Success in fantasy football is all about information, if you ask me. You can’t make the right decisions without useful data inputs. One often overlooked data point is the effect coaches have on the prospects of their fantasy players. This off-season, seven teams hired new head coaches, and I took a detailed look at each of those situations. I thought it would be useful to check in and evaluate those new head coaches at the midpoint of the season.
The Cardinals were certainly one team that had me worried when I wrote this series, and thus far the Cardinals’ season has been less than stellar. I understand the logic behind the way they built Wilks’ staff. He is a first-time head coach, and he has a defensive background. The smart play was to bring in a veteran offensive coordinator to mind that side of the ball. They just made a terrible choice in Mike McCoy.
As I indicated in the original article, McCoy does not have the best track record, outside of a stretch of success from 2011-2012. And one of those years he had a little known quarterback by the name of Peyton Manning. McCoy’s M.O. for the past few years is that he has a massive, complicated playbook which is hard to pick up. He compounded the problems when he failed to realize he had perhaps the best receiving back in the game in David Johnson. The Cardinals’ usage of Johnson was absolutely atrocious, and McCoy was shown the door.
So what about Wilks himself? The jury is still out. With his defensive background, he probably didn’t have the ability to help out McCoy or see the problems clearly. Even though he may have not been involved directly in the offense, he brought an old-school mentality of power football and running the ball up the gut. But his failings to date aren’t just about the offense, he brought with him a totally different defensive scheme that perhaps wasn’t well-suited to the personnel. It’s always a little rocky when switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 or vice versa, but the Cardinals are dead last in rushing yards allowed.
Current Record: 2-6
Coaching Outlook: Week eight provided a glimmer of hope, but the progress must continue or Wilks may find himself a one and done head coach.
Dynasty Outlook: The Cardinals are certainly not a team I’d be heavily targeting in dynasty, but of course there are some good players to roster. The most obvious is Johnson, even with his poor 2018 to date. His talent hasn’t changed, just the scheme and the talent around him has.
Josh Rosen may be worth acquiring in superflex leagues, but it might be a little while before he is a viable starter. I do like his talent overall. Lastly, Christian Kirk is already getting a lot of work in this offense, and he was a favorite receiver of many coming out of the draft. He isn’t yet producing with consistency, but he is getting the snaps.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
I’ll try to be calm here, and ensure the Bears fan in me doesn’t come out too much. But things are looking bright in Chicago under new coach Matt Nagy. In my original assessment, I had high hopes for Nagy and his new staff. And I wasn’t alone. This is one of the coaching hires this off-season that received the most positive buzz. So how is it looking in practice?
The Bears surrounded both Nagy with all the tools he needed to succeed. With a first-time head coach, they elected to help him out with strong veteran coaches like Vic Fangio (defensive coordinator) and Harry Hiestand (offensive line coach). They also invested in free agency to surround Mitchell Trubisky with the talent he needed to succeed. While not perfect so far, it’s been a good start for Nagy, with a bright future.
To date, I have two significant complaints about Nagy. First, he needs to find a way to help Trubisky become more consistent. He shows flashes of brilliance followed by flashes of “where the heck was he throwing that ball” moments. Trubisky is still young, though, and hopefully, he can get more comfortable over time. Second, Nagy has likely cost the Bears one or two wins with conservative play calling with the lead. Both the Green Bay and Miami games were winnable, but playing scared cost the Bears both games. (Well, that and the future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.)
Current Record: 5-3
Outlook: Nagy has the Bears in the playoff hunt, and his offensive system can be explosive. Consistency is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Dynasty Outlook: The Bears, once pretty barren in terms of rosterable dynasty assets, now has quite a few guys to at least watch closely. It’s tough to guess Tarik Cohen’s weekly usage, but it’s also tough to doubt his production when he gets it. Jordan Howard, meanwhile, has really plummeted in value. I still think there may be enough there in the right game scripts.
Mitchell Trubisky is scoring quite well, but he’s showing a lot of inconsistency. I wouldn’t want to rely on him in a one QB league, but I like him a lot in superflex. Nearly every receiving weapon on the team can be a dynasty target. My personal favorites longer term are Trey Burton and Anthony Miller, but Taylor Gabriel has received quite a lot of targets in this offense, and has had some great weeks. Allen Robinson has been a disappointment due to injury, but he could be a good buy-low candidate.
Every head coach situation is a little different. The Lions weren’t a train wreck of a team by any stretch, and actually had a middle of the road record the last few seasons. They just wanted more from the team. When Patricia was brought in, they were able to keep the existing offensive coordinator (Jim Bob Cooter – perhaps the best coach name in all of football) in place. As in the case of the Bears, it can really help a new head coach if he has an experienced coordinator with a proven track record in place. And Cooter’s offenses have had a hard time running the ball, but have been pretty good through the air. They also have a veteran quarterback running the show, so should we expect more out of Patricia? Possibly.
To date, the Lions have vacillated between good wins and bad losses. They were blown out in the first Monday night game of the year, but then managed to beat the New England Patriots in Detroit. That’s never a small feat, especially considering it was against Patricia’s old team. One bright note to mention on offense is the emergence of a real running game behind rookie Kerryon Johnson. It’s not the second coming of Barry Sanders, but a breath of fresh air compared to recent years. Defensively, the Lions have been middling at best, but the recent addition of Snacks Harrison should help in that department.
From a pure coaching standpoint, it was a nightmare start for Patricia. The Lions looked horrible in that first Monday night game against a bad New York Jets team. While it was an awfully bad look to start, the Lions had a good stretch to get to 3-4 and well within striking range in the NFC North, but with the recent trade of Golden Tate, you have to wonder how far the front office expects this team to go.
Current Record: 3-5
Outlook: While Detroit has been inconsistent thus far, my gut tells me Patricia has the makings of a good NFL coach.
Dynasty Outlook: I think there are two obvious young players to really love on the Lions. Kerryon Johnson ranked lower than quite a few of the rookie running backs this season, but he’s looking like the second best back from that class behind Saquon Barkley. (At least for now.) He has really helped give the Lions an actual running game for the first time in quite awhile.
The other top young talent in the motor city is Kenny Golladay. He has shown some inconsistency, as he looked like he was ready to take hold of the #1 wide receiver spot, but then came back down to earth a bit. Still, the exit of Tate likely shows the front office has a lot of confidence in Golladay, and you should too. There is also the ever reliable Matthew Stafford, who continues to produce strong numbers year after year.
That’s all for part one. Check back soon for part two, where I will give out the grades for Frank Reich in Indianapolis, Pat Shurmur in New York, Jon Gruden in Oakland and Mike Vrabel in Tennessee.
Latest posts by Ryan Finley (see all)
- 2019 Dynasty IDP Rookie Draft: Staff Review - May 30, 2019
- 2019 Dynasty Rookie Drafts: Five Burning Questions - May 23, 2019
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: TJ Hockenson, TE DET - May 16, 2019