Welcome to our latest installment of the NFL Coaching Systems breakdown here in the Fantasy Alarm fantasy football draft guide which takes us to the NFC South. We’ve got one new head coach, though he’s an old soul by NFL standards, two second-year guys and one guy in his third season leading the way. Year-to-year consistency is not something we see a lot of in the NFL, so when you do get a program that stays the same, your hope is that the teams are adding the right personnel and those who have been held over are more in-tune with what their coaches want them to do. Fantasy football-wise, however, the NFC South isn’t what it used to be. It’s not completely bereft of talent, but the high-flying, high-scoring offenses we are used to have changed and that is certainly evident if you look for this division’s players in the fantasy football player rankings. Sure, I’ve done some fantasy football mock drafts and some fantasy football best ball drafts where I’ve tried to stack some Saints, but it’s just not the same as it once was. Still, there’s plenty to look at. 

In case you missed the previous divisions:

NFC South Coaching Systems

Atlanta Falcons

Head CoachArthur Smith3rd year
Offensive CoordinatorDave Ragone3rd year
Defensive CoordinatorRyan Nielsen1st year
Offensive SystemWest Coast 
Blocking SchemeZone 
Arthur Smith -- HC    Dave Ragone -- OC   
Category2020 (TEN OC)20212022 Category2020 (CHI PGC)20212021
Points42615 Points222615
Pace81827 Pace141827
Pass Attempts41931 Pass Attempts81931
Passing Yards231631 Passing Yards221631
Rushing Attempts20291 Rushing Attempts27291
Rushing Yards27313 Rushing Yards25313

Offensive Breakdown

I wish I loved anything as much as Arthur Smith loves to ruin the football. Last year the Falcons were first in rushing attempts and third in total rushing yards. Then with the eighth pick of the NFL Draft, he landed Bijan Robinson, arguably the best runner in this year’s draft class. The Falcons also re-signed RT Kaleb McGary and traded up in the second round to draft Matthew Bergeron, a highly-touted tackle out of Syracuse. We expect another heavy dosage of running the football, massive touches for Robinson and from there, a potentially emerging passing attack.

The passing game is where it gets interesting for the Falcons. We will see a lot of RPO work for Desmond Ridder as well as a strong amount of play-action. Just go back and look at numbers last year for Ridder and Marcus Mariota, Matt Ryan’s completion percentage the year before and you can even go back to the Titans and look at what Smith’s ground attack did for Ryan Tannehill’s completion rates. The key here is they keep things surprisingly simple. The Falcons use a west coast scheme which features a lot of high-percentage short-passing to move the chains, but also allows for one receiver to stretch the field on deeper routes. Drake London and Kyle Pitts (they love their two-TE sets) will handle the majority of the underneath work while they added Mack Hollins for the deep work. They also brought in Scotty Miller from the Bucs, so don’t think London isn’t going to see his fair share of deeper routes as well.

While the overall scheme is simplistic in nature, with the right personnel, it can be both dynamic and explosive. If Robinson is everything the Falcons expect him to be, things are really going to open up. But even if he does have struggles at the NFL level, Tyler Allgeier showed us last year that he can shoulder the load as well. Don’t sleep on these guys in your drafts and at +230 to win the NFC South…? I am more than intrigued.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Drake London

Defensive System: 3-4 base with multi-front looks and two-deep man coverage

Defensive Breakdown: 

While the offense remains the same, the Falcons defense got quite the makeover this offseason. For starters, Smith brought in former Saints DL coach Ryan Nielsen to be his new defensive coordinator. Then the team went out and made all sorts of personnel changes that allowed them to focus so heavily on offense in the draft. Defensive tackle David Onyemata followed Nielsen to Atlanta, they signed DE Calais Campbell and OLB Bud Dupree so they could shift between 3-4 and 4-3 more easily and then they added CB Jeffrey Okudah and FS Jessie Bates to the secondary. If that doesn’t give this defense a little more “wow factor” I don’t know what does.

With the front-seven now being as strong and versatile as it is, the Falcons can play more man-coverage in the secondary. A.J. Terrell and Okudah are going to give plenty of wide receivers fits and the safety tandem of Bates and Richie Grant are going to help protect the middle of the field while also lending support to the corners. Something to keep in mind, especially for IDP purposes, the secondary will be aggressive and we should see decent turnovers, but this defense, overall, is designed to stuff the run and protect un coverage. The pass rush is ok, but they are likely to be just middle of the pack with regard to sacks.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Grady Jarrett, Calais Campbell, A.J. Terrell



