Scheme matters in fantasy football. So does offensive deployment. Below are eight players who have the ideal offensive systems to post weekly fantasy production this season.
I’m focused on the quarterbacks in systems that maximize their mobility on designed rushes and use the play-action game. The running backs with receiving volume and scheme-specific blocking. And the pass-catchers with route trees that create explosive-play receptions and catch-and-run opportunities, which translate to fantasy upside.
So, let’s get into it. Here are the players on my “All-Scheme” team.
I’m in on Lamar this year because of his offensive deployment — as both a runner and thrower — in a new offensive system under coordinator Todd Monken. More empty, spread and trips alignments. And a much quicker offensive tempo.
What exactly does that mean? Based on Monken’s past playbooks, especially at the college level, the Ravens can create more space for Jackson on play-action and dropback concepts, while also forcing defenses to expand their alignments versus Baltimore’s QB run game.
Remember, Lamar averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game last season (12 games played). And the Ravens added legit pass-game upgrades with the route running of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers’ explosive play style. Jackson should be viewed as a QB with top-three upside here.
Jones fits my philosophy on drafting quarterbacks with mobility. Gotta have it. And Brian Daboll’s system in New York caters to Jones’ dual-threat traits.
Last season, Jones logged 120 carries, with 67 designed rushes. Let’s not forget about the play-action game with the Giants, either. In ’22, Jones completed 75.3% of his play-action throws, which includes the boot concepts that get the quarterback to the edge of the formation.
Jones will get a bump in the pass game this season with the addition of tight end Darren Waller. Stretch the seams and run after the catch on crossers and unders. Jones is currently my QB10 and has the scheme to post midtier QB1 numbers in his second season under Daboll.
The run-game fit works for Robinson in Atlanta. Multiple-TE personnel. Zone schemes. That plays to his vision, power and ability to rapidly accelerate with the ball. Find daylight and go. There’s volume here, too.
But I also see Robinson as an all-purpose playmaker with elite fantasy upside due to his pass-catching skills. And it’s more than just catching the ball out of the backfield. Yes, I am speculating here, but given what I saw on his college tape, Robinson can be deployed as a flexed receiver in the pass game. He’s a three-level target with matchup skills.
In our most recent mock draft at ESPN, I landed Robinson at No. 5 overall — with Ja’Marr Chase still on the board. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I also see the high-level traits in a Falcons offense that will utilize the rook as a dual-threat weapon.
My current RB9 in the ranks, Stevenson gets a scheme boost with the return of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to New England. Last season, playing in a Patriots offense that lacked a true identity, Stevenson still caught 69 of 88 targets, while averaging 14.7 PPR points per game. Good numbers there.
With O’Brien holding the call sheet in ’23, however, I would bet on Stevenson in both the run and pass game. Leveled concepts on backfield releases, screen targets and the rushing volume. With Stevenson the clear No. 1 in New England based on the depth in the Patriots’ running back room, he’s an easy fit for how O’Brien deploys his backs. And that sets up Stevenson to post consistent RB1 numbers.
Olave is a vertical glider — with the route traits to uncover — who has been elevated in my ranks since the Saints signed free agent quarterback Derek Carr. Yes, Olave will still see targets underneath on speed outs, pivots and more, but this is really about meshing Olave’s third-level ability with the arm talent of Carr on throws down the field.
In ’22, Olave posted nine receptions on vertical targets, 10 on deep outs and six more on deep in-breakers (dig routes, overs). And I fully expect those numbers to jump with Carr throwing the ball. Isolation routes, plus the schemed shot plays that test the top of the secondary. Think of an expanding route tree, one that gives him the volume and big-play juice to produce as a WR2 — with WR1 upside.
After watching tape and studying the route structure in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, I think I might still be too low on Aiyuk in my ranks (WR35). Last season, Aiyuk averaged 13.4 PPR points per game, logging 78 receptions and eight touchdowns. And it’s really about how he is schemed in Shanahan’s pass game, regardless of who is throwing the ball.
Aiyuk will be isolated to run away from coverage, and we know that Shanahan is the league’s best at creating open voids. Clear and replace concepts that give Aiyuk opportunities on catch-and-run targets. Even with the potential for Aiyuk to experience touchdown regression this season, the scheme and his sudden-movement traits in the route stem will generate fantasy upside.
I see Toney as a potential breakout candidate in ’23. The volume is going to jump. We know that. Three-level route tree in an explosive Chiefs offense, with the manufactured touches on screens, fly sweeps and backfield carries. Toney is a motion/movement player in Andy Reid’s system with dynamic traits, stop/start speed and vision in the open field. He can shake you inside a phone booth.
Last season, we got a snapshot of Toney in Kansas City. From the point he was acquired from the Giants in Week 9 through the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win over Philly, Toney caught 21 of 28 targets, with six carries for 73 yards and a score. We saw that sudden-movement ability with the ball in his hands. Now project Toney — if healthy and on the field — in a consistent role with Patrick Mahomes and one of the league’s most creative game plans. Put him on your draft radar.
Engram caught a career-high 73 passes in Jacksonville last season. And while that number could drop with the Jags adding wide receiver Calvin Ridley, Engram’s route structure under Doug Pederson is basically stealing in fantasy football.
Last season, Engram caught 16 screens in Jacksonville. High-percentage targets with open space to attack. It’s the same with the shallow crossers we see on tape, the quick out-cuts, pivots and more. Pederson sets him up as a quick-throw target for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, in addition to what he can do at the second and third level when working the seams or separating on deeper in-breakers and corners.
So, if you are someone (like me) who waits until the later rounds of fantasy drafts to target a tight end, then keep Engram on your radar. The scheme works and he should see enough volume to post lower-end TE1 numbers.