While full mock drafts have been rampant for months now, we in the fantasy world have our focus on what teams do on the offensive side of the football. One way to predict that is to look at what personnel groupings teams ran the most and least last year. That will offer a window into individual team needs after what was a rampant and exciting free-agent period.
If you're not familiar with personnel groupings, here's a quick look:
11 Personnel: 1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers
12 Personnel: 1 running back, 2 tight ends, 2 wide receivers
21 Personnel: 2 running backs, 1 tight end, 1 wide receiver
22 Personnel: 2 running backs, 2 tight ends, 1 wide receiver
13 Personnel: 1 running back, 3 tight ends, 1 wide receiver
10 Personnel: 1 running back, 0 tight ends, 4 wide receivers
20 Personnel: 2 running backs, 0 tight ends, 3 wide receivers
00 Personnel: 0 running backs, 0 tight ends, 5 wide receivers
With an eye toward the draft, here's a team-by-team look at formation usage and trends from last season, along with what positions teams should target to fulfill and improve their offensive groupings in 2020. And of course ... what it might mean in terms of our fantasy football teams.
The Cardinals ran "most" of their plays out of 11 personnel (34.7%) last season, but they also mixed in 20 (a league-leading 31.8%) and 12 (24.5%). In all, well over 60% of their plays came with at least three wideouts on the field at the same time. That will continue in 2020 after the team added DeAndre Hopkins from Houston. It won't get much better in terms of opportunities at the position.
The Falcons ranked second in offensive plays last season, most of which came out of 11 personnel (59.1%). The secondary groupings were the 12 (15.3%) and 21 (11.9%), so Atlanta used at least two wideouts on 86.3 percent of their plays. As a result, Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones both finished (not surprisingly) in the top 12 among wideouts in terms of routes run per game last season.
The Ravens ran 44.6% of their plays out of 11 personnel, but just five teams in the entire league ran fewer plays from that grouping. Baltimore's tight end centric approach ran 17.1% of their plays from out the 12 and a league-high 16.9% out of the 22. Only two other teams ran more than 8.8% of their plays out of the 22 in 2019. Finally, the Ravens tied for sixth in plays out of 13 personnel.
The Bills offense ran 11 personnel on 69.8 percent of their plays a season ago. That ranked as the fourth-most in the league. This sort of approach should continue with the addition of playmaking wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who'll join John Brown and Cole Beasley in the Bills improved pass attack. Their offense also ran 12 personnel (9.3%) and 21 (9.1%) at almost the same rate in 2019.
The Panthers ranked fifth in offensive plays last season, most of which (67.3%) came out of 11 personnel. That should continue under former William & Mary wideout and new OC Joe Brady, who now has Robby Anderson in addition to D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. Carolina's secondary grouping was the 12 (18%), so tight end could be a target in the NFL draft with Greg Olsen in Seattle.
The Bears ranked 12th in offensive plays last season, but only the Jets put up an average of fewer yards per play (4.66). A total of 59.3% of their plays came out of 11 personnel, and the 21 was their secondary grouping (11.5%). That isn't a surprise with David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen in the backfield. Chicago was also third in plays out of the 20 (4.2%), using zero tight ends.
The Bengals ran the majority of their plays out of 11 personnel (75.3%) last season. In fact, no team ran that grouping more often. Their offense was also in the top 10 in plays, though it ranked fifth-worst in yards per play (4.93) due to some inconsistent and plain bad play from the quarterback position. With Joe Burrow likely taking over and A.J. Green back, though, this should be a fantasy-friendly offense.
The Browns ran 11 personnel 56.3% of the time last season, but that shrunk to 40% in games with Kareem Hunt. According to Sharp Football Stats, the offense ran two plays out of the 21 and 22 until Hunt returned. After that, 28% of their plays had two backs on the field. And with new head coach Kevin Stefanski at the helm, look for a big increase in 12 personnel (Austin Hooper, David Njoku) in 2020.
