What the new coaches mean for your fantasy teams
We take a look at the pros and cons of the eight new head coaches for the 2011 NFL season and what it all means for your fantasy football teams this season.
Pros: Rivera has spent his entire NFL career either playing or coaching defense. He is well versed in both 4-3 schemes (DC of the Chicago Bears from 2004-2006) and 3-4 schemes (DC of the San Diego Chargers 2008-2010). He should be a positive influence on the Panthers’ 4-3 scheme and help young defenders like Charles Johnson and Charles Godfrey be more effective.
Cons: If Rivera ever decides to switch personnel permanently, it would be horrible for the fantasy value of young linemen like Johnson and Everette Brown, who would move to LB.
Final Analysis: Rivera brought in former Browns OC Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator, which should have a positive impact on the offense. Chud has a relationship with Jeremy Shockey via the University of Miami, so it will be interesting to see how Carolina’s new TE performs. The biggest X-Factor in the Panthers’ offensive attack is No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.
Pros: Shurmur is an excellent offensive mind who comes from the Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg school of developing quarterbacks. He should be very good for the development of Colt McCoy.
Cons: He’s not the most well known coach, and may not swing a big stick so to speak. His biggest threat is that coaching legend Mike Holmgren is his boss.
Final Analysis: Overall Shurmur should be good for guys like McCoy, Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi and even Brian Robiskie as he’ll open up the offense quite a bit. His tendency to let his QBs air it out deep at least three or four times a game will help open things up for RBs Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.
Pros: The Cowboys went 5–3 under Garrett and finished the season ranked 7th overall in total offense. Garrett is a phenomenal offensive mind and will be great for the development of young players like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Don’t sleep on 2011 third-rounder DeMarco Murray as Marion Barber is gone. The fact that Garrett already has a relationship with Tony Romo bodes well for the signal-caller.
Cons: There are really no cons to this hire from a fantasy perspective, as the Cowboys’ offense has only improved since Garrett took over as OC in 2007.
Final Analysis: The fact that Garrett is a known commodity already in Dallas means he’ll keep continuity on offense that should allow for only improvement across the board from a statistical perspective. On defense, he’s brought in Rob Ryan to run his 3-4.
Pros: Fox is known for pounding the rock on offense and forcing the run game down the respective throats of his opponents. So, in theory, his hiring should be phenomenal for the fantasy value of Knowshon Moreno.
Cons: Some say Fox has a bit of a tendency to ignore the passing game, but that should actually be a positive for Tim Tebow, whose strength is making things happen with his legs anyway. But, this probably negatively affects Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas a bit.
Final Analysis: Overall, the change to Fox is very good from a fantasy perspective, because it flat out gives the Broncos a real identity on offense. They will pound the ball, and there may even be opportunities for Tebow, Moreno and another rusher to have a big year. Despite Fox’s favoritism towards the run, teams have to pass in today’s NFL, so Lloyd should still be a solid WR2/WR3.
Pros: Frazier led the Vikings to a 3–3 record as interim head coach to finish out 2010. The decision to retain him means that the Vikings will remain in a 4-3 defense, which is great news for Jared Allen, who will not be moved to outside linebacker — a la Mario Williams in Houston.
Cons: There’s a chance that the passing game may suffer a bit, as Frazier is more defense-focused than his predecessor Brad Childress. He’s also enamored with rookie first-rounder Christian Ponder, who many believe was a reach and may battle Donovan McNabb for the starting nod.
Final Analysis: Frazier is a solid coach who should be a great leader in Minnesota. He comes from the Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris coaching tree, which is an indicator that success is right around the corner. He should let new OC Bill Musgrave (formerly Atlanta Falcons QB coach) have complete autonomy on offense.
Pros: Jackson is one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL and has been one of the most underrated offensive coaches since 2001, when he started as the Redskins RBs coach. He’s helped to mold players like Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Roddy White, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Darren McFadden and Zach Miller into elite fantasy options.
Cons: I’m not really sure I can find a negative about Jackson. He may be the best hire from a fantasy perspective this offseason.
Final Analysis: This is a phenomenal move for the Raiders’ offensive skill position players, as Jackson knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to running an offense. He may not turn out to be the best real-life head coach, but his presence as front man should help the likes of Darren McFadden, Jason Campbell, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Pros: Harbaugh is the highest-profile hire of the 2011 offseason, but it remains to be seen how his style will translate into the NFL. His offense features a fullback and a mobile QB who can make specific throws. It’s a no-brainer that this is a positive for Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, but this could even work well for Alex Smith’s fantasy value.
Cons: This may not be the greatest move for WRs Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan, as the run will probably be the primary focus in Harbaugh’s attack.
Final Analysis: Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman will make a positive impact on the 49ers offense. Alex Smith will return as the team’s starter despite Colin Kaepernick being drafted in the second round. Smith should be a good fit for Harbaugh’s style.
Pros: A Hall of Famer and Pro Bowl offensive lineman who has actually been a coach in the Titans organization since 1994 when they were still the Houston Oilers, Munchak is ready for this move and should favor a similar style to that of predecessor Jeff Fisher. Word is that this coaching regime is very high on second-year WR Damian Williams.
Cons: Munchak is an offensive guy who knows how to keep a QB protected and open up running lanes for his backs. There isn’t much here for fantasy owners to worry about.
Final Analysis: Look for Munchak to maybe allow new OC Chris Palmer (a former NFL head coach in Cleveland for two seasons) quite a bit of freedom to run the offense, and for Palmer to help rookie QB Jake Locker blossom in the future. The Titans should stay a run-first attack, but maybe open things up a little bit more for WRs Kenny Britt and Damian Williams.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR HIRES
• Mike Miller – Arizona Cardinals
• Rob Chudzinski – Carolina Panthers
• Jay Gruden – Cincinnati Bengals
• John Garrett – Dallas Cowboys
• Bill Muir – Kansas City Chiefs
• Brian Daboll – Miami Dolphins
• Bill Musgrave – Minnesota Vikings
• Bill O’Brien – New England Patriots
• Al Saunders – Oakland Raiders
• Greg Roman – San Francisco 49ers
• Darrell Bevell – Seattle Seahawks
• Josh McDaniels – St. Louis Rams
• Chris Palmer – Tennessee Titans
— By Paul Hickey
More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams