historical production at the position. Over the 224 games he coached prior, Gailey's RB room averaged 24.57 carries, 102.93 rushing yards, 0.66 rushing touchdowns, 30.04 receiving yards, and 0.15 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on Gailey's previous success at the position, Sunday's performance on the ground will be improved upon in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Myles Gaskin, Jordan Howard, and Matt Breida

 

Los Angeles Chargers Running Backs - Touchdowns

Anthony Lynn

The Los Angeles Chargers lost to Tom Brady's Buccaneers in a high-scoring matchup, 38-31. In the game, the Chargers struggled to get their running backs involved as they totalled 17 carries, 28 rushing yards, six receptions (on six targets), 40 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. On the year, they are averaging 27.25 carries, 108.75 rushing yards, 0.5 rushing touchdowns, 6.5 receptions (6.5 targets), and 60 receiving yards per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Chargers (4 games) 27.25 108.75 0.5 6.5 60 0
Anthony Lynn Prior (62 games) 22.42 102.87 0.94 8.29 57.95 0.4

Meanwhile, in the 62 games Anthony Lynn coached prior as either an offensive coordinator or head coach, Lynn has had his running back room average 22.42 carries, 102.87 rushing yards, 0.94 rushing touchdowns, 8.29 targets, 57.95 receiving yards, and 0.40 receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at these numbers, the Chargers running back room is currently running on the higher side of carries and rushing yards than what we'd expect from an Anthony Lynn offense. But the position group is also scoring significantly fewer touchdowns than we'd expect in Lynn's offense. Expect the Chargers running backs to improve in this area and score more touchdowns in future weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Joshua Kelley

 

Arizona Cardinals Wide Receivers

Kliff Kingsbury

Besides the Cardinals running backs, the Cardinals wide receivers struggled more on Sunday than we'd expect based on Kliff Kingsbury's previous production at the position. In the game, the Cardinals wide receiver room caught 14 passes on 20 targets for 67 receiving yards and one touchdown. On the year, the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver room is averaging 17.25 receptions on 23.75 targets for 175.5 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown per game.

WR Room Targets WR Room Receiving Yards
WR Room Receiving Touchdowns
Cardinals vs. Panthers (10/4/2020) 20 67 1
2020 Arizona Cardinals (4 games) 23.75 175.5 1
Kliff Kingsbury Prior (16 games) 23.69 168.44 0.81

Now compare this to the usage and production Kliff Kingsbury's offense put out last year. Last year, Kingsbury's wide receiver room averaged 23.69 targets, 168.44 receiving yards, and 0.81 receiving touchdowns per game. This tells us two things. Firstly, it tells us that based on Kingsbury's previous production, Sunday's poor performance by the positional group is a clear outlier. And secondly, it shows that the overall season averages of the Cardinals wide receivers are right in line with what we should expect in this offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, and Andy Isabella

 

Chicago Bears Running Backs

Matt Nagy

The Chicago Bears went up against the Indianapolis Colts tough defense and struggled to score, only putting up 11 points. In the game, the Bears only utilized one true running back, David Montgomery, who could just never get going, totalling 10 carries, 27 rushing yards, three receptions (on six targets), 30 receiving yards, and a successful two-point conversion. This means that on the year the Chicago Bears running back room is averaging 16.75 carries, 73 rushing yards, four receptions (6.25 targets), 34.25 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Chicago Bears (4 games) 16.75 73 0 6.25 34.25 0.25
Matt Nagy Prior (48 games) 20.58 82.75 0.58 7.96 47 0.31

Now let's compare this to Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears head coach) and his running back room's production historically. In the 48 he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Nagy's running backs combined to average 20.58 carries, 82.75 rushing yards, 0.58 rushing touchdowns, 7.96 targets, 47 receiving yards, and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at these stats and knowing that Tarik Cohen is out for the year, it's clear that David Montgomery has some untapped potential for the rest of the 2020 NFL season. Invest accordingly.

Fantasy players this impacts: David Montgomery and Ryan Nall

 

Philadelphia Eagles Running Backs

Doug Pederson

The Philadelphia Eagles ground out a tough win over the San Francisco 49ers in week 4's Sunday Night Football game, winning 25-20. In the game, the Eagles running backs combined for 18 carries, 38 rushing yards, three receptions (five targets), 32 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. On the year, the Philadelphia Eagles running backs have combined to average 20.5 carries, 78.75 rushing yards, 0.25 rushing touchdowns, 4.25 receptions (on seven targets), and 31.25 receiving yards per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Philadelphia Eagles (4 games) 20.5 78.75 0.25 7 31.25 0
Doug Pederson Prior (112 games) 22.63 99.18 0.86 6.62 41.18 0.3

Now let's look at what Doug Pederson has gotten out of the position traditionally. Over the 112 games he coached prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Pederson's running back room averaged 22.63 carries, 99.18 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 6.62 targets, 41.18 receiving yards, and 0.30 receiving touchdowns per game.

Expect the Philadelphia Eagles backs to improve in future weeks. There's a very strong chance this is the cheapest you can acquire Miles Sanders over the course of the rest of the NFL season, so make your offers this week!

Fantasy players this impacts: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Decline From Week 3

This series continues into its third week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After a wild Week 3 where we saw performances such as the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers catching 26 passes on 36 targets for 405 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns against the Seattle secondary or the New York Giants running backs taking only ten carries for 17 rushing yards, it's important to look at their play-caller's history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for a decline in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Regression

 

Chicago Bears Tight Ends (Matt Nagy)

Last week versus the Atlanta Falcons, the Bears tight ends caught nine passes on 13 targets for 75 receiving yards and two touchdowns. This means that through the first three games, the Bears tight ends have 14 receptions on 25 targets for 130 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, and as a group, they are averaging 4.67 receptions on 8.33 targets for 43.33 receiving yards and a touchdown per game.

Meanwhile, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has had a solid TE room but definitely not that level of efficiency. Over the 48 games he was an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to the 2020 NFL season, his TE room averaged 6.69 targets, 49.06 receiving yards, and 0.35 receiving touchdowns per game. There is a decline coming for the Bears tight ends, in particular with receiving touchdowns.

Fantasy players this impacts: Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, and Cole Kmet

 

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Backs (Randy Fichtner)

The Steelers running backs took 32 carries for 163 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. In addition, they had five receptions on seven targets for 47 receiving yards (and zero receiving touchdowns). On the year this group has combined for 77 carries, 398 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 12 receptions (on 18 targets), 71 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns. On a per-game basis, this is 25.67 carries, 132.67 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, four receptions (on six targets), 23.67 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to what offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has historically gotten out of his running back room. In the 32 games as an offensive coordinator prior, Fichtner had the Steelers running backs combining to average 20.13 carries, 81.09 rushing yards, 0.63 rushing touchdowns, 6.59 targets, 42.19 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

What this means is there is likely to be a dip in how much work these running backs get in the running game and it will result in fewer rushing yards than what the Steelers backs are currently getting.

Fantasy players this impacts: James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., and Anthony McFarland Jr.

 

Los Angeles Chargers Wide Receivers (Anthony Lynn)

The Chargers wide receivers combined for 17 receptions on 27 targets for 187 receiving yards and a touchdown last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. On the year they are averaging 12 receptions (20.33 targets), 144.33 receiving yards, and 0.67 receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at how much production Anthony Lynn's offense has gotten out of the position prior to this season, we should expect worse numbers than they put up against the Panthers. In the 62 games Anthony Lynn coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to the 2020 NFL season, his wide receiver room averaged 18.35 targets, 156.66 receiving yards, and 0.85 receiving touchdowns per game.

Overall, the season numbers look in line with what we'd expect in an Anthony Lynn offense. Just don't expect Sunday's performance to be the new norm.

Fantasy players this impacts: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jalen Guyton

 

Seattle Seahawks Wide Receivers (Brian Schottenheimer)

The Seattles Seahawks wide receivers had 15 receptions on 23 targets for 225 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. On the year, they are averaging 15.33 receptions, 20.33 targets, 228.33 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns per game.

Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had coached 176 games as an offensive coordinator prior to the 2020 NFL season. Over the course of these 176 games, his wide receiver room has averaged 18.31 targets, 140.48 receiving yards, 0.94 receiving touchdowns.

While Russell Wilson's MVP campaign is going to make these numbers higher than a typical year in Brian Schottenheimer's offense, there is regression incoming for this group.

Fantasy players this impacts: D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and David Moore

 

Green Bay Packers Tight Ends (Matt LaFleur)

Last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers tight ends had nine receptions on 10 targets for 104 receiving yards and two touchdowns. On the year they are averaging 4.33 receptions (on six targets) for 48.33 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown per game.

Head coach Matt LaFleur has been an offensive coordinator or head coach for 48 games (three seasons) prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season. In this time, he had his tight end room average 5.65 targets, 44.06 receiving yards, and 0.31 receiving touchdowns.

The performance last week was an outlier from LaFleur's previous production, with the team utilizing the position more with star wide receiver Davante Adams out. Going forward, expect a slight decline at the position, in particular with regards to receiving touchdowns.

Fantasy players this impacts: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, and Jace Sternberger

 

Browns Running Backs - Touchdowns (Kevin Stefanski)

The Browns running backs took 35 carries for 154 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in week 3. In addition, they also combined two receptions on four targets for 20 yards and a touchdown. This means that on the season, the Browns running back room is averaging 30.33 carries, 167 rushing yards, 1.67 rushing touchdowns, 3.67 receptions (4.67 targets), 19.67 receiving yards, and 0.67 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski's previous production at the position. In the 19 games Stefanski coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season, his running back room averaged 26 carries, 123.21 rushing yards, 1.05 rushing touchdowns, 5.89 targets, 41.84 receiving yards, and 0.05 receiving touchdowns per game.

So what should we expect in the future? Surprisingly, the relative workload and yards seem sustainable so far this season based on Stefanski's previous reputation as one of the most effective coaches in the NFL at providing work for his running backs. But if there's one thing that seems unsustainable, it's the fact that the Browns runnings backs are averaging 2.33 total touchdowns per game right now. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb will continue to be one of the most dangerous running back duos in recent history, but they are running on the high side of what we should expect over the course of the season.

Fantasy players this impacts: Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb

 

Cowboys Wide Receivers - Receiving Yards (Mike McCarthy & Kellen Moore)

The Dallas Cowboys wide receivers caught 26 passes on 36 targets for 4o5 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. On the year they are averaging 20 receptions on 29 targets for 295.67 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown per game (3 games).

The receiving yards per game are clearly in for regression. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore directed one of the best offenses in the league last year where Dak Prescott threw for 4902 passings yards and his WR room 'only' averaged 217.19 receiving yards per game. In addition, considering Mike McCarthy topped out at 229.19 receiving yards per game back in 2011 for the Green Bay Packers, it seems highly likely regression is in place.

Expect the Cowboys wide receivers to perform well all year as they have two the best coaches in the NFL at getting production out of their wide receiver rooms. Just do not expect the current level of production.

Fantasy players this impacts: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb




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2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Sleepers Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 3

This series continues into its third week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After a wild Week 3 where we saw performances such as the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers catching 26 passes on 36 targets for 4o5 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns against the Seattle secondary or the New York Giants running backs taking only ten carries for 17 rushing yards, it's important to look at their play-caller's history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvement Ahead

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

New York Giants Running Backs

For the second week in a row, the New York Giants running backs land on this list of teams that should improve. Against the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Giants running backs were terrible. On the ground, they combined to take ten carries for 17 rushing yards, and through the air, they had three catches on six targets for 17 receiving yards.

But wait, there's more! On the year, the New York Giants running backs have combined for 40 carries, 72 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 14 receptions (on 22 targets), 127 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns. There's nothing to say except the production out of this group so far this season has been abysmal.

Prior to this season, over the course of 208 games, Jason Garrett's running back room averaged 23.63 carries, 106.15 rushing yards, and 0.69 rushing touchdowns per game. Through the air over those 208 games, his running backs averaged 5.61 targets, 35.07 receiving yards, and 0.09 receiving touchdowns per game. This rushing attack is on pace to be the worst of Garrett's career, but even with Saquon Barkley out for the year, expect at least a little improvement for these running backs on the ground.

But even with this projected improvement, it's going to be hard to trust any of these running backs to be anything more than an RB3 in fantasy leagues.

Fantasy players this impacts: Devonta Freeman, Dion Lewis, and Wayne Gallman

 

Houston Texans Running Backs

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a tough matchup for running backs. On Sunday against the Steelers, the Texans running backs took 14 carries for 24 rushing yards and one touchdown. Through the air, David Johnson was the only running back on the team to get any work, to the tune of two receptions on three targets for 23 receiving yards.

After this performance, the Texans running backs have combined for 41 rushing attempts, 149 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, seven receptions (on 12 targets), 71 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns on the year (three games). On a per-game basis, that's 13.67 carries, 49.67 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, 2.33 receptions (on four targets), 23.67 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at head coach Bill O'Brien's running back room track record, we can expect some improvement here. Over 112 games prior to the start of the 2020 season, O'Brien's RB room averaged 5.06 targets, 29.78 receiving yards, 0.18 receiving touchdowns, 24.88 carries, 100.71 rushing yards, and 0.50 rushing touchdowns per game.

A tough opening schedule and Bill O'Brien's past tendencies suggest that there's going to be an improvement for the Texans running backs. Now is a fantastic time to buy this backfield!

Fantasy players this impacts: David Johnson and Duke Johnson

 

Dallas Cowboys Running Backs (Run Game)

In the loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Ezekiel Elliott was the only player to get any carries from the team's running back room. He took 14 carries for 34 rushing yards and scored one rushing touchdown. In the air, Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for seven receptions on 13 targets for 19 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. This means that through the first three games of the season, the Dallas Cowboys running backs are averaging 20.67 carries, 78.33 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 6.33 receptions (9.33 targets), 36 receiving yards, and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has had his running backs average 21.17 carries, 89.18 rushing yards, 0.57 rushing touchdowns, 5.38 targets, 31.44 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 304 games he coached (as either a head coach or an offensive coordinator) prior to this season.

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had only been an offensive coordinator for 16 games prior to this season. In this time, his running backs combined to average 24.19 carries, 113.25 rushing yards, 0.88 rushing touchdowns per game, 5.69 targets, 32.94 receiving yards, and 0.19 receiving touchdowns.

RB Room Carries RB Room Rushing Yards RB Room Rushing Touchdowns RB Room Targets RB Room Receiving Yards
RB Room Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Cowboys (3 games) 20.67 78.33 1 9.33 36 0.33
Mike McCarthy (304 games prior) 21.17 89.18 0.57 5.38 31.44 0.1
Kellen Moore (16 games prior) 24.19 113.25 0.88 5.69 32.94 0.19

Based on these coaches' previous history of utilizing the position, expect an increase in carries and rushing yards for the Dallas Cowboys running backs in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard

 

Jacksonville Jaguars Running Backs (Run Game)

The Jacksonville Jaguars running backs took 13 carries for 49 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and in the air, they were good with 11 receptions on 12 targets for 118 receiving yards and zero touchdowns in Week 3. This means that through the first three weeks of the season, the Jaguars running backs are averaging 15.67 carries, 73.33 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 6.67 receptions (on 7.67 targets), 63.33 receiving yards, and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game.

In the 144 games prior to this season as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone had his running backs average 23.40 carries, 94.15 rushing yards, 0.62 rushing touchdowns, 8.86 targets, 49.47 receiving yards, and 0.21 receiving touchdowns per game.

In addition, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had his running backs combine to average 21.95 carries, 87.59 rushing yards, 0.54 rushing touchdowns per game, 5.27 targets, 34.65 receiving yards, and 0.16 receiving touchdowns in the 133 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

RB Room Carries RB Room Rushing Yards RB Room Rushing Touchdowns RB Room Targets RB Room Receiving Yards
RB Room Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Jaguars (3 games) 15.67 73.33 1 7.67 63.33 0.33
Doug Marrone (144 games prior) 23.40 94.15 0.62 8.86 49.47 0.21
Jay Gruden (133 games prior) 21.95 87.59 0.54 5.27 34.65 0.16

Based on all this information, there is likely to be a slight uptick in carries and rushing yards for the Jaguars' backs, as well as a downtick in touchdowns per game.

Fantasy players this impacts: James Robinson, Chris Thompson, and Ryquell Armstead

 

Miami Dolphins Wide Receivers

The Dolphins wide receivers had 10 receptions on 10 targets for 109 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 3's Thursday Night Football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. On the year (three games), the Dolphins' wide receivers are averaging 12 receptions on 17.67 targets for 130.33 receiving yards and 0.67 receiving touchdowns per game.

Chan Gailey has been around so long in this league that he coached two seasons where targets weren't even tracked in 1989 and 1990. In the 192 games (of his 224 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach) prior to this season where targets were tracked, his wide receiver room saw 20.78 targets per game. Over the 224 games he'd been a coach, his WR room averaged 154.93 receiving yards and 0.89 receiving touchdowns per game.

The Dolphins wide receivers are looking like a strong buy-low based on Chan Gailey's usage historically. Invest accordingly.

Fantasy players this impacts: DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Isaiah Ford

 

Cincinnati Bengals Running Backs 

Joe Mixon was the only back to get carries and he had 17 carries for 49 rushing yards and zero touchdowns. Through the air, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard combined for five catches on six targets for 71 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. On the year (three games), the Bengals running backs are averaging 18 carries, 58 rushing yards, zero rushing touchdowns, 6.33 receptions (on eight targets), 52 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns.

Looking at Bengals head coach Zac Taylor's 21 game history as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season, his running backs combined to average 21.05 carries, 81.14 rushing yards, 0.43 rushing touchdowns, 5.48 targets, 32.86 receiving yards, and 0.14 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on this information, the Bengals running backs are in line for some improvement, in particular with regards to the run game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard

 

Running Low

Denver Broncos Running Backs

The Denver Broncos got thrashed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, losing 28-10. In the game, the team's running backs got 10 carries for 30 rushing yards and zero rushing touchdowns. Through the air, they had six receptions on eight targets for 43 receiving yards and zero receiving touchdowns. After this game, the Broncos running backs are averaging 18.33 carries, 74 rushing yards, 0.33 rushing touchdowns, and 4.33 receptions (on 5.33 targets) for 29.33 receiving yards and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game on the year (three games).

The Denver Broncos offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, coached 169 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season. In those games, his running back room averaged 6.86 targets, 38.56 receiving yards, 0.11 receiving touchdowns, 23.10 carries, 96.32 rushing yards, and 0.66 rushing touchdowns per game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, and Royce Freeman

 

New York Jets Wide Receivers

The New York Jets struggled on Sunday, losing 36-7. In that blowout, their wide receivers combined for only six receptions on 11 targets for 99 receiving yards and a touchdown. On the year, that means the Jets wide receivers are averaging 11.67 receptions on 19 targets for 131 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown per game.

WR Room Targets (per game) WR Room Yards (per game)
WR Room TD (per game)
2020 Jets (3 games) 19 131 1
Adam Gase (112 Games Prior) 21.61 175.29 1.19

Over the 112 games prior to this season, Adam Gase's wide receiver room averaged 21.61 targets, 175.29 receiving yards, and 1.19 receiving touchdowns per game. What this shows us is that we should expect better performances than last Sunday's blowout loss, but the New York Jets wide receivers in the season as a whole seem to be getting roughly the workload we'd expect in an Adam Gase offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, and Braxton Berrios

 

Indianapolis Colts Wide Receivers

In the Indianapolis Colts' 36-7 blowout of the New York Jets, the Colts' wide receiver room had 10 receptions on 14 targets for 135 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. On the year, that puts this group at 35 receptions on 53 targets for 377 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. On a per-game basis, this is 11.67 receptions on 17.67 targets for 125.67 receiving yards and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game.

Over the 96 games prior to this season, Frank Reich's wide receiver room averaged 19.45 targets, 144.88 receiving yards, and 0.93 receiving touchdowns per game. Based on this, I would expect the Colts wide receivers to improve from Sunday's performance. However, I'm a little more uncertain about major improvement on the team's season stats. The number of targets this year (three games) for Frank Reich's wide receivers is actually higher than 2019, so there's a very real possibility that this is what we should expect from the receiving corps going forward.

Fantasy players this impacts: T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman (out), Parris Campbell (out), and Zach Pascal



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 2

This series carries over from last week, where I dived into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After a crazy Week 2 where we saw performances of Browns running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt running wild and taking 32 carries for 210 rushing yards, the Cowboys wide receivers getting 292 receiving yards, and the Chargers running backs getting 39 carries, it's important to look at their play-caller's history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvement Ahead

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

San Francisco 49ers Wide Receivers

Against the New York Jets, the 49ers' wide receivers had eight receptions on 11 targets for 98 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. On the year, the wide receiver room has totaled 12 receptions on 21 targets for 139 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. On a per-game basis, this is just six receptions, 10.5 targets, 69.5 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns for the whole wide receiver room.

Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
49ers 2020 WR Room (2 games) 10.5 69.5 0
Prior Kyle Shanahan WR Room (192 games) 19.94 162.49 0.9

Looking at 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's utilization of his wide receivers in the 192 games he was an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season, we see on average he gave his wide receiver room 19.94 targets per game and they produced 162.49 receiving yards and 0.90 receiving touchdowns per game. Based on this, we should expect a bounce-back from the 49ers receivers, especially once Deebo Samuel gets healthy.

