Fantasy Football: 2019 NFL Coaching Changes
Every offseason, there are big time coaching changes around the NFL. New head coaches, offensive coordinators, and defensive coordinators can mean everything when it comes to unlocking your fantasy players and changing how they’re utilized on a team. For the best example of this, look no further than Todd Gurley in 2016 under Jeff Fisher and Gurley in 2017 under Sean McVay. In 2016, Gurley was RB19 in half PPR formats under Fisher, but in 2017, he was the number one overall RB in fantasy football with the coaching change in Los Angeles under Sean McVay. How will the coaching changes around the league affect fantasy football players in 2019? Read more below and listen in to the latest podcast episode where Andy, Mike, and Jason break down their thoughts about the coaching changes around the NFL.
2018 Head Coaching Changes:
ARI Steve Wilks (3-13) — Bruce Arians out (8-8)
CHI Matt Nagy (12-4) — John Fox out (5-11)
DET Matt Patricia (6-10) — Jim Caldwell out (9-7)
IND Frank Reich (10-6) — Chuck Pagano out (4-12)
NYG Pat Shurmur (5-11) — Ben McAdoo / Steve Spagnuolo out (3-13)
OAK Jon Gruden (4-12) — Jack Del Rio out (6-10)
TEN Mike Vrabel (9-7) — Mike Mularkey out (9-7)
2019 Head Coaching Changes:
Arizona Cardinals, Kliff Kingsbury – replacing Steve Wilks (and OC Mike McCoy)
Kingsbury joins the Cardinals and the NFL after coaching the last Texas Tech Red Raiders from 2013 to 2018. In his six years at Texas Tech, Kingsbury compiled an overall 35-40 record (.467 win percentage). He brings an air-raid offense to Arizona and will look to revive a dead offense for the past two years in Arizona. Kingsbury has experience working with Patrick Mahomes during his college days and will hope to either jump start Josh Rosen‘s career after a down rookie season or help to develop a new rookie if the team does indeed draft Kyler Murray with the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft. From a fantasy perspective, this is a big upgrade for the Cardinals offense as a whole and a major upgrade for David Johnson. Look for Kingsbury to utilize Johnson much more effectively out of the backfield, specifically in the passing game. Since 2014, the running back position in the Kingsbury system has compiled the 6th most targets, 6th most receptions, 5th most receiving yards, and 6th most first downs in the NCAA.
Cincinnati Bengals, Zac Taylor – replacing Marvin Lewis
Taylor joins the Bengals after most recently coaching in Los Angeles in 2017 and 2018 under Sean McVay as the wide receivers and quarterbacks coach. He also has experience coaching for the Dolphins as the QB coach and has coached at Texas A&M prior to his time in the NFL. The biggest winner here from a fantasy perspective is Joe Mixon, who when you look at the way the McVay system utilized Todd Gurley in the past two seasons, it’s plausible to believe Mixon could push to be a top 10 or even top 5 back in fantasy football. Tyler Boyd could also stand to benefit due to the fact that the Rams offense over the past two seasons utilizes several dynamic receiving options in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Brandin Cooks. Secondary receivers should get utilized often with Taylor at the helm, meaning Boyd and A.J. Green could turn into 1A and 1B.
Cleveland Browns, Freddie Kitchens – replacing Hue Jackson / Gregg Williams
After Week 8, the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and OC Todd Haley. Gregg Williams was named interim head coach, and Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator. Over the final 8 games of the season when Kitchens was the OC, Baker Mayfield threw more touchdowns and more passing yards per game. Expect Baker to continue to grow as a franchise quarterback in the NFL. He’ll have a full offseason to work as the starter with Kitchens and should be familiar with the offensive scheme and terminology. In addition, Kitchens brings Todd Monken, the former OC in Tampa Bay, with him as his OC, which should benefit the offense as a whole, especially from a passing perspective. Over the last two years in Tampa, Monken’s offense ranked 3rd and 4th in the league in pass attempts.
