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Faceoff: Discussing Coaching Changes

August 24th

Clayton Gray: Assuming a player is on the same team as last year, how important is a coaching change when determining the player's 2012 prospects?

Matt Waldman: If the coach has a radically different approach or a complementary approach where he has past success with a player or set of players, it is important. Josh McDaniels' offense in Denver helped a number of players have true fantasy value. His return to New England could made a great Tom Brady even better. I'm more inclined to upgrade a player rather than downgrade him, because until I see a player not perform well in a new scheme I'm not going to discount him unless there are clear indications of early struggles in camp.

Andy Hicks: I have done studies on this over a ten year period and suprisingly, a change in head coach doesn't have that much of a difference when compared to the ordinary turnover of top scorers from the previous season. The biggest change an offensive player can have is the change in offensive coordinator. Players in a new scheme more often that not do not return to the level of success that the guy who keeps an offensive coordinator does. I need to refresh this study as it is a few years old, but the difference is significant. Obviously when there is a head coaching change, the offensive coordinator also frequently changes, but not all the time.

Each situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits, but if a player changes offensive coordinator I would evaluate them more closely, especially comparing the styles of the old OC compared to the new OC.

Will Grant: Coach is only part of it, but sometimes it can be a big part.

Mike Martz is gone from Chicago. Jay Cutler was sacked an average of 3 times per game under Martz. Hopefully that makes Cutler a better fantasy prospect because he won't be running for his life. It also impacts the receivers because they will hopefully have more receptions and receiving yards as Cutler gets the ball out quicker from the seven step drop. Opposing defenses won't have as many multi-sack games and you can't use the 'start any defense against Chicago' like you could last year.

But the addition of Jeremy Bates and Brandon Marshall also will have an impact on Cutler. Marshall for obvious reasons - the Bears haven't had a 1000 yard receiver in the last ten years. Bates because Cutler and he have worked together before and are comfortable with each other's style. I guess this goes back to Matt's point about being complementary as well - if the coach and player mesh in their style of play, good things should happen.

Jeff Pasquino: This can be huge, simply because the offensive (or defensive) philosophy could change overnight.

Look at what happened wherever Mike Martz went across the league. His teams became pass-happy offenses and his quarterbacks and wide receivers shot up in value. At the same time, his tight ends mattered next to nothing.

Atlanta this season, for example, has a new offensive coordinator (Dirk Koetter) who is determined to throw moree and run less. That means Julio Jones and Matt Ryan are set up for fantasy explosions while Michael Turner is going to fall off the proverbial cliff.

This even goes to players and coordinators. Josh McDaniel is now in New England, and Brandon Lloyd flourishes in his system. That plus Tom Brady means Lloyd could be the wide receiver outside of most consensus Top 20 lists that finishes the year as a Top 10 wideout.