The Curious Case of Jon Gruden and Greg Olson
As more information becomes available to dynasty owners across the country, it becomes more difficult to gain an edge. It is, however, possible to gain an easy edge by keeping up to date on an area that makes a huge impact on fantasy performance, coaching. An often-overlooked category when game planning for upcoming seasons, coaching, can provide a much clearer picture as you are looking for a breakout or undervalued player. You can also make a much more accurate assessment of expected results, as throughout an entire season a coach rarely changes philosophies.
Coaching history and philosophy:
Jon Gruden was an offensive coach for the 49ers, Packers, and Eagles before being selected as head coach of the Raiders in the 1998 season. From 1998 – 2001 he coached the Raiders before moving east to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There, he quickly won the Super Bowl, more than likely over-inflating his future career prospects. After the 2008 season, Jon Gruden was let go from the Buccaneers. Gruden then served as a broadcaster before returning to the Raiders on a 10-year contract last season.
Since the 2005 season, Greg Olson has been an offensive coordinator for Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Jacksonville. He was added to Gruden’s coaching staff last year and will be back for the 2019 season as the offensive coordinator. None of his team’s fantasy or results overall have been particularly impressive. Since becoming an offensive coordinator, he has never coached a team to better than a top 15, point differential. Since 2007 he has not coached a top 15 running back. Typically, his top wide receiver finishes between 13th and 50th in the NFL.
For both Gruden and Olson, previous fantasy performance would not be indicative of a positive outlook moving forward.
Here are how players under Gruden and Olson’s players have ranked amongst their NFL counterparts based on standard fantasy scoring.
Running Back Woes
Gruden’s top running backs have shockingly poor results. With an average finish as a running back 3 unless there are major changes to scheme or talent this offseason, running back will be a spot to avoid for the Raiders. Unfortunately, the position does not fare much better under offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
None of this is more evident than in the fact that in only 3/10 seasons of Gruden’s season as a head coach have his running backs been even slightly higher than the mean when it comes to receptions. When his running backs to catch the ball, their situation is not an advantageous one. For example, last season Jalen Richard caught 68 passes, but 0 touchdown catches. 68 receptions put Richard as a top 6 running back for receptions. Unfortunately, this did not translate to fantasy success when comparing to the other top receiving backs in the NFL.
Wide Reciever Woes
The wide receiver position is even bleaker going into the 2019 season. These are the current options under contract for the Raiders in the 2019 season. (Accompanied by stats for the 2018 season.)
Future Fantasy Outlook:
Derek Carr will continue to be a hit or miss option at QB. In 2018 he finished as QB 18. The running back situation is not much better as Jalen Richard finished as the RB 29. There was not a top 40 WR on the team. This was the result of not scheming players open, a lack of talent overall, and poor QB play. There was however one shining star on the team as 31-year-old Jared Cook ended 2018 as the TE 5. As it stands now the team will look different as the offseason progresses. It will be important to see if Cook is re-signed, it will also need to be seen if any other skill position players are drafted or added. Doug Martin finished the season with back to back games over 100 yards, which was promising, but based on the history of running backs under these coaches, I would stay away.
I would expect positive regression next year if Richard is utilized in ant different way. The only players I would target based on coaching for this team would be Richard and whomever the tight end is.