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NFL Coaching Changes 2023: The Fantasy Impact

By Kevin English 4:40pm EDT 8/23/23

NFL Coaching Changes Will Alter Fantasy Roles

You know the marquee names starting fresh in new cities:

HC Sean Payton in Denver ...

HC Frank Reich in Carolina ...

OC Eric Bieniemy in Washington ...

But what about the less-established, lesser-known coaching talent? And what do each of these coaching changes in the NFL mean for that team's offense? 

Let's examine NFL coaching changes for 2023 -- with a fantasy football slant.

AFC Coaching Changes

NFC Coaching Changes

TIP

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NFL Coaching Changes (AFC)

New England Patriots Coaching Change: OC Bill O'Brien

2022 pass rate: 56.0%
2022 run rate: 44.0%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 58.0% (+2.0%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 42.0% (-2.0%)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen O’Brien. He’s stepping back into the pros after spending the last two seasons as the Alabama OC.

The Crimson Tide offense ranked top 6 in points per game and top 15 in yards per game over that span, with QB Bryce Young.

Back In The Saddle

O'Brien worked on the Patriots' offensive staff from 2007 through 2011, spending that final year as OC before leaving to coach Penn State (and then the Texans).

HC Bill Belichick trusted O’Brien with play-calling duties in three of those five seasons.

A recent report from Jeff Howe of The Athletic indicates the Patriots’ offense is already running smoothly under O’Brien’s watch.

A significant reason why? The Alabama connection between him and QB Mac Jones.

The Alabama Connection

Howe notes that O’Brien “has been implementing pieces of his system from the University of Alabama more than recycling Patriots playbooks of years past.”

O'Brien adapted that system from Alabama predecessor Steve Sarkisian. And Jones -- who played under Sarkisian -- helped O’Brien learn that scheme before going pro.

That familiarity and a more up-tempo offense should help Jones and the Pats’ offense.

The Patriots ranked 17th in scoring last year, but just 26th in yards and 24th in Football Outsiders' offensive DVOA. (Five defensive TDs plus another on a punt return boosted scoring.)

Sorting the New Offensive Pieces

Rhamondre Stevenson is a lock for plenty of work, and you'll find him high in our RB rankings. However, the mid-August addition of veteran Ezekiel Elliott makes this backfield a bit more confusing than we initially anticipated.

Stevenson should stave off Elliott for primary pass-catching responsibilities, though recent reports have indicated that Elliott has seen an uptick in receiving at Patriots practice. Even still, Stevenson's value drop in ADP makes him more than worthy of drafting in the fourth round.

New England also has plenty going on beyond the backfield. The team extended WR DeVante Parker this offseason and brought in "TE" Mike Gesicki and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency.

Training camp reports seem to point to TE Hunter Henry winning the battle over Gesicki, but beyond that, we haven't seen these guys play much in preseason games so far. 

Smith-Schuster should be a quality WR3/flex option for managers. It's tough to project a ton of value for the others.

New York Jets Coaching Change: OC Nathaniel Hackett

2022 pass rate: 60.8%
2022 run rate: 39.2%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 58.0% (-2.8%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 42.0% (+2.8%)

Everyone Deserves a Mulligan, Right?

Hackett couldn't hack it as the Broncos' HC last year. The Denver offense ranked 32nd in points per game and 29th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA. So he got dumped before the end of the season.

Maybe overseeing an entire team isn’t his strength. But working with QB Aaron Rodgers has gone well Hackett.

Hackett served as Packers OC from 2019 through 2021. Rodgers took home the MVP award twice in that span.

Ready For Takeoff?

WR Garrett Wilson figures to be the Jets' top receiver in 2023. Those who watch HBO's 'Hard Knocks' have heard the glowing things Rodgers has to say about him already.

But who else will help fantasy teams?

Allen Lazard looks likely to be the WR2. He has history with Hackett and Rodgers and signed a four-year, $44 million deal in free agency.

