2018 NFL Depth Charts
The off-season, the pre-season, and training camps always pose interesting periods of consideration for coaches and management partners for NFL teams. It is during these times that the team goes from having a healthy depth of about 85-90 players to being cut to a 53-man roster. The maximum consideration an NFL team has to carry in terms of players must never exceed the 53 count. Most of the players that do not make the cut land on the practice squads, abiding to bring the 1st and 2nd team opposing looks and viewpoints ahead of weekly contests. This is one of the largest cuts a professional organization has to make, which is why these cutbacks occur gradually throughout camp. The date for the final cut down usually occurs after the completion of all pre-season contests, marking for an interesting period for opposing teams. Most of the cut talents will clear waivers, making them eligible to sign with another team. Bad blood and contractual issues often lead for some of the league’s better talents to reach the market prior to the opening of the season. While this occurrence is rare, it is always interesting to see this play out for a team that has just made their cuts and now has a need-filler starring at them in the open market.
The design of the roster often differs across the landscapes of teams within the NFL. At the offensive and defensive positions, you have a total of 22 players taking the field on both sides of the ball. Factor in a place kicker, a punter, a long snapper, and a return specialist and you reach just under half of the total players on a roster at 26. This affords teams the ability to back up each of their starting positions and spread talent elsewhere. For example, if a team is comfortable with a 2-man rotation of quarterbacks and running backs, they can spread their talent depth throughout the receiving core. The greater number of offensive weapons, the better chance a quarterback has to succeed. This trickle-down effect is something that many franchises have utilized to build around their franchise quarterback. If you quarterback isn’t as versed within the system or is new to the program, a stronger, deeper offensive line might help with the production of said confidence. The quarterback is usually the focal point to roster construction or finding the correct areas of building depth.
On the defensive side, the building occurs around the format of defense a team is to operate under. The 3-4 and 4-3 base sets are the most common types for defenses to feature. Teams like the Seattle Seahawks have defied these standards in recent history, removing the 3-point stance in favor of a group of standing pass and run-stoppers. The defensive combination usually excels from a combination of speed and size. The speed is important at the ends, with the cornerbacks in the secondary and the edge rushers upfront. The size is important in the middle as it creates an formidable wall or blockage that is often difficult for an offense to penetrate. The back-up on the defense side occurs heavily at the linebacking core and the line upfront. This gives the team different looks and attack options outside of the base sets, creating the unpredictability needed to put a stop to an offense that is clicking.
In terms of fantasy value, the highest usage players are not necessarily the best options within a roster. Most players excel at higher levels when they have a back-up to spell them or help them catch their breath. For example, Frank Gore is a highly reliable back in terms of fantasy football because he easily reaches the 20-25 carry mark each contest. This high usage rarely equates to high yardage numbers because he is good for about 2-3 yards per carry. Other backs can reach this number in half the touches or on a single drive if they bust out beyond the secondary. The greatest consideration factor for drafting a running back within daily or season-long formats are the offensive line consistencies. The same goes for quarterback selection. If a quarterback is afforded the necessary time within the pocket, what do his numbers look like to his targets? Answering this question will lead to the proper wide receiver selections. The same trickle-down effect that is seen within offensive production is the same format that should be utilized when construction your daily and season-long fantasy rosters.