.Most fantasy football draft guides give you the basics. You get your fantasy football player rankingsprojections for the 2022 NFL seasonfantasy football sleepersfantasy football busts and you get plenty of NFL rookie coverage as well. Maybe you even get some fantasy football draft strategy tips as well. Well, at Fantasy Alarm, we’ve built champions over the years by also including a full breakdown of every team’s coaching system, both offensive and defensive. It’s one thing to draft a player because someone tells you they like them. It’s another to see exactly how a player is expected to be used in a team’s offense. And not only will this help you on Draft Day, but the knowledge you glean from our Coaching Breakdowns will also help you be a much stronger player on your fantasy football weekly waiver wire.

In case you missed the previous divisions:

Why You Should Learn Each NFL Team’s Coaching System for Fantasy Football

Over the years, the growth of statistical analysis in fantasy football has been incredible to watch with numerous websites digging into some pretty in-depth metrics to use when analyzing the performance of both NFL teams and their players. However, as we have routinely pointed out, there are many pitfalls when looking at year-to-year numbers. Things change at a rapid rate in the NFL. Not only is player movement abundant, but the revolving doors we’ve seen for head coaches and their coordinators seem to be in a perpetual spin.


As a result, comparing performances between the different seasons can often be an exercise in futility. A running back who found success against a particular team one year cannot be guaranteed success the following season as, not only could the opposition change defensive coordinators and systems, but said running back’s team could have gone through its own changes as well. Or, that player could be on an entirely new team and thus play in a completely different system.

There’s that word again – system. We use it often. We may also refer to it as a scheme, but the fact remains that a team’s system probably has a greater impact on a player’s production than even that player’s level of talent. You can take a running back with mediocre talent and watch him excel if the coach’s system caters to that player’s strengths. Conversely, you can take a highly-talented player, put him in a system that doesn’t necessarily feature his strengths and watch his overall production suffer.

This is why we urge you to study each and every team’s system, both on offense and defense. From a seasonal fantasy standpoint, it will help you make the right selections on draft day. If you’re looking at the Ultimate Cheat Sheet and see two players you like in the same tier, knowledge of the system in which they play can prove to be the deciding factor. From a DFS standpoint, you’ll have a much better idea as to which offenses match up better against a particular opponent and be able to construct your lineup accordingly.

Before we dive into the individual teams, let’s get the basic vocabulary down so when we dig deeper within each team’s your base knowledge makes it easier to follow. 

Types of Offensive Systems & Schemes

West Coast Offense – Derived by Bill Walsh, this scheme puts more of an emphasis on passing than running and is focused on short, horizontal passing routes to stretch out the defense and ultimately open things up for longer run plays and longer passes. Many modern west coast offenses will utilize a strong ground attack along with the short passes (the infamous dink-and-dunk) to move the chains, but also to set up play-action for more chances downfield. Plays are called using a long string of words and numbers such as “flip left double-X jet 42 counter naked seven Z quarter.”

Air Coryell (a.k.a. Vertical or Timing Offense) – A combination of both deep and mid-range passing in conjunction with power running. The system uses a lot of motion and the passing is based on timing and rhythm with the quarterback actually throwing to a spot rather than to a specific player which helps to maximize yards gained after the catch. Plays are called with a three-digit number such as “jet dart 272 Y-flat train.”

Erhardt-Perkins Offense – The original formula, which dates back to the 1970’s Patriots, focused on a run-first offense with a simplified, quarterback-friendly passing game. However, when Charlie Weis joined New England, he used it as a building block to develop a more modern version that maintains the run but now enhances the multiple passing options and possibilities within a given play. Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends aren’t as much positions as they are labels for where a player lines up most of the time. Plays are called using short phrases and code words such as “Circus/Kings.”

Spread Offense -- The Spread offense is designed to do exactly as it sounds. The scheme spreads out the offense with four or five receivers, which forces the defense to match. The personnel on the field rarely changes so the offense can wear the defense down, especially with no huddle sprinkled in.

