2021 Fantasy Soccer Coach & Coordinator Breakdowns: AFC South
There is no shortage of information these days to prepare your fantasy designs. Hell, there might even be too much information! Well, I’ll add to the madness by looking at how offensive coordinators and head coaches have led their attacks and what that could mean for the 2021 season. After all, the 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 airstrike, turning quarterbacks into fantasy heroes while loading wide receivers and tight ends with tons of targets and chances to score points on 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 both AFC East and AFC North, so let’s continue that streak with AFC North. Below you will find the current head coaches and offensive coordinators for each team. I will discuss which positions have succeeded or failed during their respective tenure in the league based on past stats and fantasy deals.
Head coach: David Culley (2021)
Offensive coordinator: Tim Kelly (2019-present)
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Culley has a long, formidable résumé as an offensive coach in the NFL and has worked with the Eagles, Chiefs, Bills and Ravens. Kelly has been the Texans’ Offensive Coordinator since 2019, during which time Deshaun Watson has produced two top five fantasy results. Of course, his off-field problems and desire to be traded make Watson a real risk in fantasy drafting at this point. As a speculative QB2, it is only worth taking a look at the late round.
Kelly’s running backs didn’t do much in the stats as David Johnson (RB21) is his best fantasy finisher. Houston added Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead in the off-season, creating a potentially confusing backcourt committee that fantasy managers should avoid in a prominent role this coming season.
Texan wideouts have had some success under Kelly as DeAndre Hopkins had a WR5 season in 2019. Will Fuller averaged 17.1 points per game and was well on his way to having a top 10 fantasy season in 2020, but he was suspended in his five game finals. In his absence, Brandin Cooks rose and finished with an average of more than 15 points. With Fuller now in Miami, Cooks is the most valuable of the Texan wideouts, and Randall Cobb is also worth a look. Unfortunately, it is difficult to gauge the true worth of either player as we are unsure who will be the team’s quarterback at this point.
Kelly’s top tight end rank came last season when Darren Fells finished TE17. Fells is no longer on the roster, however, so Jordan Akins and Brevin Jordan will battle for goals. Neither player will have much value in traditional fantasy redesigns in 2021.
CONTINUE READING: Outlook on the Houston Texans Fantasy Team
HC: Frank Reich (2018-present)
OC: Marcus Brady (2021)
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Brady has spent much of his coaching career in the Canadian Football League, but has been a quarterbacks coach with the Colts since 2018. I would expect Reich to still call the Plays on the offensive though, so I wouldn’t expect a big change in philosophies. During his time as coordinator and head coach, he had two top five quarterbacks, including Carson Wentz (2017). That’s good news for the seasoned quarterback who knows Reich’s offensive and could see a rebirth with their new franchise.
Reich has produced a pair of the top six running backs at the NFL level with Danny Woodhead (RB3, 2015) and Jonathan Taylor (RB6, 2020). He’s also had at least one runner with more than 260 touches for the past two seasons, so Reich will be using a rewind. That should be Taylor again in 2021, though the presence of Nyheim Hines and the return of Marlon Mack could keep Taylor from improving his rookie total of 268 touches. Regardless of this, the high-performance runner remains a surefire first-round selection in all designs.
On the wide receiver, Reich had no better player result than WR14 (TY Hilton, 2018). In addition, only two wideouts under Reich’s supervision made it into the top 20 fantasy points. While we like Michael Pittman Jr. as a potential sleeper, this trend suggests that his best-case scenario couldn’t be much more than a No. 3 wideout.
Reich’s offenses, however, have spawned enormous fantasy tight-end seasons. He’s trained four top six players in that position, but Reich also has stars like Zach Ertz and Antonio Gates to hand. He coached Eric Ebron to a top 4 finish in 2018, but the current roster doesn’t have a close end to look forward to at this point. If the Colts make a deal for Ertz, he could easily get back on the top 12 conversation.