Fantasy players this impacts: Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Deebo Samuel, and Trent Taylor

Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings got destroyed by the Indianapolis Colts, and the offense could just never get going. The Vikings' wide receiver room finished the day with seven receptions on 14 targets for 99 receiving yards and no touchdowns. This means that on the year, the group has 18 receptions on 29 targets for 291 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and has been averaging nine receptions, 14.5 targets, 145.5 receiving yards, and one touchdown per game.

Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
Vikings 2020 WR Room (2 games) 14.5 145.5 1
Prior Gary Kubiak WR Room (349 games) 18.46 150.21 0.86

Gary Kubiak had been an offensive coordinator or head coach for 349 games prior to this season. Over the course of those 349 games, his wide receiver room averaged 18.46 targets, 150.21 receiving yards, and 0.86 receiving touchdowns per game. Based on this, we should expect a bounce-back from Sunday's performance against the Indianapolis Colts from this group. But for the overall season, there doesn't appear to be too much of a discrepancy, outside of maybe targets.

Fantasy players this impacts: Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and Bisi Johnson

Minnesota Vikings Running Backs

The Vikings' wide receivers weren't the only ones to have a bad day. The Minnesota Vikings' running backs totaled 17 carries for 76 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. In addition, they caught three passes on four targets for 11 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. This means that on the year, the running back room has 35 carries, 176 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, eight receptions (on 10 targets), 39 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns. On a per-game basis, this is 17.5 carries, 88 rushing yards, 1.5 rushing touchdowns, four receptions (on five targets), 19.5 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing TDs Targets Receiving Yards Receiving TDs
Vikings 2020 RB Room (2 games) 17.5 88 1.5 5 19.5 0
Prior Gary Kubiak RB Room (349 games) 25.27 113.12 0.86 4.92 27.83 0.1

This doesn't quite line up with Gary Kubiak's history utilizing the position. In Kubiak's 349 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season, his running back room averaged 25.27 carries, 113.12 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 4.92 targets, 27.83 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game. Based on this, we can expect more usage than the position group got last Sunday. Additionally, based on the season's production so far versus Gary Kubiak's historical production at the position, we can expect an uptick in usage and yardage.

Fantasy players this impacts: Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison

New York Giants Running Backs (Run Game)

Against the Chicago Bears last Sunday, the New York Giants took 14 carries for 48 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. On the season, the team's running backs have put up a putrid 30 carries for 55 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
Giants 2020 RB Room (2 games) 15 27.5 0.5
Prior Jason Garrett RB Room (208 games) 23.63 106.15 0.69

Looking at offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and his past offenses, it makes it obvious that there is nowhere to go but up from here (unless this is one of the worst running offenses in NFL history). Prior to this season over the course of 208 games, Jason Garrett's running back room averaged 23.63 carries, 106.15 rushing yards, and 0.69 rushing touchdowns per game. While this rushing attack will likely be one of the worst of Garrett's career with Saquon Barkley out for the year, expect some improvement for these running backs on the ground.

Fantasy players this impacts: Devonta Freeman, Dion Lewis, and Wayne Gallman 

Chicago Bears Wide Receivers

The Chicago Bears' passing game was subpar last Sunday against the New York Giants, with Mitchell Trubisky only throwing for 190 yards. The wide receivers, in particular, had a rough game catching ten passes on 19 targets for 94 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.

Now, compare this to Matt Nagy's history of utilizing the position. Prior to this season, Matt Nagy's wide receiver room averaged 18.35 targets, 145.25 receiving yards, and 0.85 receiving touchdowns in his three seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL.

Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
Bears 2020 WR Room (2 games) 20 147.5 1.5
Prior Matt Nagy WR Room (48 games) 18.35 145.25 0.85

On the season, the wide receiver room has caught 24 passes on 40 targets for 295 receiving yards and scored three receiving touchdowns. On a per-game basis, that's 12 receptions, 20 targets, 147.5 receiving yards, and 1.5 receiving touchdowns. This is more in line with the production and opportunity that Matt Nagy has traditionally provided the position. Expect improvement from the Bears' wide receiver room in comparison to Sunday's game, but overall, the season totals seem pretty accurate with what we'd expect from a Matt Nagy offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Cordarelle Patterson



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Decline From Week 2

This series carries over from last week, where I dived into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After a crazy Week 2 where we saw performances of Browns running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt running wild and taking 32 carries for 210 rushing yards, the Cowboys wide receivers getting 292 receiving yards, and the Chargers running backs getting 39 carries, it's important to look at their play-caller's history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

Now, let's dive into the performances that are in for regression based on a play-caller's previous history!

 

Negative Regression Coming

These are the areas and positions that will likely decline in the coming weeks based on the team play-caller's tendencies in the past.

Chargers RB Room (Carries)

The Chargers' running backs, Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler, combined for 39 carries versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. This put the team's running backs at 72 carries on the year and on pace for 576 RB carries for the year. Considering this would be a historic pace and the season-high for running back carries for an Anthony Lynn RB room is 375 (23.44 per game) back in 2017, it's more likely that regression in the carries department is incoming in the next few weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Joshua Kelley, Austin Ekeler, and Justin Jackson

Bills WR Room

The Bills' WR room had 20 receptions on 28 targets for 358 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in Week 2. They have now caught 43 passes on 59 targets for 605 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on the year, putting their season per-game averages at 21.5 receptions on 29.5 targets for 302.5 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's wide receiver room has averaged 18.01 targets, 123.60 receiving yards, and 0.54 receiving touchdowns per game over the course of his six seasons (96 games) prior to this year. With Josh Allen's improvement, there's a good chance that we will see the highest numbers out of Brian Daboll's WR room to date, but this production out of the WR room is unsustainable over the course of a full NFL season.

Fantasy players this impacts: Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley

Packers RB Room (Run Game)

The Green Bay Packers' running backs took 31 carries for 248 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns last week against the Detroit Lions. On the year, they've taken 59 carries for 387 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. This means that they've averaged 29.5 carries, 193.5 rushing yards, and 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game. Over the course of his career as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Matt LaFleur's running back room has averaged 22.60 carries, 99.54 rushing yards, and 0.94 rushing touchdowns per game. So while LaFleur is a pretty good coach for running backs, this pace in carries and rushing yards is not in line with his previous history as a play-caller, and we should expect regression.

Fantasy players this impacts: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and A.J. Dillon

 

Running High, But Might Be Legit

These are the performances that could be outliers, but based on their coach's previous success/utilization of the position, could just be career years.

Cowboys WR Room (Receiving Yards)

The Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers put up 292 receiving yards in an amazing come from behind victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2. On the year (2 games), they have caught 34 passes on 50 targets for 482 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. The WR targets would be the higher end of Mike McCarthy's history (in 2016 his WR room averaged 25.44 targets per game), but still doable. And offensive coordinator Kellen Moore's WR room averaged 22.31 targets per game last year, so there's a high chance the target pace can be maintained with such a talented WR room.

My concern comes with the receiving yards. The Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers are averaging 241 receiving yards per game. Considering offensive coordinator Kellen Moore directed one of the best offenses in the league last year and his WR room averaged 217.19 receiving yards per game, along with Mike McCarthy topping out at 229.19 receiving yards per game back in 2011 for the Green Bay Packers, it seems likely some regression is in place.

Fantasy players this impacts: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb

Steelers WR Room

The Steelers' wide receivers combined for 21 receptions on 29 targets for 250 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns against the Broncos last Sunday. The group now has 34 receptions on 45 targets for 427 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the year (on a per-game basis, that's 17 receptions on 22.5 targets for 213.5 receiving yards, and 2.5 receiving touchdowns). Prior to this year, Randy Fichtner's WR room had averaged 23.25 targets, 170.88 receiving yards, and 1.09 receiving touchdowns over the course of the 2018 and 2019 NFL seasons.

In addition, in 2018, Randy Fichtner's offense with Ben Roethlisberger had the WR room average 27.81 targets, 206.38 receiving yards, and 1.5 receiving touchdowns per game. This shows that while this WR room is running on the higher end of its production, in particular with regards to receiving touchdowns, there is a chance that Randy Fichtner's offense can get this kind of production out of its WR room.

Fantasy players this impacts: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and James Washington

Patriots WR Room

The Patriots' wide receivers had 23 receptions on 33 targets for 330 yards and zero touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. This means that on the year, the Patriots' wide receivers have 33 receptions, 46 targets, 426 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns on the year, and are averaging 16.5 receptions on 23 targets for 213 receiving yards per game.

While Sunday's numbers in wide receiver targets and receiving yards are an outlier compared to Josh McDaniels' career as an offensive coordinator, the season averages are attainable thus far even though they seem to be running on the higher end of his production. Over his career, McDaniels' WR room has averaged 21.76 targets, 164.85 receiving yards, and 1.04 receiving touchdowns per game. Looking just at those averages, it seems like 213 receiving yards is completely out of the realm of possibility. But it's important to keep in mind that McDaniels has had two seasons in the past where his WR room averaged 230+ receiving yards per game, in 2007 with the Patriots and 2010 with the Denver Broncos. So while it is unlikely that this wide receiver corp averages 213 receiving yards per game over the course of the full season in McDaniels' offense, it's not out of the realm of possibilities.

Fantasy players this impacts: Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, and Damiere Byrd 

Browns RB Room (Run Game Efficiency)

The Browns' running backs ran wild on a Cincinnati Bengals Defense that was missing Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels, taking 32 carries for 210 rushing yards in Week 2. This put the Browns' RB room at 56 rushing attempts for 347 rushing yards and three rushing TDs on the year. While I believe that the rushing attempts can hover around this range based on Kevin Stefanski's previous 19 game history as a play-caller, the efficiency of 6.2 yards per carry is going to be difficult to maintain over the course of a full season, as well as averaging 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game. I've personally got a lot of stock in this backfield and believe if any backfield is going to do it, it would be one with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. But, looking at Kevin Stefanski's history, it would take this year being a historic year for this level of efficiency to be maintained over the course of a full season.

Fantasy players this impacts: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 1

In fantasy football, we try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That includes means looking at things like game tape, snap counts, the team's offensive line, or their primary play-callers historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled a bunch of data.

After an incredible week 1 where we saw performances like Gardner Minshew throwing more touchdown passes than incompletions, Odell Beckham Jr. only had 3 receptions and 22 receiving yards on 10 targets, or the Atlanta Falcons WR room having three 100+ yard receivers, it's important to look at their play-callers history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvement Ahead

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

Cleveland Browns Running Backs

In week 1, the Browns running backs totaled 24 carries for 137 rushing yards with Kareem Hunt getting 13 of those carries for 72 yards, Nick Chubb getting 10 carries for 60 yards, and D'Ernest Johnson getting one carry for five yards. In addition, through the air, they combined to catch five passes on seven targets for fifteen yards.

Now compare this to Kevin Stefanski's averages in the past. Prior to this game historically, Kevin Stefanski's running back room averaged 26 carries, 123.21 rushing yards, 1.05 rushing touchdowns, 5.89 targets, 41.84 receiving yards, and 0.05 receiving touchdowns per game (19 games).

While the carries, rushing yards, and targets are around Browns' head coach Kevin Stefanski's career averages, the receiving yards and touchdowns are much lower than we should expect from his running backs. While we don't know how the distribution is going to shake out between Chubb and Hunt on a week to week basis, you can bet on the Browns running backs having improved fantasy production in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb

 

Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receivers (Number of Touches + Yards)

A phenomenal performance by Gardner Minshew led to some decent fantasy days from D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Keelan Cole despite not getting a ton of work. Yesterday the Jaguars wide receivers combined for 13 receptions on 14 targets for 129 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

In the past offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden and head coach Doug Marrone have given more usage to their wide receivers and gotten more receiving yards out of them. Prior to week 1, in 133 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach, play-caller Jay Gruden's wide receiver room averaged 20.11 targets for 156.13 receiving yards and 0.96 receiving touchdowns per game. In addition, in Doug Marrone's 144 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach, his wide receiver room averaged 20.26 targets for 160.24 receiving yards and 1.01 receiving touchdowns per game.

Expect the targets and receiving yards to increase in the future for the Jaguars wide receivers and the receiving touchdowns to dip a bit.

Fantasy players this impacts: D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole

 

Philadelphia Eagles Running Backs

The Eagles were without lead back Miles Sanders on Sunday and it cost them greatly with the team losing to the Washington Football Team. The team failed to establish the run, with their running backs only getting 16 carries for 55 rushing yards and no touchdowns. They also clearly missed Sanders' ability in the passing game with Boston Scott and Corey Clement only combining for four receptions on four targets for 21 receiving yards.

Based on Doug Pederson's history, this is going to change for the better. In Doug Pederson's 112 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this game, his running back room averaged 22.625 carries, 99.18 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 6.62 targets, 41.18 receiving yards, and 0.30 receiving yards. The Eagles running backs should be better in the coming weeks.

Based on Doug Pederson's history, this is going to change for the better. In Doug Pederson's 112 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this game, his running back room averaged 22.625 carries, 99.18 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 6.62 targets, 41.18 receiving yards, and 0.30 receiving yards. The Eagles running backs should be better in the coming weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement

 

Minnesota Vikings Running Backs (Carries)

The Vikings didn't get off to the start they wanted to on Sunday, losing to their arch-rival the Green Bay Packers. The team was trailing most of the game and didn't get a ton of opportunities to utilize their running backs with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison combining for 18 carries, 100 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, six targets, five receptions, 28 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns.

In the 349 games prior, Gary Kubiak was an offensive coordinator or head coach, his running backs averaged 25.27 carries, 113 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 4.92 targets, 27.83 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game. Based on this, it's likely the running backs will see an increase in carries, a few more rushing yards, and a decrease in touchdowns in the coming weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison

 

Raiders Wide Receivers

The Raiders went run-heavy on Sunday, feeding the ball to Josh Jacobs who ended up scoring three touchdowns as the team beat the Carolina Panthers. The team's wide receivers didn't get much usage getting seven receptions on nine targets for 108 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.

Prior to yesterday, Jon Gruden coached 256 games as an offensive coordinator/head coach and his wide receivers averaged 17.69 targets, 140.43 receiving yards, and 0.81 receiving touchdowns per game. Based on these past averages, we should expect the team to nearly double the targets for the team's wide receivers in future weeks, as well as an increase in receiving yards.

Fantasy players this impacts: Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow

 

Buccaneers Wide Receivers

The Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay did not get off to a good start, with the team dropping their first game to the New Orleans Saints 34-23. The wide receiver room caught 13 passes on 19 targets for 160 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Prior to yesterday, Byron Leftwich's offenses averaged 21.52 targets, 186.64 receiving yards, and 1.36 receiving touchdowns per game in his 25 games as an offensive coordinator. In addition, head coach Bruce Arians' offense has averaged 22.15 targets, 178.39 receiving yards, and 1.12 receiving touchdowns in his 240 games prior as an offensive coordinator or head coach. If we use these averages as a basis to predict future performance, there's a good chance that the Buccaneers wide receiver room will have better performances in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Scotty Miller

 

Chargers Running Backs (Pass Game)

For the first time since 2003, the Chargers played a game without Philip Rivers on the roster. They ended up winning after Randy Bullock missed a field goal for the Bengals.

In the game yesterday, the running backs room took 33 carries for 148 rushing yards and a touchdown. This is a great day for the team on the ground, but through the air, only Austin Ekeler received receiving work...in the form of one reception on one target for three yards. Considering head coach Anthony Lynn's running back room averages 22.42 carries, 102.87 rushing yards, 0.94 rushing touchdowns, 8.29 targets, 57.95 receiving yards, and 0.40 receiving touchdowns per game over the course of the 62 games prior.

If we go based on Lynn's previous experience, we should expect positive regression in the receiving game for Lynn's running backs as well as some regression in the ground game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, and Justin Jackson

 

Seahawks Running Backs (Run Game)

The Seattle Seahawks got off to a great start this season winning their game against the Falcons by double-digits. But uncharacteristically for a Brian Schottenheimer offense, the team did not utilize their running backs in the ground game very much. The Seahawks running backs combined to take 16 carries for 43 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Considering offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's running back room has averaged 25.34 carries, 106.54 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, 5.80 targets, 32.36 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns we can expect two things. One, the Seahawks running backs should perform significantly better on the ground in the coming weeks. And two, it's unlikely that the Seahawks running backs catch two touchdowns in a single game again this year.

So overall, while we should expect a little regression from the Seahawks running backs in the passing game after catching eight passes on eight targets for 49 receiving yards and two touchdowns, their improvement in the ground game should more than make up for it.

Fantasy players this impacts: Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde

 

Chiefs Running Backs (Pass Game)

The Kansas City Chiefs dismantled the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football and ended up winning 34-20. While the running game was impressive with Clyde Edwards-Helaire having a great debut, it was notable that the Chiefs didn't really utilize their running backs in the passing game (likely due to a huge lead).

We saw the Chiefs running backs get 32 carries, 161 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown on the ground. But through the air they only combined for two receptions on four targets for seven receiving yards and zero receiving touchdowns. Considering head coach Andy Reid's running back room has averaged 19.98 carries, 87.62 rushing yards, 0.65 rushing touchdowns, 6.73 targets, 42.94 receiving yards, and 0.29 receiving touchdowns per game in the 336 games he coached prior, we can bet on the Chiefs running backs to be used less on the ground and more through the air in future weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Decline From Week 1

This series carries over from the preseason, where I evaluated offensive play-caller tendencies by division in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After an incredible week 1 where we saw performances like Gardner Minshew throwing more touchdown passes than incompletions, Odell Beckham Jr. only had 3 receptions and 22 receiving yards on 10 targets, or the Atlanta Falcons WR room having three 100+ yard receivers, it's important to look at their play-callers history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worst.

Now, let's dive into the performances that are in for regression based on their play-callers' previous history. To review the other side of this analysis, read about teams whose offensive units should show improvement after Week 1.

 

Negative Regression Coming

These are the areas and positions that will likely decline in the coming weeks based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

Falcons Wide Receivers (Dirk Koetter)

We saw three Falcons receivers go for over 100 receiving yards on Sunday with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage combining for 27 receptions on 36 targets for 401 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Even if you don't know a ton about football, you can tell that this kind of performance from a wide receiver room is not sustainable since it's rare for quarterbacks to throw for 400+ yards. Looking at offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's profile as a coach it's clear that this production won't keep up.

Over the course of his NFL career prior to last week, Dirk Koetter coached 208 games with his wide receiver room averaging 21.10 targets, 166.95 receiving yards, and 0.89 receiving touchdowns. In addition, looking at just last year for the Atlanta Falcons, the wide receiver room averaged 26.3125 targets, 213.75 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown per game. Even if the team maintains the great wide receiver production from last year, they're in for some major regression from week 1.

Fantasy players this impacts: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage

 

Bills Wide Receivers (Brian Daboll)

Josh Allen had his first career 300-yard passing game against the Jets during week 1's 27-17 win. The Bills wide receivers caught 23 passes on 31 targets for 247 receiving yards and a touchdown. Considering offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's wide receiver room averaged 18.01 targets, 123.60 receiving yards, and 0.54 receiving touchdowns per game in the 96 games he coached prior, it seems unlikely that this production is sustainable long-term.

Fantasy players this impacts: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and John Brown

 

Washington Football Team Running Backs - Touches & TDs (Scott Turner)

The Riverboat Ron era got off to a great start in Washington, with the team beating the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener. But one area that may be due for some regression on the team is the usage of running backs.

Yesterday, the Washington Football Team gave their running back room 29 carries and they took that work for 63 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. In addition, through the air, the running backs caught three passes on seven targets for nine yards (Antonio Gibson had two catches on two targets for eight yards, and J.D. McKissic had one catch on five targets for a yard). While the team's running back yards was a little low, the number of looks and touchdowns to their running backs was high.

Compare this to Scott Turner's averages in the past. Prior to this game historically Scott Turner's running back room averaged 14.75 carries, 60.75 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing touchdowns, 12.25 targets, 100 receiving yards, and 0 receiving touchdowns per game (four games as an offensive coordinator) with Christian McCaffrey as his primary running back. And considering none of his running backs are Christian McCaffrey this year, there's a real possibility that the usage (27 opportunities for running backs per game) and touchdowns will decline. This is most concerning for Peyton Barber's fantasy value since he was the goal-line back and largely inefficient, but it's worth monitoring for Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic as well.

Fantasy players this impacts: Antonio Gibson, Peyton Barber, and J.D. McKissic

 

Packers Wide Receivers (Matt LaFleur)

The Packers offense was humming against the Vikings, as the team won 43-34. Their wide receivers combined for 22 receptions on 27 targets for 315 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. But considering Matt LaFleur's wide receiver room has averaged 18.38 targets, 143.73 receiving yards, and 0.81 receiving touchdowns per game in the 48 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior, it seems safe to say that there'll be some regression. I would only trust Davante Adams in this offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Allen Lazard

 

Rams Running Backs (Sean McVay)

No Todd Gurley, no problem. The Los Angeles Rams started their season off on a good note beating the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 on the back of a strong running game. They ran the ball 40 times, with the Rams runnings backs totalling 35 carries, 124 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 35 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns yesterday. Considering that head coach Sean McVay's running backs had historically averaged 22.06 carries, 95.98 rushing yards, 0.81 rushing touchdowns, 5.57 targets, 38.84 receiving yards, and 0.23 receiving touchdowns in the 96 games prior he had been an offensive coordinator or head coach in the league.