The Cowboys ranked in the top six in offensive plays run last season, and no team averaged more yards per play (6.46). That's fantasy friendly, folks. Nearly 67% of their plays were run out of 11 personnel, while another 18.5% came out of the 12. With Randall Cobb now in Houston, the Boys will likely target a wideout in the NFL draft. Adding a Day 1 wide receiver would be quite a statement.
The Broncos main personnel grouping last season was the 11, which the team ran 51% of the time. However, it also ran the 12 (20.8%) and the 21 (13.7%) a combined 34.5% of the time. If Denver lands an impact wideout in the draft (they have been linked to Henry Ruggs in countless mocks), I'd expect more 11 with Courtland Sutton leading the target charge. This offense is certainly on the rise.
The Lions ran 11 personnel 59.5% of the time, while the 12 was their next most-used grouping (16.3%) in 2019. However, the offense ran 11 on 52% of their plays in games with Matthew Stafford at the helm. What's more, Detroit ran far more 21 personnel (16%) with him on the field than without him (3%). Detroit also had three or more wideouts on the field in 58% of plays with Stafford.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers main personnel grouping was the 11, which the offense ran more than 60% of the time. The 12 (19.3%) was their next-most used formation, but Green Bay also used the 21 on nearly 13% of their plays. In all, the Packers used at least three wideouts just over 61% of the time. That number (and the value of Aaron Rodgers) could rise if the team adds a receiver in the draft.
The Texans ranked 11th in yards per play average (5.71) a season ago, and the majority of their plays came out of 11 personnel. However, Houston also ran 34.4% of the time out of the 12, utilzing two-tight end sets. That ranked third-most among NFL teams. The additions of Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb could signal a move toward more plays in three-plus wideout sets, however.
The Colts ran most of their offensive plays out of 11 personnel (60.1%) last season, and almost 84% of their plays had at least two wideouts on the field at the same time. That is a position of need for the team to address in the NFL draft. Indianapolis also ran out of the 13 personnel grouping 7.2% of the time a season ago. That percentage ranked as the fourth-most in the league.
The Jaguars ran 11 personnel on 64.6% of their offensive plays a season ago, and a combined 72.8% of their plays had at least three wideouts on the field at the same time. With Gardner Minshew (and not Nick Foles) under center, the offense ran 11 a bit more (68%). Jacksonville also ranked eighth in plays out of the 13 grouping (running personnel), which ranked as the eighth-most.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs averaged an impressive 6.22 yards per play a season ago (975 plays), which was second in the league behind only the Cowboys. In 14 games with Patrick Mahomes as their starter, Kansas City ran 11 personnel on 60% of their offensive plays. It also ran out of the 12 grouping with two tight ends 28% of the time, which ranked fifth in the NFL (in games Mahomes was the starter).
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers offense ran 11 personnel 69.8% of the time overall last season, but that percentage rose to 73 when the team fired coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and promoted Shane Steichen to run the show. The Bolts also ranked fifth in plays run out of the 21 personnel (two running backs) in eight games under Steichen. That could change with Melvin Gordon no longer in the mix, however.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams ran out of 11 personnel 72.7% of the time, which ranked as the third-most in the NFL. With Brandin Cooks out of the picture, Josh Reynolds should see a nice increase in snaps as their No. 3 wide receiver in 2020. One note of interest ... in the first 12 weeks, the Rams ran 12 personnel just 14% of the time. In Weeks 13-17, when Tyler Higbee went off, that total jumped to 34%.
The Dolphins averaged just 4.87 yards per play last season, which ranked as the fourth-worst total in the NFL. Most of their offense was played in the 11 (57.8), but it also ranked seventh in running the 12 grouping (24%). In all, Miami had at least three wideouts on the field 65% of the time, and multiple tight ends on the field almost 30% of the time. That's good news for DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki.
The Vikings ranked sixth-worst in offensive plays last season, but ranked 10th in yards per play. No team in the NFL ran the 11 personnel less (20.6%), and only the Eagles ran more 12 (34.9%). That should change in 2020, though, as Stefanski has moved on to coach the Browns. Regardless, look for the Vikes to add a wideout (possibly in the first round) during the upcoming NFL draft.
