Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Scheme changes that will elevate top players

2R8EXWK Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken calls out instructions at mandatory NFL football minicamp on June 13, 2023, in Owings Mills, Maryland. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

  • Buffalo Bills leveraging their two talented tight ends: The Bills drafted Dalton Kincaid in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft with the expectation of using him early and often in his career. Initially, that meant a potentially reduced role for Dawson Knox but, schematically, that points toward the Bills shifting more from an 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) heavy offense to a potentially 12 personnel heavy.
  • Kellen Moore's impact on Los Angeles Chargers offense: The Chargers' passing game felt static and condensed with Justin Herbert averaging just 6.7 yards per attempt in 2022 — a career-low after three seasons in the NFL. The decision was made in the offseason to fire Lombardi and bring in Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who will allow Herbert to utilize his arm strength more and push the ball downfield.
  • Baltimore Ravens‘ new offensive coordinator: Todd Monken's presence should have a positive impact on everyone involved in Baltimore's passing game.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

The NFL is an ever-expanding melting pot of ideas, schemes and personnel. Change is always on the horizon for a multitude of reasons, whether it’s out of necessity, by design, or just to freshen things up to keep the fear of stagnation away. Sitting still in the NFL is simply a cultural faux pas. 

That’s why what we see on the field will be different from what we saw last year. Some of the changes from certain teams could be incremental, some might be more extreme, but whatever happens, there’ll always be a fantasy impact. Offenses, new and old, will be making changes that could really boost some names across the fantasy landscape, but it could also hinder other prospects. Which teams could we see shake things up a little in 2023, and which players could feel the impact? Let’s find out.

Buffalo Bills using two tight ends more

The Bills have consistently had one of the best offenses in the NFL over the last three or four years but that hasn’t translated into the postseason success that the team likely desires. As a result, and by wanting to keep things fresh and ticking over, the Bills drafted Dalton Kincaid in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft with the expectation of using him early and often in his career. Initially, that meant a potentially reduced role for Dawson Knox but, schematically, that points toward the Bills shifting more from an 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) heavy offense to a potentially 12 personnel heavy.

In 2022, the Bills lined up in 12 personnel on just 6.3 percent of their offensive snaps, with less than half of those snaps resulting in pass plays. Don’t anticipate the Bills suddenly leading the league in snaps out of 12 personnel, but with the talent on the roster, and especially at tight end with Knox and Kincaid, it’s likely that Ken Dorsey will lean into it a little more. 

The obvious beneficiary of that change will be Kincaid. Tight ends often don’t see the field frequently in their rookie seasons — a lot of that is down to a real shift to 11 personnel league-wide in recent years while some of it is also down to the sheer amount of depth that goes into the role of a tight end. Kincaid can see the field alongside Knox in 12 personnel packages and is the more likely of the two to be lined up off the line of scrimmage, in the slot, or even in motion. It presents more opportunities for Kincaid, who’s currently being drafted as TE13, to see a decent target share.

Los Angeles Chargers‘ change in offensive coordinator could unlock the offense

The Chargers made the postseason for the first time since 2017 last season, so you can call it a successful season to some degree, but the offense left a little to be desired under offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. The passing game felt static and condensed with Justin Herbert averaging just 6.7 yards per attempt — a career-low after three seasons in the NFL. The decision was made in the offseason to fire Lombardi and bring in Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, a move with Herbert very much in mind.

Moore has had a hand in building one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL over the last few seasons in Dallas, so his influence can only be viewed as a positive in Los Angeles. A former quarterback himself, Moore must understand the talent he has in Herbert, and unlocking that talent is key to the Chargers' success. From a schematic standpoint, the Chargers will allow Herbert to utilize his arm strength more and push the ball downfield. 

From a real and fantasy perspective, this benefits a few players, starting with Herbert. The former No. 6 pick threw for 4,739 yards and 25 touchdowns but finished as the QB11 in scoring. That comes down to a lack of passing touchdowns, as well as a downturn in rushing efficiency. While the total yards might not increase much, pointing toward a more vertical offense means there are more chances for explosive plays which, in turn, lead to more touchdowns.

Not only does it help Herbert, but it will help his receivers, that’s the marriage between a quarterback and receiver. When one benefits, the other likely does too. In this instance, we’re thinking of Mike Williams and Quentin Johnston. Williams has been known as a deep-ball receiver for most of his career, and his big frame makes him an ideal contested catch target downfield, and though Johnston is more renowned for what he does after the catch, he can still be a potential deep target for Herbert to look for.

Green Bay Packers taking a step back means a step forward for running backs

It’s a new era in Green Bay with Jordan Love at the helm. Love, a former first-round pick in 2020, has had limited game time over the last three seasons but the Packers are excited about what he can bring to the table. He’s shown flashes of arm talent and athleticism, but there’s still likely a steep learning curve ahead of him as he becomes a full-time starter. However, sitting behind — and learning from — Aaron Rodgers over the last few seasons is a luxury that not many quarterbacks have.

Despite that, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Packers keep the training wheels on for Love over the first few weeks of the season until he finds his feet. That means heavy doses of play-action to manufacture intermediate space to attack and a running game to go with it. Even though analytics would argue that a running game isn’t paramount to a healthy play-action game, coaches still believe that the run and the passing game are a marriage, which means you can expect the Packers to lean on Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to take some of the burdens off Love. 

It makes even more sense since Adam Stenavich — the Packers' former run-game coordinator — is now the team's offensive coordinator. That doesn’t automatically mean the Packers will run the ball more — and it’s also likely that the Packers will be losing more and will need to abandon the run — but in neutral scenarios? This team could hand a heavy workload to Jones and Dillon. Both players were in the top 30 for total carries in 2022, but the Packers with Rodgers were one of the league leaders in early down pass rate. There’s an opportunity for a little more work there for the running back tandem.

