We continue your education on NFL coaching schemes with a deep dive into the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers begin life without Aaron Rodgers, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are in Year-2 of their new coaching regimes and the Minnesota Vikings look to improve on last season’s division-winning team. You can probably tell which teams we are most-bullish on if you’ve studied the fantasy football player rankings and read through the Dynamic Tiers for quarterbacks and the other positions. The key is to take this newfound knowledge, implement it into your fantasy football draft strategy (test it out in a few fantasy football mock drafts) and then carry it over into the 2023 NFL season. Your in-season maintenance on the fantasy football waiver wire as well as the trades you might make are going to look a whole lot better if you embrace the understanding. As someone who, early on in their fantasy analyst career, did not grasp the concept of systems, I can honestly say that, once you do, it is life-changing in fantasy football.

In case you missed the previous divisions:



NFC North Coaching Systems

Chicago Bears

Head CoachMatt Eberflus2nd year
Offensive CoordinatorLuke Getsy2nd year
Defensive CoordinatorAlan Williams2nd year
Offensive SystemWest Coast Offense 
Blocking SchemeOutside Zone 
Matt Eberflus -- HC    Luke Getsy -- OC   
Category2020 (IND)2021 (IND)2022 Category2020 (GB)2021 (GB)2022
Pass AttemptsDCDC32 Pass AttemptsPGC/QB COACHPGC/QB COACH32
Passing YardsDCDC32 Passing YardsPGC/QB COACHPGC/QB COACH32
Rushing AttemptsDCDC2 Rushing AttemptsPGC/QB COACHPGC/QB COACH2
Rushing YardsDCDC1 Rushing YardsPGC/QB COACHPGC/QB COACH1

Offensive Breakdown

As expected, the Bears revamped coaching staff continues to establish its identity and the new offensive scheme, while still remaining a work in progress, took a major step forward last season. Head coach Matt Eberflus stayed out of the way on offense and focused his attention on the defensive side of the ball alongside defensive coordinator Alan Williams while first-time OC Luke Getsy constructed a scheme that catered to the team’s most important weapon, Justin Fields. Was it perfect? No. But those who play fantasy are very much in on the progress we all saw with Fields and suddenly, this offense has everyone’s attention.

Getsy, who, prior to this gig, served as the Packers quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator under Matt LaFleur, and built this scheme using the influences of Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. He then went out and hired veteran offensive line coach Chris Morgan who helped Najee Harris rush for over 1,200 yards in 2021 and is credited with turning around run programs in Seattle, Atlanta and Washington over the span of his 14-year career. He installed a west coast-style of offense that is loaded with RPO, which suits Fields perfectly. The offensive line wasn’t great, so putting the ball into Fields’ hands and giving him the decision-making power to go run or pass helped him develop into a better reader of defensive schemes. In fact, I said this last year:

“The addition of Morgan as the new offensive line coach is probably going to have a greater impact than most realize. He is installing a zone-blocking scheme that predominately features outside zone work which will help neutralize some of the offensive line’s shortcomings. It’s also a better scheme for David Montgomery who actually thrives in outside zone runs, averaging 4.2 yards per carry as opposed to a 3.4 YPC on gap/power runs.”

Now with the addition of guard Nate Davis and first-round rookie Darnell Wright, you can expect the work of the line to continue improving which is going to be necessary when you change backfield personnel. Gone is David Montgomery and we now have D’Onta Foreman and rookie Roschon Johnson joining Khalil Herbert in the backfield. All three are more bruising backs than Montgomery, so keep that in mind when you are wondering who the pass-catching back will be. The answer is probably no one. That’s not to say we won’t see a check-down or designed screen at all, but catching the football is not a strength of any of them.

