Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (2023)

  • Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (1)

    Matt Bowen, ESPN Staff WriterJun 26, 2023, 06:49 AM ET


      Former NFL safety Matt Bowen is a veteran of four teams over seven seasons, and now provides analysis for ESPN Insider.
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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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (2)Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (3)Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (4)Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (5)Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (6)Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (7)Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (8)Kadarius Toney, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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.

Eight players who benefit most from fantasy-friendly schemes (9)Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

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.


Who should I put on my fantasy football team? ›

  • Christian McCaffrey. SF - RB. Justin Jefferson. MIN - WR. Ja'Marr Chase. CIN - WR. Austin Ekeler. LAC - RB. Saquon Barkley. ...
  • Tyreek Hill. MIA - WR. Stefon Diggs. BUF - WR. Bijan Robinson. ATL - RB. Derrick Henry. TEN - RB. Davante Adams. ...
  • Garrett Wilson. NYJ - WR. Breece Hall. NYJ - RB. Najee Harris. PIT - RB. Jaylen Waddle. MIA - WR.

How do you get good at fantasy football? ›

6 fantasy football player selection tips
  1. Check a player's ADP.
  2. Don't draft trade bait.
  3. Don't scoff at injuries and off-the-field issues.
  4. Save the foot for last.
  5. Think: bad teams = bad player.
  6. In PPR leagues, draft players who get a high number of targets.
  7. Hone in on key matchups.
  8. Plan ahead for bye weeks.

How do you pick players in fantasy football? ›

How do you pick up players in fantasy football? In fantasy football, you pick up a player by adding a free agent to your team's roster. Majority of the time, you will need to first drop a player before you add a new one. This depends on your league's rules on limiting how many players can remain on a single roster.

How to win at Fantasy Premier League? ›

Best fantasy football tips for a strong season
  1. No need for two expensive goalkeepers. ...
  2. Have a strong bench. ...
  3. Beat a price rise. ...
  4. Leave transfers & team changes as long as possible. ...
  5. Take note of bargain players. ...
  6. Know your set-piece takers. ...
  7. Carefully select your captain. ...
  8. Use your wildcard wisely.
Jul 28, 2022

Who should be #1 fantasy pick? ›

Jonathan Taylor looks set to be the No. 1 pick in the majority of 2022 drafts, but that's up for some debate as one of our analysts has Christian McCaffrey ranked as the top overall player heading into the season.

Who should I pick #1 overall in fantasy football? ›

Search by player name ×
1.C. McCaffreyRB - SF
2.A. EkelerRB - LAC
3.B. RobinsonRB - ATL
4.J. TaylorRB - IND
5.N. ChubbRB - CLE
25 more rows

What round should I draft a QB? ›

However, if you are looking for the best mathematical strategy, your best bet is to take your first QB in the 6th round.

What is the best position order to draft in fantasy football? ›

What is the most important position to draft first in fantasy football? Running backs are easily the most important position to prioritize in fantasy football. There are not enough running backs to go around, so somebody is going to get hosed at this position.

What position is most valuable in fantasy football? ›

Running back: This is arguably the most important position in fantasy football. A great running back will far outscore a mid-tier running back. Running backs are often taken early in drafts and are hard to come by after the first few rounds.

What pick usually wins fantasy football? ›

There Are Advantages to Picking in the Middle

Statistically, picking early gives you the best chance to win. Meanwhile, having a pick at either corner gives you better odds of getting both players you want when you have two guys you're struggling to decide between at your pick.

Who should I draft 2nd in fantasy football? ›

The second pick in Fantasy drafts should be a running back. In a 12-team league, your wide receiver options in rounds two and three will be much more appealing than those at running back, so go ahead and grab your anchor RB with the second overall pick.

What is the best pick in a fantasy snake draft? ›

The best fantasy draft position in a snake draft is the one in the middle of the draft order. Thus if there are 10 teams in your snake draft fantasy league, the best draft position is fifth.

What do you win for winning Fantasy Premier League? ›

The overall winner of the game will enjoy a seven-night break in the UK that includes VIP hospitality at two top-flight matches played across the 2022/23 season. There is also a week's worth of experiences at tourist attractions gifted by Visit Britain, with travel costs and accommodation thrown in.

How to do power rankings in fantasy football? ›

Power Rating Formula combines Average Score (60%), Highest Score plus Lowest Score (20%), and Winning Percentage. (20%) to come up with a team's Power Rating for use in comparing teams both in the same league in ways other than just by Win-Loss Record.

Should McCaffrey be the first pick? ›

McCaffrey should be considered as the top pick off the board in 2023, and there is a good chance that as draft season approaches he ends up on the top of many manager's boards.

Should my first Fantasy pick be a QB? ›

Yes, it's bad. It's what most beginners do. Depending on what your rules are (ppr (points per reception) or non-ppr, how many points does aQB get for a passing TD - can be 4, or 6) you adjust your draft to those rules. As a rule of thumb, take either a RB or WR in the first four rounds.

