The Denver Broncos perfected the art of "zone blocking" and obviously are known for their smaller, but athletic offensive line (that has in the past cheated with chop blocks, etc.). However, those type of cut blocks and zone schemes are part of the zone blocking on the offensive line.
More and more teams are moving to this method, out of necessity (having smaller o-linemen) or because of the success it can bring. So, when drafting your fantasy team, look beyond your magazines and look beyond basic numbers and pay attention to teams that are switching schemes, either offense or defense. Zone blocking has turned unknowns into Pro Bowlers and can lead your fantasy team if you select one of these beneficiaries of zone blocking. Runners who run directionally, with a quick burst can thrive in a zone blocking scheme.
In this case, let's talk about the fantasy implications of some zone blocking schemes.
Denver Broncos - This is where it all started and where Mike Shanahan perfected it. And from Terrell Davis to Mike Anderson there have been many benefactors along the way. The most recent benefactor is Selvin Young, a waiver wire stud from last year. This year you can count on Young to take full advantage of the full-time job and put him down for 1,000 easily and at least 7 TDs.
Oakland Raiders - Never ones to let their rivals one up them, the Raiders employed zone blocking last year and led the NFL in rushing attempts. Compile that figure with the drafting of Darren McFadden, and Jamarcus Russell still being very inexperienced and expect a heavy amount of running from the men in black. Expect McFadden to get a little over a half of the carries while Justin Fargas will get the remaining. As such, both are just average fantasy RBs, but have a leg up on other RBs at the same tier level as them as they'll be in a nice running scheme that suits their styles.
Houston Texans - The Texans were so disatisfied with their running last year that they brought in zone blocking expert Alex Gibbs to coach the o-line and of course Gary Kubiak (former Bronco) is the head coach. So, the Texans are switching their blocking, big deal, right? Well that's good news for Chris Brown, who is supposed to be the backup to the washed up Ahman Green. Brown could be a nice sleeper pick. Also, in deep leagues, especially keeper leagues, keep an eye on Steve Slaton. At West Virginia they ran zone blocking for the spread offense and Slaton is the right type of back to prosper in such a system.
Green Bay Packers - Their switch last year to zone blocking netted them a trip to the NFC championship and led to a rising star in Ryan Grant. Grant is perfectly suited for this system and that's why I say don't hesitate to take Grant in Round 1.
Detroit Lions - Mike Martz is gone (thank God), so in comes a new system. The entire Lions offense will benefit from this zone blocking, not just the running game. Jon Kitna won't be chucking the ball all the time, Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson will be more open by an improved running game. Speaking of running, the Lions moved up in the draft to take rookie Kevin Smith for one reason - he ran in a zone blocking system in college at Central Florida. For this reason, of all the rookie RBs, I like Kevin Smith the most. 1,000 yards isn't out of the realm of possibility in this system. Watch how closely the Lions o-linemen are picking the scheme up in training camp