We know how much Rodgers likes to work with “his guys.” And Hackett seems understandably comfortable with letting the QB cook.

"I think there's going to be some freedom with Aaron,” Hackett told NFL Network's Peter Schrager.  “And as we moved forward in the Green Bay system, there was definitely more freedom as we went. ... You've got to take advantage of a guy like Aaron that is so smart and understands it.”

What About the Backfield?

During his three seasons as Packers OC, Hackett's offenses ranked top 8 in rush DVOA. RB Aaron Jones eclipsed 60 targets each season and averaged 16.8 touches per game over the span.

That's plenty of work available for Jets RB Breece Hall, if we get something similar in New York. Of course, we'll have to watch his ACL recovery through summer to see how much of the workload he'll take on.

Hall has reportedly progressed well, but the August signing of veteran Dalvin Cook does throw a wrench in this backfield's outlook.

Both RBs are recovering from an offseason surgery. Between Cook's shoulder and Hall's ACL, the split of backfield touches early in the season might get a little confusing.

Even so, Hall is still our favorite target. We expect his usage to ramp up as 2023 unfolds.

Fantasy managers may be able to count on Cook to pick up some slack at the beginning of the season, but projecting how much of a role he'll have once Hall gets the full green light is somewhat murky. Be cautious trusting either player with a high-round draft pick.

Baltimore Ravens Coaching Change: OC Todd Monken

2022 pass rate: 48.1%
2022 run rate: 51.9%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 57.0% (+8.9%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 43.0% (-8.9%)

After four seasons of run-heavy ball under former OC Greg Roman, the Ravens made a change.

Monken spent the past three years as Georgia’s OC, winning the national championship in 2021 and 2022. The offense improved each season, climbing from 41st to 26th and then to fifth in yards per game.

A Seismic Shift

The Ravens' offense averaged a -5.5% pass rate over expected under Roman over the past four seasons. Across his four seasons as an OC in the NFL (Buccaneers 2017-18, Browns 2019), Monken's offenses averaged a +1.8% PROE.

Translation: Expect the Ravens to throw quite a bit more.

This spells big opportunity for QB Lamar Jackson to unlock another dimension to his game.

Reporting from The Athletic indicates that Monken has given Jackson greater confidence to be "more vocal" in the offense.

Jackson said his new OC "is just giving us the keys to the offense and letting us do our thing.”

We'll see how this translates to the field come Week 1. Among 52 QBs who’ve started at least 10 games since 2019, Jackson ranks 37th in passing yards per game (203.9), 27th in completion percentage (64.4%), 13th in passer rating (98.1), and t-13th in adjusted yards per attempt (7.63). That last stat factors in TDs and INTs.

Who Will Score the Fantasy Points?

Baltimore has boosted its pass-catching corps.

TE Mark Andrews and WR Rashod Bateman return. The team added WR Odell Beckham Jr. on a one-year deal and drafted WR Zay Flowers in the first round.

We project Andrews to lead the team in targets this year.

Flowers has done a tremendous job of separating himself from the other wideouts in camp, though Bateman (who has missed some time rehabbing a foot injury) and Beckham Jr. sit practically tied in our WR rankings. The primary WR2 role is still fairly ambiguous.

Monken is reportedly trying to emphasize throwing to RBs more as well, which would be good news for J.K. Dobbins. However, Monken's NFL OC history doesn't give us much of a guide.

His three Tampa Bay offenses all ranked 29th or lower in RB target share. Of course, those teams also sported weak backfields. His Cleveland offense -- with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt -- ranked 14th in 2019. Chubb and Hunt combined for 93 targets that season.

Dobbins has collected just 32 targets in 23 career games. But he caught 71 passes at 9.1 yards per catch across three seasons at Ohio State. He's capable.

Overall, this looks like an offense you'll want pieces of.

Uncertainty can = Value Potential

See why our fantasy football draft strategy focuses on "value above all else."