There's value to be had in this backfield, but don't expect the Rams running backs to consistently have weeks like week 1.

Fantasy players this impacts: Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers, and Darrell Henderson Jr.

 

Chiefs Running Backs - Run Game (Andy Reid)

While Clyde Edwards-Helaire running wild in his first start is a great story, there were some anomalies in the usage of the Kansas City Chiefs running backs than Andy Reid typically deploys. Last Thursday, the Chiefs running backs got 32 carries, 161 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 4 targets, 7 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns. Considering Andy Reid's running back room had historically averaged 19.98 carries, 87.62 rushing yards, 0.65 rushing touchdowns, 6.73 targets, 42.94 receiving yards, and 0.29 receiving touchdowns in the 336 games as a head coach in the NFL prior to week 1, it seems likely that the running backs will see less work on the ground.

Even if you argue that this is one of the best running back rooms that Andy Reid has ever had, the numbers still suggest that the team is in for some regression in the ground game. Take a look below at Andy Reid's per game season highs for his running backs in various categories.

Andy Reid will better utilize his running backs through the air in future weeks, but it's gonna come at the cost of the ground game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams

 

Chargers Running Backs - Run Game (Anthony Lynn)

For the first time since 2003, the Chargers played a game without Philip Rivers on the roster. They ended up winning after Randy Bullock missed a field goal for the Bengals.

In the game yesterday, the running backs room took 33 carries for 148 rushing yards and a touchdown. This is a great day for the team on the ground, but through the air, only Austin Ekeler received receiving work...in the form of one reception on one target for three yards. Considering head coach Anthony Lynn's running back room averages 22.42 carries, 102.87 rushing yards, 0.94 rushing touchdowns, 8.29 targets, 57.95 receiving yards, and 0.40 receiving touchdowns per game over the course of the 62 games prior.

Ultimately, if we go based on Lynn's previous experience, we should expect positive regression in the receiving game for Lynn's running backs as well as some regression in the ground game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, and Justin Jackson



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Coaching Matters: AFC North Play-Calling Impact on RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before concluding players. That includes means looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary play-callers historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically has utilized their running backs.

We've gone through the NFC North, NFC South, NFC East, NFC West, AFC South, AFC West, and AFC East so far. In the last entry of this series, we will look at the AFC North. This division has two offensive-minded head coaches (Kevin Stefanski and Zac Taylor), a pure defensive-minded head coach (Mike Tomlin), and a head coach who has an extensive background working in special teams (John Harbaugh).

For today, we will only be looking at the offensive-minded coaches and coordinators in the division. This means we will look at how Kevin Stefanski and Zac Taylor have utilized their running backs over the course of their career, the Browns and Bengals offensive coordinators: Alex Van Pelt (Browns) and Brian Callahan (Bengals), as well as the Steelers and Ravens offensive coordinators: Randy Fichtner (Steelers) and Greg Roman (Ravens). Let's dive in!

 

Cleveland Browns

Primary play-caller: Kevin Stefanski

Kevin Stefanski had been a longtime assistant for the Minnesota Vikings, serving as a tight ends coach, running backs coach, and quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator towards the end of the 2018 season. After a long journey, Kevin Stefanski will finally have the opportunity to run his own team with the Cleveland Browns. Let's take a look at how Kevin Stefanski may use his running backs this season based on his previous 19 game experience as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator.

On the ground, Kevin Stefanski has been money in his 19 game career as an offensive coordinator giving his running back room 26 carries per game, and his lead back 15.58 of those carries. These numbers are both significantly above the league average play-caller that gives 22.46 carries to their running backs, and 13.91 carries to the lead back. For fantasy players rostering Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt, this has got to make you excited about their fantasy potential in this offense.

Through the air, Kevin Stefanski has given his running back room slightly fewer opportunities than the average coach (6.55 targets per game), with his running backs averaging 5.89 targets per game. If this stays consistent for this season, it would mean that Stefanski's running backs would see about 10 fewer targets over the course of the season then they would in the average play-callers offense. So is his use of running backs in the passing game good? No. But it also isn't bad. Considering the amount of touches Kevin Stefanski provides his running backs in the ground game, you should be optimistic about the Browns running backs this year.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive Kevin Stefanski has been a huge net positive for providing opportunities to his running backs on the ground, giving his running backs 26 carries per game. Set for a 16 game pace, this would amount to a whopping 416 carries for his running backs over the course of a full season (league average among play-callers is around 360 carries). While he's slightly below average at providing opportunities for his running backs in the passing game, it would only amount to about 10 targets over the course of a full NFL season. You should feel very confident investing in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt with Stefanski in the fold.

Secondary play-caller: Alex Van Pelt

Alex Van Pelt has only called plays one season: all the way back in 2009 for the Buffalo Bills. While Kevin Stefanski is expected to be the primary play-caller, there have been whispers that Alex Van Pelt may end up being the play-caller for the 2020 season while Kevin Stefanski devotes his full attention to the team as a whole.

In his one season as an offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills back in 2009, Alex Van Pelt gave his running backs more opportunities than the average coach, giving his running back room 22.63 carries per game and his lead back 14.81 carries per game. This suggests that we should remain comfortable investing in the Browns backfield even if Kevin Stefanski decides not to call plays for the team.

Alex Van Pelt's usage of running backs through the air didn't stand out too much in his one season as the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator back in 2009, with his running backs getting 99 targets over the course of the full season.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Neutral - In the ground game Alex Van Pelt is slightly above-average at utilizing his running backs in his one season calling plays. But through the air Alex Van Pelt has provided slightly fewer opportunities for his running backs than the average coach. Considering all this and the fact he's only coached one season, it's probably safest to classify Alex Van Pelt as a neutral influence on his running backs.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Primary play-caller: Zac Taylor

Zac Taylor became the Bengals head coach last year after the team finally made the decision to fire Marvin Lewis, despite only having five games as an offensive coordinator under his belt prior. The Bengals ended up being disappointing last year and getting the number one pick, but in their catastrophic season how did they utilize the run game? Let's dive in and take a look!

Zac Taylor has called plays for 21 games in his career: five for the 2015 Miami Dolphins as an interim offensive coordinator and sixteen last year for the Bengals. So far in his career, he has given his running back room 21.05 carries per game which is slightly below average, and 16.81 carries per game to his lead back which is significantly above average in that realm.

Zac Taylor hasn't given his running backs a ton of opportunities in the passing game in his 21 games calling plays, with his running backs getting 5.48 targets a game. We'll have to see if this changes in the future, but the initial signs aren't great with his usage in this area.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive for RB1 in the ground game, negative for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game, slightly negative in the passing game Zac Taylor has done a good job of getting his RB1 carries in his 21 games as a play-caller, but his RB room as a whole has received an underwhelming amount of opportunities in both the running game and passing game. 

Secondary play-caller: Brian Callahan

Brian Callahan also joined the Cincinnati Bengals as a first-time offensive coordinator last year. While it's not expected that he will get play-calling duties this year let's take a look at how he influenced the Bengals offense last year just in case he ends up getting play-calling duties.

Brian Callahan has only has one season under his belt as an offensive coordinator where he didn't even call plays, but in that season his lead back, Joe Mixon, was heavily featured in the running game getting 17.38 carries per game despite the team only averaging 20.69 carries per game (which is below-average for a running back room).

Brian Callahan's stats here are going to be heavily tied to Zac Taylor's because the only difference is Taylor's 5 games as an offensive coordinator in Miami back in 2015. Much like Taylor, Callahan's running back usage through the air has been underwhelming with his running backs only getting 5.5 targets per game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Inconclusive Callahan has only one season under his belt where he wasn't even the primary play-caller, so it makes more sense to classify his results as inconclusive. If he had a more extensive track record, we'd classify him similarly to Zac Taylor: positive for his RB1 on the ground but negative for the overall running back work on the ground and through the air.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Primary play-caller: Randy Fichtner

Randy Fichtner has been the offensive coordinator the last two seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending many years as the team's quarterbacks coach. While he helped the Steelers have a strong offense in 2018, they disappointed in 2019 with the offense ranking 30th in yards per game and 27th in points per game. While his ineffective offense raised some eyebrows last year, he will get another opportunity to prove himself in the 2020-21 season. One of the big weapons that Fichtner will need to utilize is running back James Conner. Let's take a look at how he's utilized his running backs historically.

On the ground, Randy Fichtner has given his running back room fewer carries than his peers, with 20.13 carries per game going to his backs. Also according to these stats his lead back has only averaged 10.34 carries per game each season, but that might have more to do with James Conner's inability to stay healthy than Randy Fichtner's coaching philosophy. We'll keep an eye on this in the future, but overall Fichtner is more of a pass-happy coach than a run-heavy one.

Through the air, Randy Fichtner has been as close to average as you can get, with his running backs getting 6.59 targets per game when the league average play-caller gives their running backs 6.55 targets per game. He's been pretty consistent year to year as well with his running back room receiving 104 targets in 2018 and 107 targets in 2019. Expect about 105 targets over the full season once again this season from Randy Fichtner's running back room.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative in the ground game, Neutral in the passing game While James Conner should bounce-back this year, the overall carries given to the Steelers running backs under Randy Fichtner has been below average. With regards to utilizing his running backs in the passing game, Randy Fichtner has been as average as they come.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Primary play-caller: Greg Roman

Greg Roman killed it last year, with the Ravens offense dominating with its elite production on the ground. But how much of this success on the ground comes from Greg Roman's running backs, and how much of this success comes from his other positions. Let's take a look at how offensive coordinator Greg Roman has historically utilized his running backs.

In the running game, Greg Roman does a great job of providing his running backs opportunities, with his running back room averaging 23.99 carries per game and his lead back getting 15.38 of those carries on average. This is something that should make fantasy players very excited to roster J.K Dobbins or Mark Ingram.

Greg Roman through the air is another story. He gives the fewest amount of opportunities through the air for his running backs of any offensive coordinator or head coach in the league, with a measly 3.39 targets per game. This is worrying for fantasy players playing in PPR leagues.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive in the ground game, negative in the passing game On the ground, Greg Roman has historically utilized his running backs a ton, and it has resulted in some great rushing seasons. But on the flip side, Roman hardly utilizes his running backs in the passing game. Based on this, upgrade Roman's running backs in standard leagues and be more lukewarm on them in PPR formats.



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Coaching Matters: AFC South Play-Calling Impact on RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That includes means looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary play-callers historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically has utilized their running backs.

Today we will look at the AFC South. This division has three offensive-minded head coaches in Bill O'Brien, Frank Reich, and Doug Marrone, but interestingly enough only Colts head coach Frank Reich will be the primary play-caller for his team. Reich will be assisted by offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni. The Houston Texans will give offensive coordinator Tim Kelly an opportunity to call plays, and Bill O'Brien will step in as needed.

In Jacksonville, the Jaguars fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after just one season and hired Jay Gruden to direct the offense. Head coach Doug Marrone will also leave his input when he can, and could take over play-calling if anything happens to Gruden. The Tennessee Titans are the only team with the defensive-minded head coach in Mike Vrabel, so the team will once again leave play-calling duties in the hands of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

 

Indianapolis Colts

Primary play-caller: Frank Reich 

Frank Reich has been a great coach for the Indianapolis Colts. They had a winning record in the 2018-19 season largely on the back of the offense led by Andrew Luck. Last year Reiche and his offense had to face adversity when his star quarterback, Andrew Luck, retired abruptly last offseason and Jacoby Brissett was left in charge. The Colts ended up being a solid but unspectacular team last year, and are hoping that free-agent acquisition Philip Rivers and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor can help restore the offense to its former glory for the 2020-2021 season.

For today, we are going to dive into Frank Reich's offensive history a bit and look at how he may impact his running backs production this year. We'll start by looking at how his running backs traditionally produce on the ground and then dive into how they produce through the air.

Hmmmmmm...so on the ground Reich on average gives his running back room more carries (23.47 carries per game) than the average play-caller (22.46 carries per game), but fewer carries to his RB1 (11.60 carries per game) than the average play-caller (13.91 carries per game). We have seen Reich trend towards utilizing his RB1 in recent years more, with the Colts giving Marlon Mack 61.9% of the carries last year.

Through the air, on average Frank Reich gives his running backs more opportunities (7.16 targets per game) in the pass game  than the average coach (6.55 targets per game). But something that is concerning is his 2015 season. In 2015, Reich's running backs were targeted in the passing game 171 times. This is a clear outlier, with his running backs receiving less than 126 targets every other season he's been in the league. If you take out that 2015 season with the Chargers, his running backs only average 6.48 targets per game. Overall, Reich seems average or very slightly above average at getting his running backs opportunities in the passing game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative for RB1 in the ground game, Positive for RB2 & RB3 in the passing game, Neutral in the passing game On the ground, Frank Reich has featured his RB1 less than the average coach over the course of a full NFL season. He also gives his running back room more carries per game than the average coach. This means is that you should be investing in the Colts running back that has a lower ADP (Marlon Mack) and is utilized on the ground to get the best bang for your buck. In the passing game, outside of 2015, Frank Reich has provided league average opportunities in the passing game. For that reason, we'll classify him as neutral in helping his running backs in the passing game.

Secondary play-caller: Nick Sirianni

Nick Sirianni has been the offensive coordinator in Indianapolis the past two seasons and has done a pretty good job considering he's had to deal with his star quarterback retiring in one of them. While Frank Reich is expected to be the primary play-caller in Indianapolis, it's a good idea to look at Nick Sirianni's history just in case he ends up calling some plays this season. So let's take a look at how Nick Sirianni historically impacts his running backs in the ground game.

Nick Sirianni in the ground game has given his running back room an average of 23.34 carries per game, which is slightly more carries than the average play-caller (22.46 carries per game). He also gives his RB1 13.81 carries per game, which is around the league-average of 13.91 carries per game.

Through the air, Nick Sirianni is once again around league average for providing opportunities for his running backs in the passing game, giving his backs 6.78 targets per game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Neutral Overall Nick Sirianni is pretty close to the league average in giving his running backs opportunities in the running game and the passing game. At this current time, he shouldn't be used to sway your opinion on running backs one way or the other.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Primary play-caller: Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden was fired from the Washington Football Team after 5 games in the 2019-2020 season. While he didn't manage to get another head coaching gig, he did manage to latch onto the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator job. It will be interesting to see how Jay Gruden differs his offense from John DeFilippo's last year, and how he adapts after the Jacksonville Jaguars cut running back Leonard Fournette, a former 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Let's take a look at how Jay Gruden has traditionally utilized his backs.

Jay Gruden gives his whole running back room slightly fewer carries than the average play-caller but slightly more carries on average to his RB1. This history of primarily featuring one running back means it's worth monitoring who wins the Jacksonville Jaguars starting running back job after Leonard Fournette was cut because they should get a decent amount of opportunities.

After all the years of Chris Thompson producing as Washington's primary pass-catching back, you would have thought that Jay Gruden features his running back room heavily in the passing game. But in reality, it's the opposite: Jay Gruden historically features his running backs less than the average play-caller in the passing game, giving them only 5.27 targets per game (league average among active offensive coaches: 6.55 targets per game).

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Neutral in the ground game, Negative in the passing game Jay Gruden is pretty close to his peers in providing his running backs opportunities on the ground. Through the air, Jay Gruden is surprisingly below average in providing opportunities for his running backs and prefers to utilize other positions.

Secondary play-caller: Doug Marrone

Doug Marrone is going to be on the hot-seat this year after a disastrous season where the Jaguars stumbled to a 6-10 record. Considering it's likely he's on his way out of Jacksonville and given his offensive background, it's possible he tries to take back play-calling duties as a last-ditch effort to save his job. So in case that happens, here's a little look at how Doug Marrone has traditionally utilized his running backs in his time in the NFL.

On the ground, Doug Marrone is similar to Frank Reich. He gives more carries to his running back room (23.40 carries per game) than the average offensive coach (22.46 carries per game), but fewer carries to his lead back (11.62 carries) than the average coach (13.91 carries per game). This means that you will probably get better value drafting the RB2 in a Doug Marrone offense because they will be cheaper and still have plenty of opportunities to succeed.

Doug Marrone in the passing game is money. He seems to have been influenced greatly by Sean Payton's use of running backs through the air, giving his running back room 8.86 targets per game which is among the best in the league. If he has a strong influence in the offense this year, Chris Thompson should be a great late-round value in PPR formats this year.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative for RB1 in the ground gamePositive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game, Positive in the passing game Doug Marrone gives his running back room slightly more carries than the average coach, but tends to spread it out among a variety of players. If you want to have the most valuable running back in his offense, you should target his primary pass-catching back since he feeds his running backs with a ton of targets. This year that would be Chris Thompson.

 

Houston Texans

Primary play-caller: Tim Kelly

Tim Kelly is going to take over as the Texans primary play-caller this year so that quarterback Deshaun Watson can have more opportunities to discuss offensive strategies since Bill O'Brien has to manage the whole Houston Texans team. While he's only had one season as an offensive coordinator under his belt, let's look and see at how Tim Kelly affected his running backs last year.

So in his one season as an offensive coordinator so far, Tim Kelly has utilized his whole running back room less in the ground game than most coaches. But there is a silver lining. 15.31 of his 21.38 running back carries went to his lead back, which is more than the average coach gives their RB1. If this continues, it should bode well for David Johnson's fantasy outlook.

The passing game is where you should get concerned about Tim Kelly's young career. While it's important to remember it was only one season, giving your whole running back room only 4.94 targets per game is very disappointing considering the average offensive coach gives their running back room 6.55 targets per game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Inconclusive - Tim Kelly's only been an offensive coordinator in one season where he didn't call plays, so it's probably not a good idea to make too many conclusions about his impact on his running backs. If we were to make conclusions, we would say that he's a positive influence for his RB1 on the ground, slightly negative influence for his RB2 & RB3 on the ground, and negative for his running backs in the passing game.

Secondary play-caller: Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien has spent seven seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL. While he has handed play-calling duties to Tim Kelly this year, with Bill O'Brien's offensive background we need to be ready for him to step in and take back play-calling duties if the offense isn't humming. Here's a little look at how Bill O'Brien's play-calling has traditionally impacted his running backs production on the ground.

Bill O'Brien has provided plenty of opportunities for his running backs in the ground game, giving his running back room 24.88 carries per game which ranks among the best in the NFL. Of those 24.88 carries, 14.15 of them go to his lead back which is also above league average. If you end up getting frustrated with the Texans run game, but it won't be due to lack of opportunity.

Bill O'Brien has been very disappointing at utilizing his running backs in the passing game over the course of his career, with his running back room only topping 100 targets in a season once - back in 2015. This is very scary for players rostering Duke Johnson and David Johnson to see since they are both phenomenal pass-catchers, but may have issues getting the usage they need.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive in the ground gameNegative in the passing game Bill O'Brien utilizes his running backs plenty on the ground, giving his running back room and lead back more carries than the average coach. On the flip side, he's terrible at giving his running backs passing work. Keep this information in mind when looking at David Johnson or Duke Johnson in fantasy drafts.

 

Tennessee Titans

Primary play-caller: Arthur Smith 

Arthur Smith did phenomenal as the offensive coordinator and primary play-caller for the Tennessee Titans last season, as they made the AFC championship game on the back of a strong running game. But how did he utilize his running backs exactly? Let's dive in.

Arthur Smith in the ground game gave his running back room slightly more carries than the average coach in his one season as a play-caller. But perhaps more impressively he gave his bell-cow running back, Derrick Henry, 18.94 carries per game which is significantly more than the league-average among coaches of 13.91 carries per game. It's only one season under his belt, but it's a great sign for Smith's lead running back in fantasy leagues.

In the passing game, Arthur Smith hardly gave his running backs any opportunities, giving his running back room only 3.56 targets per game which was one of the worst among NFL coaches. While this should be a different (hopefully better) in his second year as a play-caller, this is concerning for his running backs' PPR prospects.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive in the ground gameNegative in the passing game - While he's only called plays for one season, Arthur Smith was one of the best coaches at getting his lead back carries on the ground and one of the worst at getting his running backs targets. Keep an eye on Smith as a play-caller in the future.



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Coaching Matters: AFC West Play-Calling Impact On RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That includes means looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary play-callers historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically has utilized their running backs.

Today we will look at the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champion, will have Andy Reid in charge of play-calling once again and managed to keep offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy around as well. In Las Vegas, the Raiders will leave Jon Gruden in charge of play-calling with Greg Olson providing suggestions as the Raiders offensive coordinator.

The Broncos fired offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and brought in former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur to be their offensive coordinator and play-caller. In Los Angeles, the Chargers will have offensive coordinator Shane Steichen be the primary play-caller, but head coach Anthony Lynn will have significant input on how the offense is run. Without further ado, let's dive in!

 

Denver Broncos

Primary Play-caller: Pat Shurmur

Pat Shurmur will be joining the Denver Broncos after they fired Rich Scangarello and had a vacancy for their offensive coordinator spot. Shurmur is a very good offensive coordinator that just hasn't been able to have the same success as a head coach, and should help the Broncos offense improve. But how does Shurmur's play-calling specifically impact his running backs? We'll start by looking at how he has traditionally utilized his running backs on the ground before moving to how much receiving work he tries to get them.

