General Manager Changes That Will Affect Fantasy in 2017
When it comes to success in the NFL, it starts at the top with the team’s general manager. A change in the front office brings about a culture shock that shakes all the way down to the locker room. Will the new man in charge decide to move on from the head coach? Will his vision not mesh well with the current philosophy and players on the team? These are a couple of the questions that are asked when a new general manager is hired by an organization. Though not as common as the vast number of coaching changes we see in a given offseason, a change at general manager is vitally important to player success in Fantasy Football. There have been only two such changes this offseason. Are they sending the teams in the right direction, or are they doomed to fail?
John Lynch is the Surprise Hire in San Francisco
In a move that left the league wondering what just happened, John Lynch was pegged to become the new general manager of the rebuilding 49ers. This has to be a questionable move at best. Lynch has no prior experience in player personnel, having walked straight out of the television commentary booth to accept the gig. Don’t get me wrong, Lynch was a great player on the field but does that really translate to skillful talent evaluation? We will have to find out; although, he has already stated that he will look to add someone to help him with personnel decisions. I get it; the Niners are hoping they have found the next John Elway. But the big difference between the two is that Elway was a quarterback, a position that requires intricate film study, planning and on-field recognition skills. He will have his work cut out for him in San Francisco, as this team is in dire need of talent on both sides of the ball. The rumors are that his six-year deal will coincide with the same timeframe of expected head coach Kyle Shanahan. The duo will be given a long leash to flip this losing franchise back into a contender.
Value Up: Niners defense will likely turnaround quickly
Although the case could be made that Shanahan will put his fingerprints on the offense and get them moving in the right direction, Lynch will likely have this defense ready to compete sooner. Implementing the right scheme and finding the players to fit will be key. He will know what he’s looking for during player evaluations, the trick is to convince players to come to the Bay Area. Growing pains are very likely in Year 1, which could mean good things for the offense in Fantasy, as they could potentially be playing from behind an awful lot. Even against a last place schedule, this team will struggle throughout the early games of 2017.
Value Down: 49ers Offense will need playmakers
One would have to think that Shanahan will have a lot of say in the quarterback he wants to head up this offense. If he can get his guy (Kirk Cousins) then things could be looking up early during his tenure. But if they miss out, and end up fielding a young quarterback or journeyman under center, this offense could be downright brutal. Lynch must be given the cash to jump into free agency to truly put his stamp on this team, because it will take more than one draft to acquire the skill players this franchise so desperately needs.
Chris Ballard Gets His Time to Shine in Indy
Although Jim Irsay continued flirting with the likes of Jon Gruden and Peyton Manning for prominent roles, the only guy to receive a second interview (and ultimately the job) was Chris Ballard. To the casual fan, Ballard is a not a name that shines with bright lights. But he has been the architect behind some very good teams over the years. He built the defense in Chicago that eventually got to the Super Bowl in 2007, and more recently was the man that turned the Chiefs into one of the better teams in the league. The pedigree is there; now he has to put that to use with an Indianapolis team that, aside from Andrew Luck and the receivers, is devoid of talent. One would think that the first moves would be to improve an offensive line that has allowed Luck to be brutalized over the last couple of seasons. He has to protect the health of his franchise player. But while doing that, he will be piecing together players to improve one of the league’s worst defenses.
Value Up: Luck will be on his side
With the front office knowing they must protect Luck, look for Ballard to bring in some new talent along the offensive line. Given good health and a 16-game schedule, Andrew Luck will again find himself among the elite at the QB position in Fantasy. Also, factor in a defense that can rarely get off the field, and I expect Luck to finish 2017 as a Top 5 option among quarterbacks. With Hilton and Moncrief on the outside, an emerging Phillip Dorsett, and two very strong TEs in Allen and Doyle, Luck has all the weapons he needs to take advantage of opposing defenses.
Value Down: Colts running game will continue to be poor
Frank Gore had a down 2016 by his standards, and entering the final year of his contract there is a chance that the Colts decide to move on. If retained, Gore is another year older, and his best days are clearly behind him. The other options would be for the Colts to dip into free agency or draft a running back, and I don’t expect this team to make a splash in either of those areas. This team will be put squarely on the shoulders of Andrew Luck, with the running game being a clear afterthought in terms of philosophy. They will use the run game as a change of pace to the pass, so steer clear of any options in this backfield for Fantasy Football in 2017.