Houston Texans Coaching Changes: HC DeMeco Ryans, OC Bobby Slowik

2022 pass rate: 59.3%
2022 run rate: 40.7%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 56.0% (-3.3%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 44.0% (+3.3%)

New Guys Bring Shanahan Influence

Ryans played LB for the Texans from 2006-11, winning defensive rookie of the year with one first-team All-Pro nod and two Pro Bowl appearances.

Ryans spent the last two seasons as the 49ers DC after four years as a defensive assistant.

But defense doesn’t mean much for fantasy unless you play in an IDP league. Let’s focus instead on the guy Ryans brought over to be his OC.

A Long Way To The Top

OC Bobby Slowik comes from an NFL background. His father, Bob, served as an NFL DC across 10 seasons in the NFL from the 1990s through the early 2000s.

The young Slowik started as a defensive assistant with the Commanders in 2011, working for three years there under Kyle Shanahan's dad, Mike.

Kyle Shanahan made Slowik a defensive assistant on his initial staff in San Francisco, in 2017. Slowik switched to offense two years later and elevated to passing-game coordinator for 2022. Those 49ers finished third in the NFL in pass DVOA.

Creative Approach Incoming?

Slowik's experience with young QBs Brock Purdy and Trey Lance over the past two years can only help his work to develop rookie QB C.J. Stroud. And it sounds like Texans players are already excited in general.

“I’m really excited about the offense," WR Noah Brown told Texans Wire. "I think we have a real creative coordinator."

RB Dameon Pierce agrees, telling NFL.com that he likes "the dynamic that coach Slo brings."

"[He] likes to attack the defense in every way possible," Pierce added. "If he sees a weakness, he's going to pull that thread until the whole ball of yarn comes loose. He's going to pick at the defense, he's going to put the defense in positions where they have to think, and not where they can react."

Pierce has also reportedly worked to model his game after 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey more. We're not expecting Pierce to get close to that level, but there have been reports of him improving in pass protection. If Pierce can build out that area, he could have nice upside from his low-RB2 level in our fantasy football rankings.

Indianapolis Colts Coaching Changes: HC Shane Steichen, OC Jim Bob Cooter

2022 pass rate: 57.9%
2022 run rate: 42.1%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 49.5% (-8.4%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 50.5% (+8.4%)

Philly Import Targets Turnaround

The Eagles ranked 30th and 23rd respectively in pass rate in Steichen's two years as OC. They also ranked first and fourth in rushing yards per game.

Now he takes over a team with a strong-running rookie QB and a star RB already in place. Bet on plenty more rushing.

This bodes well for RB Jonathan Taylor as he hopes to rebound from an injury-marred 2022. The year before, Taylor led the league in:

  • carries (332)
  • rushing yards (1,811)
  • yards per game (106.5)
  • total TDs (20)

We're projecting Taylor for another monster year with a big workload. But Taylor isn't the only player who will see a great deal of support from this coaching staff.

A Young QB's Dream

Before working with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia, Steichen spent 2020 as Chargers OC. That year found QB Justin Herbert winning offensive rookie of the year.

Cooter -- who spent 2015-18 as Lions OC -- worked with Steichen on the 2021 Eagles staff and then spent last season as Jacksonville's passing-game coordinator.

The Jaguars ranked 14th in pass rate, ninth in PROE, and sixth in FO's Pass DVOA. But those Jags imported Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram in free agency and sported a second-year QB.

Key Difference from Jacksonville to Indy

The Colts drafted QB Anthony Richardson fourth overall after he started just 13 college games and threw 393 total passes.

Early reports indicate Steichen likes what he's seen from Richardson, though he acknowledged there's work still to do. The rookie isn't a lock to start Week 1, but the Colts have indicated they're not afraid to let him learn on the job.

Richardson's rushing gives him big fantasy upside regardless of how well he passes. His early development and a likely run-leaning offense could limit the upside for Colts pass catchers, though.

