Fantasy Football League Winning Offenses: Reviewing 2023 and Predicting 2024’s Top Offenses

by Joel Ybarra · Fantasy Football
Best NFL offenses 2023

This is Fantasy Football League Winning Offenses in 2023 and a look ahead to 2024! There were five NFL offenses that each provided multiple league-winning fantasy producers in 2023: the Lions, 49ers, Dolphins, Rams and Texans. We predicted the Lions and Niners would take big steps forward this season. The Dolphins had already ascended in 2022, and continued on their lofty trajectory. The others – the Rams and the Texans – were surprises. It has never been clearer that being part of an ascendant offense is the formula that yields league-winning fantasy production. There were multiple weapons in each of these ascendant offenses that boomed and blew away their ADP expectations.

Here we take a closer look at the most productive offensive environments from 2023. We also identify what we can learn from these transcendent offenses and implications for fantasy drafting in the future. We want to identify each season’s ascending offenses and acquire pieces whenever possible.

The Best NFL Offenses of 2023

Each of these offensive environments produced multiple weapons that outdid their ADP and were monster hits. They supplied the pieces you needed in fantasy, either because they were the premium producers at their positions, or because they so far outdid their ADP, they took on league-winner status. Below are the ascendant offenses of 2023, and the massive fantasy producers from each, listed with their preseason ADPs. Only Jaylen Waddle,  Cooper Kupp and George Kittle – did not outdo their ADPs, but they still provided value. Most dusted their draft position by a massive delta. An ascendant offense is the machine that lifts the individual parts to reach peak production.

(ADPs from Underdog drafts August 1-September 6, 2023; fantasy finishes in fantasy points per game)

Dolphins –

Two Top-five RBs, Two Top-24 WRs

  • Raheem Mostert – ADP RB38 (115 overall), finished RB4
  • De’Von Achane – ADP RB44 (128 overall), finished RB5
  • Tyreek Hill – ADP WR3 (4 overall), finished WR1
  • Jaylen Waddle – ADP WR11 (19 overall), finished WR24

49ers – THE RB1, Two Top-13 WRs, Top-six TE

  • Christian McCaffrey – ADP RB1 (3 overall), finished RB1
  • Deebo Samuel – ADP WR18 (35 overall), finished WR11
  • Brandon Aiyuk – ADP WR25 (48 overall), finished WR13
  • George Kittle – ADP TE5 (67 overall), finished TE6

Lions – Two Top-12 RBs, Top-five WR, Top-three TE

  • Jahmyr Gibbs – ADP RB9 (29 overall), finished RB7
  • David Montgomery – ADP RB25 (76 overall), finished RB12
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown – ADP WR7 (13 overall), finished WR4
  • Sam LaPorta – ADP TE12 (132 overall), finished TE3

Rams – Top-three RB, Two Top-25 WRs

  • Cooper Kupp – ADP WR10 (16 overall), finished WR25
  • Kyren Williams – ADP RB68 (210 overall), finished RB2
  • Puka Nacua – ADP WR84 (200 overall), finished WR7

Texans – Three Top-48 WRs

  • Nico Collins – ADP WR53 (118 overall), finished WR16
  • Tank Dell – ADP WR76 (178 overall), finished WR19
  • Noah Brown – ADP WR163 (216 overall), finished WR48

Lessons Learned from Top NFL Offenses

The QB Makes the Weapons Work, Not Necessarily the Other Way Around

Brock Purdy put together an MVP-caliber season. He is currently No. 1 in both True Passer Rating and Adjusted Yards Per Attempt. He is also No. 2 in passing touchdowns behind only Dak Prescott, and is No. 2 in passing yards behind Tua Tagovailoa. Yet one of the arguments against Purdy for MVP was that his weapons and the scheme were too good – that he was only so productive because of the players to whom he was throwing and handing the ball, and because of Kyle Shanahan’s masterfully designed offense.