Overall in the ground game, Pat Shurmur's running backs have a pretty positive outlook giving his RB room 23.10 carries per game and his lead back 15.89 carries per game, both of which are above-average. His willingness to feature his lead back in the run game bodes well for free-agent acquisition Melvin Gordon, who had been the Chargers primary back the last few years.

But besides knowing how Shurmur provides opportunities for his running backs in the ground game, in the modern NFL, it is vital to consider how much opportunity he provides them in the passing game. Let's take a peek.

Running backs have gotten more opportunities to catch passes under Pat Shurmur than they would have under the average play-caller, with Pat Shurmur giving his running backs 6.86 targets per game versus the average play-caller giving their backs 6.55 targets. This combined with Shurmur's usage of running backs on the ground shows that Shurmur is very good at getting his backs opportunities to succeed.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Positive - The number of rushing attempts combined with targets for his RB room leads to 29.96 opportunities per game, which is very positive for his running backs outlook. Shurmur is above average in providing opportunities on the ground and through the air, making it easy to designate him as a positive influence on the offense.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Primary Play-caller: Andy Reid

Andy Reid is a legendary play-caller who will find a bust of himself in Canton, Ohio when he retires. For now, though, he will be focused on getting the Kansas City Chiefs to defend their Super Bowl title. While the team is built on the strength of its offense, the offense has had one flaw - a lack of a talented starting running back. The Chiefs decided to address this issue in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire has received a ton of hype in the fantasy community, and it will be important to look at how his play-caller, Andy Reid, has historically provided opportunities for his running backs. So to start, let's take a look at how Andy Reid has utilized his running backs on the ground.

These numbers for opportunity raise a little concern. Giving his whole RB room only 19.98 carries and lead back 12.86 carries is less than the play-caller/offensive coordinator averages of 22.46 carries for the RB room and 13.91 carries for an RB1. What there is important to note is that in the running game Reid will adapt and give his lead back a ton of carries (like in 1999 or 2017) if the talent warrants it. So if you believe that Clyde Edwards-Helaire is that type of talent, he should get plenty of opportunities on the ground.

Andy Reid running backs in the passing game get slightly more work than the average play-caller, averaging 6.73 targets per game but it's not significant enough to get excited about. If you roster Clyde Edwards-Helaire, you are hoping that Reid utilizes him and the rest of his running backs in the passing game as he did from 2001-2008, not like his backs from 2015-2019.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Slightly negative for RB1, Negative for RB2/RB3, Neutral in the passing game Andy Reid is below average in providing opportunities for his running backs in the running game, and right around league average for providing opportunities for his running backs in the passing game over the course of his career. If you are someone who rosters Clyde Edwards-Helaire, you need to bank on him getting a majority of the running back work and goal-line opportunities like Kareem Hunt did in 2017 rather than Andy Reid changing from his pass-first ways.

Secondary Play-caller: Eric Bieniemy

One of the most surprising aspects of the offseason was that the Chiefs managed to retain offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy after two stellar seasons at the position. Bieniemy is a former running back that played for the Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles in the NFL, and in theory, this should help him get the most out of his running backs. Let's see how Bieniemy has done in getting his running backs opportunities in his first two years as an offensive coordinator. We'll start with the ground game.

On the ground, there is quite a bit of concern over how many opportunities the Chiefs running backs have received over the past two years. The Chiefs have only given their RB room 18.88 carries per game which is significantly less than the average play-caller/offensive coordinator. In addition, only 9.13 carries have gone to the Chiefs RB1 over the past two years. There are a few things worth mentioning before going overboard with this data. The first is that the Chiefs haven't had a running back capable of carrying a full workload since Kareem Hunt. The second thing worth mentioning is that while Bieniemy has given his input on the offense, he's ultimately never handled play-calling duties under Andy Reid. Considering his background as a former NFL running back, it's entirely possible that Bieniemy would go for a more running back centric offense if he had 100% control of the offense.

Eric Bieniemy's running backs haven't gotten a noteworthy amount of targets in his two years as a coordinator, averaging 6.09 targets per game which is slightly below the average of 6.55 targets. While it would be nice to see what he can do as the primary play-caller, looking at this data it seems that Bieniemy doesn't seem to bang-the-table and try to get Reid to give the running backs more targets (which in all honesty is fair considering Kansas City has one of the best offenses in the league).

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Inconclusive - Andy Reid has never officially handed over play-calling duties to Eric Bieniemy, so it seems a little unfair to judge him based off two seasons where he never got an opportunity to be in charge. If we were to grade him just off of those two seasons, Bieniemy would be considered as a below-average coach at getting his running backs involved.

 

Las Vegas Raiders

Primary Play-caller: Jon Gruden

Jon Gruden made a triumphant return to coaching a couple of years ago, leaving the Monday Night Football booth to be the Raiders head coach. Over the last two seasons, we've seen some steady improvement from the Raiders under Jon Gruden's leadership (knock on wood if you're with me). One of the biggest improvements for the Raiders since Gruden came to town is how he's managed to get the run game going. Let's take a look at how Gruden's running backs have historically produced on the ground.

As you can see, Jon Gruden provides more rushing opportunities than the league average play-caller/offensive coordinator for his running backs. And it may be even more than this data suggests. Throughout his career, Gruden has frequently utilized the full-back position in the running game with players like Mike Alstott. Since the position has become a dying breed in the modern NFL, it's possible that Gruden opts to use his running backs more often to fill the void.

Jon Gruden has coached over 250 games, and in that time he's shown that willing to give his running backs targets. On average Gruden gives his running backs 6.72 targets per game, which is slightly more than the average play-caller (6.55 targets per game). In addition, in Gruden's last five years as a play-caller, his running back room has gotten more than 110 targets in each season.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Positive Jon Gruden is above average in providing opportunities to his running backs on the ground as well as through the air. This is especially crazy to see because for many years Jon Gruden utilized the fullback position frequently, and those carries & targets were not accounted for in these graphs. With fewer talented fullbacks in the NFL, Gruden is likely to use his running backs more and it makes him a very good influence on his running backs for fantasy football production.

Secondary Play-caller: Greg Olson

Greg Olson has been a coach for many different NFL teams such as the Lions, Rams, Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Raiders. He's had many opportunities to call plays for these teams. Let's take a look at how he may impact his running backs in the run game.

Maybe there's a reason that Greg Olson has been unable to stick with one team for very long as an offensive coordinator. Historically, Greg Olson is below average at giving his running backs work on the ground, giving his RB room only 20.62 carries per game and his lead back only 12.90 of those carries. But maybe he gives them more work in the passing game?

Hmmmm...so Greg Olson is very slightly above average at getting his running backs passing work, with his RB room averaging 6.62 targets per game. This is so close to the league average (6.55 targets per game), that it only results in a difference of one target over the course of a full 16-game season.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Negative in the ground game, Neutral in the passing game Greg Olson would be a pretty big downgrade from Jon Gruden in terms of providing his running backs opportunities. He's below average in giving his running back room carries, and near league average in providing his backs targets. Overall he should be viewed as having a negative impact on his backs. 

 

Los Angeles Chargers

Primary Play-caller: Shane Steichen

Shane Steichen got his first play-calling opportunities after Ken Whisenhunt was fired midway through last season, taking over as the offensive coordinator for the final eight games of the season. While Steichen had to utilize Whisenhunt's playbook since it was a mid-season transfer of duties, let's take a look at how Shane Steichen utilized his running backs during that eight-game stretch.

In the ground game, Steichen did a phenomenal job with utilizing both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler last year, giving his RB room more opportunities (23.63 carries) than the average play-caller (22.46 carries) and still giving his RB1 more carries (14.75 carries) than the average RB1 (13.91 carries).

While it's an extremely small sample size, Shane Steichen's use of running backs in the passing game was money last year in the final eight games of the season. The RB room averaged 11.88 targets per game which is second only to Scott Turner (who only coached four games) among play-callers.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Inconclusive - If we were to extrapolate this data, Steichen would be one of the best coaches in the league at providing opportunities for his running backs. But eight games of using someone else's playbook is simply not enough time to make any reasonable conclusions on how Steichen will run his offense. For now, we should consider Steichen's results as inconclusive, but be cautiously optimistic that he's a good influence on his running backs.

Secondary Play-caller: Anthony Lynn

Before Anthony Lynn became one of the biggest stars on HBO's Hard Knocks, he was an NFL running back that worked his way up the coaching ladder to become the Los Angeles Chargers head coach. But despite his background, has Anthony Lynn managed to get good production out of his running backs as a coach? Let's dive in by looking at Anthony Lynn's use of running backs on the ground.

On the ground, it doesn't look like Anthony Lynn has stood out very much as a coach, with his RB room getting 22.42 carries per game and his RB1 getting 13.29 of those carries. These numbers are both slightly below the play-caller/offensive coordinator averages of 22.46 carries for the RB room and 13.91 carries for an RB1, but close enough to consider Anthony Lynn as having a neutral impact on his running backs ability to perform in the ground game.

As for giving his running backs receiving work, this is where Anthony Lynn becomes a very intriguing coach for fantasy running backs.

Anthony Lynn running backs in the passing game are where there's money to be made with his RB room averaging 8.29 targets per game. In addition, we've seen the number of targets increase each year that Anthony Lynn has been an offensive coordinator or head coach.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Neutral in the ground game/Positive in the passing game - Anthony Lynn seems to be neutral in the ground game and a positive in the passing game. Overall, Lynn gives his running backs 30.71 rushing attempts and targets combined per game, and we should consider him an overall positive influence for his running backs in fantasy.



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Coaching Matters: AFC East Play-Calling Impact on RBs

In the next installment of this series, we will look at the AFC East. Catch up on the rest so far by reading about the NFC East, NFC West, NFC North, and NFC South.

This division is interesting as three of the head coaches in it come from defensive-minded backgrounds: Sean McDermott, Bill Belichick, and Brian Flores. This means that these teams put a lot of faith in their offensive coordinators to get the offense running: Brian Daboll for Buffalo, Josh McDaniels for New England, and Chan Gailey for Miami.

The odd duck in the division is the New York Jets, who have head coach Adam Gase as their primary playcaller. While Gase is the primary playcaller in New York, we will also take a look at offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and his impact on running backs just in case he ends up receiving playcalling duties this year. Without further ado, let's dive in!

 

Buffalo Bills

Primary Playcaller: Brian Daboll

Brian Daboll has been an offensive coordinator for a few years. He might best be known for his offensive coordinator role on the 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide championship team that made the decision to start Tua Tagovailoa over starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the championship game. In the last two seasons, he's had the opportunity to try and turnaround the Bills offense as their offensive playcaller. In this time, one of the most interesting aspects of Daboll's tenure has been the team's use of the run game. In particular, let's take a look at how Daboll has used his running backs on the ground in Buffalo and compare it to how he has historically used his running backs in the NFL.

Daboll has utilized his running backs less in his time with the Bills than he did in his prior four years in the NFL, giving his running backs only 21.44 carries per game the last two seasons after giving his running backs 25.03 carries per game his previous four years as an offensive coordinator. In addition, Daboll has yet to give a running back over 50% of the running back room carries in Buffalo, so it will be interesting to see if that continues for a third year.

Besides the run game, it's important to look at how Brian Daboll uses his backs in the passing game.

Brian Daboll has been below-average in providing opportunities for his running backs in the passing game, never topping 100 targets in a single season. This is very concerning for his running backs' fantasy outlook in PPR formats especially.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Neutral for RB1 in the ground game, Slightly positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game, Negative in the passing game - On the ground, Daboll uses his RB1 slightly less (but not enough to conclude he's below average) than the average coach, giving his lead back 13.46 carries per game. Overall, Daboll gives his other running backs an above-average amount of carries at 10.38 carries per game. This bodes well for Zack Moss's fantasy relevance. Finally, Daboll is one of the worst coaches in the NFL at providing his running backs opportunities in the passing game.

 

New England Patriots

Primary Playcaller: Josh McDaniels 

Josh McDaniels has been the Patriots' offensive coordinator for most of his career, with a couple of seasons spending time in Denver and St. Louis mixed in. He's been regarded as one of the better offensive minds in the league, but he will be put to the test this season with Tom Brady no longer on the team. Could it lead to more of a run-heavy approach? It's possible. Let's take a look at how many opportunities Josh McDaniels has provided to his running backs in the past.

On the ground, Josh McDaniels has given his running back room a ton of opportunity, with his RB units averaging 24.54 carries per game, which is slightly above the average of 22.46 carries per game. But, like fantasy players have been saying for years, you never know who McDaniels (and the Patriots) is going to feature on the ground in any given week, and the data supports this. On the ground, McDaniels' lead backs have only averaged 12.99 carries per game, which is lower than the league average of 13.91.

In the passing game, McDaniels is above average, with his running backs averaging 7.1 targets per game. This usage has been especially intriguing in recent years, with his running back room seeing at least 100 targets every season since 2013 and peaking last year. James White should be a solid investment in PPR formats based on this information.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative for RB1 in the ground game, slightly positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game, positive in the passing game - Josh McDaniels' offenses have run the ball a lot in the past, but the problem is that he runs more of a committee approach, making his lead back generally a little underwhelming for fantasy purposes. In the passing game, Josh McDaniels is above average at utilizing his running backs and has provided a ton of opportunities there since 2013.

 

Miami Dolphins

Primary Playcaller: Chan Gailey

After the Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea, they opted to bring in Gailey, who hasn't coached since 2016. Gailey is a great offensive mind who has been around the game so long that he coached at a time where targets were not tracked. One of the things that should make fantasy players most excited is Chan Gailey's use of running backs. So, let's take a look at how Gailey uses his backs in the run game.

These numbers should make fantasy players very excited. Gailey is one of the best in the business at getting work for his running backs on the ground, as they are averaging 24.57 carries per game over 14 seasons. In addition, he's proven to be reliable in utilizing his lead back on the ground, with his RB1 receiving at least 54% of the season's carries and averaging 16.98 carries per game every year he's been in the league. Gailey's use of the ground game is a very positive sign for Jordan Howard and Matt Breida's managers.

While Chan Gailey has been a coach in the NFL since 1989, the NFL did not track targets in his first two years as an offensive coordinator. So, we can only look at his coaching stats over the last 12 years. Looking at that data as a whole, Gailey's use of running backs in the passing game is disappointing, with them only receiving 5.53 targets per game. But, it gets more interesting if we look at the data before 2010 and after 2010. In the eight seasons he was an offensive coordinator or head coach between the years 1996-2010, Gailey's offense never saw his running backs get 100+ targets. But, in his last four years as an offensive coordinator, his running back room has seen at least 108 targets. Normally, we'd classify Gailey as a negative asset in the passing game, but based on this recent trend, it makes more sense to classify Gailey as a neutral asset for his running backs in the passing game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive in the ground gameneutral in the passing game - In the ground game, Gailey is one of the best in the business at providing opportunities for his running backs. In the passing game, the raw numbers suggest that Gailey is below-average at providing opportunities for his running backs. But, in his four most recent years as a coach, he's actually been pretty good at providing opportunities for his backs. For now, we'll consider him a net neutral for his running backs in the passing game.

 

New York Jets

Primary Playcaller: Adam Gase

Adam Gase has been coasting on his reputation of being Peyton Manning's offensive coordinator in Denver, managing to turn it into two head coaching gigs. He's also well-known for his frustrating use of running backs in fantasy football, but is there any truth to those concerns? Let's take a look first at his use of running backs on the ground over his career and then look at his use of running backs through the air.

It's easy to see why Gase's utilization of running backs on the ground is so frustrating. While his running back room receives more carries (23.11 carries per game) than the average one (22.46 carries), he also gives his RB1 fewer carries (12.83 carries) than the average one (13.91 carries). In addition, this isn't just one outlier year bringing his averages down, as his lead back has only received more than 58% of the running back carries twice in his seven years as a playcaller.

In the passing game, you look at Adam Gase's numbers and think his name should be 'Average Gase' (is that a stretch?). His running back room averages 6.41 targets per game, which is right around the league average of 6.55 targets per game. In addition, he's been very consistent year to year with his running back room targets, ranging anywhere from 88 to 116. So, we can reasonably predict that Gase will once again target his running backs around 100 times during the 2020 season.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative for RB1 in the ground game, slightly positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game, neutral in the passing game Adam Gase gives his running back room slightly more carries than your average playcaller, but tends to spread it out among multiple backs. This has led to his RB1 underperforming on the ground. Through the air, Adam Gase is painfully average at getting his running backs opportunities regardless of who he has in the backfield. 

Secondary Playcaller: Dowell Loggains

Dowell Loggains has been an offensive coordinator for a few teams now. This includes the Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets, but he has been unable to stick with any team in the role for more than two years. While he's not the primary playcaller in New York, it is important to consider what kinds of suggestions he may make to Adam Gase about the usage of the Jets' running backs.

In the ground, Loggains is the opposite of Adam Gase in how he likes to use his running backs, giving slightly fewer carries (22.23 carries per game) than the average coach (22.46 carries per game), but opting to use a bell-cow approach on the ground. So, if you roster Le'Veon Bell, you're hoping that Loggains has a little more input on the offense this year.

In the passing game, Loggains is similar to Adam Gase in that he's largely average. His running back room averages 6.19 targets per game, which is slightly below the league average of 6.55 targets per game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Slightly positive for RB1, negative for RB2 & RB3neutral in pass game In the ground game, Loggains prefers a bell-cow approach at running back, so Le'Veon Bell owners should be hoping Loggains has more input this year. In the passing game, Loggains is around the league average among playcallers/offensive coordinators and won't sway your opinion one way or the other. 



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Coaching Matters: NFC East Play-Calling Impact On RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That includes looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary playcaller's historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's playcaller historically has utilized their running backs.

Today we will look at the NFC East. This division had a lot of coaching movement this offseason, with the Cowboys, Giants, and Washington Football Team hiring new coaching staffs. The Eagles were the only coaching staff to remain intact, with head coach Doug Pederson maintaining playcalling duties. The New York Giants hired former New England Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge to be their new head coach and conducted an inter-divisional search for their new offensive coordinator who is now Jason Garrett, the former Dallas Cowboys head coach.

Washington hired the defensive-minded Ron Rivera to be their new head coach, and he's giving Scott Turner, the son of former coach Norv Turner, an opportunity to call plays for the team. And the Cowboys hired offensive-minded and former Packers coach Mike McCarthy to be their new head coach, but they plan on having Kellen Moore retain playcalling duties after his success last season.

 

New York Giants

Primary Playcaller: Jason Garrett

Since 2007, Jason Garrett had been a key member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, but this past offseason the Cowboys decided it was time to cut ties with him. He was not without a job for long as the Cowboys' rival, the New York Giants, jumped in and hired Jason Garrett to be the offensive coordinator of the team. Considering new head coach Joe Judge doesn't have an offensive background in coaching (it's special teams), Garrett is going to be the key guy in how the New York Giants offense is run.

Everyone knows Saquon Barkley is the best weapon on the Giants, so he'll likely be the centerpiece of Jason Garrett's offense. But it's important to get a good idea of how Garrett has historically used his running backs in the past, so we can have a better idea of how he might use them in the future. Here's how Jason Garrett has historically used his running backs in the ground game:

So, as you can see, Jason Garrett features his running backs pretty heavily in the ground game with his running back room averaging 23.63 carries per game and his RB1 getting 15.30 of those. Adjusted for a 16 game season, this means that his average starting running back gets 245 carries per year and the rest of the room gets about 133. But we all know that Saquon Barkley is not your average starting running back, so this workload on the ground should be viewed as a floor for him if he plays a full season.

Another important aspect to pay attention to regarding running backs is how frequently they are utilized in the passing game. Here's a little look at how Jason Garrett has historically used his running backs in the passing game:

Overall, Jason Garrett's track record suggests that Saquon Barkley and the rest of the running back room will either get similar or even a slight decrease of usage in the passing game from former coach Pat Shurmur's offensive system.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Neutral - Jason Garrett has been involved with both elite rushing attacks and poor rushing attacks in the past. Overall, it will likely result in a slight increase in rush attempts and a slight decrease in receiving opportunities for the running backs in comparison to last year.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Primary Playcaller: Kellen Moore

The Dallas Cowboys finally decided to move on from head coach Jason Garrett this offseason. While they hired offensive-minded head coach Mike McCarthy, the team has stated that last year's play-caller, Kellen Moore, would retain playcalling duties for the 2020 season. Here's how the Cowboys' offensive coordinator used his running backs in the ground game:

It's hard to have a lot of tangible takeaways from just one season of coaching, but overall this is a good sign that Ezekiel Elliott's usage should be pretty frequent on the ground again in 2020, as long as he's healthy.

Here's how Kellen Moore used his running backs in the passing game:

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive - Kellen Moore gave Ezekiel Elliott 78% of the workload last year, and it's likely he gives Elliott a similar workload in 2020. 387 carries and 91 targets for the RB room is quite a bit, and there were plenty of scoring opportunities as Kellen Moore directed one of the best offenses in the league. While it remains to be seen if he can duplicate the success in his second year as an offensive playcaller, the initial signs are extremely positive.

