Who Gains if Le’Veon Bell Leaves Steelers? | A New Workhorse Back Emerges in Tampa Bay
Fantasy Football Offseason Notebook
With just four teams remaining, NFL news never stops. A lot of the focus around the league will be on Championship Sunday, but let’s not forget about everyone else. Let's take a look at some storylines around the league.
Steelers QB coach Randy Fichtner replaces Haley as OC - Will Le'Veon Bell leave?
Coming off a disappointing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, the Steelers decided to move on from Todd Haley. Fichtner has been around the organization since 2007 as an assistant coach. Ben Roethlisberger expressed frustration in post-game interviews regarding the 4th & short play calling, but went on later in the week arguing for Todd Haley to remain the OC. Roethlisberger had much success converting these 4th & shorts himself, but said that him audibling to a QB sneak was “over his head.” This Pittsburgh offense should not change much under Fichtner. I expect Le’Veon Bell to return, but if he decides to sign elsewhere, the Steelers passing game would see a huge boost. Antonio Brown's volume will not go anywhere, but Bell's departure would make JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant much more valuable and James Conner could get a longer look. I expect this to be a positive change for the Pittsburgh offense in 2018. There should be less friction between the new coordinator and the QB while the offense takes a similar approach.
Jarvis Landry will not take a “Hometown Discount”
Through his first four years in the NFL, Landry has never missed a game, and never finished a season with fewer than 80 receptions. He was third in the league with targets this season with 161 behind AB and DeAndre Hopkins. Landry was the heart and soul of the Miami offense as he was relied heavily upon. There was not one game this season where he had less than five receptions. If Jarvis Landry decides to leave Miami as the Palm Beach Post reports points to and follows the money, look for DeVante Parker to make a leap in his fourth season as a pro. Parker started to come on late in the season with at least 11 Fantasy points (PPR) in each of the last four games. Take away all of the volume that Landry was given, and Parker will be in a good spot to excel as the Dolphins top option.
Buccaneers may move on from Doug Martin
After being a rookie sensation in 2012, the 29-year-old running back’s future is not looking bright. The Buccaneers stuck with Martin through his struggles and signed him to an extension in 2016. Since signing the five-year deal with Tampa, he has failed to eclipse even 450 rushing yards. Martin was slowly faded out of the offense this season as they handed the full-time duties to former Auburn Tiger Peyton Barber. In weeks 13 through 17, Barber saw at least 12 carries per game (4.3 YPC), and had a role in the passing game. Jacquizz Rodgers will not be a threat to steal touches. 2018 is setting up to be Barber's job to lose and he could be one of the few workhorse backs in the league if the Bucs don't draft a RB.
Drew Brees to remain a Saint and not test market
The veteran QB did not disappoint in the postseason. After a season where the Saints took pressure off of Brees and relied heavily on the run game, he showed he still has a lot left in the tank in January. When New Orleans needed him most, Brees was able to put up 670 yards passing in his two playoff games. He should still be a Top 12 QB in Fantasy next year. Michael Thomas will remain as Brees’ top target and has a floor of 120 targets. Thomas might not be the most exciting player, but the consistency that he provides doesn't come around often.
Steve Sarkisian to remain Falcons OC
The Falcons and Dan Quinn were not ready to give up on Sarkisian. Though there were some questionable calls at the end of the game on Saturday, it was not enough reason for Atlanta to give him the boot. Moving forward into 2018, the Falcons offense will not see any dramatic changes. However, there are some questions surrounding the work distribution in the backfield. We saw a true 50/50 split this postseason between Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. The rush attempt distribution in the two postseason games were Freeman (28) and Coleman (24). It is hard to trust either one as an early pick as neither is expected to run away with the job. In a committee such as this one, neither back provides enough volume on a regular basis.