“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Rarely as fantasy players do we get to witness the marriage of the very worst to the very best. The romcom equivalent of the bride and groom at the altar destined for unspeakable calamity until the voice of reason crying from the congregation to “stop.” This year we get a fantasy union of striking proportions and no one is screaming any objections just yet. This year’s most eligible bachelor comes in the form of an offensive coordinator-turned head coach. His blushing bride, the worst offense if football. My contention is that offensive coordinators are one of the most crucial, least evaluated variables in fantasy production. There is little glamour to be found in glitchy microsoft pads or dapper headsets that make up the tools of the offensive coordinator’s trade, but I will attempt to offer some predictive claims based on the scoring opportunities This series of articles will dive into the potential impact of new playcallers on your fantasy players. Consider two teams:
Team A: Finished dead last in the league in 2016. The percent of team’s drives ending in an offensive score at 21.8%
Team B: Topped the league in the same category with a staggering 52.9% of its drives ending with an offensive score.
The good news is fantasy players have every reason to hope that a coordinator that pops off at a better rate than Steph Curry in the bay area will be able to pan some fantasy gold. The 49ers are team A in the scenario above, and team B is your NFC Champion Falcons. Kyle Shanahan’s best performance was amplified by the steady hand of Matt Ryan, the breathtaking talent of Julio Jones, and one of the league’s deepest backfields. It is a fool’s errand to attempt to parse exactly how much is Shanahan and how much production stems from the array of talent at his disposal, but consider his scoring performance across three franchises and his other five seasons at the helm of the offense:
Overall Offense/Percent of Scoring Drives
17th overall/34.5 %
27th overall/28.0 %
27th overall/ 27.6
Shanahan comes out at a six year average of 35.53% despite being tethered to the QB play of luminaries like Donovan McNabb 2.0, RG3, Brian Hoyer, and Johnny Manziel. So it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he can work with the QB Hoyer/TBD of the SF 49ers. 35.53 would represent a 60% improvement over the scoring output of the 2016 49ers and would have been good for 18th in the league last year, nestled firmly between the Bengals and Ravens. If, however, you want to strip 2016 as an outlier not truly indicative of Shanahan’s prowess, you are left with a scoring percentage of 32% over five seasons, pushing Shanahan down into the 2016 territory of the Bucs and Texans, but still a nearly 50% increase in production for the 49ers. At the team level this suggest that the 309 total points produced by the 49ers could jump significantly. Couple this with the Shanahan tendency to turn to his running backs in the red zone, and one player stands out as most set to benefit from Shanahan’s alchemy: Mr. Carlos Hyde.
Hyde’s new Dr. Jekyl engineered 18 high-leverage rushing attempts for Devonta Freeman inside the opponents 5 yard line, and targeted him 6 more times inside the 10, for a total of 24. All year Carlos Hyde saw 6 rushing attempts inside the 5 and exactly 1 target inside the 10 yard line. Hyde was able to ride significant volume in the Chip Kelly’s attack to a RB18 overall finish in PPR scoring formats 14th in standard. Two more scores would have vaulted Hyde into RB1 status on the season. It is time for RSO GM’s to follow Kyle Shanahan, fantasy prospector, out West to pan for the fantasy gold of a top 10 running back.
Luke @FantasyDocOC is husband, father, doctoral student, and teacher slowly building a reality dynasty league comprised entirely of daughters. He writes OC’s Gamplan for Reality Sports Online. Following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” CUA. Hoya Saxa.
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