Even though the NFL season is not over yet, for most of us the fantasy season is done. Champions have been crowned, payoffs are in the mail and if you aren’t patting yourself on the back you are already looking forward to next season. I’m sure over the next couple of weeks you will start to see the “way too early rankings” being written.
For me, the new year is a time to look back and see if there is anything to be learned. What was missed and what was right? At the beginning of the season, most writers thought that Justin Fields would take a big step and be the next Jalen Hurts. Bijan Robinson was an early first-round fantasy draft choice and will finish the season outside the Top 10 for running backs. Did anyone have Raheem Mostert ranked as a top-five running back?
One thing that I think is not given enough weight when ranking players is the coaching moves. In 2022, Kansas City had the number one offense and Patrick Mahomes was the MVP and ended the season as the number one Fantasy QB. It didn’t matter what ranking you looked at, he was one of the first three QBs off the board.
This year the offense hasn’t looked quite the same and is now ranked number 12 and Mahomes is sitting at number seven. Should we have seen this coming? Maybe. Eric Bieniemy was the Chiefs offensive coordinator for years and was able to get the most out of Mahomes and the rest of the offense. With his departure to Washington, the team replaced him with Matt Nagy. You can blame the receivers for the drop percentage going from 5.2 percent to 6.4 percent but it doesn’t explain why things are a bit off.
The number two offense last year was the Philadelphia Eagles. This year they rank seventh. They also switched coordinators. Shane Steichen left the job to become the head coach of the Colts and was replaced by Brian Johnson. While it hasn’t affected Hurts' numbers as much as Mahomes, he still has gone from 25 fantasy points per game to 23. The Eagles also changed defensive coordinators this year. That change has last year’s eighth-best defense now comfortably sitting at number 28. If your league starts IDPs then this change has affected you greatly.
Changing a coaching staff also works the other way. The Houston Texans last year ranked 30th in offense. After bringing in DeMeco Ryans to be the head coach and Bobby Slowik as the offensive coordinator, the Texans this year rank 14th.
So, one of my Fantasy Football New Year’s resolutions is to look at the coaching changes as closely as I do player movements. Here’s wishing you all a great 2024.