As we speed through the best sleepers at each position before the season opener between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, it’s important to site the best indicator for forecasting a fantasy diamond in the rough.
Let’s take coaching for example. It has long been debated which holds more importance in fantasy performance, talent levels, or offensive systems and schemes. The fantasy dorks in the Rant Sports lab have taken to finding an answer to this question and after much poking, prodding and a few petri dish experiments the hypothesis is clear.
It’s a little of both.
Mike Shanahan, the former Denver Broncos coach and current signal caller for the Washington Redskins is the biggest example of a “system coach” as we have in the league today. Mike is so self-absored that he believes he could plug any no-talent player into his system and they will get results. While it may be easy to look at Shannahan as a crazy old bat who is ignoring the age old law that players not coaches win football games, his track record is impossible to ignore.
Olandis Gary, Tatum Bell, Mike Anderson, Rueben Droughns. What do all these no name running backs have in common? I’ll tell you what, they all rushed for 1,000 yards when they had no business doing it. Guys like Mike Bell and Ryan Torain likely would have reached the feat as well had they been able to stay healthy.
It’s that zone-blocking scheme run by Shanahan, it’s fool proof.
That leads us to our 2012 Diamond in the Rough. Running back Tim Hightower. The former highly touted draft pick from the Arizona Cardinals came over in a trade this off season. When Torain went down with an injury, Hightower appeared to take the reigns as the new feature back. Hightower’s draft slot of 149 makes him one of the highest drafted runners to start for Shanahan.
Again this guy could make your grandmother a 1,000 yard back.
Shanahan never makes it easy on fantasy owners, often surprising with a back coming out of left field to take the majority of the carries. In this case take rookie burner Roy Helu as insurance, and pick Hightower with confidence. Thanks to Shanahan’s coaching scheme you’ve likely picked up a top ten back and one of the biggest sleepers around.
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