Carolina Panthers

Head CoachFrank Reich1st year
Offensive CoordinatorThomas Brown1st year
Defensive CoordinatorEjiro Evero1st year
Offensive SystemWest Coast 
Blocking SchemeZone/Outside Zone 
Frank Reich -- HC    Thomas Brown -- OC   
Category2020 (IND)2021 (IND)2022 (IND) Category2020 (LAR)2021 (LAR)2022 (LAR)
Pass Attempts20279 Pass AttemptsRB COACHRB COACHTE COACH
Passing Yards112623 Passing YardsRB COACHRB COACHTE COACH
Rushing Attempts10519 Rushing AttemptsRB COACHRB COACHTE COACH
Rushing Yards11223 Rushing YardsRB COACHRB COACHTE COACH

Offensive Breakdown

The one new head coach in this division is also tasked with a full rebuild of the team on both sides of the ball. Welcome to the NFC South, Frank Reich. The veteran player and coach spent the last five years trying to rebuild a winning culture with the likes of a broken Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan, all of whom were way past their prime. Now he gets to be in charge of a full rebuild. He gets new coordinators and a brand-new quarterback in Bryce Young. While we may not be penciling this team in for the playoffs, there is certainly some help to be had in the fantasy game if you know exactly where to look.

The basics for this scheme are pretty easy to follow. Reich prefers to use a traditional west coast offense where the pass sets up the run. He likes to use a lot of quick, short passes to move the ball downfield which also helps to set up the cut-back running game. The play-call is done quickly as Reich prefers for his team to get the line early and give both the receivers and quarterback enough time to read the defenses while also confusing them with pre-snap motion. It won’t be an easy task for Young, but it’s a fantastic training ground for him and Reich is playing the long-game here.

The Panthers brought in some strong veteran presences at wide receiver to alleviate some pressure off of Young. The short, quick routes will likely be handled by Adam Thielen and Terrace Marshall while D.J. Chark is the one who stretches the field. Jonathan Mingo will also be heavily involved as, again, Reich is building something for beyond 2023. Training camp is going to be important with regard to understand the targets share in this scheme, but you can start with our Targets Totem Pole to help you during draft season.

As for the ground game, if you haven’t read Andrew Cooper’s 2023 Miles Sanders Player Profile, you better start getting acquainted. He is perfect for this system, not just for his running style, but also for his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and add significant yards after the catch. In fact, we’ve seen him do this before with Frank Reich and running backs coach Duce Staley and it’s a huge part of why you want him in fantasy.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Miles Sanders, Bryce Young, Adam Thielen

Defensive System: 3-4 base with multi-front looks and a Cover-2 base with Cover-3 and Cover-1 mixed in

Defensive Breakdown: 

When Reich was rebuilding his coaching staff and wasn’t able to land Vic Fangio, he went to the next best option in Ejiro Evero who spent time under Fangio in San Francisco back in the day. You know how it goes in the NFL. If you’ve had a meal with someone, you can replicate their system, right?

Evero will use a 3-4 base, but will mix it up to disguise where the pressure is going to come from. You can expect a variety of blitz packages and they will try to rattle the quarterback as much as possible. As he does that, he will start with a Cover-2 in the secondary but quickly move in and out of Cover-3 and man so he can free up his linebackers and safeties for blitzing purposes. This is going to be a defensive unit that goes through many changes throughout the year as they work to see what matches up best with the opposition. To do that, you need versatility both at linebacker and safety which Carolina has.  

Players Who Best Fit the System: Derrick Brown, Brian Burns, Jeremy Chinn



New Orleans Saints

Head CoachDennis Allen2nd year
Offensive CoordinatorPete Carmichael15th year
CO-Defensive CoordinatorsJoe Woods1st year
Offensive SystemAir Coryell 
Blocking SchemeZone/Power Hybrid 
Dennis Allen -- HC    Pete Carmichael -- OC   
Category202020212022 Category202020212022
PointsDCDC23 Points51923
PaceDCDC22 Pace292522
Pass AttemptsDCDC26 Pass Attempts253026
Passing YardsDCDC16 Passing Yards193216
Rushing AttemptsDCDC14 Rushing Attempts5414
Rushing YardsDCDC19 Rushing Yards61519

Offensive Breakdown

While this is just Year-2 of the Dennis Allen coaching era, this is Year-15 of the Pete Carmichael is our offensive coordinator and nothing is going to change. Allen stays out of the way on offense and lets Carmichael do his thing. The problem, at least last year, was that Carmichael’s thing needs a better starting quarterback than Andy Dalton and a healthier offensive line than the triage unit we saw standing out there last year. If the new components can jell during the offseason, then we just might have a little fun here. 

First off, this is a traditional Air Coryell system which leads with a heavy rushing attack to help set up the pass. The tandem of Alvin Kamara (suspension notwithstanding) and Jamaal Williams is expected to see a high volume of touches and Kendre Miller will also be a factor. In this scheme, the passes are quick, timing routes where the quarterback throws to a certain spot on the field and the receiver is expected to be there once the ball arrives. It’s the same for slants as it is the vertical game. To be successful, receivers and tight ends need to be in lock-step with their quarterback. 

