Fantasy Football: Adam Gase Not The Savior Sam Darnold Needs

Sam Darnold
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Sam Darnold #14 of of the New York Jets reacts during the fourth quarter of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

For the first time in a long time, the New York Jets finally have hope under center. While his rookie season had its’ hills and valleys, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold showed enough to make New York believe in him as the long-term answer at quarterback. To help his development, the Jets fired former head coach Todd Bowles and hired supposed quarterback guru Adam Gase.

However, Gase’s reputation as a gifted quarterback coach is dramatically overblown. While Darnold should improve in 2019, Gase won’t magically turn him into a top-10 quarterback. As far as fantasy football is concerned, take a “wait-and-see” approach with Darnold and the Jets offense.

Fantasy Football: Adam Gase Won’t Transform Sam Darnold Overnight

Gase most recently coached the Miami Dolphins and received some credit for supposedly turning Ryan Tannehill into one of the better starters during the 2016 season. However, the numbers do not back up that claim. While the 2016 Dolphins went 10-6, Tannehill himself didn’t play any differently than before Gase showed up. Starting in 13 games, Tannehill threw for 2,995 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. By comparison, Tannehill averaged 4,055 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 13.7 interceptions per season in the three seasons prior to Gase’s arrival.

It wasn’t just Tannehill, the entire Dolphins offense was mediocre under Gase’s lead. During Gase’s three years at the helm, Miami never finished with anything better than the 17th-ranked scoring offense. Granted, some of these struggles can be placed on Tannehill missing considerable time with injury. However, for a man with his reputation, Gase should have made the 2017 and 2018 offenses better than the 28th- and 26th-ranked scoring offenses.

Gase As A Coordinator

Of course, Miami was just one of Gase’s many stops in his NFL journey. As a coordinator, Gase is best known for conducting the Denver Broncos potent passing attack from 2013 to 2014. To Gase’s credit, these offenses were two of the best in NFL history. The Broncos scored a league-leading 1,088 points during two seasons with Gase at offensive coordinator.

However, those offenses also had Peyton Manning. Manning is one of the great quarterbacks of all time, so it would be hard to not have a top offense with Manning at quarterback. Additionally, the Broncos also had a stacked wide receiver core led by Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders. These offensive attacks were prolific, but that had more to do with the players than the man calling the plays.

Following a coaching change in Denver, Gase followed John Fox to Chicago to lead the Bears offense. Under Gase’s command, the 2015 Chicago Bears finished 23rd in points and 20th in yards. Gase didn’t do anything special for Jay Cutler, as the quarterback finished the year completing 64.4% of his passes for 243.9 yards-per-game, 1.4 touchdowns-per-game, and 0.73 interceptions per game. Prior to Gase’s arrival, Cutler completed 61.4% of his passes for  228.4 yards-per-game, 1.57 touchdowns-per-game, and 1.13 interceptions per game. Basically, Cutler was barely above his career average during Gase’s lone year in Chicago.

Resetting Sam Darnold’s Expectations

Gase isn’t an all-knowing quarterback whisperer, but he’s not the worst thing to ever happen to Sam Darnold. Gase can get average performances out of his non-Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and Darnold should be no different. As the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold has the tools to be an NFL starter.

Darnold finished his rookie season completing 57.8% of his passes for 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. While he’s struggled with turnovers dating back to his college days, Darnold managed to show some potential during the final weeks of the season. From Weeks 15 to 16, Darnold completed 65.75% of his passes for 594 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.

While Darnold won’t be that good over an entire 16-game sample, he should improve during his second season. Gase, while far from perfect, should help Darnold’s development more than the defensive-minded Todd Bowles. Additionally, Darnold should naturally improve from a year of experience and a full off-season to prepare for 2019.

As far as fantasy is concerned, you should probably stay clear of Darnold when your draft comes around. Darnold finished 2018 as the QB27 in standard scoring, and Gase isn’t good enough to turn him into a starting fantasy quarterback in one off-season. However, he’s certainly worth monitoring. Darnold showed promise during his rookie year and has two solid receivers in Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. If Darnold can develop, he could be a solid QB2 and bye-week streamer for your fantasy team. However, that’s probably the height of his ceiling in 2019.

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