Fantasy football 2022: How coaching changes affect the Giants, Vikings and more

One of the hardest things about fantasy football is that it’s a year-to-year game. Every season, dozens of NFL teams shake things up, making it infinitely more difficult to use the previous year’s stats to make informed decisions. We know this is true for players who change teams. What about those who remain in the same place, however, while new coaching staffs arrive?

This year, 10 teams changed coaches. Nearly a third of the league will have new guys at the helm, and those coaches will inherit rosters they have little or no attachment to. Often, to get a sense of how players will be used, it’s wise to look at how players have fared in the new coach or coordinator’s previous stops. So let’s take a look at some notable teams that have changed coaches and try to predict how the players who have stuck around will fare in the new system.

New York Giants

From Joe Judge, Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens to Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka – key builders of the Bills and Chiefs offenses, respectively – he gives new meaning to the word “upgrade”. The Giants almost literally can’t be worse than last year, when they scored 15.2 points per game — ahead of only the Urban Meyer Jaguars. So this is the place to start.

The most obvious candidate for improvement is Kenny Golladay. Last season, Golladay was one of the biggest losses in fantasy, scoring a staggering zero touchdowns. Still, the 28-year-old managed to lead the Giants in scoring in just 14 games. However, he did nothing with those targets, posting career lows in catch rate (48.7 percent), yards per target (6.9) and yards per reception (14.1). But we can assume that this was at least partly due to how serious the offense was. If Golladay returns to his career efficiency average while maintaining his target share, he could be a great value at WR52.

Kenny Golladay
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Kadarius Toney, who also didn’t score a touchdown in 2021, is a little trickier. He was a rookie last year, so there’s no NFL record to rely on to determine what he’ll look like in a competent offense. The best we can hope for is that Daboll unlocks his explosiveness and yardage ability in a way that Judge and company couldn’t. He’s going in the 10th round (WR45), so if the price stays low, he’s a solid play.

The last significant Giant for fantasy purposes is Saquon Barkley, which is probably the least scheme dependent of the bunch. Barkley’s problem last year was a noticeable lack of burst and explosiveness after suffering a torn ACL in 2020. Now another year after the injury, Barkley will go as far as his knee can take him. Daboll has never had a back higher than RB19 (last year with Devin Singletary), but he’s also never had a back with Barkley’s skill set.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

If the upgrade in the Giants’ offensive line wasn’t the biggest of the offseason, that honor belongs to the Jaguars — who went from Urban Meyer to Super Bowl winner Doug Pederson. Armed with a generational quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, it’s almost a guarantee that Jacksonville will improve from the league’s weakest offense.

What makes this more complicated is that some faces remain from last year, but there are also a lot of new ones. The most prominent might be Christian Kirk, whom the Jaguars signed to a (perhaps excessive) four-year, $72 million contract. Kirk plays most of his snaps from the slot, a position where Pederson has had success — Jordan Matthews led Pederson’s Eagles in targets in 2016, and Nelson Agholor has gotten snaps from the slot in the years since. Given Jacksonville’s investment in him, an 18 percent target share for Kirk should be realistic — making him an intriguing buy at WR44.

Both James Robinson and Travis Etienne they were technically close last year, even though Etienne missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury. Pederson had mixed quality running backs during his time in Philly, but the best he had was probably Myles Sanders in 2019 – who led the team in carries (179) and was third in catches (50), more than any receiver. Could it be Etienne in 2022? Or will they be closer to the 2016 Eagles, for whom Ryan Mathews was the only running back with more than 100 catches and Darren Sproles the only one with more than 50? My bet is that Etienne will smash his ADP in the fourth round, especially in PPR, while Robinson recovers from an Achilles tear – usually a tough ask for a running back.

Travis Etienne at Jaguars training camp
Travis Etienne at Jaguars training camp
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Zay Jones he could be a big-bodied, Alshon Jeffery type, but he hasn’t been efficient or a red-zone threat his entire career, so tread carefully. As for the guys who were last year, Marvin Jones has survived countless coordinator changes throughout his career and should approach 100 targets again, making him a decent WR4 option. I Laviska Shenaultsubpar receiver, probably deserves to be on the waiver wire now that he has legitimate competition for targets.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings produced fantasy studs with defensive-minded former head coach Mike Zimmer. Will former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who replaces Zimmer, kick them into overdrive?

Justin Jefferson deserves consideration as the first wide receiver off the board in all formats. He already has elite efficiency numbers (15.4 yards per reception over two seasons). What happens if O’Connell decides to start throwing more? Jefferson is a great bet to lead the NFL in receiving (+900 on FanDuel) and is my fifth player overall. Constantly underrated Adam Thielen also falls under fantasy radars, though his absurd touchdown rate (24 over the past two seasons) is expected to eventually drop.

Justin Jefferson
Justin Jefferson
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As for Dalvin Cook, over the past three seasons, Minnesota has ranked fourth, sixth and 15th in rushing percentage. Under O’Connell last year, the Rams were 19th (they were fifth in 2020, but that was with Jared Goff, who the coaching staff didn’t trust, at quarterback). So there may have been a slight decline in usage for the aging Cook — but not enough to knock him out of the first round. I’d take him over Najee Harris, who isn’t guaranteed to repeat his crazy goal.

The others

The Dolphins also switched from a defensive-minded head coach, Brian Flores, to Mike McDaniel, an offensive mind who likes to run the ball. McDaniel was the run-game coordinator with the 49ers before his promotion to offensive coordinator, and San Francisco ran the ball on nearly half of its games in 2021. Chase Edmonds is Miami’s top draft back at RB34, but the pass catcher is more appealing in PPR. Raheem Mostertsigned from the 49ers, has a sleeper appeal at RB51, but when he predictably gets hurt, Sony Michel (RB58) would be the guy to jump in.

The Bears did the opposite of the Dolphins, going from the offensive mind, Matt Nagy, to the defensive coach, Matt Eberflus. They signed Luke Getsy from the Packers to lead the offense, which is expected to use Shanahan-style zone concepts. The forecast for a large number is good news for David Montgomerybut perhaps even better news for Khalil Herbert — whose speed and vision make him a more ideal fit in the outside zone. I expect Montgomery to see an ADP if healthy, but if he gets hurt (or loses shots), Herbert could be a league winner. He goes RB59, behind Brandon Bolden and D’Ernst Johnson, which just shouldn’t happen. Justin Fields he should also be more effective in an offense that’s more suited to his strengths, and as a threat he has stealthy QB1 low appeal.

Betting on the NFL?

The Raiders and Broncos got notable new offensive coaches, Josh McDaniels and Nathaniel Hackett, and also got notable new offensive superstars, Davante Adams and Russell Wilson. Given that the changes in these teams are much more dramatic than a simple scheme, we will talk about them in a future article.

The Saints, Buccaneers and Texans promoted head coaches from within, and kept their offensive coordinators in place. There are no major changes.

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