NFL coaches have a far bigger impact on the box score than their counterparts in basketball, baseball or hockey.
Since the game is stopped after every play, coaches can micromanage as much as they want. They can also decide to skew toward the pass, or play hurry-up. Most importantly, some are simply better at putting their players in a position to be successful.
So figuring out how players’ projections will be affected by coaching changes is a massive part of our offseason job. Some initial winners:
CHIPPING ON HYDE
Chip Kelly was one of the worst GMs this league has ever seen. That doesn’t mean he’s an awful coach. What’s more certain than anything is that Chip’s style lends itself to bloated fantasy stats. During his three years with the Eagles, his offense ranked second, first and 12th in plays per game. More plays obviously means more chances for stats. That’s good news for San Francisco’s best offensive player, Carlos Hyde. This is a gifted back who has averaged 4.05 YPC in his brief NFL career despite difficult circumstances. Although DeMarco Murray busted with the Eagles, remember that LeSean McCoy posted 314-1,607-9 and 213-1 and 319-5 in two seasons with Chip.
ELI GETS WHAT ELI WANTS
Eli Manning likes Ben McAdoo. He publicly pushed for his offensive coordinator to replace Tom Coughlin and lend the continuity that often helps a scheme. Note that since McAdoo took over the Giants’ offense two years ago, Eli posted at least 4,400 yards and 30 TDs each season. In nine full seasons before that, he eclipsed those marks just one time. Seemingly always available in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts, Manning has finished as the QB10 in back-to-back seasons.
MARKING UP DEMARCO
Perhaps we should have had low expectations for DeMarco Murray in 2015. He was coming off a 497-touch season, just got paid and was going to a team with major questions at the guard positions. Now it’s time for a bounce-back under new coach Doug Pederson, who will run more of the power scheme Murray is suited for. Under Andy Reid in Kansas City, Pederson helped guide one of the most RB-friendly schemes in the league as seen with Jamaal Charles as well as the explosive short-term stints with Knile Davis, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. Murray is still just 27 years old.
NBA PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
1. Robert Covington, SF, Sixers – Finally emerging from his ugly shooting slump and logging heavy minutes. Sneaky good in the steals category.
2. Myles Turner, C, Pacers – Special talent who can protect the rim and make shots out to 18 feet. Should continue to steal some of Ian Mahinmi’s minutes.
3. Donald Sloan, PG, Nets – Easily moved ahead of Shane Larkin in the wake of Jarrett Jack’s season-ending knee injury.
With Seattle’s season over, the attention now turns to Marshawn Lynch. He’s set to cost $11.5 million against the cap and we know his stance on paycuts. It’s possible Lynch, who turns 30 in April, will just ride into the sunset like so many aging running backs before him. That would open up a huge opportunity for Thomas Rawls, an impressive UDFA who will be recovered from a broken ankle. Rawls will border on a first-round pick if things break as expected for him.