Air Raid Offense – The system is notable for its heavy focus on passing and, if implemented in full, could result in 65-75% passing plays throughout the season. This is an up-tempo, no-huddle scheme where the quarterback has the freedom to audible to any play based on what the defense is showing at the line of scrimmage. One interesting aspect you will see here as well is that the offensive linemen are not bunched together like you see in a conventional offense. They are split about a half-yard apart which is supposed to cause defensive linemen to run further to get to the quarterback and allow for short, quick passing to neutralize blitzes. It is also used to open up wider passing lanes which should prevent passes from being knocked down or intercepted at the line of scrimmage.

Pistol Offense – An offensive scheme that became more popular in the NFL with the rise of more athletic, mobile quarterbacks. It’s less of a base offense and more of an adaptation as its formation is a hybrid of single-back formations and shotgun. The premise of the scheme places the quarterback and running back closer to the line of scrimmage (about four yards behind instead of the usual seven) which should give the quarterback an easier read and less time for the defense to react. Its success really depends on the quarterback’s ability to read the defense properly.

Types of Offensive Personnel Packages

11-Personnel – Three receivers and one tight end on the line with one running back in the backfield; this creates four vertical threats and seven run gaps at the line of scrimmage. 

12-Personnel – Two receivers and two tight ends on the line with one running back in the backfield; you still have four vertical threats while the two tight ends create eight run gaps at the line of scrimmage.

21-Personnel – Two receivers and one tight end on the line with two running backs (one is often a fullback) in the backfield; the blocking back creates a movable gap as defenses do not know where he will insert into the line of scrimmage to block. 

22-Personnel – One receiver and two tight ends on the line with two running backs in the backfield; very similar to 21-Personnel, but actually creates eight run gaps, four on each side of the center.

10-Personnel – Four receivers, no tight end and one running back in the backfield; puts plenty of speed on the field, opens up the field for mobile QBs and RPO work.

20-Personnel – Three receivers, no tight ends and two running backs in the backfield; not often used, but teams with string pass-catching running backs may employ from time to time.

Types of Defensive Systems & Schemes

3-4 – Focus on size and length across the defensive line, inside linebackers ball-hawk, outside linebackers make plays as edge defenders and there is a heavy use of defensive backs to cover in the open field which helps disguise the blitz better.

4-3 – With four lineman and only three linebackers, the defenders are each responsible for covering a gap during a run and will usually set up with a closed formation on the opposing tight end. Pre-game prep and opposing personnel will determine which side the line will close if facing a two-tight end set-up.

Cover-0 – also known as man-coverage, it is when the defense blitzes six defenders and leaves a mix of five defensive backs and linebackers to each lock onto one route-runner. This can also be broken down into Press-Man Coverage which is when the defender lines up a yard or two off the receiver to disrupt his jump off the line and Off-Man Coverage where the defender gives the receiver a bit more room and stays with him for his route.

Cover-1 – similar to Cover-0 but the defense also leaves one defender in the middle of the field to assess where the extra help is needed.

Cover-2 – a two-deep, five-under zone defense used to take away vertical concepts while forcing the ball underneath to the flat or check-down option.

Cover-3 – a three-deep, four-under zone defense where both cornerbacks drop to the outside zones with the free-safety playing the deep middle.

Cover-4 – four deep defenders, two corners protecting the sideline zones and two safeties to cover the middle of the field.

One more thing to add – in the charts you will see below, the numbers are where that coach’s team ranked in each of the categories listed. The ranks are there for coaches and offensive coordinators so you can see how they have progressed over the years. If their job with the team ranked lower than that of the coordinator, there is no rank given as they were simply just a cog in the machine. If there is anything noteworthy to add beyond that, it will be in the offensive breakdown.

You with me? You have the basics down? Great. Now let’s get to it!


AFC East Coaching Systems

Buffalo Bills

Head CoachSean McDermott6th year
Offensive CoordinatorKen Dorsey1st year
Defensive CoordinatorLeslie Frazier6th year
Offensive SystemErhardt-Perkins Offense 
Blocking SchemePower Blocking w/ Zone Concepts 
Sean McDermott -- HC    Ken Dorsey -- OC   
Category201920202021 Category201920202021 (PGC)
Pass Attempts24115 Pass AttemptsQB COACHQB COACHQB COACH
Passing Yards2639 Passing YardsQB COACHQB COACHQB COACH
Rushing Attempts61712 Rushing AttemptsQB COACHQB COACHQB COACH
Rushing Yards8206 Rushing YardsQB COACHQB COACHQB COACH