Tennessee Titans Coaching Change: OC Tim Kelly

2022 pass rate: 48.4%
2022 run rate: 51.6%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 53.0% (+4.6%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 47.0% (-4.6%)

Team Chooses Familiar Option

Kelly is one of the few in-house promotions among this year's NFL coaching changes. He spent 2022 as Titans passing-game coordinator.

Prior to landing in Nashville, Kelly spent five seasons as a Texans assistant before rising to OC from 2019 through 2021.

TE Breakout On The Horizon?

Before his three years as Texans OC, Kelly spent two as TEs coach. That can't be bad news for Chigoziem Okonkwo.

Titans HC Mike Vrabel told SI.com this offseason that he asked Kelly "to focus and assist with TEs at practice and a lot of preparation during the week" in 2022. So we know Kellly is a big TE guy.

Among 43 TEs who drew 30+ targets in 2022, Okonkwo ranked third in PFF receiving grade and first in yards per route. On top of that, he led all Titans in receptions and ranked second in receiving yards over the final seven weeks of the season, while tying fellow TE Austin Hooper for third on the team in targets.

Kelly's offenses have historically mixed in a lot of "12" personnel grouping (two TEs). If that continues, Okonkwo figures to be used more as a "move" TE -- meaning less blocking and more pass routes.

The addition of WR DeAndre Hopkins puts a bit of a damper Okonkwo's fantasy ceiling, however.

Prior to Hopkins signing, Okonkwo's only serious target competition came from WR Treylon Burks. We still feel Okonkwo is worth a late-round pick that carries weekly upside, but that pass-catching room is a little more crowded than we'd initially thought.

Downside Risk?

We can't forget that Kelly helped coach a poor 2022 Titans offense.

The team ranked:

  • 20th in Pass DVOA
  • 30th in passing yards per game
  • 31st in drive success rate

The team did fare well in the red zone, however. Vrabel credited Kelly's influence there as well.

The Titans ranked sixth in the NFL in TDs per red-zone drive.

A Change of Pace

"We want to make sure that we're as efficient in whatever you want to call it. Tempo, playing fast, or whatever it may be," Kelly told SI.com. "We want to make sure we're efficient ... and really try to take as much thinking out as possible." 

QB Ryan Tannehill is excited, saying he enjoys "not being stuck in one way" of operating, and "being able to jump in and out of it, different personnels, different tempos.

Last year's Titans ranked last in situation-neutral play pace. Improvement there would obviously mean more plays, which can only help offensive opportunities and production.

Denver Broncos Coaching Changes: HC Sean Payton, OC Joe Lombardi

2022 pass rate: 56.3%
2022 run rate: 43.7%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 55.0% (-1.3%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 45.0% (+1.3%)

Can Broncos Fix Offense? 

You probably remember Sean Payton:

  • Saints HC for 15 seasons (2006-11, 2013-21)
  • Super Bowl XLIV winner
  • 2006 AP Coach of The Year

He stepped away from coaching, spent some time with Fox, and now finds himself with the challenge of reviving QB Russell Wilson. There's plenty of work to do.

Last year's Broncos ranked:

  • 30th in offensive DVOA
  • 32nd in points per game
  • 26th in drive success rate

Fortunately, Payton has much better record. He led the Saints to 13 top-10 finishes in total yards and 12 top-10 finishes in points.

Payton brought in Joe Lombardi as OC. Lombardi spent the last two seasons as the Chargers OC and worked with Payton for 10 years in New Orleans.

The Russell Wilson Factor

The Broncos' immediate future hinges on Wilson's ability to execute. 

That's where Payton and Lombardi are starting from: How can they tailor an offense around Wilson?

Last year saw the nine-time Pro Bowler record career lows in completion rate and PFF passing grade, and the second-fewest yards per attempt of his 11-year NFL career. 

When QB Drew Brees experienced similar challenges toward the end of his Saints career, Payton was crafty enough to scale back Brees' responsibilities and run the ball more. 

Saints Rushing Blueprint?

