Gio Bernard is an exciting option, even with a new coordinator in place. Credit: Getty Images
Black Monday in the NFL has nothing to do with shopping, the stock market or poker. Coaching heads have rolled and the dust is beginning to settle.
Unlike other sports, NFL coaches have a huge role on projected statistical production. Scheming and coaching philosophy mean nearly as much as natural ability. Think about what Josh McCown did under quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman this season, or how bad Darren McFadden has been since Hue Jackson left Oakland. It’s not a coincidence.
Some stocks have been altered greatly as a result of this year’s changes.
Gio Bernard was already going to be a sophomore breakout candidate in 2014 as he’s clearly the superior back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But now pass-happy offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is gone and running-back savant Jackson is in. He’s already talking up Bernard as a potential three-down plus goal-line back. Jackson previously made fantasy stars of McFadden and Stephen Davis (while with the Redskins from 2001-02).
Jordan Cameron was a no-brainer fantasy sleeper in 2013 thanks to the arrival of tight end guru Rob Chudzinski as head coach. He responded with 80 catches, 917 yards and seven touchdowns – good for the No. 5 ranking among tight ends. But Chud turned out to be a one-and-done head coach, leaving Cameron without the schemes that made him so productive and a defensive-oriented coach in Mike Pettine. He’s talented enough to sustain top-10 value, but the monster upside leaves with the coaching regime.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Alfred Morris is a fluke because he went to Florida Atlantic and was a sixth-round draft pick. But it would also be an error to brush off the Mike Shanahan zone-blocking run scheme as a major factor in his success over the last two years. From Terrell Davis to Olandis Gary to Mike Anderson, we know Shanny is committed to the run and knows how to create lanes. With Gruden now in as head coach and offensive guru, expect a scheme focused more on the pass.
NBA pickups ...
1. Ramon Sessions, PG, Bobcats – Kemba Walker’s ankle injury clears the way for Sessions, an annual fantasy plug-and-play.
2. Patrick Beverley, PG, Rockets – One of our favorite preseason sleepers is back and starting ahead of Jeremy Lin again.
3. Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls – Carlos Boozer (calf) is nicked and the Bulls are in rebuild mode. That plan won’t include Booz.
There’s a big down arrow next to these guys:
1. C.J. Miles, Cavs – As expected, the arrival of Luol Deng has completely crippled Miles’ value.
2. Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets – Owners that were holding onto Gallo have been burned. He needs more surgery and is done for the year.
3. Jordan Crawford, Warriors – He goes from a featured scorer with the Celtics to a bit player with the Warriors.
Follow fantasy sports writer Adam Levitan on Twitter@adamlevitan.