Coaching Time: AFC North Offensive-Minded Coaching Profiles

Eli Grabanski drops a variety of charts and quick thoughts on all of the offensive-minded NFL coaches and coordinators from the AFC North.

We know that coaches try to create an environment for their players to succeed. We also know that coaches have tendencies and preferences for how they utilize their players. Yet, in the fantasy world, these tendencies tend to be unaccounted for, overlooked, or spoken about in terms of personal anecdotes that may or may not be true.

This article contains charts and information to give you a stronger understanding of the impact coaching can have on your fantasy players from the AFC North for the 2022-2023 season.

 

Cleveland Browns

Kevin Stefanski (Head Coach)

Alex Van Pelt (Offensive Coordinator)

 

Notes

 

  • Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is one of the best play-callers in the league at getting his running-backs touches – particularly on the ground. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should both be startable fantasy options again this year, and D’Ernest Johnson is also worth monitoring in case something happens to Chubb or Hunt (like a Kareem Hunt trade).

 

  • As for Stefanski’s history of utilizing the wide receiver room, it’s less promising. Stefanski’s offense hasn’t traditionally done a great of utilizing the wide receiver room, even with players like Stefon Diggs and Odell Beckham Jr. (who showed frustration with their usage/lower workloads during the time they played in his offense). Because of this, Amari Cooper is likely going to be disappointing at his current ADP and it’s highly unlikely that any other Cleveland Browns wide receivers become fantasy relevant in 2022.

 

  • Kevin Stefanski’s offense has been above-average in featuring the tight end room in the passing game…if you miss out on the top tight ends David Njoku is a good late-round pick option.

 

  • If head coach Kevin Stefanski ends up missing any games during the season, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt would take over play-calling duties.

 

  • Alex Van Pelt has worked under Kevin Stefanski since 2020 but also served as the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator back in 2009 after the team fired Turk Schonert because of the team’s awful performance in the 2009 preseason.

 

  • Much like Stefanski, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt’s offenses have had a below-average number of passing attempts in general.

 

  • Looking specifically at his Buffalo Bills tenure, Van Pelt did a solid job of utilizing the running back room and a below-average job of getting the wide receiver and tight end rooms involved in the passing games…overall if he takes on play-calling duties the offensive usage would be pretty similar to what Stefanski prefers (maybe a slight decrease in tight end usage).

 


 

Baltimore Ravens

Greg Roman (Offensive Coordinator)

Notes

 

  • Baltimore Ravens Greg Roman may not be the perfect offensive coordinator, but he has worked with a lot of mobile quarterbacks over the course of his career so you can kind of understand why the team prefers to have him designing an offense around Lamar Jackson.

 

  • In terms of running back usage, offensive coordinator Greg Roman does a good job of getting them work on the ground but is the worst offensive play-caller in the league at utilizing his backs in the passing game…because of this J.K. Dobbins and the rest of the Ravens running backs are quite a bit more valuable in standard scoring formats than PPR formats.

 

  • Greg Roman’s wide receiver room also doesn’t see a lot of utilization since he prefers a run-heavy approach…Rashod Bateman is the only guy that has a shot of being fantasy-relevant this year and even he probably has more limited upside compared to other players going around his draft range in this offense.

 

  • Roman does do a good job of utilizing his tight end room in the passing game…Mark Andrews should once again be a safe bet to finish as a top-five fantasy tight end (with a shot of repeating as the TE1) and Isaiah Likely looks like a strong ‘tight end handcuff’ in case anything happens to Andrews.

 


 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Matt Canada (Offensive Coordinator)

 

Notes

 

  • Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada is expected to be the team’s offensive play-caller once again in 2022. Canada has had just one year as an offensive coordinator at the NFL level but spent a lot of time at the college level as an offensive play-caller.

 

  • During his one season as an offensive coordinator at the NFL level, the Pittsburgh Steelers threw the ball a lot (664 passing attempts). This was interesting because at the college level Canada’s offenses were a lot more balanced, and it seems likely that they scale back the number of passing attempts a bit with Ben Roethlisberger now retired.

 

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers went with a heavy bell-cow approach on the ground last year with Najee Harris. Overall the number of carries and targets for the group as a whole was fairly average relative to other NFL teams/play-callers.

 

  • In Matt Canada’s one year as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, his wide receiver room saw 419 targets. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense should be able to support multiple fantasy-relevant wide receivers, which is good news if you plan on rostering one of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, or Chase Claypool.

 

  • Matt Canada’s tight end room saw fairly average usage…I’m not expecting a full-blown breakout from Pat Freiermuth this year, but he should be in the low-end TE1/high-end TE2 discussion all year.

 

 


 

Cincinnati Bengals

 

Zac Taylor (Head Coach)

 

Brian Callahan (Offensive Coordinator)

Notes

 

  • Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is expected to once again serve as the team’s offensive play-caller. Since offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has only worked under Zac Taylor we will focus on Taylor’s past tendencies in this section.

 

  • Zac Taylor has actually utilized his running back room as a whole less than the average play-caller (and gotten less production) but because he tends to roll with a bell-cow approach it’s less noticeable from a fantasy perspective…Joe Mixon should be an RB1 again this year as long as he stays healthy.

 

  • Taylor’s wide receiver room on the other hand has seen a ton of usage over the course of his career and been great for fantasy purposes…you can see why Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are both early-round picks in most fantasy leagues and Tyler Boyd could even provide some value late in drafts.

 

  • As for the tight end room, Zac Taylor’s offense really hasn’t utilized the position much (relative to other play-callers) thus far in his career…Hayden Hurst and Drew Sample may have a couple of strong fantasy weeks this season just because of how explosive the Bengals’ offense looks on paper, but I wouldn’t bet on them being consistent enough to be anything more than a streamer.

 

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)

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