From 2016 to 2020, the Saints' pass rate shrank from 64% to 55% (with a small 2019 spike ), per NFELO.

The offense also primarily operated out of a single-setback formation after years of being known for a shotgun attack during Brees' peak.

A similar approach in 2023 would place hefty onus on RBs Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, with Williams working back from last year's ACL tear.

So far in camp, Williams dodged the PUP list, was immediately cleared for contact, and has already played in preseason action. His fantasy prospects continue to look up as he shows he's recovering very well and quickly.

The Broncos paid up for RT Mike McGlinchey and LG Ben Powers in free agency. LT Garrett Bolles will also be back after missing the final 12 games of last season with a broken leg.

Of course, O-line upgrades can also help the passing offense. And Denver sports plenty of talent at WR and TE. In short, it's tough to know just what pass-run split to expect from Payton.

It's probably best not to over-invest in any aspect of the Broncos offense.

It's easier to draft Broncos in best ball

Kansas City Chiefs Coaching Change: OC Matt Nagy

2022 pass rate: 61.0%
2022 run rate: 39.0%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 61.5% (+0.5%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 38.5% (-0.5%)

Does This One Even Matter?

The Chiefs promoted QBs coach Matt Nagy to OC following Eric Bieniemy's departure.

The former Bears HC has 11 seasons' experience with HC Andy Reid, including 2017 as Chiefs OC. That team finished fifth in total yards and sixth in scoring with QB Alex Smith.

He didn't fare nearly as well in Chicago. But Nagy's first season back in K.C. ended with a Super Bowl win and more big offensive numbers.

Nagy's coaching probably matters to the Chiefs at some level. But we'll just go ahead and continue expecting good things from Reid and QB Patrick Mahomes.

Los Angeles Chargers Coaching Change: OC Kellen Moore

2022 pass rate: 63.8%
2022 run rate: 36.2%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 62.0% (-1.8%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 38.0% (+1.8%)

New Team, Same Position

This is a lateral move from the position Moore held with the Cowboys the past four years.

Moore helped the Cowboys to top-11 finishes in points and yards in three of his four seasons. The only exception was 2020, when QB Dak Prescott went down in Week 5.

Moore has historically deployed a fast-paced attack. The Cowboys ranked top-4 in both pace and situation-neutral pace in each season Moore was OC. The Cowboys also ranked top 10 in red-zone scoring rate in 2021 and 2022.

Enhanced Ground Game?

Moore is looking to revamp the whole rushing attack by getting back to basics.

"For us, up front, [Moore has] really simplified a lot of things," LT Rashawn Slater told CBS. "He's allowed us to go a lot quicker and not think as much, which we always love ... You'd be surprised how much can change in the run game whenever certain rules are re-arranged, just the coaching points change a little bit. I think that's going to allow us to play really fast and give us a chance to get explosive-type plays."

The Cowboys' offense ranked ninth in explosive run rate in 2022, a stark contrast to the 29th-ranked Chargers.

The Chargers moved quickly to hire Moore after he parted ways with Dallas. That clearly indicates they consider him an upgrade. Combine that with the team's exciting offensive talent, and we're buying into this offense in 2023.

Coaching Changes Influence Our Award-Winning Projections

NFL Coaching Changes (NFC)

Arizona Cardinals Coaching Changes: HC Jonathan Gannon, OC Drew Petzing

2022 pass rate: 62.1%
2022 run rate: 37.9%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 58.0% (-4.1%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 42.0% (+4.1%)

First-Timers Take Over

Gannon spent the past two seasons as Philly’s DC. He’ll hand play-calling duties to Petzing, who worked with Gannon for four seasons in Minnesota (offensive assistant, assistant WRs coach).

NFL insider Albert Breer even said Petzing "topped Gannon's wishlist." 

Good for Gannon. But we have no history of Petzing, 36, calling plays. So projecting this offense takes some imagination.

Tough Situation

Here’s the harsh truth: Arizona’s roster will make implementing any scheme a challenge.