Secondary Playcaller: Mike McCarthy

Even though it's unlikely that Mike McCarthy calls plays this year given the COVID-19 landscape, it's a good idea to look at his track record just in case he needs to call plays in 2020. Here's a little look at how Cowboys' head coach Mike McCarthy has historically used his running backs on the ground:

For the most part, Mike McCarthy has never been a huge proponent of giving his running backs a huge workload. Setting the pace for a 16-game season, his RB room historically averages around 339 carries with his lead back only averaging about 225 carries. He has had a few great RB seasons in the past here and there with backs like Ricky Williams and Eddie Lacy, but overall, his willingness to ignore the ground game is concerning.

However, besides the ground game, in the modern-day of football, it's very important to consider how a coach uses their running backs in the passing game. Here's a look at how the new head coach, Mike McCarthy, has historically used his RB room in the passing game:

Overall, there is some cause for alarm with McCarthy's use of running backs in the passing game as well. In 19 years of coaching, only in four of those years has his RB room cracked 100 targets. If McCarthy ever takes playcalling duties from Kellen Moore, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard's running back production would take a hit.

Playcaller Net Impact on RBNegativeIt's good that Mike McCarthy isn't the primary playcaller for the Dallas Cowboys, otherwise we'd likely see Ezekiel Elliott's production dip from high-end RB1 to low-end RB1. While he was a solid head coach hire in general, with regards to utilizing his running backs, McCarthy is a downgrade from Jason Garrett. He utilizes his backs less in both the ground game and the passing game.

 

Washington Football Team

Primary Playcaller: Scott Turner

Scott Turner is one of the least experienced offensive coordinators in the league, with only four games under his belt as an offensive coordinator. So, it's hard to make any reasonable conclusions about how he's gonna use his running backs in Washington. But for fun, here's a little look at how he used Christian McCaffrey last year on the ground for the Carolina Panthers:

It's difficult to come to any conclusions on Scott Turner's tendencies to use his running backs in the ground game after only four games. But in those four contests, he was willing to abandon the run, giving his running backs only 14.75 carries per game. Extrapolated over a full 16-game season, that would lead to a pathetic 236 carries for his entire running back room (208 for his lead back). While this should hopefully improve when he gets a full offseason to prepare his own playbook, this is a trend to keep an eye on, as the Washington Football Team is not going to be much better than the Carolina Panthers were last year.

But, while the ground game suffered during Scott Turner's four games as a playcaller, his running backs received plenty of pass-catching opportunities. Let's take a look at how he utilized Mr. McCaffrey and the rest of the Panthers RB crew through the air last year:

It's easy to throw the ball to your running back when you have Christian McCaffrey back there, but the amount that Turner threw to McCaffrey and the rest of his running back room was ridiculous in those four games, doubling the league average among playcallers. While we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from this sample, it shows that Turner will force-feed the ball to his best playmakers.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Inconclusive - Scott Turner's coaching sample size is way too small to make any conclusions, with only four games as an interim playcaller using his father's playbook. If you extrapolated this data, Antonio Gibson might be an interesting player to target, but for now, it's probably smarter to completely ignore this data until Turner gets another season or two under his belt.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Primary Playcaller: Doug Pederson

Doug Pederson is one of the best offensive football minds in the game right now. He won a Super Bowl with his clever playcalling against the Patriots a few years ago and knows how to get his offense cooking, even when key playmakers are missing. Here's a little look at how he's used one of his skill positions, the running back position, in his career as an offensive coordinator or head coach:

As you can see, Doug Pederson's running back usage has historically been a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, he has given his RB room a fair number of carries. But on the other hand, a little under 50% of those carries went to his RB1. It's hard to know if that's because he's never had an RB1 worthy of receiving a significant workload other than Jamaal Charles in 2013, or if he generally believes in using multiple running backs in the ground game.

But, the ground game is about half of a running back's value. We have to take a good, hard look at a running back's ability in the passing game because opportunity in the passing game boosts the upside of a running back massively. Wonder how Doug Pederson uses his running backs in the passing game? Here's a little look below:

This is where you really get excited about the potential of Doug Pederson's lead back. In five of his seven seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Doug Pederson's running back room has received over 100 targets. For comparison purposes, Pederson's running back room has had more 100+ target seasons in the past seven years than Mike McCarthy's running back room has had in his 19-year career.

If Miles Sanders can receive a bulk of these receiving opportunities again next year, it might not matter that he doesn't receive a workhorse workload (70% of running back room carries) in the ground game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Slight negative in the ground game, positive in the passing game - Doug Pederson has only featured a bell-cow in the ground game once in seven years, which at first look makes it hard to trust him to use his lead back on the ground. But on the flip side, outside of Jamaal Charles, he's also never had a running back worthy of a significant workload on the ground and overall he gives his RB room a fair number of carries each game, so the potential is there if a back proves to be worthy.

In the passing game, Pederson's running backs get a lot of work and it is a net positive for any back. This bodes well for Miles Sanders since he showed his effectiveness as a pass-catcher last year as a rookie. Even in the worst-case scenario, which is Miles Sanders only receiving about half of the ground game workload, his pass-catching ability combined with Doug Pederson's tendency to throw to his backs makes him a decent RB2 at worst.



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Coaching Matters: NFC North Play-Calling Impact on RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That means looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary playcaller's historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically has utilized their running backs.

Today we will look at the NFC North. The division will be bringing back three of the same playcallers as last year: Bears head coach Matt Nagy, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, and Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

The Vikings' Gary Kubiak was promoted to be the team's offensive coordinator after Kevin Stefanski was hired in Cleveland as the head coach. Besides these four coaches, we will also look at Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett just in case they end up getting some opportunities to call plays this year.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Primary Playcaller: Gary Kubiak (Offensive Coordinator)

Gary Kubiak is one of the most respected offensive playcallers in the NFL, coaching 349 games as either an offensive coordinator or head coach. He helped guide Kevin Stefanski's offense last year and now gets to step back into the role he's been very successful with, offensive coordinator. One of the most well-known aspects of a Gary Kubiak offense is the effectiveness of the ground game. Here's a good look at the opportunities Kubiak has provided for his running backs.

Gary Kubiak is one of the most experienced playcallers in the entire NFL, being involved as an offensive coordinator or head coach in 349 games. He's also been one of the run-heaviest playcallers over the course of his career, with his RB1 averaging 16.19 carries per game (about 259 carries per season) and his whole RB room averaging 25.27 carries per game (about 404 carries per season). Given the Minnesota Vikings have a very talented and efficient running back in Dalvin Cook, this should be a match made in heaven.

Through the air, Kubiak historically uses his running backs less than other offensive playcallers, with his RB room averaging only 4.92 targets per game. This may hurt Dalvin Cook's fantasy upside in PPR leagues a little bit, but he should still be a strong RB1 considering how often he'll touch the ball in the run game.

So while Gary Kubiak is a little behind the curve on using his running backs in the passing game, the overall opportunity he provides for his running back room more than makes up for it. His running backs room averaged over 30 touches per game during his 349 games of coaching, so it's safe to say that Kubiak is a net positive for running backs in his offense.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive - While he is historically on the lower-end of giving his running backs receiving work, Kubiak more than makes up for it with how often he uses his backs in the ground game. You won't find many playcallers that are willing to give their running backs 30+ touches a game, and for that reason, Dalvin Cook is one of the most intriguing investments in the first round of fantasy drafts.

 

Chicago Bears

Primary Playcaller: Matt Nagy (Head Coach)

Matt Nagy won the Coach of the Year award in the 2018 season as the Chicago Bears went 12-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season. Last year was disappointing for a team that was poised to take the next step, as the Bears finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

The big issue for the Bears last year was their offense's inability to score points. For fantasy football, this is concerning for many of their skill positions, including running back. So, let's look at Matt Nagy's use of running backs, starting with the ground game.

Matt Nagy does frequently utilize one running back in the ground game with his RB1 historically getting 77.3% of the running back room's carries. It is important to note that he is on the lower end of the spectrum of giving his RB room carries in the first place, with them averaging only 20.58 carries per game when the league average playcaller averages 22.46. What this means is that if this backfield ever turns to a committee approach on the ground, there won't be a lot of value to be had.

It's also important to consider Matt Nagy's use of running backs in the passing game since receptions generate more yards than carries. Let's take a look.

These are extremely encouraging numbers, with Matt Nagy's RB room topping 100 targets every season he's been in the league, averaging 7.96 targets per game when the average playcaller averages only 6.55 per game. The reason we haven't seen this lead to a star fantasy back over the past two seasons is that the running back that receives most of the passing work, Tarik Cohen, doesn't receive a ton of carries. But if Tarik Cohen ends up missing some time this year and David Montgomery picks up the receiving work, we could be looking at the next big fantasy football star.

Playcaller Net Impact on RBSlightly Negative in Run Game/Positive in the Pass Game - While Matt Nagy does tend to heavily feature one back in the running game, he also doesn't run the ball as much with his running backs as most playcallers. As for their usage in the passing game, this is the area that Nagy really shines in with his RB room averaging 7.96 targets per game. If lead back David Montgomery can tap into Tarik Cohen's monopoly on the receiving work, we could be looking at a star fantasy running back. In the meantime, we can confidently say that David Montgomery is the player to roster in standard formats while Tarik Cohen is the guy in PPR. 

Secondary Playcaller: Bill Lazor (Offensive Coordinator)

In this COVID riddled world, it's not a bad idea to look at how some team's secondary playcaller historically utilizes the running back position as well. Here's a fresh look at Bill Lazor's use of running backs in the ground game.

These numbers are very concerning, and it almost makes you grateful that Matt Nagy is the primary playcaller and not Bill Lazor. Lazor was the fourth-worst offensive coordinator/offensive-minded head coach with regards to RB room rushing attempts, ranking only ahead of Scott Turner (4 career games), Kliff Kingsbury (16 career games), and Eric Bieniemy (32 career games). If Lazor gets put in charge of playcalling at any point this year, it's safe to downgrade the Bears running backs slightly because of it.

Bill Lazor's use of running backs in the passing game is a little more encouraging, but still, nothing to write home about. He historically targets his running backs slightly more than the league-average playcaller with 6.63 targets per game (league-average is 6.55).

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative - There's no way around it, Lazor is not a guy you want to be involved in the playcalling for your running backs. He is one of the worst coordinators in giving his RB room opportunities (targets and rushing attempts), historically only giving 26.11 potential touches to his running backs when the league average is 28.94. For fantasy purposes, you better hope he doesn't get playcalling duties this year.

 

Green Bay Packers

Primary Playcaller: Matt LaFleur (Head Coach)

Matt LaFleur's career path has trended upwards in the past few seasons. In 2017, he was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, but playcalling duties fell to Sean McVay. In 2018, he left the Rams to be the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans and got his first opportunity as the primary playcaller. In 2019, the Green Bay Packers hired him to be their head coach where he led the franchise to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC championship game.

One thing that has led Matt LaFleur to such success is his utilization of running backs. Let's take a look at how he has historically utilized his running backs in the ground game.

These are some very solid numbers with LaFleur being slightly above average in giving his RB room carries (22.60) as well as slightly above average in giving his lead back carries (15.21). In addition, his RB room averages 99.54 rushing yards per game with his lead back averaging 71.83 rushing yards per game, both of which are also above average among playcallers. Overall, LaFleur is a good coach to have if you want to get the ground game going.

Now that we know the ground game is pretty good for LaFleur's running backs, let's take a look at how he uses his running backs in the passing game.

Overall, LaFleur is right around the league average when it comes to utilizing his running backs in the passing game, with his RB room averaging 6.4 targets per game when the average is 6.55 targets per game. In addition, his running back room historically averages 43.69 receiving yards per game, which is slightly above league average (40.90). In general, LaFleur is as average as it comes when referring to running backs in the passing game.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Slightly Positive in Run Game/Neutral in Pass Game  Matt LaFleur has shown he will give his running backs more of an opportunity in the run game than the average coordinator or head coach, which makes it a little safer to invest in his backs in fantasy. With regards to using his running backs in the passing game, LaFleur is as average as they come.

Secondary Playcaller: Nathaniel Hackett

Much like we touched on earlier with Bill Lazor, it's not a bad idea to look at how some team's secondary playcaller historically utilizes the running back position as well. Here's a little look at Nathaniel Hackett's use of running backs in the ground game.

Based on this data, it's clear that Nathaniel Hackett is committed to the ground game, giving his RB room 24.51 carries per game, which is over two more carries per game than your average coach. The problem for fantasy purposes is that Hackett also prefers to use a running back by committee approach, with his RB1 only averaging 11.81 carries per game.

Hackett is a mixed bag in the ground game as he likes to run the ball a lot but generally spreads the love to all of his running backs. But how does this coach impact the passing game for his running backs?

It's pretty encouraging to see that Hackett's RB room has gotten at least 100 targets in every season except 2016...where Hackett only coached nine games for Jacksonville. His RB room averages 7.99 targets per game, which is the seventh-best among the 48 coaches with offensive backgrounds that were researched.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Negative for RB1 in the ground game/Positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game/Positive for the passing game Nathaniel Hackett runs the ball a lot more than the average coach but also likes to run a committee approach. What this means is that when he's calling plays, his RB1 should receive a slight downgrade relative to other teams' RB1s, but the RB2 and RB3 in his offense could be good targets. In the passing game, Hackett is a net positive for his running backs' fantasy value because of how often he targets his running backs.

 

Detroit Lions

Primary Playcaller: Darrell Bevell (Offensive Coordinator)

Darrell Bevell has called plays for some Hall of Fame-caliber backs including Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. But in recent times, Bevell's team has not had the same caliber backs and the run game has suffered because of it. Let's take a look at the opportunity Bevell has given his running backs historically.

Even considering his last four years as an offensive coordinator, there's a lot to like about Bevell's use of running backs on the ground. His RB room averages 24.06 carries per game, which is well above the league average of 22.46 carries per game. In addition, his lead back averages 15.04 carries, which is also above the league average playcaller's (13.91). It's safe to say that Bevell has a very positive influence on his running backs in the ground game.

Besides his use on the ground, it's important to look at whether or not Bevell gives his running backs ample opportunity through the air.

Bevell is slightly below average among playcallers for RB room targets, giving them only 5.63 targets per game. But the bright side is that his offense has seen a general increase in running back targets since 2012 and topped 100 targets in each of the last two seasons.

Playcaller Net Impact on RB: Positive in the ground game/Slightly negative in the passing game Darrell Bevell will give his running backs work on the ground regardless of if he has a star running back or not. In the passing game, he's slightly below average, but considering his combined RB rushing attempts+targets is nearly 30 opportunities per game (29.69), Bevell should be viewed as a positive for running backs in the world of fantasy football.  



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Coaching Matters: NFC South Play-Calling Impact on RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That includes means looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary play-callers historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically has utilized their running backs.

Today we will look at the NFC South. The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be bringing back their key offensive coaches from the 2019-2020 season, while the Carolina Panthers will have a completely new coaching staff following the firing of head coach Ron Rivera.

In Atlanta, Dirk Koetter will be in charge of the play-calling since Dan Quinn is a defensive-minded coach. In New Orleans, head coach Sean Payton is the clear offensive play-caller but we will also take a look at Pete Carmichael's success as an offensive coordinator as well. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich be the primary play-caller, but we will also look at head coach Bruce Arians' extensive history since he is also an offensive-minded coach. And finally, in Carolina, the former LSU offensive coordinator, Joe Brady, will be the primary play-caller for the Panthers, but we will also take a look at head coach Matt Rhule's coaching history at Baylor and Temple since he comes for an offensive background as well.

 

Atlanta Falcons

Primary Play-caller: Dirk Koetter

Dirk Koetter rejoined the Falcons coaching staff last year after being fired as the Buccaneers head coach. Last year, Koetter led the Falcons to one of the best passing offenses in the NFL and one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. Should we expect more of the same from Koetter in 2020 with regards to the ground game?

Let's take a look at how Dirk Koetter uses his running backs in the ground game.

Dirk Koetter has had some mixed results for the ground game. His RB Room gets 22.36 carries per game and he gives his RB1 14.09 carries per game. These numbers are eerily close to the league average among active offensive coaches, which is 22.46 carries per game for the RB room and 13.91 carries for the RB1.

Dirk Koetter's use of running backs in the passing game is also right around league average as well. He gives his RB Room 6.38 targets per game and it leads to 38.11 receiving yards per game, while the average among play-callers is 6.55 targets for 40.90 receiving yards.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Neutral Dirk Koetter is as average as you can get for providing opportunities to his running backs. He's a coordinator who won't elevate the play of his running backs, but also won't be a negative influence on their fantasy value either.  

 

New Orleans Saints

Primary Play-caller: Sean Payton

Sean Payton is one of the best offensive minds in the league, consistently having the Saints as one of the best offenses in the NFL. But specifically, what impact does Sean Payton have on his running backs production? We'll start by taking a look at his production on the ground before looking at how he utilizes his running backs in the passing game.

On the ground, Sean Payton runs the ball a little more than the average play-caller but also tends to use more of a committee approach with his RB1 receiving less work and performing slightly below average in the run game.

Sean Payton is one of the best in the business at getting his running backs receiving work with his running back room averaging 9.22 targets for 55.93 receiving yards per game.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Slightly negative for RB1 in the ground game/Positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game/Positive in the receiving game - Overall the historical outlook on Sean Payton's running backs is one of the more favorable in the league, with his RB room receiving 32.81 opportunities (rushing attempts+targets) per game, second only to Shane Steichen (who's only been a play-caller for eight games). In the ground game, Sean Payton traditionally runs a committee which we should expect again with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Where Sean Payton shines for running backs is the receiving game, where he gives his backs a ton of targets. So if you are ever looking for a strong value in a Sean Payton offense, his primary receiving back should be one of the first places you look. 

Secondary Play-caller: Pete Carmichael 

Pete Carmichael has been in New Orleans since 2006 and took over as the offensive coordinator for the team in 2009. While Sean Payton has been the primary play-caller in that time, it isn't a bad idea to look and see if Pete Carmichael has made any significant impact on the team's running back production. We'll start with Carmichael's impact on running backs in the ground game and then move onto his impact on their receiving production.

In general Pete Carmichael is going to have near-identical stats to Sean Payton since he's been Payton's offensive coordinator the last eleven seasons. In the running game, Carmichael gives his backs an average amount of work on the ground but generally runs a committee approach much like Sean Payton.

Through the air, Pete Carmichael has proven to be a valuable asset for his running backs, with his RB room averaging 9.64 targets per game. If Carmichael gets put in charge of play-calling at some point this year expect it to be an extremely similar distribution to Sean Payton's offense.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Slightly negative for RB1 in the ground game/Positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game/Positive in the receiving game - Overall the historical outlook on Pete Carmichael's running backs is very similar to Sean Payton's due to the fact that Pete Carmichael has been the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator the last eleven seasons. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Primary Play-caller: Byron Leftwich

Byron Leftwich will enter his second full season of play-calling for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. Leftwich is a former NFL quarterback that competed against his new QB Tom Brady. Though young, Leftwich has shown a lot of potential as a play-caller, getting Jameis Winston to throw for over 5000 yards last season. But what kind of job has Leftwich done with his running backs? Let's start by looking at how Leftwich has used his running backs on the ground in his young career as a coach.

Overall Byron Leftwich has been slightly below average for providing an opportunity for his running backs on the ground. His RB Room gets slightly fewer carries (21.36 carries per game) than the average play-caller (22.46 carries per game), and his RB1 (12.96 carries per game) also gets about a carry less than the average coach (13.91 carries per game).

As for using his running backs as pass-catchers, Leftwich has done a pretty good job giving his RB room 7.08 targets per game, which is about half a target more than the average play-caller (6.55 targets per game).

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Slightly negative in the ground game/Slightly positive in the passing game While he hasn't been a coordinator for very long, at the moment we can categorize Byron Leftwich's impact on his running back opportunities as neutral: slightly below average in the ground game and slightly above average in the passing game.

Secondary Play-caller: Bruce Arians

Bruce Arians has been around the NFL for a long time as a coach and is one of the most experienced offensive minds in football. While offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is going to be the primary play-caller for the Buccaneers, it's important to look at Bruce Arians' coaching history since Leftwich comes from Arians' coaching tree and in case Arians' takes back play-calling duties at any point. Here's a little look at how Arians' traditionally uses his running backs in the ground game.

Overall Bruce Arians gives his RB room more carries than your average coordinator/play-caller, with 23.84 carries per game going to running backs. But it doesn't seem to materialize into a premier usage of his RB1 on the ground, with his RB1 averaging 13.85 carries per game (league average: 13.91 carries per game).

As for giving his running backs receiving work, at face value Bruce Arians is slightly below the average play-caller/offensive coordinator. Historically his running back room averages 5.81 targets per game for 34.54 receiving yards per game which isn't phenomenal. But what has been interesting is that over the course of his last six seasons as a head coach, his RB room's targets per game has been 7.24 per game. While it remains to be seen if this trend will continue, it makes Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Ronald Jones fantasy outlooks look more positive.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Neutral - Arians gives his running back room more carries than the average play-caller/coordinator, but only an average amount to his RB1. Through the air, he is historically below average in targeting his running backs in the passing game over the course of his career, but in recent times he's been above average in providing opportunities for his backs in the passing game.