How many positions should you have in Fantasy? ›

Standard Roster: A standard roster typically consists of 16 players, 9 starters and 7 bench spots. The starters include 1 QB, 2 Running Backs (RB), 2 Wide Receivers (WR), 1 Tight End (TE), 1 Kicker (K) 1 Defense/Special Teams Unit (D/ST) and 1 "Flex" position.

Who not to pick in fantasy football? ›

5 players to avoid in your fantasy football draft
  • WR Kenny Golladay, New York Giants. (The Record, USA TODAY Network) ...
  • QB Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns. (Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) ...
  • WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals. ...
  • WR Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns. ...
  • RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Aug 29, 2022

Who should you take first round fantasy? ›

ROUND 1 (1-12): DRAFT A RUNNING BACK OR AN ELITE WIDE RECEIVER. The plan for the first round is simply to take the top player on the board and build around him. Jonathan Taylor is the consensus top player regardless of league format and should be taken if he's available.

What stats matter most in fantasy football? ›

Statistics like passing touchdowns, rushing yards, and receptions are a part of the scoring setting for most leagues, therefore it makes sense that when you are looking at players, you should be looking at players that are performing well in those areas.

Should I draft a QB before a tight end? ›

Don't draft a backup quarterback

Definitely get one before a backup tight end, too. But don't select one over valuable running backs and receivers. Remember, every round in a fantasy draft is important. Don't just go quarterback because you understand the position more.

Should you draft QB or RB first? ›

This is a question you should ask yourself every year before your drafts. Currently, the correct answer is RB or WR. In most drafts this year, Antonio Brown (WR - Pittsburgh) was the first pick overall. However, it wasn't that long ago, maybe 2009–10 that QB's were rarer and were usually picked first.

Is Round 4 too early to draft a quarterback? ›

Don't leave Round 4 without a QB

But here's a superflex draft strategy that could really pay off for you: Wait until Round 3 or 4 to grab your first QB. And before that – open your draft with top-shelf picks at RB and/or WR. You'll still be able to get a top-18 QB in Round 3 or 4.

How many WR should I draft in fantasy football? ›

We also know players will bust to the point where they have no fantasy value. You need enough depth at each position to account for all of this. As your base approach, you should start knowing you will draft at least two quarterbacks, four running backs, five wide receivers, and two tight ends.

What position should I draft in first round? ›

Drafting a tight end, offensive lineman or wide receiver in the first round is most likely to yield an average first round player, but teams rarely win Super Bowls by drafting average players.

How should you draft first in fantasy football? ›

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2023
  1. Load up on running backs.
  2. Know the league rules.
  3. Know the ADPs of players during the draft.
  4. Wait on Tight Ends.
  5. Anchor your team with an ace QB.
  6. Balance your roster.
  7. Always back yourself up with depth.
  8. Be picky and use the “CUDDY” System when drafting.
May 17, 2023

Is fantasy football 100% luck? ›

On the whole, Fantasy League is a game of luck and skill.

At some point in the game, depending on our situation, it may seem more luck or more skill. In reality, both elements combine dynamically, to shape the course of our season. The only thing we can say with certainty is that it's not 100% pure luck.

Why are running backs the most valuable in fantasy? ›

An RB or running back is one of the most valuable positions in fantasy football, getting the most amount of touches per game. Most NFL teams only have one primary running back, so in a league with many teams it can be hard to acquire players who will get a lot of touches.

Should I draft Kelce or Andrews? ›

Verdict. It's hard to go wrong on selecting either Kelce or Andrews as the overall TE1. Given each player's ADP, Andrews presents a bit more value given he's being taken eight spots below Kelce. It's entirely possible someone in your league selects Andrews earlier than his No.

Who to pick with the 6th pick in fantasy football? ›

Generally, the ADP goes with the third running back or one of the top wide receivers at the No. 6 pick. Given the limited depth at the position at that pick you will need to be able to grab the highest gaining person at the position as possible.

Is the last pick the best in fantasy football? ›

Look, you don't win at fantasy football off your first pick, or your first two picks. Really, those picks are irrelevant. The difference between the first four picks is negligible, as is the difference between picks (say) nine and twenty-five.

Should you pick 2 QB in fantasy? ›

In any two-quarterback case, you almost always want to start two passers because they tend to score more points than other positions. Weeks where you only start one tend to occur only when your primary signal-callers are injured or on bye.

Should I draft two running backs first? ›

Running back will be a popular pick in Round 2, as there are only so many who are expected to be a starter rather than a player in a committee. Having two running backs who are clear starters is the first way to create an edge over your opponents.

Should I draft a second QB in fantasy? ›

Fantasy Football QB Strategy

Don't reach on a quarterback — even if you're doing it to fill out your starting lineup. Don't draft a backup quarterback if you took a top QB as your starter. Don't draft a backup unless they have the upside to become a possible every-week starter.