  • QB Kyler Murray (ACL tear) is a candidate for the PUP list. Petzing said, per ESPN, that he wants Murray’s rushing to remain a “big part of his game.” Of course. But, he missed all of training camp, and we’ll see what the QB's knee allows in 2023. 
  • WR DeAndre Hopkins now plays for the Titans.
  • TE Zach Ertz is coming off an ACL tear, although he has a chance to play Week 1.

Can You Trust Anyone?

In eight games without DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown averaged 9.6 targets (23.8% share), 6.3 catches, 69 yards, and 0.4 TDs. Hopkins’ release removes 96 targets from last year's total.

We should expect low-level QB play for any time Murray misses. But Brown’s target upside extends north of 130.

James Conner looks like the strength of this offense. You can point to his age (28) or injury history as drawbacks, but volume rules.

Our RB projections have Conner getting nearly 19 touches per game. And Conner has finished each of the past two years among the top 10 RBs in PPR points per game.

Carolina Panthers Coaching Changes: HC Frank Reich, OC Thomas Brown

2022 pass rate: 50.5%
2022 run rate: 49.5%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 57.0% (+6.5%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 43.0% (-6.5%)

Don’t Knock Reich for Down ‘22

Following a 3-5-1 start, the Colts fired Reich last November. His unit averaged just 14.6 PPG.

Considering the rapid decline of Matt Ryan – who rarely pushed the ball downfield – we’re willing to give Reich a pass. In Reich's first four years as HC, the Colts ranked fifth, 16th, ninth, and ninth in scoring.

His QBs over that stretch: 

  • Andrew Luck
  • Jacoby Brissett
  • Philip Rivers (39 years old)
  • Carson Wentz

A Perfect Match

Carolina ended Reich’s QB carousel by selecting Bryce Young. 

We love the fit for Young. Reich is a former NFL QB who called plays for Wentz’s best season (2017, Eagles) and two of Rivers’ best years (2014-2015, Chargers). He's considered one of the most respected leaders league wide.

Reich's offensive success at each stop likely buys him several years as HC, even if Carolina struggles early. That type of continuity would be key for Young's development. Based on reports out of training camp, though, Young is poised to hit the ground running...

Who’s the RB2?

As for the running game, Reich hasn’t named a favorite for the RB2 role.

"I like to involve everybody," Reich said of the backfield via Panthers.com. "Listen, Miles Sanders has looked good. And at this point, he's our No. 1 guy. But the other running backs: Chuba [Hubbard] has looked good, Raheem [Blackshear] has looked good. The whole group has shown good promise, so we'll see how it continues to develop."

Hubbard is the favorite, but it's a spot to watch entering the opener. That's especially true after Sanders missed a chunk of camp with a groin injury.

McVay Coaching Tree Grows East 

Brown spent the past three seasons alongside Sean McVay. He made several stops as an RBs coach before that and garnered HC interviews the past two cycles.

Brown’s expected to call plays for the first time in the NFL.

“Thomas makes it easy because I respect him. I respect his football mind,” Reich said. “I respect who he is as a person. The couple of disagreements we've had, sometimes it's 'OK, Thomas, you win out, and we're going to do it your way.' Sometimes it's, 'We're going to do it the old way.' It's just been a give-and-take."

Dallas Cowboys Coaching Change: OC Brian Schottenheimer

2022 pass rate: 51.1%
2022 run rate: 48.9%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 57.0% (+5.9%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 43.0% (-5.9%)

New OC Won’t Call Plays

Schottenheimer held an “offensive consultant” title for the Cowboys in 2022, one year after serving on Urban Meyer’s Jacksonville staff. 

HC Mike McCarthy will reclaim play-calling responsibilities, and he clarified that “wholesale” changes aren’t coming. At the Combine, he estimated about 70% of the playbook remains the same.

Cause for Concern?

McCarthy did provide a laugh with another Combine comment.