 

Carolina Panthers

Primary Play-caller: Joe Brady

Joe Brady was one of the biggest hires in the NFL this past season after he directed a historic 2019 LSU Tigers offense that had over 6000 yards passing and 2500 yards rushing. He is a former offensive assistant of the New Orleans Saints and disciple of Sean Payton, and will have an opportunity to go head to head this year with the offensive guru.

While we do not have statistics on Joe Brady as an offensive coordinator or head coach at the NFL level, we can dive a little deeper into his statistics at LSU. Here's a little look at how Joe Brady utilized his running backs on the ground last year for LSU.

The pace of college football is much different than the NFL so we can't just look at the counting stats when examining Joe Brady's profile and need to pay more attention to the percentages. Last year at LSU Joe Brady gave his lead running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 58.27% of the total running back room carries. For reference, among the active NFL play-callers and coordinators, the average RB1 got 62.57% of the total RB Room carries.

It's hard to say if Brady only used his RB1 58.27% of the time on the ground because that's his personal preference or if it was because LSU consistently blew teams out last year. But it's a situation worth monitoring in his NFL career considering he worked under Sean Payton who runs a committee approach on the ground.

In the receiving game, Joe Brady's running back room caught 79 passes (5.27 receptions per game) for 629 receiving yards (41.93 receiving yards per game) last year at LSU. Clyde Edwards-Helaire caught 55 (3.67 receptions per game) of those passes for 453 receiving yards (30.2 receiving yards per game). So it appears that he will feature one running back in the passing game, which is a great sign for Christian McCaffrey retaining his receiving value.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Inconclusive - We shouldn't draw a ton of conclusions for one season of calling plays for a college offense so, for now, we will consider this inconclusive. If we extrapolated his numbers from last year, he would be considered as more of a neutral influence with regards to providing opportunities for his running backs.

Secondary Play-caller: Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule successfully turned around the Baylor and Temple college football programs and now he is tasked with doing the same for the Carolina Panthers. While he will leave the play-calling primarily up to Joe Brady, it is vital to look at Rhule's history as a play-caller himself, just in case he needs to take over duties at any point this season. One of the most interesting aspects of Rhule's play-calling history is his use of his running backs. Let's start by taking a look at how he utilizes his running backs in the ground game.

As touched on earlier, the pace of college football is different from the NFL so it's probably not a good idea to just look at counting stats when comparing a college coach to an NFL coach, and better to utilize percentages. In the course of his coaching career, Matt Rhule has preferred to run more of a committee approach on the ground at running back with his RB1 only getting 47.49% of the carries, and topping out at 68.3% in 2015.

While it's possible that Rhule used the committee approach on the ground due to a lack of talent, this is a situation to monitor and could mean that Christian McCaffrey gets his rushing workload scaled back a little bit from last year.

Through the air, Matt Rhule's RB room has gotten anywhere from 33-61 receptions in a given collegiate season and averages 3.74 receptions per game. In terms of effectiveness, they have ranged anywhere from 296-688 receiving yards and historically averaged 37.62 receiving yards per game. This seems slightly below average, but it remains to be seen how Rhule's offensive philosophies may translate to the NFL level.

Play-caller Net Impact On RB: Inconclusive - Rhule does like to run the ball, with his teams averaging more rushing attempts (36.03 per game) than passing attempts (33.52 per game) in college. Rhule prefers to utilize a committee approach to the run game which means that we could see a scale back from the 287 carries that Christian McCaffrey received last year on the ground. As for giving receiving work to his running backs, Rhule is worse than Joe Brady is and would be a downgrade if he decides to takeover play-calling duties.



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Coaching Matters: NFC West Play-Calling Impact on RB

In fantasy football, many of us 'experts' in the field try to take as much data into account before making a conclusion on players. That includes means looking at things like game tape, the team's offensive line, or their primary play-callers historical tendencies to utilize a certain position. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically has utilized their running backs.

Today we will look at the NFC West. The division didn't have any major changes to their coaching staffs this past offseason, and for good reason. Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in football, taking his San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl last year. Kliff Kingsbury was hired in Arizona last year because his collegiate play-calling led to some of the best college offenses in recent memory.

In Los Angeles, football prodigy Sean McVay has directed the Rams offense to be one of the most dangerous in the league. McVay will be the primary play-caller once again but will receive some fresh input from new offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell. The Seattle Seahawks will once again leave Brian Schottenheimer in charge of the play-calling and hope they can get back to the Super Bowl on the back of a strong running game. Let's go team by team and take a closer look at how these coaches and their tendencies will affect the fantasy values of their running backs.

 

San Francisco 49ers

Primary Play-Caller: Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan has been one of the best offensive minds in football in recent memory, and it has led to two Super Bowl appearances for his teams in the last 5 years (Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV last year). In fantasy, however, many fantasy players debate whether or not he's a positive or a negative asset for his running backs in fantasy. So to answer that question, here's a look at how Kyle Shanahan has historically featured his running backs in the ground game.

The takeaway from this research is that while there is plenty of opportunity for the RB room as a whole, Kyle Shanahan tends to use a committee backfield where he rides the hot-hand. In six of his 12 seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Shanahan's RB1 has failed to crack 175 carries, and his RB1 has cracked 1000+ yards in only five of these 12 years. It takes a special talent to have him change his approach, and it seems unlikely that one of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, or Jerick McKinnon will buck the trend on the ground in 2020.

But running usage is only part of it. Here's a look at how Kyle Shanahan has utilized his running backs through the air.

Play-caller Net Impact on RB: Negative for RB1 in the ground game/Positive for RB2 & RB3 in the ground game/Negative for the passing game Kyle Shanahan does run the ball frequently in comparison to other play-callers, but this benefit is negated by his tendency to run a committee approach. In the passing game, Shanahan surprisingly doesn't use his running backs as much as conventional wisdom would suggest. The main takeaway is if you're going to invest in a Kyle Shanahan running back in fantasy football, wait and go after whoever opens up the season as the RB2.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Primary Play-Caller: Brian Schottenheimer

The Seattle Seahawks are led by a defensive-minded head coach in Pete Carroll, and Carroll has generally left the team's offense to be led by the offensive coordinator. In recent years, that's been Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer has been well-known for a strong ground game, so let's take a look at how his running backs have historically performed.

Looking at this graph of how Brian Schottenheimer has used his running backs in the past does not do justice for how run-heavy his offense is. When adjusting for a full 16 game season, his average running back room gets about 405 carries, with the lead back getting about 252 of those carries. This gives his lead back a very high floor, as well as making the handcuffs of his lead back some of the most valuable in the league.

Now let's take a little look at how Schottenheimer uses his running backs in the passing game.

While he only targets his running back room slightly more than the average coach, Schottenheimer also provides something that many other coaches haven't had historically - consistency from year to year. In all but two seasons as an offensive coordinator, Schottenheimer's running back room has received 83+ targets. This is a good sign for Chris Carson and the rest of the running back room, giving them a solid floor in PPR leagues.

Play-caller Net Impact on RB: Positive - Schottenheimer is a huge proponent for using his running backs in the ground game and is slightly above average for giving them opportunities in the passing game. Do not sleep on Chris Carson in drafts, and Rashaad Penny/Carlos Hyde are also worth monitoring for their handcuff potential in Brian Schottenheimer's system. 

 

Los Angeles Rams

Primary Play-Caller: Sean McVay

Sean McVay has been one of the biggest success stories at head coach in recent years, and now many teams are trying to emulate what the Rams did and hire a young offensive-minded coach. But this season will be a great test of Sean McVay's coaching abilities as the team has lost some key pieces in the offseason including star running back Todd Gurley. With a clear void at running back, it's a good idea to look at Sean McVay's history of utilizing the position. So we'll start by taking a look at how Sean McVay has used his running backs in the run game.

Looking at this graph, Sean McVay doesn't appear to give his RB room anything more than an average amount of carries (22.06 per game), with the room averaging about 353 carries per season. However, what has been encouraging for fantasy owners is McVay's preference for a bell-cow running back. While he has been adaptable in the past to run a hot-hand approach (see 2015 and 2016), over his six years as a play-caller his lead back has gotten 65.77% of the carries, averaging 232 carries per 16 game season.

Besides the run game, it's also important to consider how Sean McVay utilizes his running backs as pass-catchers. Here's a little look at how he has utilized his running backs as pass-catchers.

McVay pretty consistently gave his RB Room 89-101 targets until last year, where his RB room only got 61 targets. On one hand, we can expect some positive regression in targets for McVay's running backs. But on the other hand, the opportunity ceiling in the passing game historically has never been very high in McVay's offenses and it takes a special talent to fully capitalize on it, like prime Todd Gurley.

Play-caller Net Impact on RB: Neutral - Sean McVay is a great coach who will provide more red-zone opportunities for any running back on his team. But in terms of the overall opportunity the running and passing games (carries+targets), his numbers are relatively average. Don't bank on Darrell Henderson or Cam Akers changing that tendency this season. 

Secondary Play-Caller: Kevin O'Connell

While there are a lot of the same old faces in the NFC West, there is one new face: Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell. O'Connell was the offensive coordinator in Washington during the 2019 NFL season and found a new home in Los Angeles. He won't be calling plays in LA, but he should have some input on how the offense is run. Because of this, let's take a look at how Kevin O'Connell uses his running backs in the ground game.

Not phenomenal. O'Connell's offense wasn't great last year in general, and the running backs struggled on the ground. He only gave his running backs 315 carries last year (19.69 per game). The one bright spot is that he did give his lead back Adrian Peterson 66.98% of the carries in the running back room, which suggests he may like to feature one back.

Now let's look at how Kevin O'Connell uses his running backs in the passing game.

Kevin O'Connell did utilize the running backs an above-average amount in the passing game, giving his RB room 103 targets (6.44 per game). Chris Thompson was the main beneficiary receiving 58 targets. O'Connell's usage of his running backs in the passing game is very promising and could be a good sign for the Rams in the future.

Play-caller Net Impact on RB: Slightly Negative in Run Game/Slightly Positive in the Pass Game- It's difficult to make a ton of conclusions after only one season as an offensive coordinator, but Kevin O'Connell's willingness to abandon the run last year does raise some eyebrows for concern. For now, his impact should be looked at as a slight negative for running backs usage in the run game, and a slight positive for running backs usage in the passing game until he has another season or two under his belt.

 

Arizona Cardinals

Primary Play-Caller: Kliff Kingsbury

Kliff Kingsbury was one of the riskiest head coaching hires last year, but he seems to have been a great fit, helping the Cardinals offense improve from one of the worst NFL offenses in 2018 to a middle of the pack offense in 2019. With the Cardinals roster improvements and Kliff Kingbury's play-calling wizardry, the offense is set to take another step forward.

If the offense does take a step forward, it'll be important to consider who are the best players to own in that offense. Running backs? Wide receivers? Tight-Ends? While there's a lot to consider here's a look at how Kliff Kingsbury used his running backs in the run game.

Kenyan Drake received the most carries and only got 43.93% of the running back room carries in the 2019-2020 season and may lead fantasy football owners to believe that Kingsbury runs a committee approach. But the graph above may be a little deceiving considering Drake played in only eight games. Last season Kingsbury preferred the bell-cow approach at running back, whether it was with David Johnson for the first 6 games, Chase Edmonds, or Kenyan Drake down the stretch.

If you are going to be concerned about anything with Kliff Kingbury as a play-caller, it should be usage for the whole RB room. Last year his running back room only received 280 carries all year (17.5 per game), so if Kingsbury starts to embrace more of a committee approach it could be catastrophic for Drake's value.

Besides the ground game, it's also important to consider how Kliff Kingsbury used his running backs in the passing game.

In the passing game, 104 targets for your RB Room over the course of a season is pretty good! Drake managed to get 35 targets in the last 8 games, which would put him on pace for 70 targets in a full 16 game season.

Play-caller Net Impact on RB: Slight Negative in Run Game/Slight Positive in Pass Game - Ideally it would make more sense to wait until Kliff Kingsbury has more than one NFL season under his wing to make declarations about whether he is a positive, negative, or neutral asset for running backs. For now, based on last season we will say he's a slight negative for a running back in the run game and a slight positive for a running back in the passing game. 



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Preseason Running Back Depth Charts

In fantasy football, the running back position is one of the most vital to target accurately if you are hoping to have any kind of success. Because of this, it’s important to navigate backfield situations and follow any depth chart changes throughout the NFL season.

Have no fear, Rotoballer is here! We are here to help you develop your running backs draft strategy, and help you target running backs that are best for your team's strategy. Below are our 2020 fantasy football running back depth charts as we near the beginning of the NFL season. For each team, you will find the primary running back (RB1), the secondary running back (RB2), the longshot candidates to take the job, and the best dynasty values.

Due to the nature of the NFL, running back is one of the most volatile positions in fantasy football and one of the highest turnover positions in the NFL year-to-year and week-to-week. By staying on top of all the running back changes and in-season position battles, you can adjust your rosters off the waiver wire, find sleepers, potential breakouts, and dominate your fantasy football leagues.

 

AFC EAST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of Carries RB1 Projected % of RB receptions Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of  Carries RB2 Projected % of RB receptions Longshots Dynasty Value
Shaky Patriots Sony Michel 60% 10% James White 15-20% 60% Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead
Sony Michel, Damien Harris
Solid Dolphins Jordan Howard 60% 25% Matt Breida 30% 50% Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin Jordan Howard
Solid Jets Le'Veon Bell 70% 70% Frank Gore 25% 15% Lamical Perine, Trenton Cannon None
Solid Bills Devin Singletary 50% 55% Zack Moss 40% 30% T.J. Yeldon
Devin Singletary, Zack Moss

Sony Michel is a former first-round pick for the New England Patriots, but he hasn't been particularly impressive in his first two years in the league. His lack of pass-catching ability is a huge hindrance to his upside, and it would be surprising to see him catch more than 20 passes. James White has been cemented as the Patriot's primary pass-catching back and a PPR stud for the last few seasons now, and that shouldn't change even with Tom Brady gone. Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead will both be right on Sony Michel's tail, and one of them could take over the backfield if Sony Michel is ineffective once again.

For the Dolphins their running backs have the potential to produce massive value at their current ADP. While their running game was horrible last year and Ryan Fitzpatrick was their leading rusher, they've improved their offensive line and hired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to breathe life into the run game. Jordan Howard fits the mold of Gailey's traditional lead backs and is a good bet for 215+ carries. Matt Breida will play frequently as well as a change-of-pace and pass-catching back. In standard play, Jordan Howard is the player to buy, but both Breida and Howard will have value in PPR.

Le'Veon Bell was a little disappointing last year, but a significant portion of that was because of how bad the Jets offensive line was. Even though he has to deal with Adam Gase as his head coach and Frank Gore's immortality at the position, Bell's dual-threat ability makes him a good value in PPR and standard leagues. Speaking of Frank Gore, if Bell misses any time in 2020 I don't expect Gore to be more than a FLEX play at his age.

Zack Moss has garnered a lot of hype this offseason and for good reason, but Devin Singletary should still see more touches. The good news is that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has historically been a run-happy play-caller, and there should be plenty of room for both to eat. Singletary is a solid RB2 in standard and PPR formats, and Moss is a FLEX play who will flirt with RB2 status throughout the year in the Frank Gore role for the team.

 

AFC WEST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Solid Chiefs Clyde Edwards-Helaire 65% 55% DeAndre Washington 20% 30% Darwin Thompson, Darrel Williams
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Solid Broncos Melvin Gordon 65% 65% Phillip Lindsay 30% 25% Royce Freeman Melvin Gordon
Solid Raiders Josh Jacobs 70% 30% Jalen Richard 15-20% 55% Lynn Bowden Josh Jacobs
Shaky Chargers Austin Ekeler 50% 70% Joshua Kelley 30% 15% Justin Jackson
Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the only running back selected in the first round. He joins a high-powered Chiefs offense that just saw Super Bowl standout Damien Williams opt-out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he will receive a majority of the work this season barring a free agent signing. Darwin Thompson, DeAndre Washington, and Darrel Williams will compete against each other for change-of-pace duties behind Edwards-Helaire.

In Denver, they have a very interesting running back group headlined by Melvin Gordon. Gordon to Denver was one of the most interesting free agent signings made this offseason, as the Broncos already have Phillip Lindsay who has run for 1000 yards in each of the last two seasons. Historically, Pat Shurmur has generally preferred primarily utilizing one RB, so the days of Lindsay's borderline RB1 production may be over. Expect Gordon to get a bulk of the work, and Lindsay to be one of the highest upside handcuffs on the market.

Josh Jacobs was phenomenal as a rookie last year taking 242 carries for 1150 rushing yards, cementing himself as the Raiders running back of the future. In PPR leagues, Jalen Richard will have some value as the primary pass-catcher. Rookie Lynn Bowden will be a do-it-all weapon that gets a few plays designed for him each game.

In Los Angeles, the Chargers let go of Melvin Gordon this offseason, leaving Austin Ekeler as the presumed starter for the team. With regards to carries, the Chargers will likely run a bit of a committee approach with carries being split between Ekeler, rookie Joshua Kelley, and Justin Jackson. But make no mistake, Ekeler has a stronghold on the featured pass-catching back role for the team and will be a phenomenal draft pick in PPR formats.

 

AFC SOUTH: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Questionable Colts Jonathan Taylor 60% 30% Marlon Mack 30% 10% Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins Jonathan Taylor
Solid Titans Derrick Henry 80% 30% Darrynton Evans 15% 50% None Derrick Henry
Shaky Texans David Johnson 60% 40% Duke Johnson 25% 55% Buddy Howell None
Solid Jaguars Leonard Fournette 65% 40% Chris Thompson 15-20% 55% Ryquell Armstead
Ryquell Armstead

The Colts have one of the murkier running back situations in the league. The Colts drafted Wisconsin standout, Jonathan Taylor, in the second round and he's anticipated to receive the majority of the carries. But it may not happen right away with Marlon Mack still on the team, Taylor will split work with Mack for the first part of the season before taking over as a bell cow. In Dynasty leagues, Taylor is going to be one of the premier players and possess a ton of value. Nyheim Hines also figures to play frequently as the primary pass-catching back on the roster and could be a good depth piece in PPR leagues.

Derrick Henry is the engine that makes the Tennessee Titans offense go. As long as he's healthy, Henry will get one of the biggest workloads in the NFL and has a very good chance of leading the league in carries. Rookie Darrynton Evans will fill the pass-catching role for the team after Dion Lewis left in the offseason.

The Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson in a move that didn't make a lot of sense to many NFL fans. Johnson lost his starting job after 6 weeks last season and was ineffective as a runner. He's never been a particularly efficient runner, so he will once again be reliant on volume, touchdowns, and his pass-catching abilities. However, in Houston, David Johnson's pass-catching upside is limited with Duke Johnson and makes him more of an RB2 this season. Duke Johnson should be a solid FLEX play in PPR formats and if could be in for a bigger role if David Johnson proves to be a poor runner again this season.

The Jaguars have repeatedly tried to trade Leonard Fournette, but no other team is interested in his price tag, leaving Fournette as the big dog in Jacksonville. Fournette will see a ton of carries on the ground, but his pass-catching upside is going to take a hit this year with the Jaguars adding Chris Thompson. Thompson will be frequently mixed in on passing downs, with Ryquell Armstead as the primary handcuff should Fournette miss time. In Dynasty, Fournette will be a free agent next season, so it could be a good opportunity for Ryquell Armstead if the Jags decide not to draft or sign a running back in 2021.

 

AFC NORTH: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Solid Browns Nick Chubb 60% 35% Kareem Hunt 35% 55% D'Ernest Johnson, Dontrell Hilliard
Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt
Solid Steelers James Conner 60% 65% Jaylen Samuels 20% 30% Anthony McFarland, Benny Snell James Conner, Anthony McFarland
Questionable Ravens Mark Ingram 50% 45% J.K. Dobbins 35% 40% Gus Edwards, Justice Hill J.K. Dobbins
Solid Bengals Joe Mixon 75% 45% Giovani Bernard 15% 50% Trayveon Williams, Semaje Perine Joe Mixon

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are two extremely talented running backs, and there's plenty of room for both to feast in Kevin Stefanski's offense. While both players will get carries and receiving work, Chubb will be the primary ball carrier and Hunt will be the primary pass-catching back. This thunder and lightning duo will be one of the best in the league, and if one of them misses time, the other's value will skyrocket into high-end RB1 territory.

The Steelers are locked in on James Conner as their starter for the 2020 season, despite Conner struggling with injuries over the past few years. If James Conner were time miss time, Jaylen Samuels would likely be the starter based on the last two seasons. However,  monitor fourth-round draft pick Anthony McFarland who has blazing speed and potential to be a dynamic home-run hitter.

Mark Ingram is becoming the new Frank Gore in that he manages to be an effective starting running back at an age when running backs typically decline (30). But nipping on his heels for the starting role is 2nd round draft pick J.K. Dobbins. Long-term, Dobbins is the player to own, but this will be a committee all year between Ingram, Dobbins, and Gus Edwards.

In Cincinnati, Joe Mixon is cemented as the primary back. If Mixon were to miss time Giovani Bernard would be the starter with some Trayveon Williams and Semaje Perine sprinkled in.

