Taking Advantage Of The Coaching Carousel In IDP Fantasy Football

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Different defensive coaches have different philosophies and schemes. @ONUtyjo goes over the coaching changes and their potential impact on IDP.


Who could potentially be impacted?

  • Browns, Hue Jackson, 4-3 defense
  • Packers, Mike McCarthy, 3-4 defense
  • Jets, Todd Bowles, 3-4 defense
  • Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter, 4-3 defense
  • Broncos, Vance Joseph, 3-4 defense
  • Cardinals, Steve Wilks, 4-3 defense
  • Dolphins, Adam Gase, 4-3 defense
  • Bengals, Marvin Lewis, 4-3 defense
  • Falcons fired DC Marquand Manuel but will still run Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme
  • Teams impacted by the fallout of coaching carousel, some teams will likely lose their DCs to new jobs

Over the last 5 seasons, there’s been 34 head coaching changes and 15 scheme changes. With the eight current coaching vacancies at a 44% rate of scheme changes, we can project another three or four significant scheme changes this offseason. It is also important to note that not every single scheme change has accompanied a head coaching change but we will see several defensive coordinator changes as well.

Also, note these teams will almost all see some schematic changes with a new coaching staff, but the switch of the base front seven alignment causes the biggest changes for us in IDP leagues.

Why do we care?

  1. Position changes! This is mostly unique to the defensive side of the ball because edge rushers are labeled differently depending upon the scheme.  The responsibilities of most edge rushers are almost identical, but their positional eligibility for most IDP leagues changes. Interior defensive lineman also frequently change position designations but outside of a few special players like Aaron Donald, the actual impact here is less.
  2. Scheme puts different players in position to statistically succeed. Just like on the offensive side of the ball, the scheme often dictates who is getting snaps and who is in position to make plays.  Think about the fantasy declines of Drew Brees in 2017 and Russell Wilson in 2018 due to the volume and success of their run games.  Both players were still just as talented but did not have the same fantasy impact due to changes in scheme.

Cardinals Defense (4-3 Defense in 2018, 26th in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 50% Chance of Switch

The Cardinals just switched their scheme to the 4-3 last year, but the key pieces here are scheme versatile. Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, and Budda Baker are the building blocks here and they can all work in either system so the Cardinals can go in either direction.  There’s a rebuilding to do for this defense in either scheme.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Chandler Jones would be the biggest impact as he would move back to a linebacker designation in most IDP leagues.

Robert Nkemdiche would move back to defensive tackle eligibility as a three-technique.

Tre Boston and Deone Bucannon are free agents that project to move on.

The off-ball linebacker situation is a mess that could and should be completely different regardless of the scheme.

DJ Swearinger was a late addition to the roster that will be part of the safety mix with Budda Baker and an aging Antoine Bethea.

The safety situation is one to watch. The Cardinals’ base defense was often a three-safety set, but that could change with a new coaching staff. Budda Baker lined up mostly in the slot in 2018 and probably overachieved in IDP given his role, so his role in that defense is something to keep a close eye on.

Packers Defense (3-4 Defense in 2018, 22nd in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 45% Chance of Switch

Aging star Clay Matthews will hit free agency this offseason.  Muhammad Wilkerson‘s deal will also be expiring.  If ever there was a time to rebuild and retool a defensive front this would be that time for the Green Bay Packers.  They have some promising young corners, stud DT/nose Kenny Young and another solid DL in Mike Daniels but nothing that should prevent them from changing schemes under the new coaching regime.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Clay Matthews – probably gone in either scheme or relegated to a situational pass rushing role.

Nick Perry and Reggie Gilbert would convert to defensive end if the Packers do switch to a 4-3.

Kyler Fackrell was a bit of a surprise breakout this year, he could definitely work in a defensive end rotation as a weakside pass rusher but could also profile as a strong side linebacker.

Oren Burks would also seem to be a nice fit as a weakside linebacker and could have a big statistical year in that role.