When should you draft a second quarterback? ›

Typically backup quarterbacks start to be drafted in round nine through the end. This would mean you would have running backs and wide receivers to stash on your bench to see if they emerge. Players like Josh Gordon, Michael Floyd, Chris Givens, Lance Moore and many more would be available to you.

What is the best spot in a 12 person snake draft? ›

Most fantasy players may disagree with this, but in a 12-team snake draft, I like the #1 or #12 draft slots the best. The reason for this is that you are able to get back-to-back picks throughout the draft.

Where should I draft in a snake? ›

Your plan should be to draft five wide receivers before you take your second running back, especially for 3WR starting roster formats. You can even grab a quarterback, tight end, or both before your second running back as well.

What should be on a fantasy team? ›

1 Fantasy Game. Standard rosters include one Quarterback (QB), two Running Backs (RB), two Wide Receivers (WR), one Tight End (TE), one Flex (RB/WR/TE), one Defense/Special Teams (D/ST), one Kicker (K) and seven Bench Spots (BE -- players on your roster who are not in your active lineup for a given week).

Who is the number 1 player in fantasy? ›

Top Overall - Weeks 1 to 18 (2022)
1Patrick Mahomes IIQB
2Josh AllenQB
3Jalen HurtsQB
4Joe BurrowQB
13 more rows

Who are the best players to draft in fantasy football? ›

Fantasy Football Rankings 2023 - Top 150
  • Ja'Marr Chase, CIN (WR2) ...
  • Austin Ekeler, LAC (RB2) ...
  • Saquon Barkley, NYG (RB3) ...
  • Bijan Robinson, ATL (RB4) ...
  • Jonathan Taylor, IND (RB5) ...
  • Cooper Kupp, LA (WR3) ...
  • Tyreek Hill, MIA (WR4) ...
  • Travis Kelce, KC (TE1)
4 days ago

What players are most important in fantasy football? ›

The most important positions in fantasy football are skill positions, or players that score points and get yardage. These generally include quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, and kickers.

What matters most in fantasy football? ›

Statistics like passing touchdowns, rushing yards, and receptions are a part of the scoring setting for most leagues, therefore it makes sense that when you are looking at players, you should be looking at players that are performing well in those areas.

How do you build a strong fantasy football team? ›

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2023
  1. Load up on running backs.
  2. Know the league rules.
  3. Know the ADPs of players during the draft.
  4. Wait on Tight Ends.
  5. Anchor your team with an ace QB.
  6. Balance your roster.
  7. Always back yourself up with depth.
  8. Be picky and use the “CUDDY” System when drafting.
May 17, 2023

Who is the number 1 WR in fantasy? ›

Minnesota Vikings superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson was an absolute revelation in the 2022 season. The then-23-year-old led the NFL in receiving yards, catches and targets, finishing at the top of the fantasy wide receiver leaderboard.

Who is #1 rookie fantasy football? ›

1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons. If this was a tiers article, this tier would be called the island, because Robinson is all alone as a prospect. He landed in an offense that had one of the best run-blocking units in the league with a coach who regularly produces 500-rush-attempt seasons.

Who is the number 1 fantasy QB? ›

Despite not being one of the more prolific rushing quarterbacks in the game (seven signal-callers rushed for more touchdowns in 2022), reigning Super-Bowl-winning champion Patrick Mahomes finished the season as the No. 1 overall fantasy QB with a whopping 428.4 points.

What position is best to pick first in fantasy football? ›

Running back is the most coveted position in fantasy football because there is usually only one primary back per team. This is also the case because even fewer of those backs will put up numbers worthy of drafting in the first round.

Who should be the 2nd pick in fantasy football? ›

The second pick in Fantasy drafts should be a running back. In a 12-team league, your wide receiver options in rounds two and three will be much more appealing than those at running back, so go ahead and grab your anchor RB with the second overall pick.

Who is the most accurate fantasy football guide? ›

What is the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Site? In 2021, FantasyPros named Jeff Ratcliffe of FTN Fantasy as the most accurate fantasy expert, with Jake Ciely of The Athletic coming in second.

Who are the most accurate fantasy football experts? ›

The best fantasy football analysts are Matthew Berry, Sean Koerner, and Jared Smola.

Who to keep fantasy football 2023? ›

2023 fantasy football rankings & depth charts
  • Justin Jefferson, Min (WR1)
  • Ja'Marr Chase, Cin (WR2)
  • Bijan Robinson, Atl (RB1)
  • CeeDee Lamb, Dal (WR3)
  • Breece Hall, NYJ (RB2)
  • Jonathan Taylor, Ind (RB3)
  • A.J. Brown, Phi (WR4)
  • Garrett Wilson, NYJ (WR5)
Jun 9, 2023


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