 

NFC EAST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Solid Eagles Miles Sanders 55% 65% Boston Scott 25% 25% Corey Clement Miles Sanders
Solid Giants Saquon Barkley 75% 70% Dion Lewis 20% 25% Wayne Gallman Saquon Barkley
Solid Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott 75% 65% Tony Pollard 20% 25% Rico Dowdle Ezekiel Elliott
Shaky Washington Football Team Antonio Gibson 25% 50% Adrian Peterson 45% 20% Bryce Love
Bryce Love, Antonio Gibson

Doug Pederson hasn't had a back as talented as Miles Sanders in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, but historically he's run more of a committee approach with regards to carries. Sanders probably won't get 250+ carries, but Sanders' stronghold on the pass-catching role still makes him an intriguing early-round pick in PPR formats. Boston Scott is set to be the primary backup behind Sanders, and we'll also see some Corey Clement mixed in as well.

Saquon Barkley has about as safe a hold on the starting job as any running back in the league. Former Titan Dion Lewis will get some work on third-downs as a pass-catcher, and Wayne Gallman will be the primary ball-carrier should Barkley miss some time.

Ezekiel Elliott is another back that has a really strong hold on the starting running back job. Tony Pollard will once again be a capable backup and one of the most valuable handcuffs in the league. Rico Dowdle won't see much play-time unless Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are out.

The Washington Football Team has a very ugly RB situation where it's hard to predict who will come out on top. Derrius Guice was the projected starter, but he recently got cut from the team after a domestic violence incident. Antonio Gibson might be the best value due to his pass-catching ability. Adrian Peterson will get carries, but at his age and lack of pass-catching ability, his role is ultimately limited. Bryce Love should factor in on some plays as well, making this a backfield most won't want to have a part of.

 

NFC West: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Volatile 49ers Raheem Mostert 45% 25% Tevin Coleman 35% 40% Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson None
Solid Cardinals Kenyan Drake 60% 65% Chase Edmonds 30% 30% Eno Benjamin, D.J. Foster Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds
Solid Seahawks Chris Carson 65% 40% Rashaad Penny 25% 30% Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas Rashaad Penny
Volatile Rams Cam Akers 50% 45% Darrell Henderson 30% 25% Malcolm Brown Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson

The 49ers made the Super Bowl last year on the back of their running game led by Raheem Mostert. Mostert will start the year off as the head of the committee, but that could change quickly as Kyle Shanahan runs a 'hot hand' approach. Tevin Coleman is next in line, but Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson should also have roles in the offense.

Kliff Kingsbury favored the bell cow approach in his first year with the Cardinals whether it was with David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, or Kenyan Drake. Drake will open the year as his bell-cow running back, and have a lot of upside in both standard and PPR fantasy formats. Chase Edmonds will be the change-of-pace back and a premier fantasy handcuff.

In Seattle, Chris Carson will be the lead back as he has been the last two years. Pete Carroll has hinted that Rashaad Penny will begin the year on the injured reserve/PUP list, but as soon as the former first-round pick gets back he will be the number two back. Carlos Hyde and DeeJay Dallas also have upside in Brian Schottenheimer's offense but will need Carson to miss time in order to achieve it.

The Rams cut their star bell-cow running back, Todd Gurley, in the offseason leaving a void at the position. To fill the void head coach Sean McVay has hinted that their plan at running back is to go with a hot hand approach using newly drafted RB Cam Akers, second-year back Darrell Henderson, and the veteran Malcolm Brown. Long term Cam Akers is the back to own, with Darrell Henderson having some value in dynasty leagues as well.

 

NFC South: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Solid Panthers Christian McCaffrey 75% 80% Reggie Bonnafon 15% 10% Jordan Scarlett, Mike Davis
Christian McCaffrey
Volatile Buccaneers Ronald Jones 50% 30% Ke'Shawn Vaughn 30% 40% LeSean McCoy
Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Solid Saints Alvin Kamara 55% 75% Latavius Murray 40% 20% Ty Montgomery, Dwayne Washington Alvin Kamara
Solid Falcons Todd Gurley 65% 60% Ito Smith 30% 25% Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison None

While Matt Rhule has hinted towards some scale back of Christian McCaffrey's workload from last year, McCaffrey is still the alpha dog in Carolina and his talent will make it hard for the Panthers to keep him off the field. If McCaffrey were to miss time, this backfield will turn into a full-blown committee featuring Reggie Bonnafon, Jordan Scarlett, and Mike Davis.

For most of the offseason, fantasy experts have been arguing about whether Ronald Jones or Ke'Shawn Vaughn is the player to own in the Buccaneers high-powered offseason. That situation got even muddier when the Buccaneers signed LeSean McCoy this past offseason. Ronald Jones is the 'starter' but make no mistake, this will be a full-blown committee where the Buccaneers ride the hot hand.

In New Orleans, you have one of the most stable situations of any backfield. Alvin Kamara will dominate the receiving workload and have a slight edge in carries over Latavius Murray. If Alvin Kamara misses any time, Latavius Murray is the clear-cut player to own. Ty Montgomery and Dwayne Washington round out the depth chart and would need both Kamara and Murray to miss time in order to be fantasy relevant.

Like him or hate him as a fantasy value this year there's one thing people can't deny: Todd Gurley will get the majority of the workload in Atlanta when he's healthy. If Gurley's knee issues flare-up again Ito Smith would be the player to own, with Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison backing him up.

 

NFC North: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team Primary Running Back (RB1) RB1 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB1 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Backup (RB2) RB2 Projected % of RB Room's Carries RB2 Projected % of Team's RB Room receiving work Longshots Dynasty Value
Solid Vikings Dalvin Cook 65% 65% Alexander Mattison 30% 30% Ameer Abdullah
Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison
Solid Bears David Montgomery 75% 25% Tarik Cohen 20% 70% Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce
David Montgomery
Solid Packers Aaron Jones 65% 40% Jamaal Williams 15% 40% A.J. Dillon A.J. Dillon
Shaky Lions D'Andre Swift 55% 40% Kerryon Johnson 35% 50% Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson D'Andre Swift

Dalvin Cook threatened to holdout earlier this offseason for the Vikings but appears to have set that behind him and will be the Vikings starting back come the season opener. Alexander Mattison will get some work as a change-of-pace back and is one of the most valuable handcuffs in the league should Dalvin Cook miss time. It would take a miracle for Ameer Abdullah to start games for the Vikings, but in Gary Kubiak's system, any player that gets the lead back role is capable of producing RB1 numbers. Both Cook and Mattison have value in dynasty leagues due to Cook's impending free agency.

In Chicago, David Montgomery is locked and loaded as the between-the-tackles running back, while Tarik Cohen will dominate the receiving workload. In standard play, Montgomery should be a solid value at his current ADP but should be avoided in PPR formats. If David Montgomery missed time, Tarik Cohen would maintain largely the same role and Ryan Nall or Artavis Pierce would take over the between-the-tackles role.

The Packers made some decisions for the future during the 2020 NFL draft drafting QB Jordan Love in the 1st round and RB A.J. Dillon in the 2nd round. Dillon won't affect Aaron Jones' workload too much this year but indicates that the Packers will not be re-signing Jones when his contract runs out at the end of the year. Jones should have a similar workload to last year and both Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon getting some work here and there as change-of-pace running backs.

With their second-round pick, the Detroit Lions selected RB D'Andre Swift out of Georgia. Play-caller Darrell Bevell preferred primarily using one running back for much of his career but has been more committee-friendly in recent years. This backfield will go with the two-headed monster approach with Swift and Kerryon Johnson sharing the workload. Bo Scarbrough and Ty Johnson will provide depth and capable change-of-pace options in the event of injury.



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Sophomore Slump: Breakout Rookies Who Could Bust in 2020

This past NFL season, we saw a number of breakout rookies like Terry McLaurin, Josh Jacobs, and Kyler Murray. While many of these players will maintain or exceed their fantasy production from year one, there are some others whose production will become stagnant or even take a step back.

Second-year players can have a wide range of outcomes because there's now a full year of film where NFL teams can look and better exploit the player's weaknesses. The players need to readjust and show they have improved.

In this space, we are going to talk about the players from the 2019 draft class that are due to hit the sophomore slump, and you should try to avoid at their current draft prices.

 

A.J. Brown - WR, Tennessee Titans

A.J. Brown really came on strong at the end of last season and helped a lot fantasy teams win a championship. But while that's a great feel-good story, some of his numbers were a bit of an outlier. Brown averaged 8.8 yards after the catch, which was the best in the NFL. But according to NFL’s NextGenStats, he should’ve averaged only 4.0 yards after the catch based on the spots where he ended up catching the ball and the defenders around him. This means there was nearly a five-yard difference between his expected numbers and actual numbers. No other NFL receiver had a difference of more than 2.6 yards, so expect at least some regression from Brown in his yards after the catch.

His starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, also is due for some regression which will make it harder on Brown to replicate his production. Last season Tannehill threw for a touchdown on 7.69% of his passes. This was in the top 70 all-time for a single season. He had a yards-per-attempt of 9.6 which ranked top 10 all-time, after never topping 7.7 in his previous six seasons as a starting quarterback.

So if A.J. Brown is going take the next step and be a perennial fantasy stud, he's going to need to get more targets. And while that may seem possible with Brown being the number one receiving option for the Titans, being the number one option on a team that attempted the 2nd fewest passes and runs through Derrick Henry is much different than being the number one option of a pass-happy team. 

Play Caller Team Passing Att Per Game Pass Yds Per Game Pass TD Per Game Rush Att Per Game Rush Yds Per Game Rush TD Per Game Total Attempts Per Game Fantasy Yards Per Game Total TD Per Game Pass Att % Run Att %
Arthur Smith Tennessee Titans 28 247.25 1.81 27.81 138.94 1.31 55.81 386.19 3.13 50.17 49.83

Brown is a very talented receiver, but his current draft price ranges between a top 30 pick and a top 50 pick depending on the site you draft from. In this offensive system, he's very unlikely to return good value and should be avoided in your fantasy drafts.

2020 Projection:

110 targets, 60 receptions, 960 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns

 

Daniel Jones - QB, New York Giants

Daniel Jones is a player I have gone back and forth on as a fantasy asset. On one hand, in just 12 starts (13 games) as a rookie he threw for 3027 yards, took 45 carries for 279 rushing yards (6.2 YPC), and scored 26 touchdowns (24 passing). Jones was also one of three players (Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson) to have two of the top-10 single-game performances by a QB for the 2019 NFL season.

However I have some concerns. Daniel Jones has some major issues with turnovers. Last season Jones fumbled 18 times (11 lost) which led the NFL. This problem has dated back to his college days at Duke where he fumbled 19 times (13 lost) in his three-year career. In addition, Jones threw 12 interceptions which at face value doesn't seem too bad for a rookie. But he also got a little lucky that he only threw 12 interceptions, as 29 of his passes were categorized as interceptable.

That means that 6.32% of his pass attempts last year were interceptable but he only threw interceptions on 2.61% of his pass attempts. And comparing these numbers to his fellow QB compadres from the 2019 draft class, it's clear he is due to throw more interceptions this year.

Player NFL Team Att. Passes Comp% Yards Per Pass Attempt TD Pass% INT% Interceptable% Money Throw% Dropped Pass%
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals 542 64.39 % 6.87 3.69 % 2.21 % 3.32 % 4.80 % 4.24 %
Daniel Jones New York Giants 459 61.87 % 6.59 5.23 % 2.61 % 6.32 % 3.92 % 5.45 %
Dwayne Haskins Washington Redskins 203 58.62 % 6.72 3.45 % 3.45 % 5.42 % 1.97 % 10.34 %
Drew Lock Denver Broncos 156 64.10 % 6.54 4.49 % 1.92 % 3.21 % 1.28 % 5.77 %
Will Grier Carolina Panthers 52 53.85 % 4.38 0.00 % 7.69 % 13.46 % 0.00 % 3.85 %
Ryan Finley Cincinnati Bengals 87 47.13 % 5.45 2.30 % 2.30 % 9.20 % 2.30 % 3.45 %
Gardner Minshew Jacksonville Jaguars 470 60.64 % 6.96 4.47 % 1.28 % 4.26 % 3.40 % 7.23 %
Devlin Hodges Pittsburgh Steelers 160 62.50 % 6.64 3.13 % 5.00 % 6.25 % 4.38 % 4.38 %
David Blough Detroit Lions 174 54.02 % 5.66 2.30 % 3.45 % 7.47 % 1.15 % 10.34 %

The change in play-callers from Pat Shurmur to Jason Garrett will also be hard on Jones. Pat Shurmur's offense was 9th in passing attempts during the 2019 NFL season, and he's only ranked outside of the top 20 in passing attempts twice in eleven years as an offensive coordinator or head coach.

The Giants made the decision to fire Shurmur and hire Joe Judge as their new head coach, bringing on Garrett as an offensive coordinator. Having a new offensive coordinator for Jones may pay off in the long run, but in the short-term, Jones will experience some growing pains learning the new system. Daniel Jones will be a good fantasy asset down the road because of his rushing ability, but he's destined for regression and a sophomore slump in 2020.

2020 Projection:

330/550, 3500 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 55 carries, 350 rushing yards, 15 fumbles, 8 lost

 

Darius Slayton - WR, New York Giants

Within the fantasy community, Darius Slayton has gotten some hype as a year-two breakout. After all, he's a 6'1'' receiver with a massive catch radius that ran his 40-yard-dash with a blazing 4.39 time. So why does he land on this list?

A good chunk of it is the expectations of Daniel Jones' to suffer a bit of a sophomore slump, making Darius Slayton more likely to fall on this list as well. Jones' touchdown pass ratio is expected to decline after throwing a TD on 5.23% of his passes in 2019, and considering Slayton caught eight touchdowns last season (9th in the NFL), touchdown regression would greatly hurt his fantasy prospects.

Another reason is that the New York Giants pass catchers were banged up much of last year with Golden Tate, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard missing 5+ games apiece. What this means is that the competition for targets will be higher for Slayton this year, and make it difficult for him to enjoy a true breakout.

Well, maybe it doesn't matter that the competition for targets is greater if the overall passing volume gets larger.

Looking into the change in play-callers from Pat Shurmur to Jason Garrett suggests that the passing volume for the Giants is more likely to get smaller rather than larger. Under Pat Shurmur, the Giants ranked ninth in the league in passing attempts in both 2018 (583 passing attempts) and 2019 (607 passing attempts).

Meanwhile, Jason Garrett's offense has had a much more balanced approach in the last two years, ranking 21st in passing attempts in 2018 (527 passing attempts) and 10th in passing attempts in 2019 (597 passing attempts). Slayton will have a much tougher road to be fantasy relevant in 2020, and there are players with more upside in his draft range that you should target.

2020 Projection: 

100 targets, 55 receptions, 760 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns

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Running Back Standard Rankings, Tiers and Analysis

In the NFL, everyone knows that quarterback is the most vital positions to the success of their team. But in fantasy football, the most vital position is running back, with seven of our top nine ranked players at the position. That's especially true in standard scoring leagues.

It's such a relief to have one of the top guys, like Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott, but not every team is lucky enough to have a set-and-forget RB1. If you aren't lucky enough to be dealt a top pick, you have to scout harder to find the next breakout RB to save your team. Luckily, some of our Rotoballer experts have come together to create some standard league rankings to make it easier for you to find that breakout RB.

Below are RotoBaller's consensus staff rankings for the 2020 fantasy football season. These rankings are compiled by Nick MarianoPierre CamusScott EngelDominick Petrillo, Brandon Murchison and Antonio Losada.


2020 Standard RB Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Christian McCaffrey 1 1
2 1 Saquon Barkley 2 1
3 1 Ezekiel Elliott 3 1
4 1 Derrick Henry 5 1
5 1 Alvin Kamara 6 1
6 1 Dalvin Cook 7 1
7 1 Joe Mixon 9 1
8 2 Nick Chubb 13 2
9 2 Josh Jacobs 14 2
10 2 Kenyan Drake 17 2
11 2 Aaron Jones 19 3
12 2 Leonard Fournette 20 3
13 2 Austin Ekeler 22 3
14 3 Miles Sanders 25 3
15 3 Todd Gurley 28 3
16 3 Melvin Gordon 29 3
17 3 Chris Carson 32 3
18 3 Le'Veon Bell 34 3
19 3 Jonathan Taylor 36 3
20 3 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 40 4
21 3 Devin Singletary 44 4
22 3 D'Andre Swift 46 4
23 3 James Conner 47 4
24 4 David Johnson 53 5
25 4 Mark Ingram II 59 5
26 4 David Montgomery 61 5
27 4 Cam Akers 64 5
28 4 Raheem Mostert 65 5
29 4 Kareem Hunt 69 5
30 4 Jordan Howard 72 5
31 4 Marlon Mack 75 6
32 4 Sony Michel 77 6
33 4 Derrius Guice 79 6
34 4 J.K. Dobbins 80 6
35 5 Ke'Shawn Vaughn 83 6
36 5 Kerryon Johnson 85 6
37 5 Matt Breida 87 6
38 5 Ronald Jones II 88 6
39 5 Damien Williams 89 7
40 5 Phillip Lindsay 91 7
41 5 James White 93 7
42 5 Latavius Murray 97 7
43 5 Tevin Coleman 102 7
44 6 Tarik Cohen 115 8
45 6 Darrell Henderson 117 8
46 6 Nyheim Hines 119 8
47 6 Zack Moss 123 8
48 6 Boston Scott 124 8
49 6 Alexander Mattison 125 8
50 6 Duke Johnson 126 8
51 7 Adrian Peterson 134 9
52 7 Joshua Kelley 136 9
53 7 Jamaal Williams 137 9
54 7 A.J. Dillon 141 9
55 7 Chase Edmonds 147 9
56 7 Tony Pollard 151 9
57 8 Justin Jackson 162 10
58 8 Justice Hill 165 10
59 8 Giovani Bernard 166 10
60 8 Rashaad Penny 173 11
61 8 Gus Edwards 175 11
62 9 Malcolm Brown 188 11
63 9 Ryquell Armstead 194 11
64 9 Anthony McFarland Jr. 197 12
65 9 Darrynton Evans 199 12
66 9 Dion Lewis 200 12
67 9 Benny Snell Jr. 201 12
68 9 Devonta Freeman 211 12
69 9 Jaylen Samuels 218 13
70 9 Rex Burkhead 221 13
71 9 Ito Smith 228 13
72 9 Antonio Gibson 230 13
73 10 Jalen Richard 233 13
74 10 Damien Harris 235 13
75 10 Royce Freeman 238 13
76 10 Eno Benjamin 244 13
77 10 Darwin Thompson 249 14
78 10 Chris Thompson 251 14
79 10 Lamical Perine 255 14
80 10 DeAndre Washington 265 14
81 10 Carlos Hyde 266 14
82 11 Lamar Miller 269 15
83 11 Jerick McKinnon 275 15
84 11 Bryce Love 276 15
85 11 Mike Boone 281 15
86 11 Peyton Barber 282 15
87 11 Dare Ogunbowale 283 15
88 11 DeeJay Dallas 284 15
89 11 Jordan Wilkins 289 15
90 11 LeSean McCoy 301 15
91 11 Ryan Nall 303 15
92 11 Patrick Laird 304 15
93 12 Dwayne Washington 316 16
94 12 Reggie Bonnafon 317 16
95 12 Lynn Bowden Jr. 319 16
96 12 Brian Hill 320 16
97 12 Bo Scarbrough 323 16
98 12 Darrel Williams 324 16
99 12 Raymond Calais 325 16
100 12 Myles Gaskin 327 16
101 12 Qadree Ollison 332 16
102 12 T.J. Yeldon 334 16
103 12 Wayne Gallman 343 16
104 12 J.D. McKissic 345 16
105 13 Dexter Williams 346 17
106 12 Bilal Powell 348 17
107 13 Kalen Ballage 354 17
108 13 Ty Montgomery 355 17
109 13 Travis Homer 356 17
110 13 Kyle Juszczyk 357 17
111 13 Frank Gore 361 17
112 13 Ty Johnson 362 17
113 13 James Robinson 363 17
114 13 Devine Ozigbo 368 17
115 13 Jeff Wilson 374 17
116 13 Mike Davis 375 17
117 13 Rodney Anderson 379 17
118 13 John Kelly 386 18
119 13 Trayveon Williams 387 18
120 13 Kerrith Whyte Jr. 388 18
121 13 Corey Clement 389 18
122 13 Dontrell Hilliard 390 18
123 13 C.J. Anderson 400 18
124 13 Devontae Booker 402 18
125 13 J.J. Taylor 414 18
126 13 Rico Dowdle 445 18
127 13 Wendell Smallwood 449 18

 

Tier One

This is a large top tier with seven players: Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, and Joe Mixon.

Christian McCaffrey is obvious the No. 1 player in our rankings after a season in which he had 1387 rushing yards and 1,005 receiving yards. Saquon Barkley isn't far behind after running for over 1,000 yards last season despite dealing with an ankle injury.

Ezekiel Elliott has been the most consistent running back on the field over the last four years, averaging nearly 100 rushing yards per game (96.5) in his career. Derrick Henry gets the biggest boost in standard leagues because while he's not a great pass-catcher, he's a freight-train runner as we saw in the playoffs where he led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC championship with 83 carries for 446 rushing yards.