Offensive Breakdown

Bills fans and fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief as the team is expected to maintain the same offensive scheme as last season, despite the fact that the architect, Brian Daboll, is no longer with the organization. McDermott was adamant about not upsetting the apple cart, so he promoted Ken Dorsey, the team’s quarterbacks coach for the last three years, to offensive coordinator. Dorsey has been given tremendous credit with regard to the development of Josh Allen, so utilizing him to run this offense seemed like a no-brainer. He will be the guy to call the plays as well. At least from the start. 

The offense has been based in the Erhardt-Perkins system and will remain as such to maintain the verbiage at the line, but Dorsey is expected to try and weave in some west coast passing concepts to help move the chains downfield. They used 11-personnel for close to 70-percent of their plays last season and will probably continue to do so, though Dorsey has stated that he wants to balance out this offense a bit more and improve their ground attack. To do so, they brought back former offensive line coach Aaron Kromer who is expected to mix in some zone blocking concepts to the usual power blocking scheme they’ve employed over the past few seasons. The change won’t be dramatic as the Bills are likely to still use the pass to set up the run in most games.

Overall, you can expect much of the same with the Bills which is a good thing. The offense will spread the defense out to allow for wider running lanes, Allen will continue to throw and run while out in space and the receivers will be expected to stay in their routes so Allen knows exactly where they will be as he scrambles. The Bills ranked third in scoring last season and should remain a top team once again.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Josh Allen, James Cook, Stefon Diggs

Defensive System: 4-3 base up front with Cover-2 in the secondary

Defensive Breakdown:

The Bills secondary is by far and away its biggest asset as Leslie Frazier likes to run a Cover-2 zone which can give up a lot of big plays unless you have superior cornerbacks. Fortunately, the Bills have just that in Tre’Davious White, TAron Johnson and first-round pick Kaiir Elam. They also have two incredibly strong safeties in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, so teams are going to have a tough time throwing on this group.

Last season, teams had tremendous success running on the Bills (remember that game against the Patriots last year?), so fortifying the front seven was important. They added DaQuon Jones from Carolina to help bolster the middle of the defensive line and Von Miller should help wreak havoc as the strongside linebacker and allow Tremaine Edwards to focus more on the middle of the field. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Tremaine Edmunds, Tre'Davious White, Micah Hyde

Miami Dolphins

Head CoachMike McDaniel1st year
Offensive CoordinatorsFrank Smith1st year
Defensive CoordinatorJosh Boyer3rd year
Offensive SystemWest Coast Offense 
Blocking SchemeWide Zone 
Mike McDaniel-- HC    Frank Smith -- OC   
Category2019 (SF RGC)2020 (SF RGC)2021 (SF OC) Category2019 (OAK)2020 (LV)2021 (LAC RGC)
Points22113 PointsTE COACHTE COACH5
Pace292515 PaceTE COACHTE COACH1
Pass Attempts29168 Pass AttemptsTE COACHTE COACH3
Passing Yards131212 Passing YardsTE COACHTE COACH3
Rushing Attempts2146 Rushing AttemptsTE COACHTE COACH22
Rushing Yards2157 Rushing YardsTE COACHTE COACH21

Offensive Breakdown

The AFC East gets another infusion of the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree as his former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel takes the reins and enters this season as Miami’s 12th head coach since Don Shula walked away in 1995. McDaniel has spent almost his entire professional working with Shanahan, dating back to 2006 when he served as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans where Shanahan was the wide receivers coach, and is bringing his mentor’s offense with him from San Francisco.

McDaniel does have his own spin on Shanahan’s offense and that comes in the form of a wide zone blocking scheme. The difference between a normal outside zone scheme and that of a wide zone is that, in outside, the runners are moving towards the sideline and trying to get around the defense to get up the field. In wide zone, the scheme sets up to spread the defense first and then figure out where to push up field, whether it’s further outside or a cut-back closer towards the middle. McDaniel will rotate in his running backs in similar fashion to what they did in San Francisco and he will also utilize them effectively in the passing game. Given the array of backs in Miami, you may see some specialization, though McDaniel will be careful not to make the play-calling too predictable based on the personnel on the field.

