New scheme will boost fantasy outlook for Tony Romo, Ben Tate and more


Scott Linehan could have Tony Romo could have Tony Romo throwing until the cow(boy)s come home. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

During the offseason, 13 teams changed offensive coordinators (and in some cases, head coaches, as well). Here is a look at how some fantasy-relevant players could fare in the new schemes implemented by those coordinators.

Bengals
New OC: Hue Jackson (previously running backs coach with the Bengals)
Helps the most: Jeremy Hill

Last season, with Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator, Cincinnati was eighth in passing yardage and 18th in rushing yardage. Expect those marks to flip if Jackson has his way, as he wants to run, then run some more. In Oakland in 2010 and 2011, Jackson featured Darren McFadden (as long as he was healthy) with Michael Bush as a bruising complement, and we could see a very similar arrangement with Giovani Bernard and Hill (or BenJarvus Green-Ellis if the rookie Hill proves unready for the task).

Bernard owners can expect him to be the centerpiece of a ground-oriented Bengals’ offense, but also to lose goal-line touches to either Hill or Ellis. Jackson also wants to throw deep, which should involve A.J. Green in many big plays, but Jackson’s focus on the run could mean reduced roles for complementary receivers such as Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert.

Browns
New OC: Kyle Shanahan (previously coordinator with the Redskins)
Helps the most: Ben Tate

Shanahan made heads turn in Washington by installing a run-heavy, read-option attack, tailored to Robert Griffin III’s skill set, that baffled defenses and also made a star out of Alfred Morris. But in a previous stint in Houston, Shanahan’s offenses, led by immobile Matt Schaub, succeeded by throwing the ball. In short, he is a coordinator who will make the best of what he has, but generally favors the pass.

It is hard to say what Shanahan has in Cleveland, but assuming Johnny Manziel eventually wins the starting quarterback job, we could see an offense similar to what Griffin has been running, as Manziel can also make plays with his feet. In that scenario, Tate could be the steadiest source of fantasy points. If Josh Gordon wins his appeal, he’ll be the focal point of the passing attack, but since his presumed suspension leaves an uninspiring cast at wide receiver, it’s safe to forecast a prominent role for tight end Jordan Cameron.

Buccaneers
New OC: Jeff Tedford (previously head coach at Cal)
Helps the most: Charles Sims

At age 52, Tedford is getting his first job of any sort in the NFL. He loved to run the ball at Cal, and new Bucs Coach Lovie Smith has always been a defensively oriented sort, so it stands to reason that Tedford will get his backs plenty involved. The key word there being “backs,” because Tedford has already indicated, to the Tampa Bay Times, that he thinks NFL teams “probably need to have two to three guys to bring different things to the table.”

So expectations for Doug Martin getting back his 2012 dominance should be tempered, because he’ll be sharing carries with rookie Sims, and probably Bobby Rainey and Mike James, as well. The team brought Josh McCown over from Chicago, and seemed to have built its own version of the Bears extra-tall receiving corps by adding Mike Evans and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins to Vincent Jackson, but it’s likely that only Jackson will consistently get targets.

Chargers
New OC: Frank Reich (previously quarterbacks coach with the Chargers)
Helps the most: Philip Rivers

Coach Mike McCoy got much of the credit for turning around the Chargers’ offense, and Rivers’ career, last season, although then-coordinator Ken Whisenhunt got a head coaching job out of the deal, as well. Reich was already on the staff, and it seems doubtful that he will make any great changes to the ball-control, high-percentage passing offense that worked so well for San Diego in 2013.

In an interview on the Chargers Web site, Reich referred to Ryan Matthews as the “lead dog” in a running back committee with Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. He also singled out Malcom Floyd for praise, which is a reminder of Floyd’s existence as a San Diego deep threat before an injury all but wiped out his season and paved the way for Keenan Allen’s emergence.

