Kyle Shanahan first became an Offensive Coordinator in 2008 with the Houston Texas and now finds himself holding the same title at the helm of the Cleveland Browns' offense. This will be his first season calling plays without either his father, Mike Shanahan, or Gary Kubiak as the Head Coach. Instead, he will work under the Browns' new Head Coach, Mike Pettine. Pettine is a former Defensive Coordinator and so control of the offense will be left completely to the younger Shanahan. Here's a look at how offenses have fared with him as the Offensive Coordinator:
Team Offense with Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator (Team and Passing)
|Team Totals||Passing Totals|
A couple things that jump out from the table above are that Shanahan's teams have proven more-than-capable of moving the ball (average rank of 9.0 among NFL teams in total yards) and that he likes to throw the ball (average rank of 9.8 in passing attempts). The outlier in passing attempts would be Robert Griffin III's rookie year in Washington when they ranked 30th. By excluding that season, Shanahan's average passing attempts would rise 591.0 and an average ranking of 5.8 among NFL teams.
Shanahan's first two seasons in Washington were underwhelming across the board, but that can be attributed to a lackluster roster. In 2010, a 34 year-old Donovan McNabb "spearheaded" an offense that included Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Anthony Armstrong, and Ryan Torain. In 2011, Rex Grossman stepped into the starting role with Jabar Gaffney as his leading receiver. We feel that it's safe to cut Shanahan some slack for those two seasons.
Heading into 2014, Shanahan will have what is likely the most talented group of players he's had at his disposal, namely Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, and Ben Tate. Over the years, he has also proven to take advantage of his best talent by catering his offenses to those players. With Brian Hoyer under center, you can expect the Browns' to rank among the NFL's more pass-happy teams, thus limiting any dropoff from Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner's departures. However, if they do opt for a quarterback, such as Johnny Manziel, the passing attempts would more closely resemble the 2012 totals.
As you'll notice below, the running game under Shanahan has also taken off in the past two seasons in both production (averaging 2437 rushing yards) and efficiency (averaging 5.00 YPC):
Team Offense with Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator (Rushing)
Regardless of the quarterback, Tate should be handed a workload similar to that of Alfred Morris, who has averaged 305.5 carries in his first two seasons. Whether Tate reaches those totals will depend on his health as he has missed eight games in his three NFL seasons. Playing for Kubiak, Tate will be in a familiar zone-blocking scheme that has brought him a high degree of success in the past; he's averaged 4.73 on 421 carries for a total of 1992 yards. While the YPC may seem unrealistic, it is a sizeable sample and Morris has averaged an eerily similar 4.72 YPC over the past two seasons. Even while Tate's usage in the passing game may be limited, the carries will amount to a height that makes him worthy of a high-end RB2.
After blowing up for 87-1646-9 line, Gordon has risen to sit among the elite wide receivers in both the NFL and fantasy football. While there may be some skepticism to include him in that tier, the physical ability is clearly visible and the opportunity for another monster campaign should also present itself. Here's a look at how the last two true X-receivers in Shanahan's offenses have fared:
X-Receivers with Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator
|Per Game||---- ----||1.00||9.50||N/A||6.43||N/A||88.36||N/A||0.45||N/A|
|x16 Games||---- ----||16.0||152.0||N/A||102.9||N/A||1413.8||N/A||7.2||N/A|
As you'll notice, there hasn't been any shortage of work for the X-receivers, who have averaged 152 targets and 102.9 receptions per each 16 games in those seasons - those numbers rise to 162.7 and 109.7 respectively when excluding Garcon's injury riddled 2012 season. In both of those categories, the receiver has finished among the top-three at the position in each of the three seasons that they managed to play all 16 games. Gordon can be fully expected to cruise to another year of elite WR1 production.
The future for Cameron may not seem as rosey on the surface level, but Shanahan does not have a deep history of working with a tight end of his ability. As the clear-cut second option in the passing game, a strong comparison would be the usage that Jordan Reed saw as the starting tight end in 2013. With a hat-tip to Rotoworld, extrapolating the eight full games that Reed played would lead to a 88-974-6 line. Cameron's line of 80-917-7 in 15 games would measure out to a very comparable line of 85-978-7.5 over 16 games. He should be cemented in as a high-end TE1, leading the tier just behind Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Julius Thomas.
Circling back to the quarterback position, the leading candidate to start will be Hoyer, who is recovering from a torn ACL. He earned two starts last year and posted fantasy friendly numbers, averaging 46 passing attempts, 295 passing yards, and 2.5 passing touchdowns in the air. He would become a matchup-based QB2 with the potential to reach 4000 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns - Shanahan's teams averaged 3852 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns in the previously mentioned McNabb / Grossman years. The success of Griffin III as a rookie would also bode well for another first-year passer to step in, specifically Manziel, who would have the added bonus of his rushing ability. Manziel would instantly have QB1 potential, although his ADP would likely reflect that, thus limiting his draft day value.
Overall, the arrival of Kyle Shanahan bodes well for the Cleveland Browns' offense as a whole and the future of their playmakers remains bright. The ability of those playmakers, combined with their youth, will make this offense a fantasy football favorite for years to come.
You can find me on Twitter, @KyleWachtel, where I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.