This story appears in the 2019 Fantasy Football special issue of Sports Illustrated. For more great storytelling and in-depth analysis, subscribe to the magazine—and get up to 94% off the cover price. Click here for more.
Each new NFL season sees turnover at the coaching level. Smart fantasy players know that certain hires or departures can impact the fantasy output of their players. Here are some things to keep in mind about coaches in new positions for 2019.
Bruce Arians, Buccaneers
Arians, most recently the coach in Arizona (2013-17), loves to get the ball downfield. His scheme is similar to what Tampa Bay used under previous coach Dirk Koetter, and it's a good fit for QB Jameis Winston. The hope is that the blunt Arians can transform Winston into a more disciplined decision maker.
Vic Fangio, Broncos
The defensively-oriented Fangio hired new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello from San Francisco, where he had been quarterbacks coach, and his approach should resemble that of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. That means more throws out of run-based looks, with emphasis on play-action and designed QB movement. New Denver quarterback Joe Flacco isn't ideal for this approach, but he will suffice.
Brian Flores, Dolphins
The former linebackers coach in New England hired Chad O'Shea, the wide receivers coach there for 10 seasons, to bring a Patriots-style attack to Miami. With one of the NFL's least-talented offenses, the Dolphins must rely on scheme and design to succeed.
Adam Gase, Jets
Gase, who coached the Dolphins from 2016 through '18, has always emphasized the tight end as a chess piece. He will now have the chance to do that with versatile running back Le'Veon Bell, who caught 85 passes for Pittsburgh in 2017. Gase's designs will create easy completions for second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, not just to Bell but to the receivers as well.
Freddie Kitchens, Browns
Baker Mayfield likes to let it rip, and Kitchens, elevated from offensive coordinator, will cater to his QB's aggressive style. Cleveland's wide receivers should thrive in this system, which also deploys running backs in the passing game. Expect extra opportunities for tailback Nick Chubb, who has breakaway speed.
Matt LaFleur, Packers
Aaron Rodgers had become undisciplined in a Mike McCarthy system that was heavy on isolated routes and basic reads. LaFleur, the Titans' coordinator last year, will define quarterback reads through detailed route combinations. Rodgers can be great playing in sandlot mode, but he could be more lethal here.
Zac Taylor, Bengals
Taylor, 35, is another Sean McVay disciple, and he inherits quarterback Andy Dalton, whose greatest attribute is his sharp presnap IQ. The question is whether Taylor, a QB coach in Miami and Los Angeles, can help Dalton become comfortable after the snap.
Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals
Kingsbury will try to create easy completions with a modern, quarterback-friendly offense. His QB will get the ball out quickly, which is a must anyway, given Arizona's improved-but-still-iffy offensive line. If all goes well, Cardinals backs and receivers will have plenty of run-after-catch opportunities.
Darrell Bevell, Lions
Coach Matt Patricia wants a Patriots-style passing game. Bevell, most recently the coordinator in Seattle from 2011 through '17, is an experienced NFL play-caller, but he has never directed that sort of scheme. This could mean a rough transition early on.
John DeFilippo, Jaguars
DeFilippo is a pass-first play-caller working for a run-first organization. That didn't go well for him last year in Minnesota, where a poor run-blocking offensive line hastened his midseason firing. Jacksonville's offensive line is better—though not elite. Can DeFilippo persuade his Jaguars bosses that a controlled, pass-first approach is best?
Tim Kelly, Texans
Kelly was promoted from tight ends coach, but head man Bill O'Brien, who handled OC duties the last two seasons, will still run the show.
Dirk Koetter, Falcons
The coordinator in Atlanta from 2012 through '14 returns after a head-coaching stint in Tampa Bay. With the Bucs, Koetter often featured spread formations and deep QB drop-backs. He has the weapons to do that here, but his successor with the Falcons, Kyle Shanahan, had success with more diverse formations and zone play-action. Whichever approach Koetter deploys, Atlanta has the skill players to make it work.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys
It will be fascinating to see what Moore's offense looks like. Coaches usually teach what is familiar to them, but Moore, 30, both played for and coached under former Dallas coordinator Scott Linehan; if coach Jason Garrett loved Linehan's simple, straight-forward scheme, he would most likely still be in Dallas. Moore is of the generation that believes more in highly mechanized designs. In the very least, expect a better play-action game from the Cowboys.
Kevin O'Connell, Redskins
O'Connell will work closely with coach Jay Gruden. Expect the passing game to go through tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, not only because they are Washington's best options but also because the more controlled attack suits new quarterbacks Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins.
Greg Roman, Ravens
An offensive assistant the last two seasons, Roman has been elevated to install a creative running game that leverages quarterback Lamar Jackson's mobility. That won't mean huge rushing totals for Jackson, though. Roman's task is to make defenses respect that threat while limiting Jackson's runs to a safe and manageable number. The Ravens' running backs will be the real beneficiaries.
Arthur Smith, Titans
Coach Mike Vrabel promoted Smith from tight ends coach because he wanted to maintain continuity after the departure of Matt LaFleur to Green Bay. So expect a similar offense featuring condensed formations and play-action designed to help average receivers put up bigger numbers.
Kevin Stefanski, Vikings
Stefanski, a 10-year assistant coach in Minnesota, was regarded by some as the brains behind the Vikings' pristine passing game in 2017. But with a more run-first approach expected after QB Kirk Cousins's disappointing '18 season, the numbers might actually drop a bit for Vikings pass catchers.
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