Fantasy impact: AFC offensive coordinators

BY Ryan Fowler • July 24, 2013

Search engines like Bing and Google have reached a digital threshold where complex algorithms turn a vast ocean of websites into a virtual puddle on the sidewalk where visitors can splash around.

These digital warp whistles have evolved so much, a user can find information on anything, at any given moment in a matter of second(s) through the power of their thumb (or other digit).

However, I think I stumbled upon search engine kryptonite: NFL offensive schemes, philosophies and systems.

Like taking a sip of spoiled milk, the search engine spit out garbage results that failed to point this fantasy football author in the right direction of the Chargers’ new offense under Ken Whisenhunt.

Sure it gave me links to detailed reports boasting such profound gems as “Whisenhunt’s offense would have a little of this and a little of that…” As expected, I left the page craving more.

In the end, I managed to decode the offensive scheme of each AFC team and have provided some fantasy football analysis on how some systems could impact your fantasy draft strategy.

AFC East Offensive Coordinators and Schemes
Team Offensive Coordinator Offense 2012 Pass / Rush Rank
Patriots Josh McDaniels Erhardt-Perkins 4th (291.4) / 7th (136.5)
Dolphins Mike Sherman West Coast 26th (198.9) / 17th (112.6)
Bills Nathaniel Hackett (NEW) Up Tempo - K-Gun 25th (204.3) / 6th (138.6)
Jets Marty Mornhinweg (NEW) West Coast 30th (180.7) / 12th (118.5)

After coaching together for three seasons at Syracuse, head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett now carry the same titles with the Buffalo Bills. For what it’s worth, Hackett’s “K-Gun” offense averaged 289 pass yards and 187 rush yards per game last season with the Orange. They ran the ball 54 percent of the time.

“Up tempo” has been a common buzzword heard around Bills’ training camp when speaking of the 2013 offense. The Orange liked to keep the ball moving and early estimates think the Bills could run eight-to-10 more offensive plays per game this season. This means more touches and targets for C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson. We’re still in wait-and-see mode as to if Kevin Kolb or first-round draft pick E.J. Manuel will lead this new offense, but I expect the Marrone’s and Hackett’s fantasy impact to be higher than most offenses in 2013. Spiller is perfect for the type of offense they want to run.

AFC North Offensive Coordinators and Schemes
Team Offensive Coordinator Offense 2012 Pass / Rush Rank
Ravens Jim Caldwell No-huddle / spread 15th (233.7) / 11th (118.8)
Bengals Jay Gruden Hybrid West Coast 17th (223.6) / 18th (109.1)
Browns Norv Turner (NEW) Air Coryell 19th (214.7) / 24th (99.6)
Steelers Todd Haley Stretch / Spread Hybrid 14th (236.7) /  26th (96.1)


Much like a Mitch Hedberg one-liner (“Would you like a frozen banana? No, but I would like a regular banana later. So, yes.”), Norv Turner’s offensive system in Cleveland has been a “slow burn.” That is to say fantasy owners are now starting to realize a non-factor in 2012 could become their starting fantasy tight end this season.

Jordan Cameron caught 20 balls for 226 with one touchdown in 2012. However, at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds comparisons to Turner’s former tight end, Antonio Gates, have been common in recent weeks. In his last full season with Turner, Gates caught 79 passes for 1,147 yards with eight touchdowns.

AFC South Offensive Coordinators and Schemes
Team Offensive Coordinator Offense 2012 Pass / Rush Rank
Colts Pep Hamilton (NEW) West Coast 7th (258.0) / 22nd (104.4)
Texans Rick Dennison (Kubiak) West Coast principles 11th (239.4) / 8th (132.7)
Jags Jedd Fisch (NEW) Pro Style (up tempo) 21st (213.7) / 30th (85.6)
Titans Dowell Loggains Balanced 22nd (207.7) / 21st (105.4)


This Houston Chronicle Texans' blog paints an interesting statistical picture for those who consider the team a “run-first” offense.

In that same breath, it’s probably encouraging for fantasy owners to embrace a balanced offense in 2013. Running back Arian Foster, who opened camp on the PUP list with a calf injury, will not carry the ball 351 times again. The franchise’s decision to draft wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the second round reaffirms the need to provide Matt Schaub viable options in the passing game. Oh, and don’t forget Andre Johnson is now 32 years old – ancient in NFL terms. Head coach Kubiak spelling Foster in 2013 would mean more fantasy value for the supporting cast of Ben Tate (RB4) and Owen Daniels (TE1).

Titans' head coach Mike Munchak has this season to right the ship or he'll be packing his bags.  It's well-known that he wants a rush-oriented offense led by Chris Johnson, but don't forget Shonn Greene was brought in as a free agent during the offseason. 

Offensive coordinator, and All-Name Team nominee, Dowell Loggains' top challenge was simplifying the passing offense for Jake Locker and his receivers. The Titans pass offense finished 22nd last season. Loggains took over the offensive coordinator role the final five games of the 2012 season and the franchise inked Delanie Walker (Jared Cook now with the Rams) and drafted Justin Walker in the second round. When you peruse their depth chart, Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt, veteran Nate Washington with those two assets could drastically improve Locker's passing efficiency.

AFC West Offensive Coordinators and Schemes
Team Offensive Coordinator Offense 2012 Pass / Rush Rank
Broncos Adam Gase (NEW) West Coast 5th (283.4) / 16th (114.5)
Chargers Ken Whisenhunt (NEW) West Coast hybrid  24th (205.9)/ 27th (91.3)
Chiefs Doug Pederson (NEW) / Andy Reid West Coast 32nd (169.6) / 5th (149.7)
Raiders Greg Olson (NEW) Power Run 8th (255.3) / 28th (88.8)


All four AFC West teams welcome new offensive coordinators / play callers in 2013.

I think it’s a safe bet that Peyton Manning’s offense remains stable in 2013 and Andy Reid will utilize Jamaal Charles much like he did LeSean McCoy with the Eagles.  An undervalued Dwayne Bowe could receive a nice boost in the passing game with Alex Smith behind center.

But the two offenses that fascinate me the most are the Raiders and Chargers.

In Oakland, Greg Olson takes over an offense that ranked 28th in rushing last season. He’s removed the zone blocking scheme that Darren McFadden never embraced. Run DMC may love the new downhill approach, but the veteran running back must stay healthy in order for the fantasy football stars to align. Olson’s focus on making DMC the main cog in the offense is encouraging and perhaps I was too quick to file for fantasy divorce from McFadden. It’s just that injury bug bites so hard. It’s difficult to have complete faith in the Raiders.

In San Diego, Philip Rivers said it was challenging learning a new offense for the first time in nine years. He added that coach Whisenhunt is working with him to keep some of the plays from previous seasons in the mix. This is good news for guys like Antonio Gates. In my pre-training camp interview with Chargers’ beat writer Michael Gehlken, he said he expects Vincent Brown to become a viable asset within the new offense. New head coach Mike McCoy and Whisenhunt think he’ll work well in underneath routes.