2021 NFL Offensive Coordinator Changes: Fantasy Football Players Who’ll Benefit
Here’s Frank Ammirante’s report on 2021 NFL Offensive Coordinator Changes, detailing fantasy football players who will benefit from a new offense. This details players who could thrive in their new system.
Offensive play-calling has a significant impact on fantasy football value. This offseason, the NFL saw 13 changes at offensive coordinator. In this article, we’ll take a look at how these changes can impact their respective offenses.
2021 NFL Offensive Coordinator Changes
Old OC: Dirk Koetter
New OC: Dave Ragone
New head coach Arthur Smith will call the plays in Atlanta. Ragone will play a supporting role. He worked as the passing game coordinator for the Chicago Bears last season, where he helped quarterback Mitchell Trubisky have a strong finish to the 2020 season.
We have seen how Smith’s offense has helped turn Ryan Tannehill into a solid — if not elite — starting quarterback in Tennessee, so this hiring could lead to a renaissance season from Matt Ryan.
This hiring bodes well for the Falcons’ passing game, so it’s a good idea to invest in Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones in your fantasy league. Perhaps tight end Hayden Hurst gets a bump, too, considering how creatively Smith used Titans TE Jonnu Smith.
Old OC: Darrell Bevell
New OC: Anthony Lynn
Anthony Lynn will call plays for the Lions, which is fantastic news for running back D’Andre Swift.
Lynn has helped running backs like Austin Ekeler with the Chargers and LeSean McCoy with the Bills have strong seasons. Swift has a similar skillset to Ekeler with elite receiving skills, so there’s upside for 70+ receptions for the sophomore running back out of Georgia.
Make sure to target Swift in fantasy football leagues because he’s firmly on the RB1 radar for 2021. We also saw Lynn help Justin Herbert have a strong rookie season, so a comeback year for Jared Goff could be in the cards.
Old OC: Nick Sirianni
New OC: Marcus Brady
Marcus Brady was promoted to offensive coordinator from quarterbacks coach following the departure of Nick Sirianni to become the new Philadelphia Eagles head coach.
Head coach Frank Reich will continue to call the plays in Indianapolis, so expect more of the same from this offense in 2021. The difference here is that Carson Wentz replaces Philip Rivers at quarterback, which means fewer check downs to running backs.
I expect Nyheim Hines to have a decreased role in this offense, with Jonathan Taylor acting as the focal point. Wentz had his best season with Reich as his OC in Philly, so we could see a bounce-back season.
Old OC: Jay Gruden
New OC: Darrell Bevell
New head coach Urban Meyer will not be calling plays in Jacksonville, leaving those duties to Darrell Bevell. There is also former Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on this staff as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, so we can expect these two coaches to work together to refine their schemes to fit Meyer’s vision.
Bevell and Schottenheimer both like to establish the running game, which is good news for James Robinson. Meyer’s offense loves mobile quarterbacks, so we could see likely first overall pick Trevor Lawrence eclipse projected rushing totals in his first season.
Los Angeles Chargers
Old OC: Shane Steichen
New OC: Joe Lombardi
Joe Lombardi will call plays for the Chargers this season since new head coach Brandon Staley specializes in defense. Lombardi prefers a pass-heavy approach, which is great news for Justin Herbert.
When Lombardi was offensive coordinator for the Lions back in 2014-2015, the team passed the ball over 60 percent of the time. This is a coach who worked as quarterbacks coach for Drew Brees from 2016-2020, working under offensive mastermind Sean Payton.
This is a fantastic hire for the Chargers’ offense, and the sky is the limit for Herbert in 2021.
Old OC: Chan Gailey
New OC: Eric Studesville/George Godsey
Eric Studesville and George Godsey will split offensive coordinator duties in 2021, replacing Chan Gailey, who preferred a spread offense.
Studesville was promoted from running backs coach, while Godsey was the tight ends coach. Godsey has experience as offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans from 2015-2016, so we can project to see him as the play-caller, with Studesville focusing on the running game.
This hiring is good news for tight end Mike Gesicki, who was held back by Gailey’s scheme that does not feature the tight end. It’s likely that we’ll see Gesicki improve on last season’s numbers, making him an attractive target this year.
