These days, there's no shortage of information to prepare for your fantasy drafts. Heck, there might even be too much info! Well, I'm going to add to the madness with a look at how offensive coordinators and head coaches have run their offenses and what it might mean for the 2021 season. After all, the coaches and OCs are the minds behind the chess game that is the National Football League. Some coaches like to run the football, thus producing a ton of fantasy points at the running back position. Others prefer the air assault, making fantasy heroes out of quarterbacks while loading up wide receivers and tight ends with oodles of targets and chances to score points in the passing attack.
Well, this article will break it all down for you.
We’ve already looked at every division in the AFC, so let’s look at the NFC and the Eastern division. What you'll find below are each team’s current head coaches and offensive coordinators. I’ll discuss which positions have thrived or failed based on past statistics and fantasy finishes during their respective tenures in the league.
Head coach: Mike McCarthy (2020-present)
Offensive Coordinator: Kellen Moore (2019-present)
McCarthy had the great fortune to coach Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers in his time with the Packers, so it’s no surprise that his offense produced a combined 14 top-10 finishes and one QB11 finish. Most of those ranks have been from Rodgers (9), though Favre had a pair of top 10s and Aaron Brooks had four during his time with the Saints. In 2020, Dak Prescott was on pace to throw for what would have been an NFL record 5,939 yards before suffering a serious leg injury. He’s back at 100 percent and should be considered a top-five fantasy quarterback heading into 2021 redrafts.
The running back position has found moderate success in McCarthy’s 24 years as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator as well. He’s seen backs finish in the top 10 in fantasy points seven times, including Deuce McAllister, Eddie Lacy, Ricky Williams, Ryan Grant, and Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke was on pace for a top-3 finish a season ago, but his totals fell when the Cowboys lost Prescott and three-fifths of their starting offensive line. However, he’s now “back” in my top five among fantasy running backs for 2021.
McCarthy has also produced a ton of high-end fantasy receivers, which shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider the quarterbacks he’s coached. He’s guided a total of 27 top-24 fantasy seasons at the position, including 13 instances when a player ranked as the WR9 or better. Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Joe Horn, Donald Driver, and Greg Jennings are the biggest names to thrive in McCarthy’s offense. In his first season as the Cowboys head man, both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb ranked in the top 24. That was accomplished, in part, with the likes of Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci under center. Prescott’s return has them both on the 2021 high-end WR2 radar.
Tight ends have had some success under McCarthy, though he’s never had a player at the position rank higher than eighth. That has happened twice, Boo Williams (2003) and Jermichael Finley (2011). Two other players, Donald Lee (2007) and Jimmy Graham (2018) ranked ninth and 10th under McCarthy’s guidance. In all, tight ends have ranked in the top 24 a combined 12 times but five of them ranked below the TE12 mark.
READ MORE: Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Team Outlook
Head coach: Joe Judge (2020-present)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Garrett (2020-present)
Garrett’s offenses have produced 11 top-12 finishes among quarterbacks, but all came in Dallas with either Prescott or Tony Romo under center. In his first season as the OC in New York, Garrett’s system couldn’t help Daniel Jones break the top 20. The G-Men did add Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, John Ross, and Kyle Rudolph in the offseason, however, and the return of Saquon Barkley gives Jones a ton of weapons.
In 14 years as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Garrett has produced 10 top-24 backs including six who have ranked as the RB8 or better. He’s had the advantage of having the likes of Elliott, DeMarco Murray, Marion Barber, and Barkley (two games) in his arsenals. It’s a super small sample size, but Barkley averaged just 1.8 yards per rush (19 carries) under Garrett in 2020. He was targeted nine times as a pass-catcher.
During his time with the Cowboys, Garrett saw a combined 13 top-24 finishes among wide receivers. Six of those were top-10s, including Terrell Owens (1), Dez Bryant (3), Miles Austin (1), and Amari Cooper (1). The best fantasy finish among Giants wideouts last season was Sterling Shepard (WR43), but that should improve dramatically with the addition of Golladay. Still, he shouldn’t be seen as more than a WR2/WR3 in drafts.