As for the passing attack, we saw a lot more 11-personnel than expected. Close to 50-percent, in fact. The rest of the formations were primarily 12-personnel (2 WR, 1 RB & 2 TE) and 21-personnel (2 WR, 2 RB & 1 TE). Newly-acquired DJ Moore will sit atop the targets pecking order with Darnell Mooney as the WR2 and Chase Claypool in three-receiver sets. Receiving routes will tilt significantly towards the short, high-percentage passes we typically see in this west coast system. There will be deep routes, of course, but the short-passing and the ground game are going to set up the deeper shots as well as the play-action.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Justin Fields, Khalil Herbert, DJ Moore

Defensive System: 4-3 base with a Cover-2 zone and some man-coverage

Defensive Breakdown: 

We expected Eberflus and Williams to build this Bears defense in the mold of what they did in Indianapolis, and while it was tough to see the forest through the trees last season, especially when they got rid of Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, the product we will see on the field this season will have marked improvement. Trevis Gipson improved as an edge-rusher last year, rookie DT Gervon Dexter will help clog the middle and stuff the run and the linebacker corps got much stronger with the addition of Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards. Not only should they improve against the run, but we can expect more QB pressures and even some improved coverage when it is needed by the front-seven.

The secondary is Williams’ specialty. He’s been running the secondary for Eberflus for years, dating back to their time with the Colts. It’s a cover-2 so you’ve got two safeties riding high, but Edmunds could give the look of a Cover-3 scheme and dare the opposition to run the ball, for which he will obviously be prepared. It’s a pretty basic scheme, but Williams does encourage his defensive backs to be aggressive and strive for the takeaway. It’s a solid unit, provided Eddie Jackson comes back from injury at full speed, so if drafting in fantasy, you can expect a push for takeaways.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, Jaquan Brisker



Detroit Lions

Head CoachDan Campbell3rd year
Offensive CoordinatorBen Johnson2nd year
Defensive CoordinatorAaron Glenn3rd year
Offensive SystemErhardt-Perkins/Spread Hybrid 
Blocking SchemeInside & Outside Zone 
Dan Campbell -- HC    Ben Johnson -- OC   
Category2020 (NO)20212022 Category202020212022
Pass AttemptsTE COACH1511 Pass AttemptsTE COACHTE COACH11
Passing YardsTE COACH188 Passing YardsTE COACHTE COACH8
Rushing AttemptsTE COACH2113 Rushing AttemptsTE COACHTE COACH13
Rushing YardsTE COACH1911 Rushing YardsTE COACHTE COACH11

Offensive Breakdown

Last season was a revelation for Lions fans as they witnessed something they hadn’t seen in quite some time – an offense that could not only move the ball downfield, but score as well. The two keys for them were the promotion of tight ends coach Ben Johnson to offensive coordinator and a variety of extra weapons for Jared Goff. They established a strong ground presence, allowed the run to set up the pass and before you knew it, the Lions looked like a real-life football team while fantasy owners began to covet their players.

This season, they will continue their ascent and run the same system which is based in the Erhardt-Perkins scheme, but has several elements of a spread offense, even with the run will setting up the pass. The Lions will remain a high-volume rushing offense and use a mix of both inside and outside zone runs. Swapping out north-south runner Jamaal Williams and the oft-injured D’Andre Swift for a more versatile David Montgomery and the expected human highlight reel that is pass-catcher Jahmyr Gibbs should provide improvements to the ground game overall, while also giving Goff an added receiving weapon. Their offensive line remains ranked as one of the best in the league and they are strong enough to push around the defensive lineman and open up wider running lanes between the tackles, but also mobile enough to do the same on the outside.

As for the passing attack, we’ve got a little bit of work ahead of us before it is truly firing on all cylinders. The scheme utilizes a variety of personnel packages and defenses must routinely adjust on the fly, but right now we’ve got Amon-Ra St. Brown, Gibbs, who maybe working out of the slot, a rookie tight end in Sam LaPorta and then an aging Marvin Jones with some hodge-podge group of D-list talent. Jameson Williams was suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, which means this passing attack is average at best up until Week 7. That could make things awfully difficult with regard to moving the ball downfield, let alone scoring. The expectation is that Gibbs will lineup up in the slot with St. Brown and Jones on the outside, but that configuration doesn’t exactly maximize everyone’s potential.  

Players Who Best Fit the System: David Montgomery, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs

Defensive System: 3-4 base with multi-front looks and a Cover-2 zone mixed with man-coverage

Defensive Breakdown: 

The scheme may be based in 3-4, but defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn actually runs more of a 3-3-5 system we see in the college ranks. He likes having that fifth defensive back who can be used as a run-stopper if necessary, but the overall goal is to be able to disguise the pressure which is supposed to be able to come from anywhere at any point. It would probably be more helpful to the intended scheme if there were another strong edge rusher opposite Aiden Hutchinson, but they seem to think they can still get by as is.

