Coaching Trends: Rushing Edition (Fantasy Football)

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I have long been enamored with the importance of coaching in football. Coaching trends from a playcalling perspective can shed light on how specific teams plan to attack defenses in 2020.

The following significant decision-makers have proven they enjoy establishing the run. These foundational playcalling blueprints can help us identify fantasy stars. Let’s dive in.

Greg Roman – Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator

Greg Roman’s history as an Offensive Coordinator is quite remarkable. Colin Kaepernick, Tyrod Taylor, and Lamar Jackson have essentially been Greg’s QBs over the years. This undoubtedly aids in his favorable rushing numbers:

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Still, Lamar Jackson is the reigning 2019 MVP and the Roman system we have come to know and love should once again be going strong in 2020.

Lamar Jackson broke NFL All-Time Records for Quarterbacks last season in both rush attempts (176) and rushing yards (1,206) and that rushing upside keeps him squarely in the QB1 Overall conversation going forward.

The RB depth chart currently remains unchanged from last season: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. Ingram will play the majority of the 2020 season at 30 years of age. That does come with some concern. Still, Ingram plays in the perfect offense for accentuating a Running Back’s strengths.

Last season, Ingram ranked tied for 27th in the league in opportunities per game (15.4), 18th in total yards per game (84.3), 13th in rushing yards per game (67.9), and fourth in total TDs (15). Ingram benefits from playing with a mobile QB and on a great football team.

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Sean McDermott – Buffalo Bills Head Coach

A former Defensive Coordinator for eight years, it’s no surprise Sean McDermott prides himself on having a solid defense and running game. He has been the head coach in Buffalo for three seasons and they have never finished outside of the top ten in either rushing attempts or rushing yards during that time.

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Josh Allen‘s rush attempts of 89 in 2018 and 109 in 2019 certainly haven’t hurt these numbers. His rushing upside makes him a solid fantasy investment at the QB position.

Here’s where things really get juicy though. In his rookie season, Devin Singletary (16 opportunities per game) shared a backfield with Frank Gore (11.4 opportunities per game). Gore is currently a Free Agent and the depth chart behind Singletary consists of T.J. Yeldon, Taiwan Jones, and Christian Wade.

If no major additions or changes are made to this backfield before the season begins, Singletary is bound to be a fantasy superstar in 2020. Singletary looked fantastic as a rookie, ranking tied for 23rd in opportunities per game (16), 26th in total yards per game (80.8), and 16th in rushing yards per game (64.6).

Playing with a mobile QB and with a defense that ranked top six in yards allowed per game, points allowed per game, overall Defensive DVOA, and pass DVOA last season, it’s rocket ships for Singletary in his second NFL season.

Bill O’Brien – Houston Texans Head Coach

In the latest edition of “Bill O’Brien is a donkey,” he traded DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick for David Johnson, a second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick. That’s one of the worst trades I’ve seen in my lifetime. But this is a fantasy football article so let’s dive into the numbers.

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O’Brien loves to run the football and he just traded a ton for a talented 28-year old RB that still has good football left to give. Prior to getting injured and then benched, David Johnson was a solid fantasy asset through the first six games of 2019. Johnson averaged 19.5 opportunities per game, 102 total yards per game, and 0.83 TDs per game over that month and a half stretch.

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Houston’s main 2019 RB, Carlos Hyde, is no longer with the team and that creates a huge void in their backfield. Hyde averaged 16.3 opportunities per game, which ranked 22nd-most in the entire league and he only saw 16 total targets the entire season. Meanwhile, PFF ranked David Johnson the NFL’s #1 receiver in 2016.

Talent and opportunity have a chance to converge in a dynamic way here. I hope David Johnson follows a strict diet regimen this offseason because he’s about to EAT.

Doug Pederson – Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach

Doug Pederson has been an Offensive Coordinator or Head Coach for seven seasons. In six of those years, his teams have ranked top 11 in rushing yards.

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This is definitely a Running Back depth chart we want to stay on top of and right now the only major players are Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Jordan Howard‘s departure leaves 13.3 opportunities per game up for grabs and we saw just how impactful his absence was for Sanders and Scott over the second half of 2019.

Miles Sanders averaged 15.1 opportunities per game (29th most) over the entire season but 19.9 opportunities per game (Would’ve ranked 12th most) over the final seven weeks with Jordan Howard on the sideline.

Boston Scott averaged 7.9 opportunities per game over the entire season but really wasn’t given an actual role in the offense until the final month. He averaged 15.75 opportunities per game (Would’ve ranked 25th most) over the final four weeks with Jordan Howard on the sideline.

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Both are talented Running Backs that offer upside in the passing game and both project to be legitimate fantasy options once again in 2020. But Sanders, an extremely athletic and talented player entering his second season after being drafted in the second round in 2019, is the real headliner here. The sky is the limit for him in this offense.

Brian Schottenheimer – Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator

Brian Schottenheimer has been Seattle’s Offensive Coordinator for two seasons now and boy do he and Pete Carroll like to establish the run.

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Guaranteed volume attached to one of the best Quarterbacks (Russell Wilson) of all time makes Seattle’s backfield one to keep an eye on. But things get tricky quick. Chris Carson fractured his hip in Week 17 and Rashaad Penny tore his ACL in Week 14. So we’ll have to pay particularly close attention to both of their rehabs this offseason.

Still, reports are favorable for Chris Carson to be available for Week 1 and he’s the true headliner here. Carson ranked tied for seventh in the league in opportunities per game (21.7), sixth in rushing yards per game (82), 10th in total yards per game (99.7), and also scored nine TDs last year. Carson will only be 26 during the upcoming season.

Mike Vrabel – Tennessee Titans Head Coach

No shocker here, but the Titans’ offensive identity runs through Derrick Henry.

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Henry ranked sixth in the league in opportunities per game (21.8), first in rushing yards per game (102.7), third in total yards per game (116.4), and third in total TDs (18) last season.

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Henry is only 26 years old and has only played four years in the league. There’s plenty of tread left on his tires. Talent and opportunity, the theme of this article, collide once again here. Henry is in store for another fantastic fantasy season in 2020.

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