If I asked you which Player and Team were better...
Player A: 1212 YFS, 6 total TDs, 43 rec (58 tgts)
Player B: 2093 YFS, 19 total TDs, 64 rec (87 tgts)
Offense A: 4203 yds (262.6 ypg, 32nd), 224 tot. pts (14.0 PPG, 32nd)
Offense B: 5784 yds (361.5 ypg, 10th), 478 tot. pts (29.87, 1st)
You might laugh, call me insulting even: It's Player and Team B, and it's not even close. Easy... obvious...except...
What if I told you they were the same exact player and team, just one year apart?
The leap is so startling, impossible even. How does Mediocre Player A evolve into a full-blown MVP-Level Player B? How can an offense go, literally, from "Worst to First" in total points over just one year?
Surely, this team must've signed or drafted a stud QB! Or signed some insane weapons for a major offensive overhaul!
Except neither happened.
The Player is Todd Gurley, and the team is obviously the LA Rams.
So how did Gurley more than triple his TDs and add 881 yards of total offense?
He only saw 22 more touches, so "Usage" wasn't the answer. Yet, his efficiency spiked from 3.77 yards per touch to over 6.1. Why?
Indeed, Andrew Whitworth helped stabilize and beef up a weak offensive line. Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp all added firepower outside. But none of these "Surrounding Talent" upgrades are true "game-changers."
Rather, the most important personnel change wasn't anyone wearing a helmet, but rather a headset:
(Which we nailed down last year)
And so much more!
While many experts draw the line at Talent + Usage = Fantasy Success, clearly more is at play. Six Factors, to be specific. As highlighted with our Fantasy Football Stock Formula:
Yet, one of the most crucial, and easily the least covered, is Coaching Scheme.
Coaching Scheme plays an enormous role in fantasy fortunes. It not only dictates how an individual player will develop and be used, but also how well an overall team will perform.
Thus, when evaluating a coach and his scheme, we consider:
1) Creativity - does the playcaller attack and threaten defenses in unique ways? (John DeFilippo) Or is the offense vanilla, dull, and easy to shut down? (Jeff Fisher).
2) Aggressiveness - is the playcaller willing to go for the home run? Will they keep their offense on for 4th downs and constantly sustain drives? (Matt Nagy). Or is the coach detrimentally conservative, capping the scoring ceilings of his talent (John Fox).
3) Talent Management and Development - Does the coach elevate his players' talent to the next level? Can he scheme around his players' strengths and skillsets (Todd Haley)? Or does he force square pegs into round holes, forcing ill-fitting talents into miscast roles?
Scheme is also very closely tied to Opportunity / Usage, as many coaches have predictable trends and preferences. Some coach's clearly favor RB Committees with specialized talents, while others prefer riding a single back to keep defenses on their toes. Some coaches heavily pepper a single weapon, while others find new mismatches every week and make the week's top-scorer difficult to project.
As Gurley illustrates, a major change in the Coaching Scheme can be ENORMOUS for Fantasy Football Value.
Reviews from our Sneak Peek Pieces are in...
Great articles and totally agree, this guy is going to really get the Vikes offense rolling. NFC North is shaping up to be a shootout style division... I put a lot of stock in coaching moves each season while most overlook it. Keep these articles coming. Can't wait for the Guide."
Love this stuff. Never seen anyone dive this deep into coaches and their history. Todd Haley to Browns has me reconsidering all my keeper decisions after seeing your info and what it means for Josh Gordon.
As a true fantasy nerd, this stuff gives me some real Fantasy Wood. Got Kamara last year because of your breakdown on Sean Payton and his history of pass-catching backs... won that. Excited to find the next one this year."
But take a look for yourself:
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