The biggest overhaul in the defense was the secondary as Glenn prefers more man-coverage than some of the zone work he employs. The parted ways with former first-rounder Jeffrey Okudah and instead brought in physical defensive backs in Cameron Sutton, Emmauel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The hope here is that the tighter coverage can free up one of the safeties to make the scheme work as originally intended. The tools are all here. Now it’s just a matter of whether Glenn can get them to make his vision a reality at the top level.  

Players Who Best Fit the System: Aiden Hutchinson, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Jack Campbell



Green Bay Packers

Head CoachMatt LaFleur5th year
Offensive CoordinatorAdam Stenavich2nd year
Defensive CoordinatorJoe Barry3rd year
Offensive SystemWest Coast Offense 
Blocking SchemeInside Zone 
Matt LaFleur -- HC    Adam Stenavich -- OC   
Category202020212022 Category202020212022
Pass Attempts241618 Pass AttemptsO-LINE COACHRGC/O-LINE COACH18
Passing Yards9817 Passing YardsO-LINE COACHRGC/O-LINE COACH17
Rushing Attempts121716 Rushing AttemptsO-LINE COACHRGC/O-LINE COACH16
Rushing Yards81815 Rushing YardsO-LINE COACHRGC/O-LINE COACH15

Offensive Breakdown

This is going to be one of the most interesting seasons for head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich as we are about to finally see LaFleur’s system as it was always originally intended. There will be no more questioning and/or changing of every play at the line of scrimmage as Aaron Rodgers is finally gone and Jordan Love is expected to carry out LaFleur’s play-calling without any argument. Well, we’ll see, but that’s at least the way things are supposed to go. 

LaFleur’s scheme is a west coast-based offense which uses the run to set up the pass. The ground game is predicated on a lot of inside zone runs and the passing is your typical short, quick timing routes to help move the chains with play-action helping to set up shots downfield. You will also see a lot more RPO work which suits Love’s style of play a whole lot more than it did Rodgers.

With the scheme utilizing a lot of inside zone work, things still favor Aaron Jones and his style of play a lot more as he moves laterally a lot better than AJ Dillon who is more of a north-south, between-the-tackles. Though there always seemed to be a struggle for snaps with Rodgers under center, you can expect LaFleur’s desire to mix it up between the two backs to come through a lot more. If you’re looking for the “ideal tandem” of running backs working together, this is probably it.

While this is expected to be a lot more of a run-first scheme than we’ve seen in the past, it could yield some decent fantasy dividends on a pass-catching level should everyone be on the same page. With Rodgers, the receivers had to have more of a feel for where he wanted them to be on the field. Nowadays, it’s going to be more about route-running precision and being exactly where the plays tell them to be. They have the speed in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to stretch the field, but we are more likely to see the short-passing game in full-effect. That probably favors Doubs a little more as Watson profiled better for Rodgers’ continued deep shots downfield. The Packers also invested more in the tight end position at the draft, so expect to see them more involved as well. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Romeo Doubs

Defensive System: 3-4 base with a Cover-2 zone

Defensive Breakdown: 

While the Packers defense continues to go through some transitional changes, the defensive scheme will remain the same here in Joe Barry’s second year as the defensive coordinator. He came over from the Rams in 2021 after learning under the great Wade Phillips and installed a 3-4 base for his front-seven and tasked his linebackers with developing the versatility to switch back and forth between rushing the passer and falling back into pass-coverage. He doesn’t like to rush more than four, but also uses a heavy-blitzing scheme to throw opposing quarterbacks off-balance. Aggressive but not to the point where he’s hanging his secondary out to dry.