Old OC: Gary Kubiak
New OC: Klint Kubiak
The transition from father Gary Kubiak to son Klint Kubiak should be seamless, with the Vikings keeping the same offense heading into 2021.
This is great news for Dalvin Cook. The Kubiak zone-blocking scheme has led to huge production from the running game. We can safely project the Vikings to continue to be a run-heavy offense in 2021. Kubiak has worked as the team’s quarterbacks coach since 2019, helping Kirk Cousins to one of the most efficient seasons of his career.
The continuity that comes with this hire should pay dividends for everyone involved in this offense.
New York Jets
Old OC: Dowell Loggains
New OC: Mike LaFleur
Mike LaFleur brings over the Shanahan offense to the New York Jets, which is great news for the team’s running game.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gang Green make a splash in free agency, possibly signing Packers running back Aaron Jones to a lucrative deal, since he played for LaFleur’s brother Matt LaFleur for the last two seasons.
This hiring also bodes well for Sam Darnold or his rookie replacement, whether that be Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. (I’d lean on the former, for those interested 2021 NFL Draft bettors aiming to predict the No. 2 pick.)
Expect this offense to look a lot more efficient in 2021. If the Jets sign a running back like Jones, make sure to target him aggressively in your leagues.
Old OC: N/A
New OC: Shane Steichen
New head coach Nick Sirianni plans to call the plays in Philly, so Shane Steichen will play a supporting role within the offense.
Sirianni did a good job working with Frank Reich in Indy to help veteran quarterback Philip Rivers turn in a respectable season. We also saw running back Jonathan Taylor really take off down the stretch, which is good news for Miles Sanders.
Expect Sanders to set a career high in rushing yards this season with mobile quarterback Jalen Hurts opening up running lanes due to his scrambling ability. The Eagles needed a change of scenery from Doug Pederson, so we can project improvement in this offense.
Old OC: Randy Fichtner
New OC: Matt Canada
Matt Canada was promoted from quarterbacks coach, so we can expect some continuity in this Steelers offense. Canada likes to emphasize pre-snap motion, which is good news for the offense, especially with Ben Roethlisberger likely returning at quarterback in 2021; he could use a more creative offensive style surrounding him as he heads into his age-39 season.
This scheme will allow talented wide receivers like Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool to be put in favorable matchups. Expect the Steelers to remain a pass-heavy offense. Whether fellow wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster returns will dictate their production will depart in free agency. If he leaves, targets will flood more frequently toward Johnson and Claypool, which makes them two enticing options at wide receiver this season.
San Francisco 49ers
Old OC: N/A
New OC: Mike McDaniel
Mike McDaniel was promoted from running game coordinator, a position he’s held since 2017. McDaniel is renowned for his abilities with the running game.
Kyle Shanahan calls the plays in San Francisco, so we can expect more of the same from this offense, which is good news for the running game. It’s always tough to project the most valuable running back in a Shanahan offense.
However, my bet is on Jeff Wilson Jr., who seemed to really find his groove down the stretch. This should be an exciting offense if the Niners can get better luck with injuries, as Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel make up a terrific core of receiving playmakers.
Old OC: Brian Schottenheimer
New OC: Shane Waldron
Shane Waldron comes over from Sean McVay’s staff in Los Angeles. Waldron worked for the Rams in various roles since 2017: tight ends coach, quarterbacks coach, and passing game coordinator. This is great news for the passing game, as we can expect Waldron to bring a more progressive and pass-heavy approach, a welcome change from Brian Schottenheimer and his infatuation with establishing the running game.
This means that we should see more volume from Russell Wilson, which raises both the floor and upside of wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Old OC: Arthur Smith
New OC: Todd Downing
Todd Downing was promoted from tight ends coach. He worked as offensive coordinator for the Raiders in 2017, a season when Derek Carr put up underwhelming production (6.8 yards per attempt, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions). This is bad news for Ryan Tannehill, who really took off as a passer with Smith at the helm.
Still, this is an elite offense surrounded by playmakers like A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry, so I wouldn’t downgrade Tannehill too much with this hire. At the same time, we definitely need to expect some regression in efficiency for the 2021 season.
After seeing the impact of 2021 NFL Offensive Coordinator changes, read our full 2021 NFL offseason coverage and 2021 NFL Draft tips, predictions and picks.