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NFL 2016 Hello My Name Is Hue Jackson and Your Fantasy Football Team Will Love Me…If You Are Paying Attention
The Cleveland Browns hired Hue Jackson as their head coach. Many thought Jackson could have done so much better. But what if, Jackson as you realized the possibilities of this team? Maybe I am just giddy with anticipation. But seriously, this could be the fantasy football sleeper destination.
But first the minutiae.
2010: Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator
2011: Oakland Raiders Head Coach
2012: Cincinnati Bengals Secondary assistant and Special Teams Coach
2013: Cincinnati Bengals Running Backs Coach
2014-2015: Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator
2016- Cleveland Browns Head coach
Now for the good stuff:
What To Expect
Jackson is coming off a successful stint as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. He made Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton a more vocal and tougher leader. And more important, he made him and the Bengals offense more productive on the field.
Jackson’s offenses have relied on power running and the quarterback/wide receiver heaving and receiving the ball downfield. His passing game also depends on a tight end. Gary Barnidge anyone? Last season the Bengals offense ranked seventh in scoring, 15th in passing yards and 13th in rushing.
In the 2015 season quarterback Dalton played 13 games. He finished the season with a 66.1 passing percentage, with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Running back Jeremy Hill played 16 games. He finished with 794 yards and 11 touchdowns. And while Giovani Bernard also played in 16 games, he only saw the end zone two times with 730 total rushing yards. And as for the receiving stats, stud A.J. Green played in 16 games and 1297 yards with 10 touchdowns. But guess what tight end Tyler Eifert played in three less games than Green but saw the end zone three more times with half the yardage total.
How did last year’s Browns compare? Josh McCown passed for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. He was also sacked 23 times. His passer rating at season end was 63.7 percent. While all the talk was Duke Johnson, running back Isaiah Crowell rushed for 706 yards and four touchdowns. Much touted Johnson rushed for 379 yards and zero touchdowns. However, Johnson was on the receiving end of 534 yards and two receiving touchdowns. But on the receiving end it was tight end Gary Barnidge that made the headlines. Barnidge was on the receiving end of 1043 yards and nine touchdowns. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin was on the end of 11 less receptions than Barnidge. Benjamin finished the season with 966 yards and five touchdowns.
Now Griffin III is added to the stable. As we know, Griffin did not play last season. So his stats are for the three years he did play. In his standout rookie season Griffin passed for 3200 yards with 20 touchdowns on five interceptions. He finished that season with a 102.4 quarterback rating. It is improbable to believe that he would continue that trajectory. But he was close. In 2013 season he passed for 3203 yards. He also amassed 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In 2014, whether it was injury or scheme it was the year of his downfall. Griffin in limited participation passed for 1694 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. And now he is a Brown with offensive whisperer Jackson at the helm.
In Jackson’s offense the quarterback must be smart. Jackson relies on alignment shifts to help the quarterback read the defenses. But after the read the quarterback must make quick adjustments at the line and decide what to do. His quarterbacks must also be able to accurately toss the ball downfield for the quick strike. The downfield passing game is paramount. Last season the Bengals ranked fourth with 63 completions of over 20 yards. They were tied for fifth with 13 passing plays over 40 yards. Can Jackson get that production out of either Griffin or Josh McCown? There is no doubt he believes he can.
But your fantasy hopes in Cleveland are still alive. Think Duke Johnson. Jackson utilizes offenses that highlight players who are versatile. Johnson is a running back threat and a wide receiving threat. Last season in a meh offense, Johnson was the second most productive running back on the team and the third most productive receiver on the team.
And then there is Barnidge. Barnidge will be the sexy choice in 2016 fantasy drafts. That’s fair. With Jackson at the helm it is also realistic. Barnidge was the end zone threat last season. It is possible that his production will rely on the ability of the Browns to get a downfield threat in the receiving corps. It has been reported that Josh Gordon has given diluted sample to the NFL. If so the prospects of his returning diminishes exponentially. The Browns offense doesn’t.
Jackson is good. He makes offenses better. Now he has players that are versatile. He likes that. He has a capable tight end. He likes that. And he has a chance to bring a 3-13 team that ranked no higher than 21st in offensive stats to respectability. He really likes that.
Look to see who the Browns acquire on the receiving end, if Gordon is out. This team can with Jackson at the helm can yield you some really good fantasy value.
Next up Adam Gase
Follow me on Twitter @neverenoughglt