Mike Daniels would move into a 3 technique and could be an intriguing IDP option in DT required leagues.

The Packers seem to have some young talent to work with at corner, but will almost certainly look to upgrade at safety. Pettine’s scheme prefers cornerbacks to perform press-man coverage, which leaves the safeties largely responsible for deep cleanup duties. A scheme switch could change this up and bring some value back to the safety spots in Green Bay.

Jets Defense (3-4 Defense in 2018, 29th in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 40% Chance of Switch

The Jets personnel doesn’t exactly dictate that they stick with the 3-4 scheme.  Their top paid player Leonard Williams is free to cut or trade, but he is also one of their most talented players.  He fits perfectly into his 3-4 defensive end position, but could also play the three-technique in a 3-4 defense.  The Jets are completely lacking edge pass rushers in either scheme.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Leonard Williams would go from DE to DT eligibility.

2018 third round pick Nathan Shepherd would also profile as a three technique at DT.

Edge positions probably are not even worth covering because they will be looking to upgrade here regardless of scheme.

Henry Anderson is an unrestricted free agent, he is a solid 3-4 defensive end, but probably moves on if they change schemes.

Nose tackle Steve McLendon just turned 33 years old and will also be an unrestricted free agent.

Inside linebacker Avery Williamson would play middle linebacker with Darron Lee manning the weak side.

The other player I’m worried about is Jamal Adams, he has played in the box a lot as a true strong safety and his IDP production could suffer if the new scheme alternates the safeties more or plays more of a two deep look.

Dolphins Defense (4-3 Defense in 2018, 27th in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 20% Chance of Switch

This team has been built with 4-3 personnel and, full disclosure, it is tough to predict what might happen. Cameron Wake is a free agent and Robert Quinn would be a free cut or trade candidate, Quinn has also spent time as a 3-4 outside linebacker previously.  These moving parts seem to make it an easy transition, but the linebackers seem like a better fit for the 4-3 scheme. Raekwon McMillan could play inside linebacker and Kiko Alonso has in the past, but promising rookie Jerome Baker is best cast as a weakside linebacker in the 4-3 defense

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Dolphins would probably move on from Wake if they do switch.

Quinn and Branch could be 3-4 outside linebackers or the Dolphins may opt to move on and look for better fits.

Charles Harris would be converted to a 3-4 outside linebacker.

The current defensive tackles would mostly profile as defensive ends, including Davon Godchaux.

Reshad Jones is also one to keep an eye on. He has been an elite IDP option when playing a true strong safety position. The Dolphins used to run a lot of Cover 1 Robber, which gave Jones a free roam of the middle of the field and freedom to make plays in the box. Recently, however, they have run a lot more split safety. This forced Jones to play mostly deep and did not utilize his skill set well.

Bengals Defense (4-3 Defense in 2018, 30th in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 15% Chance of Switch

The Bengals defensive line looks like a solid 4-3 defensive line and that personnel group may be what convinces the Bengals to stick with the 4-3 scheme.  The linebacker unit is aging, injury prone, and unreliable so it could certainly be completely rebuilt regardless of the scheme.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Andrew Billings came on strong at the end of the year and could potentially be defensive tackle eligible as a 3-4 nose.

Geno Atkins would slide out to the defensive end position.

Carlos Dunlap would be tough to project as a rush linebacker. He could potentially play 3-4 defensive end or be moved to another team.

Sam Hubbard is a somewhat versatile piece that could probably play 3-4 outside linebacker.

Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson would move to outside linebacker.

Burfict will be an interesting decision for the new coaching regime regardless of scheme.

Preston Brown is a free agent that can play in either scheme.

