It has been an offseason of coaching changes that has left many fans wondering whether their team will be headed in the right direction. Granted, the newly named head coaches are not the most exciting bunch you will find. Time will tell if these men have what it takes to succeed, but in today’s NFL you must find wins early or ownership will begin to look elsewhere. It is a win-now league. Much of the potential success can be correlated to the coordinators that are brought onto the staff to round the team into shape. If all things go according to plan, a quick turnaround can happen, and the team can forget about their woeful past. Now, if these coaching changes click, we as Fantasy owners also reward ourselves with wins by picking up the players that come up big under new management. In this article, I look at a few of the coaching changes that can bring Fantasy success in 2017.
Kyle Shanahan- “Potential” Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
Rumors continue to swirl about Shanahan to the Niners, and with a meeting set up prior to the Super Bowl, it’s all but a certainty that he will become the next head coach in the Bay Area. Even though this is the final coaching change to be filled, it has all the potential to be the most important in Fantasy relevance. Outside the short stint in Cleveland, where all coaches go to die, Shanahan has been very successful as an offensive coordinator in Houston, Washington, and Atlanta. He’s made average quarterbacks like Matt Schaub and Rex Grossman viable starters, and in 2016 he helped Matt Ryan turn in an MVP level campaign. But where he has really made his hay is in the running back department. He has made the likes of Ben Tate, Willis McGahee, and Alfred Morris weekly starters for Fantasy owners. In 2016, the one-two punch of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman not only helped the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl, but also were two running backs who propelled many owners to Fantasy titles. Going to San Francisco, he will undoubtedly find a new QB (possibly Kirk Cousins) to implement his system and look for wins in his first season.
Value Up: Carlos Hyde
The one player that this coaching change will benefit the most is Hyde. He has all the makings of a stud RB1; he just needs the right system to play to his strengths, and he also needs to avoid the injury bug. Both should be easily obtainable for Hyde as he breathes a sigh of relief with Chip Kelly’s quick offense out of the picture. The Shanahan zone-blocking, one-cut type of running style will prove to be huge for Hyde. It allows him to be more patient and hit holes as soon as they open. Let’s not forget about the passing game for him either, because he could be looking at his catch total doubling in 2017, something that players in PPR formats covet. By the end of next season, look for Hyde to finish solidly inside the Top 10 at the RB position.
Value Down: 49ers Receivers
One would have to imagine that this is an area that Shanahan knows he must improve upon. Even if he brings in Cousins, this WR group is perhaps the worst in the league. Torrey Smith and Jeremy Kerley are starters that no one is paying money to see, nor are they rostering them in Fantasy. Unless changes are made here, even with an improvement at QB, it’s hard to trust any of these players. Before training camp starts, I fully expect for these names on the depth chart to be different.
Wade Phillips to the Rams
Perhaps the biggest shake-up among any coordinator move is the Broncos moving on from Wade Phillips. This could make the vaunted Broncos defense less of a sure thing come 2017. In LA, Phillips will take control of a young, very athletic squad. They are already a very opportunistic defense, but with the scheme change comes more chances at turnovers and TDs. While the defense will become even more aggressive, this could potentially help a dreadful Rams offense with more short field opportunities. While I expect the Rams defense to finish 2017 as a potential Top 5 Fantasy defense, it will still be hard to trust any of the offensive players.
Mike McCoy Returns to Denver
After a very lackluster stint in San Diego, where he squandered loads of talent, McCoy is returning to the Broncos to take over as offensive coordinator once again. He previously held this position, and did quite well. However, let’s not forget that Peyton Manning was his QB, a Hall of Famer who can cover up any holes that you may happen to have. This time around will be much different, as he will be working with the likes of Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch, depending on who wins the training camp battle. Look for this offense to go very run-heavy in 2017, with C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker carrying high workloads as they split time. If he can stay healthy, Anderson could return to the low-end RB1 he’s been. As for the passing game, they have Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, but the inconsistent play from the quarterback will hurt their values on a weekly basis. They will be tough to count on considering their price tags during drafts. I would suggest steering clear and letting other owners deal with the headaches.
Rick Dennison Takes the OC Job in Buffalo
In a move that is being somewhat looked over is Rick Dennison becoming the play caller for the Bills. He takes over a team that is in a state of flux, but what he does have in his favor is that he has a connection to Tyrod Taylor. Bringing back Taylor would be huge for the growth of this offense. Not only will it help the rapport with the receivers, but it also gives LeSean McCoy the trust he needs in a QB to keep the pressure from the defense out of the box. Taylor should be priority number one for the Bills if they have any hope of competing for a playoff spot. If he is brought back, coupled with Dennison calling plays, look for this offense to pick back up in 2017. McCoy will be a running back who should finish inside the Top 5, and a potentially healthy Sammy Watkins could return to the upper echelon at the WR position. This offense will definitely provide some intrigue for Fantasy owners in 2017.