Denver Broncos, Vic Fangio – Vance Joseph
Fangio has a long history as a coach in the NFL, with his most recent years spent in Chicago as the defensive coordinator. His Bears defense was dominant in 2018, ranking first in scoring defense, first in rush defense and third in total yards given up to opposing offenses. With a new coaching staff in Denver, the concern is that Philip Lindsay doesn’t get a full workload as he did in 2018, as it’s possible the new staff prefers Royce Freeman. The new OC, Rich Scangarello, brings the Kyle Shanahan zone run system, which has historically been very lucrative for fantasy football running backs, so it’s possible that both Freeman and Lindsay can be valuable for fantasy owners in 2019.
Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur – replacing Mike McCarthy
LaFleur replaces McCarthy after coaching as the OC in Tennesee last season under Mike Vrabel. The Titans’ offense struggled over the past two seasons with Marcus Mariota banged up, but LaFleur gets to now work with arguably the best quarterback in football in Aaron Rodgers. LaFleur brings with him Nathaniel Hackett from Jacksonville. These two coaches have consistently been a part of teams who have historically ranked near the top of the league in rush attempts. This should be good news for the Green Bay running backs, but given LaFleur’s recent quotes that the team will employ a committee, it is unlikely the team commits solely to Aaron Jones. Even so, Jones should be a value in drafts late this summer given that the team will probably rush the ball more than they did in 2017 and 2018.
Miami Dolphins, Brian Flores – replacing Adam Gase
Brian Flores was named linebackers coach ahead of the 2016 season for the Patriots. In 2018, he took over the Patriots’ defensive play-calling duties after the departure of DC Matt Patricia, but he was not given the title of defensive coordinator. He joins the Dolphins as their new HC and brings with him OC, Chad O’Shea, who was the Patriots’ wide receivers coach. Flores and O’Shea have been working together since 2009, and O’Shea is regarded as “an up-and-coming offensive mind” behind Josh McDaniels. This could help the wide receivers in Miami, namely Albert Wilson, who could be a late-round value when the draft season gets here this summer. However, there are several question marks around the offensive depth chart, so it’s difficult to predict what this team will look like in 2019.
New York Jets, Adam Gase – replacing Todd Bowles
Gase leaves Miami to become the new head coach of the Jets, bringing an offensive mind to the head coaching position. Gase will attempt to further develop a second-year quarterback, Sam Darnold. He’s talked already about making Quincy Enunwa more of a focus of the offense, and the team is likely to retain Robby Anderson. There’s optimism in New York from a fantasy perspective, but Gase has struggled to produce prolific offensive numbers in his career without Peyton Manning as his quarterback. For now, it’s wait-and-see mode for the Jets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians – replacing Dirk Koetter
Arians had some very successful years as the Cardinals head coach from 2013 to 2017, and he’ll look to revive a Tampa Bay team who finished at 5-11 with Koetter at the helm. This should be a big upgrade for the offense and playmakers in the passing game, as Arians has had a top-15 passing offense every year he’s been a coach since 2009. Jameis Winston should take a step forward as Arians should be able to get the most out of him. In addition, Arians isn’t afraid to let it fly and take the top off the defense, so the offense should be explosive in 2019. The biggest question mark for this offense for fantasy purposes is at the running back position. Will the team stick with Ronald Jones, or will they go in a different direction in free agency or the NFL Draft?
2019 Offensive Coordinator Changes
Atlanta Falcons, Dirk Koetter – replacing Steve Sarkisian
Baltimore Ravens, Greg Roman – replacing Marty Mornhinweg
Dallas Cowboys, Kellen Moore – replacing Scott Linehan
Detroit Lions, Darrell Bevell – replacing Jim Bob Cooter
Jacksonville, Jaguars, John DeFilippo – replacing Nathaniel Hackett
Minnesota Vikings, Kevin Stefanski – replacing John DeFilippo
Tennessee Titans, Arthur Smith – replacing Matt LaFleur
Washington Redskins, Kevin O’ Connell – replacing Matt Cavanaugh