Buccaneers Defense (4-3 Defense in 2018, 31st in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 10% Chance of Switch

The Buccaneers are a unique case because they’re able to trade or cut just about every member of their front seven with no cap penalties.  Kwon Alexander is an unrestricted free agent. Jason Pierre-Paul, Gerald McCoy, Vinny Curry, Lavonte David, and William Gholston are among the guys that they could optionally move on from for free. The talent here is intriguing and has definitely been built for a 4-3 defense, but the group has underachieved. The Buccaneers have had a lot of youth in the secondary and have really struggled as a whole on defense.

Many believe the coverages were too simple and too predictable, which made it easy to game plan and pick apart the secondary.  It would not be surprising to see them go a completely different route while maintaining the 4-3 base. It does not seem feasible that they would be able to completely start over and attract equal talent to Tampa to build a 3-4 defense but it remains in the realm of possibilities.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Not going to cover a lot here, because I think this would be close to a full house cleaning job if this happens.

We saw the Giants move JPP when they converted to a 3-4 scheme.

Vinny Curry looks like a probable cap cut regardless of the scheme.

Vita Vea could definitely play nose tackle.

Gerald McCoy would kick out to defensive end in a 3-4 scheme which hurts his value in defensive tackle required leagues.

Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David have been IDP studs. However, they would make for a very strange inside linebacker duo in a 3-4 scheme.

Broncos Defense (3-4 Defense in 2018, 13th in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 5% Chance of Switch

The defense is far from the main issue in Denver and with two premier pass rushers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the Broncos would be wise to stick with what they have. There will be some personnel changes, but overall the defense should look similar up front.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Not going into much depth here, most notably Miller and Chubb would be the defensive ends. Broncos will be looking to add some rotational pass rushers regardless of scheme.

Brandon Marshall looks like a probable cap casualty and Josey Jewell showed enough as a rookie that he should get the first shot at the ILB spot.

Darian Stewart is another costly vet that could be a cap casualty.

Browns Defense (4-3 Defense in 2018, 21st in Points Allowed)

Prediction: 5% Chance of Switch

Early speculation would have to support the Browns sticking with a 4-3 defense. They have actually set up the defensive personnel very well for a 4-3 scheme. However, NFL organizations are not always logical or reasonable. Anything is possible and it is still the Browns we are talking about here.

Players to Watch if a Change Occurs

Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah – DE to LB in a 3-4

Ogunjobi, Zettel, Coley – DT to DE in a 3-4

Browns would seem to be lacking a true nose for the 3-4 scheme.

Genard Avery and Jamie Collins are versatile players that have lined up as both pass rushers and off-ball linebackers in their careers.  Collins has a potential out in his big contract and might be replaced by Avery regardless of the scheme. I think Avery or Collins would potentially line up opposite Garrett in a 3-4. Either could play at ILB, however.  If Collins lands elsewhere, I would expect him to land a more traditional off-ball linebacker role. This could result in him having IDP value again.

Kirksey and Schobert would seem to fit the ILB spot in the 3-4 defense for the Browns.

The back end of the defense could change even if the Browns do stick with a 4-3 base. Peppers lined up in the box a lot more this year while Randall lined up deep. The deep free safety was a staple of the Williams’ Browns defense that was also the butt of many jokes. Peppers could be one to watch in the right scheme.

Another staple of the Williams’ defenses was the use of the base three-linebacker set in favor of the nickel and dime defenses that are becoming more common elsewhere in the league. This means the third linebacker would almost certainly lose snaps and obviously be much less relevant for IDP leagues.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ONUtyjo. Follow the show @IDPGuys and tune in to the IDPGuys podcast weekly for you are up to date IDP Fantasy Football knowledge. Follow the new podcast @noBSidp, The No BS IDP Content Podcast with @josephhaggan, @Hbogart27, and @FFStompy coming in March. Also, get even more depth analysis and tips from the IDP Tipster here


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Former college football player, team leader in personal fouls for two straight seasons. Work as an engineer when I'm not engulfed in fantasy football. Follow me on twitter @ONUtyjo to talk anything fantasy football related: IDP, dynasty, contract leagues, superflex, devy, etc.