CONTINUE READING: Outlook on the Indianapolis Colts Fantasy Team
HC: Urban Meyer (2021)
OC: Darrell Bevell (2021)
Bob Self / Florida Times-Union via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Meyer has long been a college coach, but Bevell has a long resume at the NFL level. He has had the advantage of training some elite quarterbacks including Russell Wilson, Brett Favre, and Matthew Stafford. That doesn’t make it surprising that he monitored six top 10 quarterback scores based on fantasy points. He’s also seen a QB11 (Wilson, 2016) and a QB16 (Stafford, 2020). His offense was aggressive in the passing game in 2019 as Stafford was on his way to a top 10 result before injuring his back. This is good news for Trevor Lawrence, who will be drafted as QB2 in most fantasy redesigns in 2021.
Bevell has not only trained several elite quarterbacks, but also two running backs at Hall of Fame level (Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch). Together, these two have achieved eight top 10 placements among the backs. Chester Taylor (RB13, 2006) and D’Andre Swift (RB18, 2020) are also successful under Bevell. That seems like good news for James Robinson and Travis Etienne, but this could become one of the most difficult backfields to judge in 2020. Robinson makes it into the top 10, but Etienne was in the first round by the. handpicked new regime. When a committee shows up, in most leagues neither will be more than a flexible starter. Etienne might be more of a pass catcher, but keep in mind that no runner has made 50 catches in a single season under Bevell. Swift had 46 catches a season ago, which earned Mewelde Moore (2006) most of the receptions at a running back under his leadership.
Bevell’s success with the wide receiver position hasn’t been too high as he has only seen four top 10 fantasy finishes in his 14 years as offensive coordinator. These four placements are also the only quartet to have more than 1,000 yards under Bevell. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. In addition, he only had eight top 24 finishes on the position. So Lawrence’s presence should mean good things for DJ Chark, Marvin Jones Jr., and Laviska Shenault. I would still dampen your expectations.
Tight ends have had a total of five top 10 finishes in Bevell’s offensives of the years, including Jimmy Graham and TJ Hockenson, but the Jaguars’ current roster doesn’t have a passing catcher in that position. Sorry, Tim Tebow.
CONTINUE READING: Outlook on the Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Team
HC: Mike Vrabel (2018-present)
OC: Todd Downing (2021)
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
After a short one-year stay in Oakland (2017), Downing got a second chance as an offensive coordinator. This offense didn’t have much success in the air as Derek Carr ranked QB19 with 3,496 passing yards and 13 interceptions. The Raiders also threw the ball 61.1 percent of the time. That won’t happen with the Titans and Derrick Henry in the backcourt. Of course, Downing is now working with a veteran in Ryan Tannehill who has been a top 10 fantasy quarterback for the past several years.
Downing had Marshawn Lynch in their backfield in 2017, but Beast Mode was past its prime and finished as RB24. Henry, who has had a 2,000 yard season, is in the prime of his career. While regression is guaranteed in some ways, Henry should remain one of the offensive core pieces. He will remain a top eight pick in Fantasy Redesigns as well.
The Raiders had a talented duo of wide receivers, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, in 2017, but neither was more than 700 yards. I wouldn’t use that against the Titans’ new super duo, AJ Brown and Julio Jones. Brown, who finished as WR12 last season, should stay at that level with Jones in the mix as well. Remember, the Titans lost well over 100 targets when Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith left as free agents. Additionally, due to his tendency to throw short and medium passes more frequently, Carr rarely had productive distance, which benefits the narrow end. That’s one of the reasons Jared Cook was the TE12 under downing in 2017.
Speaking of tight ends, Anthony Firkser looks like the top projected option for the Titans, with Smith and MyCole Pruitt no longer on the roster. While he won’t rise to a top-end starter with Henry, Brown, and Jones in the mix, Firkser is well worth a late flyer.
CONTINUE READING: Preview of the Tennessee Titans Fantasy Team
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst for 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 industry!