With Derek Carr under center, we should see a little more autonomy for the quarterback and more pre-snap reads, something the team did with Drew Brees, but not with Dalton or Jameis Winston last season. Despite the Air Coryell style of passing, the Saints will use a lot of west coast passing routes Carr is familiar with from his time with the Raiders. We expect that to be a factor, but Carr is also going to have to build both a personal and professional rapport with his pass-catchers. Chris Olave should lead the way with targets, but wide receiver coach Bob Bicknell was an integral part of bringing back Michael Thomas. If Thomas can return to anything close to his 2018-19 form, this passing attack could be dangerous. If not, then a heavy burden is likely to fall on tight end Juwan Johnson. Rashid Shaheed is a deep threat, so having Thomas on some of the underneath routes will be key.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Derek Carr, Chris Olave, Juwan Johnson

Defensive System: 4-3 base with multi-front looks and a mix of Cover-3 and Cover-6 zones

Defensive Breakdown: 

Despite the head coaching responsibilities, this is still Dennis Allen’s defense. He brought in former Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods, but that was really about working with the defensive backs and helping out with the secondary. Allen likes a Cover-3 base, but Woods will help employ a mix of some Cover-6 and even a splash of man-coverage at times as well.

Allen uses a 4-3 base, but has definitely been known to mix it up often depending on the opposition. Having Cameron Jordan on the defensive line is big because his pass-rushing ability makes it easier to drop a linebacker into coverage when necessary. But the loss of Marcus Davenport will be tough to handle as they could use some added strength to the right side of the defensive line. With such strong safeties, we might see Demario Davis and Pete Werner push in further.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, Tyrann Mathieu



Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Head CoachTodd Bowles2nd year
Offensive CoordinatorDave Canales1st year
Defensive Coordinatornone 
Offensive SystemWest Coast 
Blocking SchemeZone 
Todd Bowles -- HC    Dave Canales -- OC   
Category202020212022 Category2020 (SEA PGC)2021 (SEA PGC)2022 (SEA)
PointsDCDC25 Points816QB COACH
Pass AttemptsDCDC1 Pass Attempts1731QB COACH
Passing YardsDCDC2 Passing Yards1623QB COACH
Rushing AttemptsDCDC32 Rushing Attempts1927QB COACH
Rushing YardsDCDC32 Rushing Yards1211QB COACH

Offensive Breakdown

In his second season as Tampa Bay’s head coach, Todd Bowles has his rebuild officially underway. There is no more Tom Brady and there is now more Byron Leftwich. The days of the pass-happy Bucs are behind us and with the hiring of Dave Canales, we are now a run-heavy team with a west coast style of passing. Canales has spent the last 13 years working under Pete Carroll and while I don’t expect to witness any excessive gum chomping, I do believe we will see a rendition of Carroll’s scheme here in Tampa.

With the help of run-game coordinator Harold Goodwin and offensive line Joe Gilbert, Canales will roll out a zone blocking scheme that mixes in some elements of power/gap blocking. Canales will try to keep it simple, though considering the left side of the line is way better than the right, we will probably see a lot more leaning behind the likes of Tristan Wirfs. Rachaad White is expected to see significant volume as the team uses the run to set up the pass.

Canales is going to use a lot of pre-snap motion to help draw out the defensive coverage, but what is most important is that the quarterback – whether it’s Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask – gets rid of the ball quickly. This line and its blocking scheme are better suited for the run, so a quick release helps keep momentum rolling. We can probably expect a lot of three-receiver sets as the scheme favors the shorter routes and we expect to see Chris Godwin working heavily out of the slot. Outside of Godwin, this does not appear to be a receiving corps in which you would want to invest. Even tight end Cade Otton is likely to be a bust for fantasy as we expect to see him tethered to the line on most plays. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Rachaad White, Chris Godwin

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

Defensive Breakdown: 

Todd Bowles will, once again, serve as his own defensive coordinator, but he continues to employ the help of his assistants to carry out his plan. Kacy Rodgers watches over the front seven while Larry Foote supervises the secondary. The scheme features multi-front looks, but the base is 3-4, with Vita Vea clogging the middle and Logan Hall and first-round rookie Calijah Kancey on the outside. The group is more than capable of handling the run-stuffing, but the real question is going to be the pass-rush. 

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has been good, but he doesn’t generate a while lot of pressure. The hope is that Kancey can do it from the line on the left side while Shaquil Barrett pressures from the right, but again, Bowles might need to get more creative with his blitzing, something he is not shy about at all.

Bowles really likes his secondary to be aggressive and loves to switch back and forth between man and zone coverage depending on the situation, the blitz packages and the talent level of the opposing receivers. Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis have both been strong for Bowles and give him more freedom to employ the man-coverage and do more with his safeties. The addition of Ryan Neal to the middle of the secondary should allow them to maintain their versatility. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Vita Vea, Shaquille Barrett, Antoine Winfield

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