“[2022 OC] Kellen [Moore] wants to light the scoreboard up. But I want to run the damn ball so I can rest my defense, McCarthy said. “Think when you're a coordinator, you know but you’re in charge of the offense. Being a head coach and being a play-caller, you’re a little more in tune.” 

So, should you nudge Cowboys skill players down your cheat sheet?

Personnel Suggests More Passing

Ultimately, it’s tough to see Dallas going as run-heavy as in 2022. 

Dak Prescott missed five early-season games with a right thumb fracture. The Cowboys also upgraded the WR corps by acquiring Brandin Cooks.

Ezekiel Elliott signed with New England. So for now, there’s uncertainty in the backfield behind Tony Pollard, who’s coming off a fractured fibula.

Pollard, who's enjoyed a smooth rehab, should be a central part of your fantasy football draft strategy.

Los Angeles Rams Coaching Change: OC Mike LaFleur

2022 pass rate: 58.9%
2022 run rate: 41.1%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 59.0% (+0.1%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 41.0% (-.01%)

We’re not anticipating any meaningful change, as HC Sean McVay returns to call plays.

A Rough Stretch in New York

LaFleur busted as Jets OC the past two years, his first stint as a play caller. Both of his offenses finished 25th or worse in scoring and yards.

Of course, proper context is necessary.

The 2021 Jets went 4-13 and featured Zach Wilson at QB (13 games).

The 2022 Jets went 7-10 and again rolled out Wilson most often.

Shared Connection

If we’re looking through an optimistic lens, LaFleur – like McVay – has a history with 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan brought LaFleur in as pass-game coordinator/WRs coach when he took the job in 2017. And LaFleur stayed on staff through 2020. 

2022 Rams Out of Character

Los Angeles’ 2022 offense looked like an outlier from several angles.

The Rams ranked 30th in situation-neutral pace, according to Football Outsiders. Their finishes in McVay’s first five seasons:

  • first
  • third
  • third
  • 12th
  • fourth

That played a part in the Rams firing off 58.9 plays per game, down from their average of 65.0 under McVay. 

QB Matthew Stafford, of course, missed eight games. Stafford staying healthy can only help the offense. And that would retain Cooper Kupp's WR1 potential. (A recent hamstring injury shouldn't keep him out of the opener.)

Meanwhile, Cam Akers looks poised for RB2 value if he can secure a volume-based role. He reached 20 touches in each of the Rams’ final three games of 2022. We'll just keep an eye on Kyren Williams, who has a chance to earn passing-down snaps for a team that figures to play from behind a lot.

Philadelphia Eagles Coaching Change: OC Brian Johnson

2022 pass rate: 51.6%
2022 run rate: 48.4%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 51% (-0.6%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 49% (+0.6%)

Eagles Lock In Continuity

Johnson served as Philly’s QBs coach the past two seasons. 

His relationship with Jalen Hurts goes back 20+ years, a stretch that includes two stops (Mississippi State and Florida) where he tried to recruit the QB.

“He’s a great communicator,” Hurts said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “He’s definitely been able to simplify some things. It holds a lot of weight that he’s played the position. His experience with the game, what he’s learned through his years … has a lot to do with the success we’ve had."

We'll see how he performs as a play caller, but conceptually, this Eagles offense won't change.

If it Ain’t Broke …

The 2022 Eagles ranked third in yards per game, sixth in yards per play, and third in points per game. This unit performed well in critical moments, too, ranking third in red-zone scoring efficiency and fourth in third-down conversation rate.

Philly also played quickly. They ranked third in no-huddle rate, per NFELO.

Here’s the good news: Johnson, who’ll call plays, aligns similarly with 2022 OC Shane Steichen.

“I think Shane is obviously a great play caller,” Johnson said. “I think we see the game very, very similar in terms of how to attack defense, what pops in our brain vs. structure. There were many times throughout the course of the game where we were on the same page of what we needed to get to."

Major Backfield Changes

The Eagles replaced Miles Sanders with Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift, giving them a deeper backfield than we saw a year ago. 

