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Fantasy fallout for new Washington head coach Ron Rivera

Will the Washington new head coach help or hurt the fantasy projections for key offensive starters? We break down what Ron Rivera means.

Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera speaks during his introductory press conference at Inova Sports Performance Center.  Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera has a long track record for us to look into his offensive tendencies but he also had a unique quarterback who supplemented his offense in large part with rushing. Cam Newton is someone you need to build your offense around and he did end up helping Rivera and the Panthers to many winning seasons.

Rivera has hired Scott Turner as offensive coordinator. Turner is Norv Turner’s son and has worked with Rivera in the past. Turner has specialized in working with quarterbacks and will a big part of Dwayne Haskins development in Washington. He also took over play calling duties in Carolina after Rivers was ousted in 2019.

Rivera moved up in the ranks as a defensive coordinator with the Bears and Chargers before landing the head coaching job in Carolina, so offense wasn’t his forte, but he was now head coach and needed to get an offense going with rookie Cam Newton. Rivera ended up turning the Panthers around and getting them to a Super Bowl game where they lost to Denver.

Rivera has also brought in Jack Del Rio to be his defensive coordinator and there is no doubt that making Washington’s defense one of the best in the league is high on their priority list. When you think of the youth they have on offense, I’d say they want to cover up some of their likely offensive inconsistencies with defense so they can win sooner than later.

With Carolina, Rivera’s team was Top 10 in rushing attempts in seven of nine seasons and ranked 20th or worse in passing attempts in six of those seasons. The duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart along with a running quarterback was used quite effectively while Rivera’s defense was Top 10 in rushing defense in his last seven years with the team.

A run oriented offense is likely the path he will take, especially if he can get the defense, which isn’t awful as it is, to play well enough to keep games close. That would likely push the passing game to also emulate what he did in Carolina, as he used his No. 1 receiver Steve Smith well, giving him around 130 targets, 80 receptions, 1,250 yards and 7 touchdowns when healthy. Terry McLaurin is set up well for a similar role in Rivera’s offense.

Rivera did use his tight end Greg Olsen extensively as well, but Washington doesn’t have anyone that would take that work at the moment, so I’d expect the running backs and ancillary receivers to have those targets spread out unless one player can really step up as a secondary receiver underneath and over the middle.

Derrius Guice should get a nice bump in Rivera’s offense if he can stay healthy, which we all know is a big if. Adrian Peterson is a free agent but someone Rivera may want to keep around, but I expect them to bring in insurance for Guice through free agency and maybe the draft.

Dwayne Haskins will likely be allowed to develop with a strong defense keeping him in games and from what we saw toward the end of 2019, he does have ability and Turner isn’t going to squash that if they see it develop quickly and consistently, but he isn’t going to be asked to win games with his arm every week, which lowers his fantasy upside.