The slot is an area of the field, usually in front of the offensive line, between face-off circles. This is where receivers typically line up. Depending on the formation, a slot receiver can be used to block defenders, pick up defensive linemen who are breaking through the line of scrimmage, or protect the quarterback.
Slot receivers can also be used to create mismatches downfield. They are generally used in place of a fullback or tight end. In some situations, they can also be used as wide receivers.
In a typical slot-based football game, teams may have up to three slot receivers on the field at any given time. Depending on the formation, these receivers may be lined up on either side of the offense. However, this can confuse defenders who are looking for a certain player.
Slot receivers are also commonly used in place of fullbacks in formations. This is because they have more play potential. For example, a slot receiver can be in place of a tight end, making a short pass to a teammate in front of them.
When a slot receiver is used, defenses have to switch formations to accommodate them. Additionally, multiple slot receivers on the same side of the field can cause confusion. To help defend the slot receiver, the defense must add extra defensive backs.
Because of the limited amount of time, slot receivers are usually able to make a big play. If the quarterback is unable to make a pass, the receiver can serve as a check-down.