Dissecting NFL OTA Coachspeak: Jahmyr Gibbs Workhorse Role, Broncos RB Committee, Patience Needed for Drake Maye?

Should we believe NFL coaches and GMs as we enter OTAs?

The year was 2016, and second-year running back Melvin Gordon was having a breakout year as a member of the San Diego Chargers. Gordon was lighting up the league, racking up over 1,400 total yards and 12 trips to the endzone through 13 games. After 13 weeks of elite performances, everything came crashing down in Week 14 after Gordon suffered knee and hip sprains.

This injury devasted a young MOH as Gordon was a focal point of my roster poised to make a run at a fantasy championship. Prior to my semi-final matchup in Week 15, there was still hope that Gordon would be able to get on the field.

Desperate to glean any information on the status of my star running back, I fired off direct messages to members of the media and the Chargers organization. My messages went unanswered. Gordon ultimately did not take the field in Week 15, and my team fell short of a championship berth.

All of this is to say that the game of fantasy football would be much easier if we had direct contact with players and coaches in the NFL. This is sadly reserved for members of the media. Commoners like us must rely on reports from beat reporters and press conference quotes.

This isn’t an ideal situation for fantasy managers. However, many valuable insights can be picked up from these reports and press conferences.

Just last season, press conferences from Rams head coach Sean McVay indicated that Kyren Williams would have a role within the offense. The Wolf picked up on this and highlighted him in our sleepers show last August. Wolf also put his money where his mouth is, picking up a hefty exposure to Kyren (not Salvon Ahmed, lol) in Underdog Best Ball drafts.

OTAs are officially underway across the NFL, and head coaches are getting the first look at their crop of players for 2024. With the start of OTAs comes initial press conferences with coaches and GMs. Let’s take a look at some key press conference moments and determine how they may impact our fantasy rosters.

Most quotes will come from The Coachspeak Index, a great account to follow to keep up with fantasy-relevant quotes from coaches.

SEAN PAYTON: CREATING RB UNCERTAINTY IN DENVER

Broncos’ head coach Sean Payton had this to say about the running backs in Denver…

With quotes like “We’ll go by what we see” and “Who knows what we’re gonna get,” Payton does not seem committed to a running back for 2024.

This isn’t a massive shock, as Javonte Williams, who was the starting running back last season, struggled to get going. However, it should be noted that Williams was likely playing at less than 100 percent after suffering an ACL tear in 2022. Williams’ struggles were concerning last year, but he is still the most talented back in Denver and should garner plenty of touches, even though the team drafted the bruising Audric Estime and has a handful of pass-catching running backs on the depth chart.

The lack of commitment from Payton opens the door for a significant committee in 2024. Former UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin is an intriguing name for handling the receiving work in this committee. As a rookie last season, McLaughlin earned a target on a whopping 44 percent of his routes. This resulted in a stat line of 31 receptions for 160 yards on only 81 routes.

If McLaughlin can monopolize the receiving work in 2024, this will prove to be incredibly valuable in a Sean Payton offense. Sean Payton has historically utilized running backs in the receiving game at a high level. This was no different in his first season with the Broncos. Denver RBs earned a 32.1 percent target share, which is by far the highest in the league.

If McLaughlin can fend off Samaje Perine and Blake Watson to handle the majority of receiving work, he will prove to be a valuable draft pick at his RB55 price tag.

JEROD MAYO: PATRIOTS PRACTICING PATIENCE WITH DRAKE MAYE

Last month, the Patriots selected Drake Maye with the 3rd overall pick in the NFL Draft. Maye was considered a “project” by most scouts, with many pointing to sloppy footwork and mechanics. It seems that New England would prefer to allow him to develop before letting him see NFL action.

Las Vegas bookmakers (DraftKings) confirm what Jerod Mayo is hinting at, listing Jacoby Brissett as the heavy favorite (-250) to be the Week 1 starter.

The Patriots’ win total is set at just 5.5 and it would not be shocking if Mayo and the coaching staff turned to Maye after a handful of games. However, unlike fellow top draft picks Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels, Maye should not be viewed as the locked-in starter.

Maye will certainly be the Patriots’ starting quarterback down the stretch this season. Although Patriots fans are excited about the team’s draft, led by Maye, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Javon Baker, all three are currently late-round dice rolls, if even drafted, in Best Ball drafts.

It’s expected that the Patriots season will be over by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around. This opens the door for Maye and the rookie receivers to get some reps late in the season. Considering their cheap price, Maye and his receivers are interesting stacking options late in drafts.

BRAD HOLMES: JAHMYR GIBBS WORKHORSE ROLE IN 2024?

The Detroit Lions selected Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in last year’s draft. The pick was highly criticized at the time. Despite the critics, Gibbs proved to be a valuable piece in Detroit’s offense in his rookie season.

Gibbs was eased into the offense to start the season and did not see meaningful usage until Week 7. As the season progressed, Gibbs worked into a split backfield with David Montgomery.

As is the case with many second-year backs, Gibbs should see an uptick in his workload for his sophomore campaign—Lions’ GM Brad Holmes confirmed this.

Drafters are banking on Gibbs taking a massive step forward in 2024. He currently goes off the board at the end of Round 1 as the RB4 in Underdog Best Ball drafts and he ranks RB4 and 11 overall on The Wolf’s 2024 Fantasy Rankings and Big Board.

Montgomery will certainly maintain a role as a rusher and at the goal line. But Gibbs offers the explosivity and receiving ability to produce massive fantasy performances. With an increased workload, he is a player who all drafters should target.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Related Posts