The passing game is going to be all about that YAC. Yes, yards after the catch will be a major focal point in this west coast style of passing. Expect to see a lot of slants and crossing routes where newly-acquired Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle can catch the ball out in space, in-stride and use their speed to rack up extra yardage. We saw tremendous success from both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk when McDaniel used this in San Francisco and both of his new wideouts should have no trouble adapting. We may even see a little more out of Mike Gesicki in this system as they will likely employ the same tight end drag route that helped George Kittle thrive. 

Miami is also expected to employ more RPO work for Tua Tagovailoa, so expect a true west coast offense that dinks and dunks down the field before setting things up for deeper passing work downfield. This system should fit Tua’s strengths a little more than Brian Flores’ from last season, so if he is truly growing as an NFL quarterback, he is being set up for success. He just needs to get the playbook down and put it into action. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Chase Edmonds, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki

Defensive System: Multi-Front with both Man and Zone Coverage

Defensive Breakdown: 

When McDaniel arrived, one of his top priorities was retaining defensive coordinator Josh Boyer who helped create one of the strongest defenses around the league for Miami. Boyer is the master of mixing in different looks and rarely stays to the traditional 3-4 or 4-3 schemes. Instead, he prefers to use a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 look because of his strengths in the secondary. He’ll use a lot more man-coverage if he wants to attack the offense with a variety of blitz packages and move in and out of zone to give opposing quarterbacks fits when trying to identify the coverage scheme. 

The front-seven personnel needs to be versatile in order to play in and out of the different formations, so expect to see a very heavy rotation of different linemen and linebackers. During the offseason, the Dolphins added Melvin Ingram, formerly of the Chargers and former Chiefs inside linebacker Channing Tindall to their depth and both should prove to be string assets as this defensive unit continues to rate among the best in the league in coverage and blitzing.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel, Xavien Howard


New England Patriots

Head CoachBill Belichick23rd year
Offensive Coordinatornone 
Defensive Coordinatornone 
Offensive SystemErhardt-Perkins Offense 
Blocking SchemeZone/Power Hybrid 
Bill Belichick -- HC   
Pass Attempts53126
Passing Yards83014
Rushing Attempts938
Rushing Yards1848

Offensive Breakdown

While the overall scheme does not expect to be changed much, the loss of Josh McDaniels does create some issues with regard to the play-calling and who exactly is running this offense. As of right now, there seems to be a committee approach as Matt Patricia appears more like a run-game coordinator while Joe Judge looks like a passing-game coordinator. You also have tight ends coach Nick Caley who could be in the mix, but it doesn’t seem likely that Belichick entrusts him with the play-calling this season. There was an article in The Athletic back in early June that seemed to tab Patricia as the play-caller, but we’ll wait to see what happens further into camp.

The scheme will likely remain run-first, based in the Erhardt-Perkins system, and the receivers and tight ends will be interchangeable cogs in the machine. Belichick likes to use the run to set up the pass and found great success leaning on the duo of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson last year. However, don’t be too surprised to see a little more passing work from Mac Jones as our own Jon Impemba points out the Patriots used a second-round pick on wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, traded for DeVante Parker, and let fullback Jakob Johnson follow McDaniels to Las Vegas. 

It all seems very plausible to see them take the reins off Jones here in his sophomore campaign, but the important takeaway here is that you just don’t know who is getting the ball where or when. Belichick likes to have everything cater to whatever the opposition likes to run, so if they’re facing teams with strong corners, you may see more rushing and short-passing work over the middle. If the opposition has a stout run defense, then perhaps there’s more outside passing work. He’s a mad genius and you never really know what he’s going to do until you see them line up on the field. 