Baltimore Ravens hiring Todd Monken to elevate Lamar Jackson

Hail the powers of change! After four years of Greg Roman as the offensive coordinator, the Ravens have moved on and hired Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator. Roman’s system built one of the most efficient rushing attacks in the NFL with Jackson at the helm and carrying the load, but the passing game always felt secondary and a little labored. It survived because of Jackson’s talent as a passer, as opposed to the positions Roman was able to put the Ravens in.

Monken's arrival should change that. Monken was the offensive coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs for the last three seasons and helped the team win back-to-back national championships and although Kirby Smart’s defense was the talk of the town, the offense consistently produced with Stetson Bennett under center. Monken will now have the luxury of having Jackson as his quarterback, which can open up his playbook even more. The expectation is that Jackson will pass the ball more than ever before and that shift in volume will handily benefit a quarterback who has only had two top-10 finishes in scoring in five seasons. It is worth noting that Jackson still finished as the QB14 and QB15 in 2022 and 2021 despite only playing 12 games, but his fantasy status has always felt a little deceiving, with his rushing ability holding much of the weight since his MVP season. Now, with Monken, Jackson has an opportunity to round out his game a little more as he’s put in a better position to succeed. 

It’s also worth noting then, that this doesn’t just benefit Jackson. Mark Andrews finished as the TE4 in scoring in 2022, but his overall numbers dropped considerably from 2021, seeing 41 fewer targets. More passing opportunities inherently mean more targets, and that’s why Rashod Bateman could benefit too. There’s some debate surrounding who the Ravens' No. 1 receiver could be, but Jackson has already alluded to the fact that it’s Bateman as long as he’s healthy. He has the skill set to be the Ravens' starting X receiver and could be the Ravens' target leader behind Andrews. He’s also being drafted as the WR49 right now, behind the likes of Jakobi Meyers and Rondale Moore. There’s immense value in Bateman if the opportunities come his way.

Cleveland Browns leaning into the traits of their expensive quarterback

Like their AFC North counterparts, the Browns have been a fairly run-centric team under Kevin Stefanski. But with Deshaun Watson and that contract in the building, there’s likely to be a noticeable shift in the roots of the offense. It won’t be an extreme shift — the Browns still have Nick Chubb, arguably the best running back in the league, and an elite offensive line, so leaning too far into the passing game might be detrimental, but it’s a passing league and Watson still has the talent to be a top quarterback.

The Browns tipped their hat to this schematic shift toward the end of the season too. They ran the ball on just 38 percent of their plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 18. Some of that was down to the scoreboard, but it’s hard not to envision Stefanski wanting to pass the ball more with Watson as the starting quarterback. Just as it is with the Ravens, more pass plays create more targets, which creates more value for receivers in fantasy. Amari Cooper’s production won’t change too much — he saw 132 targets, the highest number of targets in his career, in 2022 — but the quality of targets might improve. 

It also means more work for the incoming Elijah Moore, who will slot in nicely as the Browns WR2, and David Njoku. Both are currently being drafted in the 96-110 ADP range right now and could provide some nice value as mid-to-late-round picks in drafts. Could that shift negatively impact Chubb? Possibly, but more passing attempts could equate to more targets for him too. His bread and butter isn’t as a pass-catcher and has never had more than 36 catches in a season, but the competition in the Browns backfield isn’t fierce, so while he may lose out on carries, his production could be bolstered in PPR leagues if his targets climb.

Las Vegas Raiders allowing Jimmy Garoppolo to be Jimmy Garoppolo

The Derek Carr era ended awkwardly in Las Vegas and while the Raiders might not have landed the replacement quarterback they initially wanted (cough, cough, Tom Brady) they at least settled on a competent, if not exciting, quarterback in Garoppolo. Here’s the thing, though, he might be exactly the sort of quarterback head coach Josh McDaniels wants to run his offense. The two worked together in New England while McDaniels was the offensive coordinator, and now they reunite in Las Vegas. Here’s why:

Historically, McDaniels wants his quarterbacks to attack the middle of the field on shorter and intermediate concepts and even though Carr is an above-average quarterback, he doesn’t have the same proclivity for it as Garoppolo does. The middle of the field is where Garoppolo does his best work, though he struggles with consistency outside the numbers. McDaniels can work with that, though, that’s why Garoppolo is in the building. 

The benefits on a fantasy scale will be interesting. Garoppolo is Garoppolo and has never been a fantasy-relevant quarterback and won’t be in 2023, but his receivers, especially Meyers and Hunter Renfrow who could split time as slot receivers, could see a boost in production. Especially Renfrow, who is looking to rebound from a poor 2022 season. 

The impact of leaning more into Garoppolo’s style of play and McDaniels offensive preference could hinder Davante Adams‘s ceiling as a fantasy receiver. He could be utilized more in an occasional slot role, a position he’s dabbled in to great success in Green Bay over the last few seasons. From a target standpoint, Adams won’t suffer, but where he’s receiving those targets might cause some pain. 

His average depth of target in 2022 was 12.8 yards, 27th in the NFL per PFF, and he saw the second-most targets of 20-plus yards in the NFL, behind Tyreek Hill. It’s hard to believe that Garoppolo, who threw a deep pass on just 9.1 percent of his pass attempts, will consistently target Adams downfield. He’s just not where he wins as a quarterback. While Adams is still one of the top receivers in the game, his fantasy ceiling might not be as high as in previous years.


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