Talent is the trump card in anything. You can get away with a lot if you can do something at a level no one else can.
In fantasy football, drafting the most talented players is obvious, but there are several nuances within the game that can make a player of average talent good and a player of good talent average. We’ve seen countless guys compile stellar numbers one season only to transform into a ghost the year after (Steve Slaton, anyone?). We’ve also seen the tremendous talent of players forced to take a backseat for the better of the team (C.J. Spiller getting the short end of the stick in Buffalo last year is a good example of that.)
Injuries obviously play a big role in fantasy production as well, but one of the most underrated factors is the type of offense a player is in.
Offensive schemes are crucial to fantasy stats. In the AFC alone, nine teams will run a different set of plays than they did in 2012. Here are a group of guys who are primed to succeed based on their coaches philsophies.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Reason for optimism: New head coach Doug Marrone from Syracuse
— We mentioned him above, and for good reason. Spiller tied with Adrian Peterson for tops in yards per carry with 6 per clip last season. His main problem was he didn’t get the ball enough, recording only 207 attempts to Peterson’s 348. But he’s in luck — Marrone headed an offense in Syracuse that ran the ball 52 percent of the time, which is a big increase considering the Bills only ran the ball 44 percent of the time in 2012. With former quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick now out of the picture, the Bills have rookie E.J. Manuel and an underachieving Kevin Kolb vying for the starting QB spot. It’s only natural they hand the offensive keys over to Spiller.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Reason for optimism: Chip Kelly’s spread offense
While nobody expected McCoy to repeat his crazy 17-touchdown campaign from 2011, his production dwindled significantly in 2012 under Andy Reid’s west coast offense. Kelly has already stated that the Eagles will be one of the most run-dominant teams in 2013, which will allow McCoy to take over games. The only thing standing in McCoy’s way from a dominant 2013 campaign is Bryce Brown, who’s likely to get his share of the carries as long as he hangs on to the ball.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns
Reason for optimism: Norv Turner’s vertical offense
— The Browns are a team built to throw the ball down field now. They have a QB with solid mechanics in Weeden, a wide receiver with the speed to get behind most cornerbacks in Josh Gordon, and a premier running back that’s effective in both pass blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield in Trent Richardson. The problem was they ran a west coast offense last season, an offense built on short, intermediate throws. As a head coach in San Diego, Turner will allow Weeden to play to his strengths more, and air the ball out to his receivers. Tight end Jordan Cameron is also a freak athlete that can make plays down the seam as well.
Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
Reason for optimism: Mike Shanahan’s tight-end friendly offense
The tight end position has always been prominently featured in Shanahan’s two-tight end system, and Davis is the front-runner of this group. Marred by injuries and disciplinary issues the past two seasons, Davis is an athletic (6’4, 247lbs) tight end with good hands and has the quickness to separate from defenders. He’s yet to crack 1,000 yards however, but he was on pace to do just that in 2011 before issues off the field derailed his season. An Achilles injury ended his 2012 season early, though he was on pace for 742 yards at that time. Redskins quarterback RG3 will no doubt be looking toward Davis more out of the backfield when the blitz comes in order to avoid taking unnecessary hits.