New England Patriots
The Patriots ranked third in offensive plays a season ago, and 54.1% of their plays came out of 11 personnel. In all, the offense had three or more wideouts on the field over 65% of the time. With Tom Brady now in Tampa Bay, however, that number could decline as the team moves to more sets with multiple backs. The Pats should still look to add wideout help in the draft, though.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints ran out of 11 personnel 54% of the time and had at least three wide receivers on the field in nearly 60% of their offensive plays last season. New Orleans did add Emmanuel Sanders as a free agent, but the team could still look to grab another, younger wideout in the draft. Their offense also used the 12 and 21 groupings around 18% of the time last season, respectively.
New York Giants
The Giants ran 72.9% of their offensive plays out of the 11 formation last season. Only the Bengals ran out of the grouping more often. That's good news for the potential sleeper value of Darius Slayton, not to mention the PPR stock of Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate. The G-Men also ran out of 12 personnel (two tight ends on he field) a total of 16.9% of the time as their secondary grouping.
New York Jets
The Jets averaged fewer yards per play (4.57) than any team in the entire NFL last season. (Thanks, Adam Gase). The offense ran 64.4% of their plays out of the 11 personnel, and over 72% of their plays included at least three wideouts. With Anderson now in Carolina, Gang Green desperately needs to add a wide receiver in the upcoming NFL draft to pair with Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder.
The Raiders ran most of their plays out of 11 personnel (52.5%) a season ago, but that was the ninth-lowest percentage in the league. Look for them to add a wideout in the draft, maybe on Day 1 (Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Ruggs?). Not surprisingly, the offense played with multiple tight ends almost 30% of the time. What's more, only the Ravens ran more plays out of 22 personnel in 2019.
The Eagles ran the most offensive plays in 2019, and almost all of them came out of the 12 (a league-high 46.1%) or the 11 (40.3%). This isn't a surprise, as Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert combined for 222 targets and 845 routes run. No other tight end duo combined for more. The Eagles do have a need at wideout heading into the upcoming draft, though, and Clemson's Tee Higgins could be a nice Day 1 option.
The Steelers offense was a disaster last season without Ben Roethlisberger, averaging the third-fewest yards per play (4.74). Their most popular grouping was 11 personnel (70%), and around 21% of their plays came with multiple tight ends on the field at the same time. That was up from 15% the previous season, and will no doubt continue with the addition of Eric Ebron during free agency.
The Seahawks ran 11 personnel around 73% of the time last season, which ranked among the highest in the league. That grouping will likely remain prominent in 2020 with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and the newly-added Phillip Dorsett in the offense. Seattle also ran 12 personnel around 14% of the time. With the addition of Olsen to Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister, I expect more of the same.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners were among the top teams in the league in terms of yards-per-play average (6.02) a season ago. They used 11 (41.7%) and 12 personnel (20.3%) often, but no team ran more 21 (26.7%). The loss of Sanders to the Saints means that drafting a wideout is a virtual guarantee, though Deebo Samuel will no doubt be the top target in fantasy among 49er wideouts. Ruggs would be a nice fit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were fourth in offensive plays (1,086) and ninth in yards per game average (5.86) a season ago under the turnover-prone Jameis Winston, and now the team has upgraded big time with Brady under center. Around 70% of their plays were run with at least three wideouts on the field (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, anyone?), and over 25% of their plays included multiple tight end sets in 2019.
The Titans ranked third in yards per play (6.09) a season ago, and the team ran out of 11 more than 51% of the time. Not surprisingly, this run-based offense played with multiple tight ends almost 40% of the time. In fact, no team in the league ran more 13 than the Titans (9.9%). With Delanie Walker no longer on the team, they could target a tight end in the draft to pair with incumbent Jonnu Smith.
The Redskins ran the fewest plays in the league a season ago, and their 4.97 yards-per-play average was sixth lowest overall. Most of their plays came out of 11 personnel (68.4%), and around 77% oftheir plays included at least three wideouts. Washington does need to add a tight end, maybe in the draft, as 17% of their 2019 plays had multiple tight ends on the field at the same time.