Fantasy football fanatics no doubt cheered the firing of Broncos coach Mike Shanahan this week. Those of you who kept Ryan Torain on your roster for half of the season — and a dividend return of 12 fantasy points (half of which came on that dive to your right) — probably felt that Pat Bowlen‘s dismissal of his long-time coach and friend was justified.
But is this disdain from fantasy footballers justified?
Shanahan has long been viewed as a villain in fantasy football circles, as if he was a DC Comics character named “The Orange Hobgoblin” or something. But come on, that might be a little strong. For all of Shanahan’s faults, there were a lot of positives.
The running-back-by-committee is indefensible. There was nothing worse than having to eat up half of your fantasy football roster with Broncos running backs. (*cough*Torain*cough*) And sure, for a while it seemed that any running back named “Bell” was — at one point — going to get a crack at the Broncos start job. In fact, you have to wonder why more running backs didn’t legally change their last name to “Bell” just to get a spot on the team’s roster.
But for every Mike Bell, Tatum Bell and Damien Nash, there was Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson and Orlandis Gary. More often then not, Shanahan’s running backs were true studs. Even this year, a 12-point week from Torain was followed by some good fantasy weeks by Peyton Hillis. People no doubt benefited from the Broncos running backs right up to the very end. For that, Shanahan should be remembered for the good times.
Fantasy geeks also overlook just how good the quarterbacks were under Shanahan. Brian Griese and Jake Plummer had decent fantasy football seasons under Shanahan. Plummer had 4,000 passing yards and 27 touchdowns in 2004. Jay Cutler was the No. 4 fantasy quarterback this season. And he looked to only be getting better in the future.
That future is now clouded. The Broncos plan to interview defensive coordinators Steve Spagnuolo (Giants) , Raheem Morris (Buccaneers) and could be eying Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. The Broncos could easily slip into one of those defensive-minded, offensively-challenged teams that are even worse to fantasy football than Shanahan’s running-back-by-committee. Fantasy footballers might want to keep a little perspective.
NFL Network’s Adam Schefter will sit down with Shanahan this weekend on NFL Network. (Check out a sneak peek). Hopefully Schefter will ask him why he had to torment fantasy footballers with the running-back-by-committee.