There is no shortage of information these days to prepare your fantasy designs. Damn it, it might even be so too much the information! Well, I’m going to add to the madness by looking at how offensive coordinators and head coaches have led their offensives and what that could mean for the 2021 season. After all, coaches and OKs are the brains behind the National Football League chess game. Some coaches like to run the soccer ball, which creates a lot of fantasy points in the running back position. Others prefer the air strike, turning quarterbacks into fantasy heroes while loading wide receivers and tight ends with tons of targets and chances to score points in the pass attack.
Well this article is going to break it all down for you.
Trainer and coordinator series
AFC: East | North | South | west
NFC: East | North | South | west
We’ve already looked at all of the AFC, NFC East, NFC North, and NFC South, so let’s finish with NFC West. Below you will find the current head coaches and offensive coordinators for each team. I will discuss which positions, based on past stats and fantasy degrees, have prospered or failed during their respective tenures in the NFL.
Head coach: Kliff Kingsbury (2020-present)
Offensive coordinator: Kliff Kingsbury (2020-present)
Kingsbury’s Offense helped mobile Kyler Murray get two top 8 fantasy results. He finished second at the quarterback on RPO percentage (23.7) in 2021, and his 11 ground touchdowns were second to Cam Newton. Murray also took third place among signal callers on rushing attempts in the red zone at 24. He will be one of the first five quarterbacks selected in most fantasy football redesigns.
The Cardinals’ ground attack spawned two top 25 running backs last season when Kenyan Drake (RB16) and Chase Edmonds (RB25) both succeeded. With Drake and his touches no longer on the list, James Conner expects to take advantage of a fair portion of these opportunities. Edmonds is the better option in PPR formats, but this will be a scrap situation where neither does more than flex value.
DeAndre Hopkins produced a WR4 season in his first year with the Cardinals, but he’s the only wideout to finish better than WR35 in Kingsbury’s offensive. With the addition of AJ Green and rookie Rondale Moore to a passing attack that still includes Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella, it becomes difficult for any wideout but Hopkins to create a fantasy influence.
The Cardinals tight ends saw a total of 66 goals last season, and no player at that point has ranked better than 24th in fantasy points under Kingsbury. There is no value here.
Los Angeles Rams
Head coach: Sean McVay (2017-present)
Offensive coordinator: Kevin O’Connell (2020-present)
The quarterback position has succeeded under McVay’s leadership with three top 8 placements and one top 12 placement. These results came from Kirk Cousins (2015-2016) and Jared Goff (2017-2018). Matthew Stafford’s inclusion on what could be one of the most explosive in the NFC offensive is positive, giving Stafford a top 10 potential in 2021.
Todd Gurley had two top 3 finishes and one RB14 season under McVay, but only one other running back (Alfred Morris – 2014) ranks better than RB29 in his offensive system. However, this will no longer be the case after 2021 as Cam Akers is considered a candidate in the fantasy landscape. In his last seven games (including the playoffs), he averaged 21.7 touches and 16.3 fantasy points as a rookie. During that time, he got a solid touch percentage of 32.5 percent compared to Darrell Henderson’s 9.6.
McVay’s wideouts have had varying degrees of success, but only one (Cooper Kupp – 2019) made it into the top 10. Robert Woods has two top 15 games and Brandin Cooks was WR13 in 2018. Upgrading from Goff to Stafford should be a good thing for Woods and Kupp, however, so expect both of them to be on the WR2 radar. The Rams added DeSean Jackson and rookie Tutu Atwell but aren’t expecting much in 2021.
Tight ends have performed relatively well under McVay as the position has produced a trio of top 9 finishes. Two of them came to Washington with Jordan Reed, the third was Tyler Higbee (2019). With Gerald Everett in Seattle now, Higbee might be a bargain. Last season, Stafford tossed on his tight ends 22 percent of the time. That finished 13th among the quarterbacks with at least 10 games played. Goff came to 20.8 percent (16th).
San Francisco 49ers
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (2017-present)
Offensive coordinator: Mike McDaniel (2021)
Shanahan’s offensive system has spawned a total of three top 5 fantasy quarterbacks, but it hasn’t been as fruitful for Jimmy Garoppolo. His best result was QB14 in 2019. It is noteworthy that Robert Griffin III, Shanahan’s most agile quarterback, was classified as a rookie as QB4. His skills are closest to Trey Lance of any signal caller Shanahan has trained. Garoppolo will open as a starter but the rookie could see some starts too.
Running backs have done well under Shanahan as his offensive has produced five top 8 finishes. Three other defenders have drawn up the RB19-RB24 ranks. Shanahan’s top runner has also seen at least 281 touches six times, so he’ll be using a marked back if one is on the list. Perhaps the best bet to get the team in touch right now is Raheem Mostert, but don’t be surprised Trey Sermon plays a bigger offensive role as the season progresses.
The wide receiver position has had some success, but not in recent seasons. In fact, no wideout on a Shanahan offensive during his time with the Niners has done better than WR31 (Deebo Samuel – 2019). Brandon Aiyuk, who averaged over 15 fantasy points per game as a rookie, could break the trend. He is a potential breakout candidate. Samuel has shown some lightning bolts in the past but he has missed 10 games in two years.
George Kittle has two top-three finishes under Shanahan and his average of 15.4 Fantasy Points per game last season came in third under tight ends. In total, Shanahan has trained four top 6 tight ends while another (Fred Davis) finished 13th in 2011. Additionally, Shanahan’s tight ends have scored an average of eight times more than six goals per game, including four times where his top option has averaged 7.6 goals per game.
Head coach: Pete Carroll (2010-present)
Offensive coordinator: Shane Waldron (2021)
Waldron was never an NFL-level offensive coordinator, but he worked with McVay in Los Angeles for several seasons. He was her tight-end coach in 2017 and has also served as quarterbacks coach and passing coordinator. In four years, the Rams ranked three times in the top 10 in overtaking maneuvers. The team also ended up in the top 10 at rushing yards three times, so Waldron learned to lead an even attack. In any case, Russell Wilson will remain a top 10 fantasy quarterback on Redesigns in 2021.
Carroll wants a more balanced attack with more emphasis on the run, which should be good news for Chris Carson. He has completed up to RB12 under Carroll’s supervision while also taking two more top 20 finishes. Losing Carlos Hyde should open the door to Rashad Penny to see more work, making him a late round pick.
Wide receivers were in the top 24 under Carroll eight times, but the two best performances last season came from DK Metcalf (WR7) and Tyler Lockett (WR8). Waldron has talked about keeping some aspects of the Seahawks offensive from last year, so fantasy managers should expect both of them to stay heavily involved this season.
The close finishing position has produced five top 6 finishes, but only one player (Jimmy Graham) has been higher than 20th place since 2017. The best fantasy option this season could be Everett, who Waldron is familiar with during their time together in Los Angeles. It will be worth a late-round selection as the No. 2 fantasy tight end in most new designs in 2021.
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning Fantasy soccer ball Analyst on Sports illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all of his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram for your latest fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!