O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 6
Evaluating offensive line play regarding its effect on fantasy football output has been a stone unturned throughout our game within a game. Here at 4for4, we’re dedicated to looking at fantasy pieces from all angles, and that includes the positive and negative impact an offensive line has on that team’s fantasy assets.
Below I’m going to be digging into specific weekly matchups between offensive lines and the opposing defense's aFPA —one of the many useful tools available to us here at 4for4. Many sites publish raw fantasy points allowed by position, but 4for4 goes a step further and adjusts those numbers for a defense’s relative year-to-date schedule strength. These numbers will continue to strengthen through more data points as the season progresses and when compared to a team’s advantages within the trenches will expose fantasy pieces we may not have otherwise considered.
Let’s begin by diving into the passing game to see what o-line/defense match-ups we can exploit.
Favorable Quarterback Matchups
Bills @ Titans
The Bills keep getting gifted great matchups and the hits won’t stop coming in Week 6 when they travel to Tennessee to take on a Titans team that ranks 26th in aFPA to the quarterback position, 30th in aFPA to wide receivers, and 26th in aFPA to offenses as a whole. This should bode well against fantasy’s QB5 Josh Allen, who has topped 36 fantasy points on two different occasions on the season behind an offensive line with a 4.3% adjusted sack rate (fourth).
This is yet another scenario where you can start the whole gang depending on who you have rostered; Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, and Cole Beasley can be started as a WR1, a WR2, and a flex option in that order, while both running back Zack Moss and tight end Dawson Knox have as good of a chance at finding the end zone as almost anyone else at their respective positions.
Chargers @ Ravens
Rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater has been phenomenal so far this season, and though he did finally give up his first career sack against him, he truly held his own against all-world pass rusher Myles Garrett in Week 5. As the team’s adjusted sack rate would suggest (4.7%, seventh) they have allowed a large number of raw pressures, but they have come against good pass rushes, something that the Baltimore Ravens do not currently boast, ranking 22nd with a 35.8 pressure%.
If the Ravens allow Justin Herbert time to sit back and read the defense, this is sure to be a productive day for the quarterback, who is second only to Tom Brady (1,442) in passing yardage out of a clean pocket with 1,328 yards through five games. Playing opposite MVP candidate Lamar Jackson could make for an afternoon of fireworks in what may be the highest-scoring game of Week 6.
Jaguars vs. Dolphins
Coming into the season, Miami was thought of as a moderately stout defensive unit, but they have proven otherwise in nearly every facet and statistical category you could think of up to this point. Now they travel to Jacksonville as 2.5-point favorites to take on a team and quarterback hungry for their first win. The Dolphins’ pass rush has been an issue after being adept in that category; the problem has been glaring over the last two weeks, in particular, creating pressure on 34.6% of opponents’ dropbacks (24th over that span) while allowing Carson Wentz and Tom Brady to combine for seven passing touchdowns and 72 points.
This Sunday Trevor Lawrence could further negate the impact of the Dolphins pass rush with his legs; after only three rushing attempts through the first two weeks, he has accumulated 21 attempts for 91 yards over the previous three contests. It will be up to right guard Ben Bartch and stud veteran left guard Andrew Norwell to pick up the slack along the interior while center Brandon Linder recovers from a high-ankle sprain over the next month.
Favorable Defensive Matchups
Broncos vs. Raiders
Denver’s current two-game losing streak and continued offensive mediocrity are masking the fact that they may once again have a top-five defense if their other half of the team could help keep them off the field a little more. That could be as early as this week as the Broncos take on a Las Vegas team that is struggling to figure out how to reduce outside pressure, particularly along the right side of the line where rookie Alex Leatherwood got kicked inside to guard to make way for backup Brandon Parker to try his hand. As defenses continue to bring more pressure, we have seen Derek Carr’s otherworldly production drop off to the tune of 402 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a yards per attempt of 5.8 over the last two weeks.
The Denver Broncos defense is currently ranked as our No. 6 unit this week.
Rams @ Giants
The Giants’ offensive line, and in particular second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas, are improving but not to the point where we need to fade them when a matchup presents itself. At the time of writing, it would seem Daniel Jones may have practiced today but if anyone saw the hit on him in Week 5, it’s quite apparent he was concussed and probably shouldn’t be playing this week. As such, it will be Mike Glennon time, and he is being gifted Aaron Donald and the Rams defensive line as a gift.
Favorable Running Back Matchups
Chiefs @ Football Team
This matchup has the makings of a game we should look at attacking from all angles as the Vegas total currently sits at 55.5-points and is likely to continue to rise as we get closer to kickoff. While there is unlikely to be many wrong ways to go after this game, the Kansas City running game and the line’s 4.54 adjusted line yards (10th) could be overlooked after Clyde Edwards-Helaire landed on the IR with an MCL sprain. With Darrel Williams the most likely option to handle short and goal-line work for the foreseeable future, he has incredible touchdown equity on a team that is sure to be moving the ball up and down the field with ease.
Buccaneers @ Eagles
As with the Chiefs, we often overlook the possible leverage of pivoting to the run game in scenarios where our opponents will be focusing (rightly so) on explosive passing attacks. In Tampa Bay’s case, they have taken their foot off the gas just a little bit in neutral pass rate the last couple of weeks, to the benefit of their running backs, namely, Leonard Fournette. In the first three weeks of the season, the Buccaneers passed the ball on a blistering 75% of plays while in neutral game script (147 pass attempts, 48 runs), leaving Fournette with a decent yet unremarkable role within the offense and in turn, fantasy. In the two following games, the Bucs passed the ball on 62% of plays while in neutral game script (90 pass attempts, 55 runs), much to the benefit of Fournette, who touched the ball 39 times and has been the overall RB12 in that span.
Leonard Fournette should continue that trend this weekend as Tampa Bay’s 5.02 adjusted line yards (second-best) will take on a Philadelphia Eagles’ defense that allows 4.84 adjusted line yards (28th) as a defense.
Running Backs with Bad Matchups
As opposed to breaking down every bad match-up through the rest of the slate, here are some running backs I’m looking to avoid because of their poor offensive line and the strong defensive fronts they will be facing:
- