While fans are watching QBs, RBs, and receivers dazzle on the field on Sundays in the NFL, there is another position on the sidelines often overlooked. Coaches may have no direct value to fantasy owners, but there is no question that coaching has a definite effect on how the fantasy season plays out. Some coaches bring systems that help position players thrive, or suppress the roles of guys who are used to the spotlight.
In an offseason that features a crazy carousel of coaches, a whopping 21 teams will have a new Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, or all three for the 2012 season. Fantasy owners will want to head towards this year’s draft with a working knowledge of what the sweeping coaching changes will mean for certain teams:
Jeff Fisher’s taking the reins in St. Louis should be a great improvement for the Rams. Fisher’s record in Tennessee was solid, and particularly impressive considering he never had a really elite level of talent to work with. He should bring some stability to the Rams, who have had 6 head coaching changes in the last 8 years. RB Steven Jackson should be the biggest benefactor from the coaching change, as Fisher historically favors a rush-first offense, but QB Sam Bradford should also have a nice place carved for him in the new offense Fisher will architect.
On the other side of the coin, the hiring of Romeo Crennel by the Kansas City Chiefs is a baffling move. He went 2-1 after taking over in the interim at the end of 2011, but before that posted an unimpressive 24-40 record in four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He has a strong pedigree coming from his days winning Super Bowls under Bill Belichick in New England, but his history as a head coach, along with the poor track record for interim coaches that get hired the following season, doesn’t bode well. His systems are sound on the defensive side of the ball, but won’t do anything to help the offense, which ranked 31st in total offense in 2011.
Finally, Chuck Pagano could be a nice fit for the Indianapolis Colts as they enter the post-Manning era. He is making the jump to Head Coach for the first time, but his defense previously with the Baltimore Ravens was fantastic, and he had to deal with big personalities in his time there. As a new head coach, he will work in tandem with rookie QB Andrew Luck as they both try to lift the team up from its disappointing 2011 campaign.
It is impossible to predict how these coaching switches will work out in the long run, but owners should carefully consider some of the obvious ramifications in cities like St. Louis and KC. Paying attention to the details off the field can be the difference in a tight matchup.