Players Who Best Fit the System: Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry

Defensive System: 4-3 base with multi-front looks and a mix of both Man and Zone Coverage

Defensive Breakdown:

This is Bill Belichick’s territory and his son’s Steve (linebackers coach) and Brian (safeties coach) are carrying out their father’s marching orders much in the way Darth Maul and Darth Vader carried out the orders for Emperor Palpatine. OK, Star Wars nerdom aside, this is and will always be Bill’s defense. He usually featured a 4-3 formation up front, but we’ve seen a variety of different looks throughout mini-camp and OTAs. The key to know is that Belichick and his minions change up their defense to counter whatever the offense is throwing at them. They take away the opposition’s top weapons and adjust the front-seven and secondary coverage scheme accordingly. Versatility among the defenders is key and the personnel is assembled as you would expect.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Christian Barmore, Matt Judon, Devin McCourty

New York Jets

Head CoachRobert Saleh2nd year
Offensive CoordinatorMike LaFleur2nd year
Defensive CoordinatorJeff Ulbrich2nd year
Offensive SystemWest Coast Offense 
Blocking SchemeOutside Zone 
Robert Saleh -- HC    Mike LaFleur -- OC   
Category2019 (SF)2020 (SF)2021 Category2019 (SF PGC)2020 (SF PGC)2021
PointsDCDC28 Points22128
PaceDCDC7 Pace29257
Pass AttemptsDCDC13 Pass Attempts291613
Passing YardsDCDC20 Passing Yards131220
Rushing AttemptsDCDC32 Rushing Attempts21432
Rushing YardsDCDC27 Rushing Yards21527

Offensive Breakdown

When Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur took over the Jets last season, they had a clear image in their minds as to what they wanted to do, but, unfortunately, didn’t have the personnel to pull it off. Similar to what they ran in San Francisco, this is a west coast offense that uses the run and short, high-percentage passes to move the chains and set up play-action for bigger plays downfield. Their backfield was a disaster and they didn’t have a deep-threat wide receiver, especially after Corey Davis got hurt. This year, they have built up Zach Wilson’s receiving weapons, added a legitimate running back and bolstered the offensive line, so the expectations here in Year 2 are much higher.

The rushing attack features an outside zone-blocking scheme where the running back is looking towards the outside and seeing where he can turn the corner and head up-field. Both Breece Hall and Michael Carter have the speed to work within this scheme, so the onus will be on the offensive line to move parallel to the line of scrimmage rather than straight up the field. The addition of Laken Tomlinson should help on the left side while the hope is that Mekhi Becton stays healthy enough to pull on the right. When you’re carrying that much weight, moving laterally can be hard on the knees and ankles. If all goes right, the Jets will use the run to help set up the pass, especially the play-action which is where LaFleur wants Wilson to work out of more this season.

As for the passing attack, you can expect the usual dose of slants and crossing routes you routinely see in a west coast scheme. The difference here, though, is LaFleur actually wants Wilson to stretch the field more with his throws. He’s got speed in Corey Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson, so if both can stay healthy, you should see an increase in Wilson’s average depth of target (aDOT) and more deep passing.

Again, this is Year 2 of the system and general manager Joe Douglass is gradually rebuilding with personnel to fit the scheme. We won’t see the Jets breaking any offensive records this year, but we will see more fantasy-relevant players coming out of this team. Accept that this is a work in progress and, as a result, you should be happy with your selections.  

Players Who Best Fit the System: Breece Hall, Michael Carter, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis

Defensive System: 4-3 with a mix of Cover-1 and Cover-3 zone

Defensive Breakdown:

The Jets are using a four-man front, partly because the scheme fits what Saleh and DC Jeff Ulbrich like to use, but mostly because their defensive line lacks the run-stoppers they need. They brought in Sheldon Rankins to help bolster their run defense up the middle, but they still gave up the fourth-most rushing yards in the league. An overworked CJ Mosley, who had 168 stops last year, is not going to be able to repeat that performance, so the Jets need to get some help up the middle. 

The secondary is also a work in progress as the addition of Ahmad Gardner (Sauce to his friends) helps bolster the outside, but the corners still aren’t in a spot where they can use Cover-0 as they need that safety up high in the middle. Expect a need for safety help on the regular which means the Jets are going to have to get more creative with their linebackers or corners if they want to blitz. This is not the year to use the Jets defense in your fantasy leagues, but maybe in 2023 there’s hope.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Quinnen Williams, Jermaine Johnson, Ahmad Gardner


Fantasy Alarm is the home of all things Fantasy Sports. Bringing you the best Fantasy Football content all year long. Be sure to also check out the best fantasy promo codes on offer today!

Related Fantasy Football Links