Who is Browns OC Freddie Kitchens? Must-Knows for Fantasy Football Owners - Roto Street Journal
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Who is Browns OC Freddie Kitchens? Must-Knows for Fantasy Football Owners

Mercifully, Cleveland’s horrendous, excuse-filled Hue Jackson era has finally ended at 3-36-1. He’ll be replaced for the remainder of 2018 with interim HC and former DC Greg Williams, but us fantasy football owners only care about offense. On this front, the Browns completely cleaned house, also firing OC Todd Haley and replacing him with… former RBs coach Freddie Kitchens?

Though bordering on “complete unknown,” Kitchens has logged 13 seasons as an NFL assistant under some highly intriguing offensive masterminds. Here’s a quick look at Kitchens’ roots that could provide a meaningful glimpse into moving-forward expectations:

Who Is Freddie Kitchens?

1) Arians-Roots 

Kitchens has spent the majority of his career under Bruce Arians. In fact, Kitchens served as the Cardinals QB coach from 2013-2016, and is considered to be a major player in Carson Palmer‘s career renaissance over this span. Arians’ offense is well-known for three key traits:

A) Voluminous, creative usage of a workhorse RB: Just ask David Johnson how life has gone post-Arians. He loves splitting his backs out wide and moving them all over the formation to create passing and running game mismatches. Overall, Arians’ offenses operated their peak with a true every-down horse that reduces substitutions and can maintain his aggressive…

B) Pace of play and downfield attacking. Arians loves keeping defenses on their toes, both through vertical play-calling and rapid-fire pace that often includes no-huddle packages.

Now, just because Kitchens has a lengthy track record with Arians — including time as his QB when Arians was the OC at Alabama — does not guarantee he can replicate his success. Still, spending so much time with such a bright mind cannot be considered a negative.

2) No Coordinating Experience

Here comes the negative. Despite a lengthy resume of 20 college and professional coaching gigs, Kitchens has legitimately never been a coordinator. He’s spent time as a QBs, TEs, and RBs coach, but never actually crafted or called his own offense.

Being thrust into this role for the first time, right in the middle of a dumpster fire season, certainly isn’t a recipe for immediate success. There’s probably a greater chance this offense continues imploding than actually experiences a genuine turnaround. Still, there’s not much further to sink down, and Kitchens does have at least 1 game of play-calling experience…

3) Preseason Week 4: Dominant Playcalling

Yes, we are grasping at straws here. But straws are all we have with Kitchens, and these Preseason ones at least appear promising.

In the Browns fourth preseason game, Haley turned over play-calling duties to Kitchens. The team racked up 35 points, 422 total yards, and 22 first downs — all season-highs outside of the Raiders OT game. In under a quarter of play Baker Mayfield strung together 138 yards and two scoring drives, one of which was capped off by a Nick Chubb score.

The only reason this is worth mentioning is Browns owner Jimmy Haslam praised Kitchens’ play-calling from this game, suggesting this game alone played a key role in Kitchens’ promotion over the much-more established Haley.

Fantasy Football Implications

Again, drawing any concrete conclusions from the three above facts is ill-advised. However, here’s my best guesses:

1) Baker Mayfield benefits, even if only slightly

Kitchens’ work with Palmer should not be overlooked. Moreover, former OC Haley was on this staff, and dragged Kitchens with him to Cleveland. In all likelihood, the offense will remain largely the same for Mayfield, and the consistency should help.

Still, Kitchens can perhaps squeeze even more out of this talented but developing signal-caller. Unlike the stubborn-minded Haley, Kitchens may be more apt to work Mayfield into game-planning and ensuring everything is comfortable for his QB.

Kitchens is a former QB himself, and we’ve seen this type of “former player understanding” really benefit Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky. The two could form a strong rapport, and improve Mayfield’s currently mediocre Year One trajectory.

2) Nick Chubb… a workhorse? Or Duke Johnson revival?

If Kitchens does indeed emulate his former employer in Arians, Chubb could be the biggest benefactor. As mentioned, Arians’ offense was at its peak with a true three-down horse, and Chubb has the chops to produce in all facets.

More likely, however, I expect Duke Johnson‘s usage to improve. He’s been one of the most dynamic and productive pass-catching backs in the entire league over his last three years, yet has completely rotted with misusage for all of 2018. Call it a gut feeling, but Kitchens could dramatically improve Johnson’s ROS outlook, making him a stash in league’s where others have quit.

All-in-all, little is known about new Browns OC Freddie Kitchens. Hell, who knows if his Wikipedia nickname “The Chef” is actually legitimate (though I sure hope it is). Still, Kitchens hails from a promising coaching lineage, and his experience as a former QB and strong track-record with Palmer could help forge a strong rapport with Mayfield. Plus, the already-strong running-game stands to improve. I’d feel slightly more optimistic about my Browns in fantasy football.

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