Cowboys
New OC: Scott Linehan (previously coordinator with the Lions)
Helps the most: Tony Romo

Linehan’s actual title with Dallas is “passing game coordinator,” because his offenses always revolve around throwing. In 12 seasons as a coordinator or head coach, his teams have ranked in the top 10 in passing attempts nine times. Of course, as poor as the Cowboys’ defense projects to be, their offense figured to be slinging it around a lot anyway, but Linehan’s arrival seals it.

This is good news, in fantasy terms at least, for Romo, Dez Bryant, and probably Jason Witten and Terrance Williams, as well. It also gives a boost to DeMarco Murray in points-per-reception leagues, making the running back a first-round value in that format.

Dolphins
New OC: Bill Lazor (previously quarterbacks coach with the Eagles)
Helps the most: Ryan Tannehill

Lazor’s offensive philosophy is a bit of a mystery as this is his first coordinating gig at the NFL level, and he had spent short stints as a quarterbacks coach with the Eagles, Seahawks and Redskins. He is expected to bring some of Chip Kelly’s innovative concepts with him, and Lazor is stressing a higher tempo in Miami’s practices. Knowshon Moreno has fallen way behind Lamar Miller in the battle to become the team’s top back, but ultimately Lazor could decide that Moreno’s experience playing in Peyton Manning’s hurry-up offense better complements the inexperienced Tannehill.

Lazor received high praise for his work with Nick Foles last season, and Dolphins fans hope he can help Tannehill look as good. The first order of business should be improving Tannehill’s connection with Mike Wallace, which was very shaky last season, and which has reportedly not been great so far in training camp.

Giants
New OC: Ben McAdoo (previously quarterbacks coach with the Packers)
Helps the most: Victor Cruz

New York let go of Kevin Gilbride after seven years as coordinator, and the team certainly appeared last season to be in need of a new direction on offense. They got “new,” alright, in McAdoo, who comes over from Green Bay for his first coordinating gig; McAdoo was 12 years old when Gilbride got his first such job, in 1989. Where Gilbride preferred for Eli Manning to hang in the pocket and look downfield for the likes of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, McAdoo want Manning to get the ball out more quickly.

This new emphasis on shorter patterns, giving Manning a chance to make high-percentage throws to a group of playmakers, which portends very good things for Cruz, in particular. Already the team’s de facto No. 1 receiver in the wake of Nicks’s litany of injuries, Cruz will now be given regular opportunities to do what he does best — make people miss and head upfield. The Giants clearly saw top draft pick Odell Beckham as another perfect fit for this attack, but he has had trouble staying healthy. If Beckham falls too far behind the curve, Jernel Jernigan could be a surprising contributor to fantasy rosters, especially in PPR leagues.

Lions
New OC: Joe Lombardi (previously quarterbacks coach with the Saints)
Helps the most: Joique Bell

Lombardi is a first-time coordinator (and, yes, he’s the grandson of Vince), but he studied under Sean Payton and can be expected to install many of the concepts that have been so successful for New Orleans. Assuming Matt Stafford can do a reasonable Drew Brees impersonation, that is. Stafford got used to fixating on Calvin Johnson, but he will be expected to spread the ball around a bit more. Fortunately, Detroit brought in a promising pair of  weapons in Golden Tate and Eric Ebron to provide Stafford with better alternative options, and to draw some defensive attention away from Megatron.

The biggest beneficiaries of Lombardi’s arrival could be Reggie Bush and Joique Bell (not necessarily in that order). The Saints love to throw to their running backs, so Bush and Bell could become as involved in the passing attack as Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas were.

Ravens
New OC: Gary Kubiak (previously head coach of the Texans)
Helps the most: Torrey Smith

After last year’s dismal showing, Baltimore’s offense has almost nowhere to go but up, and Kubiak should help with that. In 19 years as either a coordinator or head coach, Kubiak’s offenses had top-seven finishes (in terms of total yardage). He is known for his running back-friendly, zone-blocking scheme, but it remains unclear which running back will most benefit; remember that Houston’s Arian Foster was virtually unknown before bypassing highly drafted Ben Tate on his way to stardom.

