Fantasy football: NFL offensive coordinator changes

by Tim Heaney on July 30, 2012 @ 15:30:37 PDT


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Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel
Building a new Cassel

After his days trying to extract something out of the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, a branch from the New England Patriots tree gets some blooming leaves for his run-first, pro-style vision. Was he vanilla in his previous tries, or did he have to dumb things down for those squads?

A healthy Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Tony Moeaki could make for a promising fantasy group, even if Daboll sticks to the basics. He was the wideout coach in New England when Cassel started his career there, so there's a hint of a connection and knowledge of Cassel's working as a thrower.

Daboll's offensive creativity hardly had a chance to expand with the lack of talent he had to work with previously. He's preaching aggressiveness with his new club. In previous jobs, he preached QB freedom in at-the-line adjustments and has adjusted his plans around his slinger's sound attributes, so it's safe to expect Cassel to be more in command than in recent years in a system that could resemble a poor man's New England outfit.

Peyton Hillis will be a valuable tandem back with Charles, whose knee recovery will determine how quickly he can act as a catalyst in this format. Dexter McCluster could be used all over the field, potentially finally being a useful toy that fantasy owners will want to own. WR Jonathan Baldwin is a physical specimen who showed growth near the end of last season.

Dwayne Bowe, unfortunately, might hold out, and the fact that he'd miss the installation of a new technique jeopardizes how much he can offer this season, regardless of how much talent he has.

Miami Dolphins

Head coach Joe Philbin's specialty is the offensive line. Sherman's, meanwhile, has been the guy behind that wall. There's a level of trust that goes back to when Sherman coached Philbin in prep school. Now, the roles are reversed, with Sherman calling the plays under Philbin's watch in this West Coast style.

A competent offensive line inaccurately portrayed as disastrous last year should pave the way for an up-tempo methodology, including more no-huddles and motions. David Garrard leads the slinger battle, and Matt Moore is in the picture, but if Texas A&M alum and 2012 first-rounder Ryan Tannehill ascends to the job, he should be comfortable with Sherman, who directed his college O last season. That doesn't mean the offense would excel for him, though, in his first NFL taste.

Sans Brandon Marshall, the reception distribution lines up to be painful. Wideout production will cycle erratically. Chad Johnson is the "best" bet to be something of a fantasy asset, but this system is foreign to him because of its precise route-running requirements. Anthony Fasano has to hold off rookie Michael Egnew and might not fit the offense well.

The run game will continue serving as the focus for this season given all the changes on the passing side. With his likely frequent dump-off chances and opportunities to run some routes, Reggie Bush should enjoy this formula - of course, if he can stay on the field. Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller are relevant, at least for fantasy benches, because of Bush's painful health history.

Miami's lead back rocks the value boat plenty, and this O will have rough swimming.

New England Patriots

A new, but old, name, yet this attack will still be one of the most coveted in fantasy. McDaniels returns to his old stomping grounds and ideal role - his head coaching stretch and force-feeding Sam Bradford his high-paced system didn't go so well.

Tom Brady thrived under Bill O'Brien but won't scoff at reuniting with the man at the helm for his 50-touchdown 2007. There'll be a "nice to meet you" period with some of the skill players, but Brady's comfort, despite working on some mechanical stuff recently, will speed things along. Too bad the ground game will once again induce fake-football headaches. Wes Welker's fantasy red flag has to do with his contract dispute, not his team's strategy with the ball.

Don't worry: The OC's spotty history of using the tight end won't strip Rob Gronkowski's targets. The Pats will "advise" McDaniels to adjust ... or else. Though the pair wreaked havoc last year, Aaron Hernandez isn't as safe. Brandon Lloyd, a system disciple and MVP in both Denver and St. Louis, can slide right in and become the Pats' No. 3 target; he could be a middle-rounds steal.

New York Jets

Ground ... pound: They rhyme, and they define the former Miami Dolphins general's commands. The Jets just might have an identity again.

That would lend you to think Gang Green would become Gang Greene. Shonn Greene, in theory, would make fantasy drafters salivate in this format. He's not talented enough as a runner to create things on his own, but this is a system that at least increases the optimism if you can get him at a value.

Joe McKnight bulked up but has the best speed in this backfield, and the other backups, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway, will have to settle for scraps. Don't forget about Tim Tebow, who might be their best goal line gouger and could block his teammates even in limited work. An offensive line with a healthy Nick Mangold should pave way for the toters more clearly than it did in 2011.

At least he's working with a steadier QB this time. Mark Sanchez reportedly has more lower-body strength this year, and play-action passing is one of his fortes. But Tebow's presence and the overall goals of this setup sustain his fantasy backup worth.

Sparano's experience with two-tight end sets in South Beach should play in Dustin Keller's favor; he's already No. 6's best friend.

Santonio Holmes, unfortunately, probably won't enjoy this setup; he was already a bystander when the Jets tried to wedge in more tosses last season in an inconsistent play-calling atmosphere. Holmes isn't a true No. 1 NFL wideout, so it's questionable whether he can make a dynamic statement under these circumstances.

Maybe Stephen Hill and Chaz Schilens can stretch the field, but this unreliable corps doesn't have sunny prognosis in the immediate fantasy future.

Will a stud RB thrive in his new system?

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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