• Sheehan Planas-Arteaga

Fantasy Football: NFL Offenses and Economic Systems

It's all about the distribution of wealth in fantasy football

NFL offenses are a lot like economic systems, and understanding what kinds of systems each team generally utilizes is key to making good decisions on draft day and throughout your fantasy football season. Let me explain.


The key determining factors when defining economic systems is how wealth, property, and the means of production are distributed; essentially, how do we determine who gets the good stuff, and how much of it they get. When the government owns all three and distributes them to the community accordingly, that's called communism. When the government owns some of them, usually the more important ones, that's socialism. Finally, the system in which these things are privately owned by members of the community is called capitalism.


I'm sure there are plenty of "Well, actually..." people out there waiting to tell me how my definitions aren't exactly correct, but that is the gist of the three main economic systems. Shut up.


Now we move onto NFL offenses. I look at them like I do economic systems; it's about how things are distributed. Teams live on a spectrum that extends from communism to capitalism, and that regulates how many opportunities running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends are afforded. I shouldn't need to explain to you how important that last detail is for fantasy football, 'cause it's, like, the thing to worry about in this game. Opportunity.


As the 2020 season (hopefully) approaches, you should familiarize yourself with the economic policies of NFL offenses. This will tell you a lot about what to expect from players on each team, particularly unproven ones or guys who have joined new teams and systems.


Here is what each system means for fantasy football.

Communists

These are tough. Communist offensive schemes spread the ball around, as this makes it difficult for the defense to key in on one or two skill players. The individual talent of the player does not always match his level of involvement in the offense, as versatility and the state of the offense as a whole supersedes the needs of any one player.


These teams might have the occasional 1,000-yard receiver or rusher, but the second and third options for each position group might come in at 600-800 yards, with a similar amount of scores. It is best to avoid skill position players on these teams early in drafts, save for a few outliers. Your bench will probably be littered with them, though.


2019 examples: Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles

Socialists

The socialist schemes are a bit easier to deal with. These teams might have a clear-cut #1 wide receiver and tight end option in the passing game, but use a two or three-man backfield. They might also have a bell-cow, three-down running back, but two serviceable tight ends that are both good blockers and red zone options. One or two of the position groups on these offenses are probably best to be avoided, unless some transcendent talent walks through the door and makes them rethink things (like Michael Thomas in New Orleans).


The key is to understand which position group(s) generally have their wealth spread out, and which are dominated by one player. That way, when you're analyzing a rookie or an injury replacement's future involvement in an offense, you will have a better understanding of what to expect.


2019 examples: Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers

Capitalists

You're in good shape if you can snag a few of these team's top playmakers. Like Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown's Steelers of yesteryear, every facet of these offensive economic systems survives on the backs of one or two players. They have no qualms with giving a running back 25-30 touches or throwing the ball to wide receiver 10-15 times every week. Even if one of their stars is unavailable, the backup often assumes the same workload, like DeAngelo Williams did for the Steelers in 2015 and 2016 while Bell was injured or suspended.


These teams don't usually have many players owned, but the ones that are will be off the board in the first few rounds. Grab them early, and make a beeline for the waiver wire if one of their studs goes down and no one owns his backup.


2019 examples: Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons

Economics and fantasy football; they're related. Get to know where teams lie on this spectrum by analyzing trends from last year, staying up to date with any offseason coaching or philosophy changes, and keeping track of how teams are spreading the ball around in the first few weeks of the season.


It'll pay off.


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