We are finally here LAFB Network! The last of the head coaching changes is coming to an end. That is last year’s Head Coach moves; we have yet to crack the HC changes from this post-season, but we all want to know how these coaches panned out.
If you’re curious or haven’t been keeping a list, here are the coaches that made a new home this past season: Kliff Kingsbury, Freddie Kitchens, Zac Taylor, Matt LaFleur, Adam Gase, and of course Bruce Arians. Of course, more coaches were changed than this list of six men but we’re focusing on the fantasy aspect of these moves, not so much the politics of it all.
It has been a long way since my Kliff Kingsbury article and I hope at some point in time I have opened your eyes on some of these coaches. Maybe it was pointing out the obvious with LaFleur and his rushing game, or Kitchens and his passing struggles. Either way, it has been informative for me and some of the fantasy leagues I plan on getting myself into. So let’s get into it!
Bruce Arians: The Final Fantasy Edition
To begin the transition of Bruce Arians into the Tampa Bay head coaching position, we should know that Arians might be one of the few offensive HC’s that actually had an offensive coordinator; Byron Leftwich. We all remember Byron Leftwich from the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Atlanta Falcons, the Pittsburgh Steelers, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, until coming back to Pittsburgh.
Sure Leftwich had nothing but a mediocre career with 58 TDs, 42 INTs, and 10,532 passing yards after playing only three full seasons and a handful of sprinkled games here and there. But we don’t remember the mediocre players, we remember the players that made a name for themselves either on the field or off it. Leftwich couldn’t do it with a helmet on, let’s see how well a headset suits him.
As always, we are going to go from Leftwich’s best area of fantasy football relevance to his worst.
Rushing Game – Running Backs
Rush Yards – 1,050
Attempts – 296
Rush TDs – 7
Pass Yards – 434
Targets – 88
Completions – 68
Pass TD – 1
Rush Yards – 1,221
Attempts – 340
Rush TDs – 14
Pass Yards – 723
Targets – 113
Completions – 84
Pass TD – 1
From Peyton Barber to Ronald Jones, the Bucs switched RBs this season but still stayed dedicated to Peyton Barber in some capacity (a frustrating capacity for Jones’ owners). In PPR formats Barber might have been FLEX worthy for more than half of the week’s this season but Jones kept the starting position for most of the year.
Clearly the rushing attempts jumped by 44, the TDs doubled, and Leftwich involved the RBs more into the passing game which made them more relevant to us. Funny enough Barber was the only RB to scoring on a passing attempt in both this and last season.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a straight lead-back in the Bucs offense. Officially Barber started seven games, while Jones had nine. Practically an even split.
The only thing they didn’t split were the fantasy points. Ronald Jones totaled out with 170.3 points, while Peyton Barber finished with 116.5. Clearly Jones was the more productive back, both in the rushing and receiving game. Jones finished with 724 rushing yards and 309 receiving yards, Barber had 470 rushing yards and 115 receiving yards.
Passing Game – Quarterbacks
Pass Yards – 5,358
Attempts – 625
Completions – 408
Pass TDs – 36
Interceptions – 26
Pass Yards – 5,127
Attempts – 630
Completions – 382
Pass TDs – 33
Interceptions – 30
If you don’t recall, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick shared time during the 2018-2019 NFL Season. Jameis started nine games and finished 3-6, while Fitzpatrick played seven games with a record of 2-5. Obviously it wasn’t the best season for the Bucs but between the QBs, Winston totaled 167.68 fantasy points and Fitzpatrick had 138.64.
This season Jameis obviously finished with more fantasy points (277.08) since he ran the offense alone but his production wasn’t as dynamic as the pair of QBs together.
In the 2018 season, the dynamic duo had 306.32 fantasy points, with no Byron Leftwich. With Leftwich, there is a decrease of 29.24 fantasy points, along with four more interceptions.
This could be some growing pains that Leftwich and Winston are going through. New systems don’t normally have fantastic outcomes and we have covered that with these HC articles. Matt LaFleur is possibly the only exception this season.
Receiving Game – Tight Ends
Rec. Yards – 911
Targets – 110
Completions – 73
Rec. TDs – 11
Rec. Yards – 807
Targets – 116
Completions – 73
Rec. TDs – 5
It’s interesting that we’re talking about the TEs from Tampa Bay before WRs like Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. Well, the difference between this season’s TE fantasy total to last season’s TEs were 46.4 points. For WRs this season the fantasy points decreased by 71.6 points.
The TE’s for the Bucs, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, both had tremendous potential this season. It was just a matter of finding out when or who to use. Neither TE produced the numbers of their former year; this could be explained through their total TD regression.
When doing the research, I did notice that O.J. Howard’s numbers seemed to be impacted the most from Leftwich’s arrival in Tampa. He went from 565 receiving yards and five TDs to 459 receiving yards and just one TD. The four TDs are obvious but he went from 16.6 yards per catch to 13.5. Brate also dropped a few yards in his average.
This led me to believe that even though the TEs had more targets this season than last, Leftwich wasn’t necessarily going for the big scoring plays with this position. Last season Howard had a reception for 75 yards; this season both Brate and Howard couldn’t get passed 40.
Receiving Game – Wide Receivers
Rec. Yards – 4,013
Targets – 420
Completions – 267
Rec. TDs – 24
Rec. Yards – 3,597
Targets – 378
Completions – 225
Rec. TDs – 27
Well here we are. The final stop for Byron Leftwich; the receivers. It is pretty surprising that Mike Evans finished as the 16th overall fantasy WR with 230.7 points and Chris Godwin was the 2nd overall WR in fantasy with 274.1 points; AND it ended up being Leftwich’s worse category!
Both players finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards but both players didn’t play all 16 games of the season. Chris Godwin played 14 games with 1,333 receiving yards and Mike Evans played 13 games for 1,157 yards.
If you had Evans, you know the heartache he brought to your team. He’d have a 30+ game one week and then the following week he would have a fat goose egg. He even extended that to a three-game streak of about 10 points total.
Either way, the missing time affected both Jameis and the receiving production for fantasy purposes. Mike Evans was average 89 yards a game, times that by the three games he missed and that would be another 267 yards Evans would’ve bagged before the season’s conclusion. Chris Godwin missed two games and with his 95-yard average, that’s about 190 yards that the offense was missing out on.
Should Bruce Arians keep his head coaching position? Sure. We primarily focused on Byron Leftwich and his first year as the Tampa Bay OC. Should Leftwich keep his title as the play-caller? That might be a little harder of a question.
When you factor in that Leftwich’s stats were negative three out of four categories (QB, TE, WR) this year from last, it definitely takes a toll on your decision. Jameis Winston might have thrown 30 picks this year, but he damn sure didn’t lose the week for you because he had plenty of fantasy production. And can you say that either Godwin or Evans weren’t hot commodities multiple times this year?
I think Leftwich has his nose on something promising and I want to see where it goes. Even with his decreased performance from last season’s stats, he still kept most players fantasy relevant. The only hiccup would be Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard; can you give us a sign on who the number 1 guy will be already?