As for the secondary, they’ll use Cover-2 primarily (mixed with some Cover-6) with two safeties up top and Jaire Alexander locking down the opposition’s top receiving threat. Depending on where Alexander lines up on each play, the rest of the zones for the secondary will be established. The plan seems solid, but it’s going to require a lot of discipline by the rest of the secondary should they face a team with more than one stand-out receiver. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Quay Walker, Jaire Alexander



Minnesota Vikings

Head CoachKevin O'Connell2nd year
Offensive CoordinatorWes Phillips2nd year
Defensive CoordinatorBrian Flores1st year
Offensive SystemWest Coast Offense 
Blocking SchemeFlex - Mix of Power/Gap & Zone 
Kevin O'Connell -- HC    Wes Phillips -- OC   
Category2020 (LAR OC)2021 (LAR OC)2022 Category2020 (LAR)2021 (LAR)2022
Points2388 PointsTE COACHPGC/TE COACH8
Pass Attempts12113 Pass AttemptsTE COACHPGC/TE COACH3
Passing Yards13116 Passing YardsTE COACHPGC/TE COACH6
Rushing Attempts72328 Rushing AttemptsTE COACHPGC/TE COACH28
Rushing Yards102527 Rushing YardsTE COACHPGC/TE COACH27

Offensive Breakdown

Offensively-speaking, last season proved to be a success for new head coach Kevin O’Connell who came over from the Rams and made some immediate changes. There were concerns that the previous regime was stuck in the old ways of run-first too much and they needed to have a more aggressive, high-flying offense to keep pace with the rest of the league. They did just that as they cut back on the rushing attack, changed up the blocking scheme and favored a passing attack that was unstoppable at times. The Vikings went on to score the eighth-most points in the league, en route to a 13-4 season, but now the question is, can they run it back?

Let’s start with the pass-heavy tendencies of O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips. They maintain the west coast base, but we’ve seen a significant increase in three-receiver sets. O’Connell loves to use 11-personnel, he likes much shorter routes and he likes for his quarterback to drop back and have a quick release. The short, high-percentage throws you’ve seen in most west coast schemes like the Rams, dominate the play-calling and they will, undoubtedly use the pass to set up the run.

The real question is whether or not the change in personnel is going to afford the Vikings the same opportunities through the air. Justin Jefferson is an absolute beast and will remain the focal point, but the team is expecting rookie Jordan Addison to replace Thielen while Osborn steps into a larger role as well. Addison is a tremendous talent and should excel at the NFL level, but asking him to take over the 96 targets vacated by Thielen is a tall order. The differences are likely to be offset by tight end T.J. Hockenson. Phillips and O’Connell love incorporating the tight end more and as we saw down the stretch when Hockenson was one of the most-targeted pass-catchers in the league, so while all that 11-personnel is great, we should probably expect to see more two-TE sets which should free Hockenson up for more route-running.

As for the ground game, it is nowhere near what it used to be. The tandem of Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison with their zone-blocking scheme was perfect for Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offensive line, but things have definitely shifted away from that here under O’Connell. They now use a mix of zone and power-blocking which doesn’t really cater to their linemen or their running backs. We expect to see Alexander Mattison as the early-down lead back, but with a lack of a true blocking scheme and more pass-plays being thrown about, there is speculation that we could see more of Ty Chandler. How it sorts out is yet to be seen so keep a close watch on what happens in camp. If you’re inundated with highlight reels of the pass-catchers, consider drafting Mattison as nothing more than an RB2 or flex play.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, T.J Hockenson

Defensive System: 3-4 base with multi-front looks and a mix of man and zone coverage

Defensive Breakdown: 

We’ve got a major makeover going on with the Vikings defense and it started with a change from Ed Donatell to Brian Flores at defensive coordinator after the Vikings allowed the third-most points overall and third-highest points per game. We all saw them struggle down the stretch and their first-round playoff exit at the hands of an inferior Giants team sealed Donatell’s fate.

Flores’ focus on defense is with the front-seven. He loves to stuff the run and he loves to blitz from all angles on the field. He prefers to use more man-coverage in an effort to free up his safeties so he can line one of them up in the box which gives him the versatility he wants. They’re there if the offense wants to run, but their presence up front is often construed as a safety blitz so when the quarterback gives a quick release, they can be there in coverage and jump the route. When successful, this can be a formidable defensive unit, but should the corners struggle in man-coverage, they will get caught without enough help deep in the middle. Byron Murphy was a nice addition, but if Andrew Booth doesn’t recover from last year’s knee injury well, it could be a long season for Camryn Bynum and Harrison Smith.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Marcus Davenport

Related Articles: