A bad offensive line can do real damage to your fantasy player’s production. There are ways an offense can adjust to keep moving the ball but anytime an NFL defense knows there are things the unit across the line of scrimmage can’t do, it makes it easier to shut down what they can.
Tier 1: Tanks in the Ranks
These teams can run any play at any time and be successful enough to put a lot of points on the board. They will add dozens of fantasy points to their skill players over the course of a season.
1. Tennessee Titans – The new gold standard in the NFL the Titans, the Tennessee attack will put up monster numbers this year. The best pass protecting line in the league last year. Guard Josh Kline is the only slight question mark having greatly out performed his career avg last season.
2. Oakland Raiders – Mean is a good thing in football and it’s a great thing in an offensive line. The Raiders are very, very mean as they were top ten in rushing TD’s, top ten in rushing avg, and number one in fewest sacks allowed.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger likes to hang in the pocket for a long time and these guys make that happen. They gave up the second fewest sacks in the league last year and they’re also underrated in their downfield mobility.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Known for their strong O-Line, the loss of Ronald Leary and Doug Free forces the Cowboys to take a hit in the rankings, but the ‘Boys are deep and strong. They are one of the only teams in the NFL that can run a one lineman sweep, and trust me it’s impressive. Well deserving of a Top 5 rank.
5. Washington Redskins – The poster children for the importance of continuity on an offensive line, the Redskins front four have been a large part of producing all of those great fantasy numbers for Kirk Cousins. Not as strong in run blocking as in the past however.
6. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons execute well in all phases and on play after play. Another big season should be in store with a cohesive line that’s spent a lot of snaps together and is now bolstered with a healthy rookie draft class.
7. New England Patriots – Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason, and Joe Thuney = yards and another deep playoff run for Brady and friends.
Tier 2: Great (Bend but don’t break)
These units both run block and pass block well enough to net your starters a couple more points per game.
8. Chicago Bears – There’s a reason Jordan Howard looked so good last season, and it was this team’s offensive line. A slight question mark at both tackles but no reason to think they won’t be every bit as good.
9. Buffalo Bills – A blue chip line for years now, the Bills addition of bulldozer Dion Dawkins will keep LeSean McCoy near the top of the league in rushing.
10. Kansas City Chiefs – Young, talented, and aggressive, the Chiefs are one of the more enjoyable lines to watch run blocking downfield as they hungrily look for people to run over.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota spent big money on two outstanding lineman, Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff in free agency, which upgrades all of their skill players significantly.
12. Philadelphia Eagles – The only thing keeping the Eagles from being a top ten or maybe top five line is their lack of depth. If they stay healthy, look out. With Lane Johnson last season they were 4-1 and without him they were 3-8.
13. Green Bay Packers – The only thing that will keep the Packers from scoring in bunches is the O-line. The only thing that will keep the Packers O-line from performing well is their guards, particularly Jahri Taylor so stay tuned.
14. New Orleans Saints – A dependable unit in both run and pass blocking, the Saints should be again one of the more potent scoring teams in the league. C/G Josh Leribeus is a good pick up and rookie Ryan Ramczyk is starting at left tackle, which is always cause for pause.
Tier 3: Good (Ascending)
There are plenty of question marks but also lots of positives. Some of these teams will take major steps forward this season and you could benefit.
15. Cleveland Browns – Everybody’s darling pick for most improved, the Browns are starting to look much stronger. Adding JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler finally gives some help for Joe Thomas!
16. Carolina Panthers – An up-tempo offense with multiple players who can turn quick short plays into longer ones will take the pressure off the line. That gives the unit a higher ranking that they otherwise would have. The addition of Matt Kalil from the Vikings isn’t necessarily a game changer, but the rest of the line is strong and has been together for years.
17. Detroit Lions – The good acquisitions of TJ Land and Ricky Wagner through free agency should yield a return to form for Matthew Stafford and strong numbers from Ameer Abdullah and company.
18. Miami Dolphins – The Fins improved last year and baring injuries should continue to do so this season. Mike Pouncey is all-world and second-year player Laremy Tunsil developed nicely last season. Well-traveled Ted Larsen and Jermon Bushrod could be the keys to the Dolphins entire season.
19. Houston Texans – Exceedingly average in all phases, I keep waiting for more. They were the least-penalized line in the league last year, which speaks to great discipline and chemistry, but they’re statistically a middle of the pack line in every aspect.
20. Denver Broncos – Much improved over last year especially in the run game. John Elway brought in guard Ron Leary from the Cowboys and tackle Menelik Watson from the Raiders, which should greatly stabilize their offense.
Tier 4: Bad (Leaks like an old faucet)
These teams will actually cost your team points and are more likely to have injured starters.
21. New York Giants – Erick Flowers was put in charge of protecting Eli Manning’s blind side, he didn’t. The middle is solid but the G-Men need to fix both guards.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars – At least one player on the Jags O-line looks confused after every play, often more than one. By all statistical measurements this is a decent line but they were second-worst in holding calls in 2016 and honestly, I think there’s something wrong with the Jags culture. Hopefully Tom Coughlin can help them.
23. Baltimore Ravens – Retirements and losses through free agency seem to have caught the Ravens off-guard (pun intended). Remember, one of the keys to evaluating offensive lines is how many snaps the unit has played together as major personnel changes on the line always cause offensive production to dip temporarily or drop off all together.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Will Carson Palmer survive? Can David Johnson continue to make something out of nothing? Tune in… Horrible at pass protection and average in the run game unless running up the gut behind the fantastic A.Q. Shipley.
25. Indianapolis Colts – They have young talent but they didn’t gel at all last year and if they don’t this year, it’s going to be another beat down for Andrew Luck. The Colts have one of the more underrated G/T’s in Jack Mewhort, but the cast surrounding him gave up 128 hits and 44 sacks in 2016.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – If they can clone Ali Marpat they’d be better, but failing that, their unit is the only thing that could derail a very good offense. Last season, the Bucs let their QBs get hit 109 times. The impact of an NFL sack is literally the same as a car hitting a brick wall at 20mph. Think about that and now multiply it by 109.
Tier 5: Worst (As bad a selection as a dollar store video bin)
Subtract many, many points from the fantasy projections for the skill players on these teams.
27. Los Angeles Chargers – Very bad last year, and the fact that they brought in a great player via free agency who then went out and tore his ACL means they’ll likely be very bad this year. Tenth-worst in the league at protecting the QB last season and 31st at gaining rushing first downs and there are no signs of improvement.
28. Cincinnati Bengals – They lost their best players to free agency. They’re young, inexperienced, and have lineman playing positions they have never played before. The first couple of weeks will be particularly rough.
29. New York Jets – With a cast of clowns and cast-offs, the Jets could be historically inept. The line is composed of waiver pick ups and players with only a handful of NFL starts. Guard Brian Winters could be a diamond in the rough.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking schemes will help with the run game, but Brian Hoyer’s season is going to be trip after trip to dump off city.
31. Los Angeles Rams – Poor Todd Gurley, poor Rams fans… The addition of tackle Andrew Whitworth in free agency will help some but lines are about four and often five players working perfectly together play after play. The Rams don’t have that this season.
32. Seattle Seahawks – The loss of George Fant didn’t put this unit at the bottom but it sure keeps them there.
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