Every year in the weeks leading up to Fantasy Football Draft season, we hear different reasons why a player will or will not improve from last season. These reasons range from recovery from injury to a new offensive weapon. The most impactful and, more importantly, predictable identifier of potential production/usage change is players being thrust into new offensive schemes. We often hear about how players who go to new teams will perform, but what about players who have new offensive signal callers this year?
There are teams set to have new head coaches call the offensive plays in 2023. Other teams are bringing in experienced offensive signal callers. There is also a slew of first-time play callers joining a returning staff and others joining teams with an entirely new coaching staff. Opting to promote from within for vacant OC positions is what a few teams did as all. Some new signal callers will not significantly impact fantasy football production, but others can be noteworthy when assessing a player’s fantasy value. This article is part of a five-part series exploring new play Callers and how it affects players’ fantasy value. Today we are looking at first-time OCs joining first-time head coaches in Drew Petzing of the Cardinals and Bobby Slowik of the Houston Texans.
First-Time Playcallers on New Coaching Staffs
Drew Petzing: Arizona Cardinals (Cleveland Browns QB coach)
For first-time play callers, generally, it is difficult to tell what impact they will have, especially those under first-year head coaches. This applies to former Cleveland Browns QB coach Drew Petzing under Johnathan Gannon and the Arizona Cardinals. Gannon opted to bring in staff from an assortment of different teams. As a result, it is a mystery what the Cardinals’ offensive scheme will look like, especially since Kyler Murray is likely to miss at least the start of the season. They also didn’t upgrade the receiving corp in the offseason and lost DeAndre Hopkins.
Petzing has not only never been a play-caller, Alex Van Pelt, the OC he worked under in Cleveland, did not call plays either. If you would like to assume Petzing will run a similar offense to Stefanski, you can also expect a slight uptick in James Conner‘s production. Overall though, what this offense will look like is an enigma. There is a lot of uncertainty and relatively weak weapons. I expect this to be something other than a fantasy-relevant offense.
Bobby Slowik Houston Texans (San Francisco 49ers Passing Game Coordinator)
Unlike Gannon, new Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans hired a staff of familiar faces. He is bringing his good friend Bobby Slowik with him from the San Francisco 49ers to be Houston’s new offensive coordinator. Given that Ryans is building a staff of Shannahan disciples, we have a clearer picture of what the offense will look like compared to Arizona.
The Texans’ offense has been putrid overall, and the team has won only 11 games in the past three seasons combined. The only way they can go is up at this point with an entirely new offensive scheme. All hope isn’t lost on this team as they have a good offensive line anchored by 3-time pro bowler Laremy Tunsil. The Shannahan West Coast Offense does bring significant fantasy value. The west coast offense is a very QB-friendly quick passing system. This bodes well for CJ Stroud, not only for his development but also for his fantasy value.
Assessing Fantasy Value
This offensive scheme also often utilizes running backs and tight ends in the passing game. Year in and year out, we see this with Shannahan. Examples include tight end George Kittle and multiple running backs like Raheem Mostert, Elijah Mitchell, and of course, Christian McCaffrey. This concept adds subsectional value to Dameon Pierce, currently sitting at RB 20 on Fantasy Pros Expert Consensus Rankings and number 44 overall. That is a steal in the fourth round.
The offensive scheme could also benefit two newly signed veterans. The first is tight end, Dalton Schultz. Schultz is the current TE 11 going in the ninth and tenth rounds. This is great value with him in this offense. The second is Devin Singletary. In 2021 (pre-CMC), the 9ers ran more multiple running back sets than anybody in the league. The Texans could’ve brought in a young RB to develop behind Pierce, but they didn’t. Instead, they went and got Singletary, so I am sure he is in the plans. Those two back sets will also include full-back Troy Hairston who will likely slide into the Kyle Juszczyk role.
There is a bit of buyer beware here. Mike LaFleur was in a very similar situation to Slowick. Passing Game Coordinator becoming a first-time play-caller under his team’s DC, becoming a head coach. LaFleur failed miserably and ran a very bizarre and mostly predictable offense. He is now OC of the Rams under Sean McVay but won’t call the plays. On the contrary multiple Shanahan coaching tree descendants have been able to be successful with this scheme. If Slowik can implement this system like Mike McDaniel in Miami, Texans players might bring you some pleasant fantasy surprises.