In Smith and Dennis Pitta, the Ravens have players who mirror the pass-catchers who were featured in the Texans offense (Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels), so Kubiak’s arrival bodes well for that duo.

Redskins
New OC: Sean McVay (previously tight ends coach with the Redskins)
Helps the most: Alfred Morris

McVay is a somewhat ridiculous 28 years old, and new head coach Jay Gruden’s previous experience was as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator, so let’s assume that Wasington’s offense will have Gruden’s fingerprints all over it. However, the fact that Gruden promoted someone who was already on the Redskins’ staff indicates that he doesn’t plan on making radical changes to what has worked for Washington.

That would be good news for Morris’s fantasy value, as he has been the Redskins’ bell-cow back for the past two seasons. Early reports from training camp have Gruden trying to emphasize Robert Griffin III as a pocket passer, which might be good for RGIII’s health but not so good for his fantasy numbers. At Cincinnati, Gruden’s passing attack revolved around a clear No. 1 receiver in A.J. Green, but he now has two of those types in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. It seems fair to assume that Jackson, in particular, will see a decrease in his numbers from last season, when his No. 1 role with the Eagles resulted in an eighth-place finish among WRs.

Texans
New head coach: Bill O’Brien (previously head coach at Penn State, coordinator with the Patriots)
Helps the most: Garrett Graham

O’Brien will act as his own offensive coordinator, which likely means that we’ll see a New England-style approach, with a lot of two-tight end sets. How well that approach works will depend on how quickly Ryan Fitzpatrick can digest, then execute, the complicated playbook. Graham and rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz are slated to play the “Hernandez and Gronk” roles, respectively, which could lead to some nice outings for Graham. Andre Johnson will remain the team’s top target, however, and a conservative, defense-first philosophy could make DeAndre Hopkins an iffy WR3 on fantasy rosters.

O’Brien wants to make receptions a bigger part of Arian Foster’s workload, but first the veteran back must prove that he can stay on the field. If not, backup Andre Brown would likely be an early-down back.

Titans
New OC: Jason Michael (previously tight ends coach with the Chargers)
Helps the most: Jake Locker

Ken Whisenhunt came over from San Diego to be Tennessee’s new head coach, and Michael was one of his assistants there, so the Titans’ offense will almost certainly be a direct reflection of Whisenhunt’s preferences. But what will those preferences be? Whisenhunt has shown in the past he is very adaptable in his approach. When he coordinated the Steelers’ offense, they ranked first in rushing attempts for two straight years. When he went to coach Arizona, he quickly realized that his team’s strength lay with Kurt Warner slinging the ball around, and those Cards ranked in the top three in passing attempts for three straight years.

Whisenhunt’s most important task will be seeing what he can do with Jake Locker. The quarterback, entering his fourth year, showed signs of improvement before an injury limited him to just seven games. Outside of its offensive line, Tennessee’s best talent appears to be at wide receiver, with Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter and Nate Washington, so it would be surprising if Whisenhunt did not make a point of featuring that trio.

Vikings
New OC: Norv Turner (previously coordinator with the Cleveland Browns)
Helps the most: Kyle Rudolph

Unlike Lazor, Turner has an extensive coordinating track record, so we know what to expect from his offense. He likes to pound a dominant running back, feature the tight end more than most and throw deep to a big-bodied wide receiver. As it happens, Minnesota has exactly what Turner needs in the first two categories, with Adrian Peterson and Rudolph, the latter of whom looks poised for the best season of his young career.

Cordarrelle Patterson possesses the size and speed to become the Vincent Jackson of this offense, but it is important to remember that Jackson took four years to break out, and Patterson, in his second, may need some more seasoning in his own right.

This former editor and part-time writer at The Post is now happy to prove that if you combine 'blowhard' and 'blaggard,' you get 'blogger.' He previously had used 'Desmond Bieler' as his byline, but feels that shortening the first name to 'Des' nicely conveys his ever-decreasing gravitas. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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Mark Maske · August 8