But this summer, it's been Kenneth Gainwell garnering most of the backfield hype. He could be a surprise factor on early downs -- and near the goal line.

Jalen Hurts, only 25, will remain a key part of the rushing attack. He missed two games last year yet led all QBs in rushes (163).

Will Hurts Repeat As a Top-3 Fantasy QB?

Get the Intel With Our Superflex Rankings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coaching Change: OC Dave Canales

2022 pass rate: 66.1%
2022 run rate: 33.9%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 58.0% (-8.1%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 42.0% (+8.1%)

Pete Carroll's Protege?

Canales followed Pete Carroll from USC to Seattle when Carroll took the HC job in 2010. He stayed on staff for the 13 years since, holding roles such as:

  • WRs coach
  • QBs coach
  • passing-game coordinator

This year marks his first as a play caller. Canales discussed some key tenets of his scheme in a thoughtful interview with Pewter Report.

Chief among them: tempo. 

Does Canales Have the Personnel to Play Fast?

The 2022 Seahawks ranked second in no-huddle rate and tied for fifth in plays per minute, per NFELO.

Since joining Tampa Bay, Canales has emphasized a desire to put added stress on the defense.

Canales also describes his QB as a “point guard,” intending to take “three to five” deep shots per game. 

Nothing crazy. The question is whether QB Baker Mayfield -- named the starter in mid-August -- can support the ADPs on WRs Chris Godwin (WR25) and Mike Evans (WR33). 

We’re favoring Godwin, who should play a ton in the slot following WR Russell Gage's season-ending injury. Godwin's our pick over Evans, although neither guy is a "must-have."

White Owns Backfield Keys

The lead-back role belongs to Rachaad White, and Canales came away impressed by his spring work.

“I didn’t realize how natural he was at everything," the OC said in June. "I think he's a fantastic talent."

Barring the addition of a veteran, White should remain a top-24 option in our RB rankings.

Washington Commanders Coaching Change: OC Eric Bieniemy

2022 pass rate: 61.1%
2022 run rate: 39.9%
Projected 2023 pass rate: 57.5% (-8.1%)
Projected 2023 run rate: 42.5% (+8.1%)

Can Bieniemy Find Success Outside KC?

After five years as Chiefs RBs coach – then five as OC – Bieniemy left for Washington in February.

He held a part-time play-calling role alongside Andy Reid. But our only sample of Bieniemy as OC came with Patrick Mahomes.

So of course the Chiefs ranked top 10 in pass rate in all five seasons.

And of course the Chiefs ranked top 10 in yards, yards per attempt, and TDs.

Sam Howell: Legit QB1?

Let’s focus on a trait shared by Mahomes and new starting QB Sam Howell: aggressiveness.

Howell can rip it downfield. Per Pro Football Focus, he left North Carolina with 3,302 career yards on deep balls (20+ air yards), having thrown nearly 20% of his passes to that range.

That would have ranked first in the NFL last year, among 44 qualifying QBs.

“Exciting. … A lot of down-the-field plays," WR Jahan Dotson said of Bieniemy’s offense, via The Athletic. “We’re going to stretch the field, make the defense really work.”

That would be nice for Dotson, who posted a 15.4-yard average depth of target as a rookie. WR Terry McLaurin (who's battling a toe injury) trailed by 2.3 yards.

A Crowded Commanders Backfield? 

We’ll keep an eye on the backfield, where the Commanders have done their homework on free agent RB Kareem Hunt, per CBS' Josina Anderson.

Hunt spent two seasons with Bieniemy in Kansas City.

For now, Antonio Gibson is our preferred backfield target. Per Ben Standig of The Athletic, the Commanders are expected to lean more into the RB screen game, a strong suit of Reid-Bieniemy offenses. 

Gibson posted a career-high 46 catches in 2022, with a team-high 12 coming on screens (per PFF).

Coaching Changes Are Only Part of the Equation

We track 17 value indicators to help you draft smarter, round by round. 

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