It’s an argument that’s as silly as it sounds. The truth is both – the QB makes the weapons better and the weapons make the QB better. And the scheme makes them all better. The 2023 Niners were the quintessential example of the sum being greater than the parts. Yes, Shanahan’s scheme and the weapons made the second-year QB’s job easy, but Purdy was also a massive step up from Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G was never a serious MVP candidate.

Target the Weapons

In fantasy, it’s different. The QB makes the weapons, not necessarily the other way around. Purdy, Tua, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and even C.J. Stroud were all distributors that facilitated highly productive offenses and made the weapons work, but the QBs didn’t score a ton of fantasy points themselves. Purdy was the most productive of that group, landing at No. 8 in fantasy points per game. Stroud wound up QB11 in PPG on the season, Goff ended up QB16, Tua QB18 and Stafford QB20.

The lesson for fantasy is that we want to target the weapons on offenses where the scheme is great and there is a proficient point guard at QB. Purdy, Stroud, Goff, Tua and Stafford are that, but they are not elite fantasy scoring QBs. There are different things that make a highly productive QB in fantasy. We knew Purdy, Stafford, Goff and Tua were able to sustain top-notch fantasy producers in their offenses; they had done so before 2023.

In the future, look for offenses with great weapons, but they need a competent facilitator. A great scheme obviously helps. In those offenses, you want the weapons, not necessarily the QB. Also, if an offense has great weapons, but not a competent QB, it doesn’t work. Just look at the Falcons and the Commanders. We spend too much time in the offseason projecting QBs like Desmond Ridder and Sam Howell to be capable of moving their offenses forward when there are competent QBs right under our noses.

Rookies As Difference-Makers Day One

Two of the most surprising offenses of 2023 were the Rams and the Texans – for one reason: rookies. Puka Nacua, C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell were some of the biggest individual surprises of the 2023 season. We assumed the Rams were still recovering from blowing their wad on the Super Bowl two seasons ago. They were not an offense to target, save for Cooper Kupp and (maybe?) Tyler Higbee.

No one saw Puka coming. Even the NFL let Nacua fall to the fifth round of the Draft, but he looks like one of the NFL’s best young receivers.

Stroud and Dell also put together surprise rookie seasons in Houston. They were drafted higher by the NFL (1.02 and 3.05, respectively), but no one saw either of their performances or a highly productive Houston offense coming.

There were plenty of reasons to fade the Texans preseason. Stroud “failed” the S2 test, Nico Collins put up only modest production his first two seasons and Dell was tiny. In addition, DeMeco Ryans was a defense-minded, first-year head coach. Nevertheless, the pieces clicked, and you wanted ALL THE TEXANS on your rosters, including Noah Brown for stretches.

Don’t Wait

It’s a dangerous game to assume we can spot these situations before they happen, but we should be early adopters on rookies when they flash. Take some chances on talented rookies, especially when they enter into offenses like Sean McVay’s in LA – units we have seen produce before. We know Stafford makes his receivers productive, especially in McVay’s scheme.

The bigger picture is that there have been rookies coming into the NFL and becoming difference-makers right away. Just a few short years ago (pre-Justin Jefferson), there were very few rookie wide receivers making big splashes in their first seasons. Now it’s a foregone conclusion there will be some rookie receivers who hit. We’re just trying to figure out which ones.

And the narrative around rookie tight ends – even as recent as last offseason – was that they took years to develop. Now we’ve seen Sam LaPorta record the single greatest rookie tight end season ever and fantasy TE3 in 2023. Rookies are coming in and making big waves day one: LaPorta, Gibbs, Stroud, Dell, Nacua. And they are not just outdoing expectations with their individual performances. They are making their offenses work.

Leverage League-Winning Offenses

The 2023 fantasy season is finished, and fantasy gamers are turning their attention to the NFL Playoffs and the offseason. There are going to be coaching changes, free agent moves and teams drafting to put together productive offenses for the coming season. We will continue to pay attention to teams’ moves and the pieces they put in place to see which NFL offenses will be the most productive in 2024. These ascendant offenses are the environments that grow league winners.