Garrett’s offense produced 11 top-12 finishes among tight ends, and each of them came from future Hall of Famer Jason Witten in Dallas. Evan Engram was the TE15 in his first season under Garrett, and the addition of multiple weapons in the pass attack doesn’t bode well for Engram’s chances to be much better in the stat sheets for this season.
READ MORE: New York Giants Fantasy Team Outlook
Head coach: Nick Sirianni (2021)
Offensive Coordinator: Shane Steichen (2021)
Sirianni will be a head coach for the first time in his NFL career this season, and he’ll be calling the offensive plays in 2021. That will be a change from his time as the offensive coordinator in Indianapolis, as it was Frank Reich calling the shots. In three years in that role, Sirianni’s quarterbacks ranked QB5 (Andrew Luck, 2018), QB23 (Jacoby Brissett, 2019), and QB 20 (Philip Rivers, 2020). Jalen Hurts is a much different quarterback than Luck or Rivers, as his strength is mobility and his skills as a runner. Sirianni hasn’t had a signal-caller rush for more than 228 yards (Brissett), so he’ll need to adjust in 2021.
The Colts had a pair of top-15 fantasy backs last season, Jonathan Taylor (RB5) and Nyheim Hines (RB15). In the previous two years, the team’s best fantasy finisher was Marlon Mack (RB22, 2019). The Colts had at least one back with 260-plus touches in each of the last two seasons. Ironically, Miles Sanders was on pace for almost exactly 260 touches in his 12 games in 2020. The Eagles added rookie Kenneth Gainwell and free agent Kerryon Johnson this offseason, so Sanders will now be a risk-reward RB2.
One quick note about Steichen as it pertains to running backs: Both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler averaged at least five targets per game under Steichen from Week 9-17 during the 2019 season. Last year, Ekeler averaged 6.5 targets per game in his offense.
Sirianni didn’t have a ton of success with wideouts in three seasons with the Colts, as only T.Y. Hilton (WR14, 2018) finished better than WR42 based on fantasy points. He is also the lone wideout to post more than 93 targets in a single season. Of course, those teams never had a high-end talent at the position. The Eagles added Devonta Smith in the 2021 draft, so it’ll be interesting to see what Sirianni does with young talent.
The tight end position hasn’t had a ton of success under Sirianni, though Eric Ebron did have a TE4 finish in 2018. Over the last two seasons, however, no tight end has ranked better than TE15 (Jack Doyle, 2019). With that said, Dallas Goedert is a different kind of talent and should be one of the two more targeted players in the Eagles' passing game.
READ MORE: MMQB - Meet the Man Who'll Unlock the Eagles
Washington Football Team
Head coach: Ron Rivera (2020-present)
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Turner (2020-present)
Turner has just over one season of experience as an offensive coordinator at the NFL level. It’s hard to gauge quarterback success in his system because he’s worked with the likes of Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and Will Grier. That’s not the cream of the crop at the position. He did throw the football 61.9 percent of the time last year, which is good news for Ryan Fitzpatrick as he takes over as the new No. 1 quarterback. The Amish Rifle should be seen as a late-round No. 2 fantasy field generals in redrafts.
Much like this father Norv, Scott’s offense is very running back-friendly. As a result, it’s no surprise that both Antonio Gibson (RB13) and J.D. McKissic (RB17) both finished in the top 20 in fantasy points last season. The duo combined for 154 targets, though that total should decline in McKissic’s case with Fitzpatrick under center. Gibson, who put up an average of 14.4 points a game as a rookie, will be a high-end RB2 in 2021 redrafts.
At wide receiver, Terry McLaurin finishes as the WR20 while averaging 14.9 points per game despite the lack of a consistent quarterback. His stock should rise with Fitzpatrick, who likes to take chances downfield. Turner is very familiar with free-agent addition Curtis Samuel from their time together in Carolina, so don’t be surprised if he pushes for career bests in both touches and targets as the No. 2 wideout in Washington.
Tight ends had done historically well under the guidance of Norv Turner, and the same held true of Scott in his first full season as an offensive coordinator. Logan Thomas was the big winner, posting a TE3 finish while seeing 110 targets. In nine games last year, Fitzpatrick threw the ball to his tight ends 22.1 percent of the time. That ranked 13th at the quarterback position among signal-callers who played in at least nine games.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!