Alvin Kamara was disappointing last year but remains one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league. Dalvin Cook is the most worrisome of these ranks this year as he has recently announced his intention to hold out until he receives a contract extension. And Joe Mixon rounds out tier one after his second straight 1100+ yard rushing season.

 

Tier Two

Tier two consists of just three players this year: Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, and Kenyan Drake.

Nick Chubb leads off this tier. Talentwise, he belongs in tier one. However, Chubb will have to share some of his workload with Kareem Hunt which bumps him down to tier two. Josh Jacobs had a phenomenal rookie season and is probably the safest draft selection in this tier for standard play with little competition for touches and a full season of being a bell-cow under his belt. Kenyan Drake rounds out this tier. Drake is the riskiest player in this tier, but arguably has the most upside. Drake has never rushed for more than 850 rushing yards in his previous four seasons in the league, but he's the #1 running back in Kliff Kingsbury's offense and closed out 2019 very strong for the Cardinals: 123 carries, 643 rushing yards, 28 receptions, 171 receiving yards, eight touchdowns.

 

Tier Three

Tier three is larger than tier two, consisting of: Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette, Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Chris Carson, Le'Veon Bell, and Jonathan Taylor.

This is the tier where the draft really gets interesting for running backs in standard leagues as many of the players have massive upside, but some big question marks. Aaron Jones was one of the best backs in standard leagues last year running for over 1,000 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns, but he may be dealing with more competition with the Packers drafting A.J. Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Leonard Fournette has been one of the few true workhorses in the NFL in recent years. Fournette is due for some positive regression for his touchdown total after scoring only three last year, but will likely see a dip in receiving production with the Jaguars adding Chris Thompson.

Austin Ekeler broke out last season and will no longer have to compete with Melvin Gordon, but he's never been given 135+ carries and may be more reliant on receiving production than the rest of his tier three counterparts. Miles Sanders really came on strong at the end of his rookie year and ended his campaign with 818 rushing yards and 509 receiving yards. With no Jordan Howard in the mix, he has an opportunity to get more carries than any back in Doug Pederson's tenure as the Eagles head coach.

Chris Carson is a player who gets a boost from the standard league format, but will have competition for reps with newly signed Carlos Hyde and with former 1st round pick Rashaad Penny when he returns from injury.

Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Le'Veon Bell were some of the best fantasy running backs regardless of format not too long ago, but are on different teams now and all three were disappointing in 2019. Rookie Jonathan Taylor is unproven in the NFL, but was one of the best running backs in college football last season and will be running a very talented Indianapolis Colts offensive line.

 

Tier Four 

The members of tier four include: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Devin Singletary, D'Andre Swift, and James Conner.

If you're the type of fantasy player that guns for upside, Clyde Edwards-Helaire may have the highest upside of any rookie fantasy back as he joins a high-scoring Chiefs offense. If you're looking for the safest player to be an RB2 in this tier, Devin Singletary is your best bet as the Bills are a run-heavy team and he'll only have to share the load with Zack Moss.

D'Andre Swift has the talent, but the Lions don't run the ball very much and are likely to run a committee between Swift and Kerryon Johnson. James Conner was a huge draft bust last year but has an opportunity to bounce-back for a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that will see the return of Ben Roethlisberger.

 

Tier Five

Tier five is one of my personal favorite tiers for value and it consists of David Johnson, Mark Ingram, David Montgomery, Cam Akers, Raheem Mostert, Kareem Hunt, and Jordan Howard.

David Johnson was one of the best backs in fantasy back in 2016 when he ran for 1239 yards, caught 80 passes for 879 receiving yards, and scored 20 touchdowns. But in the three seasons since then (30 games played), Johnson has only ran for 1308 yards, caught 92 passes for 883 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns. Now traded to the Houston Texans where he'll be their primary back, Johnson will have to try and prove that he's still a talented back.

Mark Ingram has been one of the most consistent fantasy assets in recent years running for over 1000+ yards in three of the last four seasons. If he can hold off rookie J.K. Dobbins, he will be a great value for a talented Baltimore Ravens offense. David Montgomery gets a huge boost in value in standard play as he is locked in as the between-the-tackles back for the Chicago Bears and he doesn't catch a lot of passes due to the presence of Tarik Cohen.

Cam Akers has arguably the most upside in this tier as the likely starting back of the Los Angeles Rams offense who have scored 60 rushing touchdowns in the last 3 seasons. Raheem Mostert played extremely well for the San Francisco 49ers from week 12 on (9 games) taking 133 touches for 859 yards, and scoring 13 touchdowns. On the flip side, Kyle Shanahan has been known to use the hot-hand and Mostert has only gotten 20+ carries in one game of his entire career.

Kareem Hunt is the most talented player in this tier, but has to split reps with another extremely talented back in Nick Chubb. Jordan Howard is one of highest floor, lowest ceiling players in tier five for standard play as he will be the lead back for the Miami Dolphins.

 

Tier Six

Tier six consists of Marlon Mack, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, J.K. Dobbins, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Kerryon Johnson, Matt Breida, and Ronald Jones.

This tier is primarily composed of talented backs in shared backfields and lead backs on teams that are projected to have poor rushing attacks. Sony Michel is a player who gets a major boost in standard play because his inability to catch the ball is not nearly as important as it would be in a PPR league. Derrius Guice is expected to lead the Washington Redskins backfield in a committee that also features Adrian Peterson and Bryce Love. Rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn and third-year player Ronald Jones are directly competing with each other for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead back role where the winner will provide strong value in standard play.

Marlon Mack, J.K. Dobbins, Kerryon Johnson, and Matt Breida are projected to be on the lesser end of their committees but have the talent to provide great fantasy returns in standard leagues. Mack went for over 1000 yards on the ground last year and he'd be a very high draft pick in standard play if the Colts didn't draft Jonathan Taylor 41st overall. Dobbins is the player with the most upside in this tier as the talented rookie running back joins a Baltimore Ravens team that had the most rushing attempts and rush yards last year. Kerryon Johnson has been a very efficient back for the Lions, but has been plagued with injuries in the past and will have to compete second-round draft pick D'Andre Swift. Matt Breida will be in a committee with Jordan Howard, and will be a solid FLEX play when he's healthy.

 

Tier Seven

This tier consists of players who will have a role in their offenses, but it is unclear how large: Damien Williams, Phillip Lindsay, James White, Latavius Murray, and Tevin Coleman.

Damien Williams played extremely well in Super Bowl LVIII with over 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns but will have to compete with Kansas City Chiefs first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire for reps. Phillip Lindsay has been the best player in this tier for standard play the last two seasons with two consecutive seasons of over 1200 yards from scrimmage, but with the Denver Broncos signing Melvin Gordon his role for 2020 is a little less clear. As a pass-catching back, James White is a much better player in PPR rather than standard. Latavius Murray and Tevin Coleman are two of the best handcuffs in the league and can be good FLEX options/bye-week replacements this season.

 

The Rest 

While we don't have these players ranked as highly as some of the players listed above, there is quite a bit of value to be had in these later rounds. Alexander Mattison's fantasy value skyrockets if Dalvin Cook continues his holdout as the lead back in Gary Kubiak's scheme. There are quite a few rookie and sophomore running backs that could surprise and provide strong value in standard leagues like Zack Moss, A.J. Dillon, Darrell Henderson, Bryce Love, or Joshua Kelley. There are some veteran free agents like Devonta Freeman and Lamar Miller that will gain fantasy value if they sign with a team in need of a running back.

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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Justin Herbert - Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight

As fantasy football players and NFL fans, every year we get excited about the NFL draft. It is a time of hope where a franchise's luck can change for the better or for the worst. This rings especially true for the teams that decide to select a quarterback. The starting quarterback of an NFL team is the face of the franchise and the player that can make or break an offense.

In the 2020 NFL draft, we saw four quarterbacks go in the 1st round. Monitoring these rookie quarterbacks throughout the season will be vital for fantasy owners as they can completely change the outlook of an offense. In our Rotoballer rookie rankings, we anticipate a few of these quarterbacks to be fantasy relevant.

Today we'll be taking a look at one of those quarterbacks in Justin Herbert. Justin Herbert played four years as a starter at Oregon, playing in 43 games and totalling some very strong numbers: completing 64% of his passes for 10,541 passing yards, throwing 95 touchdowns, and only having 23 interceptions during his time. On April 23, 2020, the wait was finally over to find out where hyped draft prospect and quarterback would be playing, with Herbert being selected sixth overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.

 

Profile

Team: Los Angeles Chargers
College: Oregon
Height/Weight: 6'6'', 236 lbs
2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 6

 

Accuracy and Arm

Herbert's accuracy and throwing ability are interesting because when given a clean pocket he has proven to be one of the most accurate quarterbacks in his draft class. In fact according to PFF, when throwing the ball over twenty yards downfield in a clean pocket, Justin Herbert had the highest accurate pass rate in all of the 2020 draft class. His deep-ball abilities were well on display during throwing drills at the NFL combine.

However, there is a catch with Herbert's throwing abilities. Justin Herbert struggles to escape sudden pressure and his mechanics and decision-making suffering greatly in a muddy pocket. According to PFF, among 129 of qualifying college quarterbacks this past season, Herbert ranked 124th in negatively graded play rate under pressure. When targeting open receivers between five to eighteen yards from the line of scrimmage, Herbert flat out missed them 14.1% of the time in 2019. He also needs to improve his ball placement leading his receivers better and throw the ball with more touch especially on deep passes and fade routes.

There are also some questions with how his overall game will translate to the NFL. At Oregon, 23.2% of Herbert's pass attempts were screen passes. Considering no starting NFL quarterback has ever thrown screen passes at that rate, Herbert will need to learn to adjust and likely have some growing pains in the process.

 

Athleticism

Herbert has the physical tools to succeed standing at 6 '6'' and weighing 236 pounds. He has one of the strongest arms from the 2020 NFL Draft class, which lets him throw the ball into very tight windows even on the run. In addition, Herbert has shown that he is a fairly mobile quarterback, running a 4.68 40 yard-dash. This ranked 3rd in his draft class among quarterbacks who ran the 40, behind Cole McDonald (4.58) and Jalen Hurts (4.59).

For comparison, Herbert's time is in the same ballpark as Deshaun Watson who ran a 4.66 (2017), Mitchell Trubisky who ran a 4.67 (2017), and Drew Lock who ran a 4.69 (2019). On paper, Herbert's speed should help him to move the chains for the Chargers in tough third-down situations when he's forced out of the pocket, and provide valuable rushing yards for his fantasy totals.

But despite Herbert's speed, he doesn't seem to utilize it as much as he should. In college, he only took off 5.37 times for 13.02 yards per game (Side note: College football records sacks as negative rushing yards). His college rush attempts ranked in the middle of the pack for projected starting AFC quarterbacks at 9th, while his rush yards ranked 7th. So fantasy owners should not expect him to come out of the gates with phenomenal rushing numbers like Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson did, but there's a ton of potential for growth in the rushing realm for Herbert.

 

2020 Outlook

With regards to his situation, Herbert has a very positive outlook with former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers departing for the Indianapolis Colts this past offseason. Herbert will likely still start his career off on the bench with veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor in front of him on the depth chart, but it's very likely that Herbert will take the starting role after a few games.

In addition, Herbert also enters a very talented offense. Last year with Philip Rivers at the helm with the Chargers offense finished No. 10 in the league in offensive production to the tune of 5,879 total yards (276.6 passing yards per game, 90.8 rushing yards per game) and averaging 21.1 points per game.

The good news for Herbert is that the Chargers offensive weapons will be largely the same bringing back their top four receiving threats in Keenan Allen (104 receptions for 1199 receiving yards), Mike Williams (49 receptions for 1001 receiving yards), Austin Ekeler (92 receptions for 993 receiving yards), and Hunter Henry (55 receptions for 652 receiving yards). These pass catchers, in addition to adding RT Bryan Buluga and RG Trai Turner on the offensive line, make Herbert's situation one of the best to step into as a young quarterback.

Like most rookie quarterbacks, it's hard to envision Herbert being a top 12 fantasy quarterback in year one, but he's worth monitoring throughout the year. As the third-best rookie quarterback in our rankings behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, Herbert should go undrafted in standard redraft fantasy leagues.

Rookie Season Projections:
13 games, 2780 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 170 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

 

Dynasty Outlook

While the immediate outlook isn't great, with his physical ability, situation, and overall potential, he is worth drafting in 2QB formats and in keeper/dynasty formats as an intriguing long-term investment. Herbert has all the tools and could quiet his doubters much as Josh Allen has so far in Buffalo. Herbert will be groomed as the QB of the future and given every opportunity to succeed.

It's impossible to place Herbert ahead of Joe Burrow in dynasty for obvious reasons, but not out of the question to rank him ahead of Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins are in a total rebuild that may not pan out and Tagovailoa has legitimate injury issues that could resurface. The biggest question surrounding Herbert's fantasy value is whether he will fully live up to his potential.

In a single-QB league, Herbert will likely cost a pick late in the second round or early in the third of rookie drafts. For a QB-needy team, it may be worth the risk, but Herbert's value is far higher in Superflex leagues where he should be considered a first-rounder.

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D.J. Chark - Dynasty Price Check

Are you ready for some football? If you are in a dynasty fantasy football league, you most certainly are!

The time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is a prime opportunity for hardcore owners to evaluate their current team and prepare for their upcoming rookie drafts.

We've already looked at young players like Courtland Sutton, Anthony Miller, Darren Waller, and Josh Allen. Today's article will evaluate Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark. After a largely forgettable rookie season where Chark only caught 14 passes for 174 yards, he broke out last season with 73 catches for 1008 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. But the question is whether last year's D.J. Chark is here to stay or is he just another one-year wonder? Let's take a look!

 

Profile

D.J. Chark

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
College: Louisiana State University (LSU)
Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6'3'', 199 pounds
2018 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick 61

 

The Gardner Minshew Effect

There's evidence that Minshew may have actually been a bit unlucky last year. Based on where Minshew's targets were thrown and how tight the defensive coverage was, he completed 5.2 percent fewer passes than he was expected to, which was the worst in the league. If he gets some positive regression in this regard, Chark has the potential for bigger numbers.

The other thing that bodes well for Chark, is how good Minshew is at throwing the deep ball. Last year, Minshew posted a 129.0 QB Rating on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air which was the best in the NFL, and his 45.1% deep ball completion was the fifth-best in the league. Last year 25 of Chark's 117 targets were deep targets (21.3%), and the Minshew-Chark connection will get stronger with another year to develop chemistry.

In addition, Minshew's QB Rating was 52.5 points higher while running play-action, which was the highest gap in the league. However, the Jaguars failed to capitalize on this last year, having Minshew run play-action just 14.2 percent of the time, which was a league-low. We can expect this to change in Jay Gruden's offense, which will feature more play-action and be tailored more to Minshew's strengths.

 

Offensive Philosophy Changes

This past offseason the Jaguars fired their offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and hired former Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to be their new offensive coordinator.

With Jay Gruden in the fold, the Jaguars will be running a West Coast offense that is primarily built around short and intermediate passes. And while Jay Gruden's West Coast offense is very similar to his brother Jon Gruden's, Jay's offense is much more willing to attack down the field than the traditional West Coast offense. Chark should have a great opportunity to put up yards in this system, much like DeSean Jackson in 2014 who had 56 receptions (95 targets) for 1159 receiving yards or AJ Green in 2013 where he had the best statistical season of his career with 98 receptions (178 targets) for 1426 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Let's look at how his top wideout performed each season.

 

We see earlier in Jay Gruden's playcalling career, his top receivers performed very well consistently finishing with over 1000 yards receiving. But since 2015, he's only coached one 1,000-yard receiver. This is due to a lack of premier talent at the position and clearly evident with the example of Terry McLaurin in 2019. In the five games that Gruden coached the Washington Redskins, McLaurin caught 23 passes (4.6 per game) on 38 targets (7.6 per game) for 408 yards (81.6 per game) and five touchdowns. Over the course of the season, this means that Gruden had McLaurin on pace for 74 catches on 122 targets for 1305 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. And considering Chark is another talented receiver, he is a good bet to put up 1,000 yards and six or more touchdowns in this offense.

 

Potential Jaguars Offseason Moves

At the surface level, many folks would assume that the Jaguars will make some moves at the wide receiver spot, especially with Keelan Cole no longer under contract and Marqise Lee being a prime salary-cap cut candidate. But considering their cap situation, it is highly unlikely that they get a top tier receiver via free agency. So unless the Jaguars end up drafting a player like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, or another receiver from the class, they will only be bringing back Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley to compete with Chark for reps, allowing Chark a prime opportunity to feast again next season.

 

Conclusion

D.J. Chark has the elite athleticism to become a top receiver in the league with a 4.34-second 40-yard dash (98th percentile), 115.3-speed score (96th percentile), a 40-inch vertical, and a 129-inch broad jump. His burst and speed alone make him a tough match-up for any defensive back, but he also refined his route-running and developed more consistent hands, not dropping a single pass last year. In addition to his abilities, Chark will also have plenty of opportunities to succeed with improved offensive playcalling and a lack of competition for targets.

In a dynasty league, Chark is a firm hold and should only be traded for a top-three pick in rookie drafts if you are stacked at receiver and want a young running back like Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, or D'Andre Swift.

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Dynasty Price Check - Courtland Sutton

With the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV, football season is over for many people. But for anyone that plays in a dynasty fantasy football league, the season is never over. For the fantasy addicts out there, now is the time to start preparing.

In today's column, we will take a look at wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Two years ago, in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Sutton 40th overall. In his rookie season, he finished with 42 receptions on 84 targets for 704 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Last year, he took a step forward to the tune of 72 receptions on 126 targets for 1,112 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

But a few changes may affect Courtland Sutton's value for next season. The Denver Broncos fired offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and hired former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur to be their new offensive coordinator. Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock will be starting from the get-go for the Broncos. How will these moves affect Courtland Sutton? Let's take a look.

 

Profile

Courtland Sutton

Team: Denver Broncos
College: Southern Methodist University (SMU)
Age: 24
Height/Weight: 6'4'', 216 pounds
2018 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick 40

 

The Drew Lock Effect

The Broncos drafted their potential QB of the future, Drew Lock, in the second round last year. He looked promising in his first five games, completing 100 of 156 passes (64.1%) for 1,020 yards (204.0 per game) and seven touchdowns. But before blindly assuming that Lock starting means good news for Sutton, it's important to look at their stats together from last year.

In Weeks 13-17 with Lock at the helm, Courtland Sutton had 22 receptions on 40 targets for 280 receiving yards (56.0 per game) and two touchdowns. With Joe Flacco or Brandon Allen starting, Sutton had 50 receptions on 86 targets for 832 yards (75.6 per game) and four touchdowns in 11 games. Sutton got a lot fewer yards with Lock starting, but ultimately his target share stayed the same between the three quarterbacks.

The lack of yardage could be due to factors such as Lock's injury at the start of the year, his lack of first-team reps to get chemistry with Sutton, or his inexperience. These factors should change with another year of experience and Lock as the clear starter entering the year, but if the chemistry never develops, Sutton's dynasty value will take a hit.

 

Offensive Philosophy Changes

Last season, the Broncos' offense was subpar, ranking 28th in points scored, 28th in offensive yards (298.6 per game), and 28th in passing yards (194.7 per game). Due to the lack of success on offense, the Broncos decided to fire offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after just one year and hire a more experienced offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur. With this change, we can expect the Broncos to focus more on passing the ball this year, with Pat Shurmur offenses ranking in the top 10 of the NFL in passing attempts in five of the 11 years he's been an offensive coordinator or a head coach (with his offense ranking outside of the top 20 in passing attempts only twice). Considering Rich Scangarello's offense ranked 27th in the league in passing attempts, 28th in passing yards, and 32nd in passing touchdowns, we should expect a much better offense from the Broncos next season.

So we've established that the Broncos will likely be passing the ball more, but does that necessarily mean more targets for Courtland Sutton? He already had 126 targets last season (18th in the NFL), good for a 26.1% target share.

Pat Shurmur's scheme should keep Sutton's usage largely the same. In his last four full years as an offensive coordinator, his top pass-catcher has had at least 80 receptions and 125 targets. In Shurmur's offense, Sutton should maintain a workload similar to what he's received in the past.

Broncos Offseason Moves

The Broncos clearly lacked effective pass-catchers last season outside of Courtland Sutton, with rookie tight end Noah Fant being the only other player on the roster to have more than 400 receiving yards. This is a clear position of need for the Broncos and they could address it in the 2020 NFL draft, drafting a player like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, or another talented receiver from the class. If the Broncos go the route of drafting a receiver in the first couple rounds, it could cap Courtland Sutton's upside.

They could also opt to address this position of need in free agency with veteran receivers such as A.J. Green, Randall Cobb, or Robby Anderson available. If they address the position this way, Sutton's dynasty value should stay the same since they would clearly be in a more complementary role and Sutton would still be the clear head honcho both now and in the future.

 

Conclusion

Sutton will likely have a bit more competition for targets next year, but the offense should also provide more passing opportunities and be more efficient in general. Unless you get a top-five pick in your rookie draft back for Sutton, you should not consider trading him. Another 1,000-yard receiving year is likely for the 24-year-old Sutton, making him a hold in dynasty leagues.

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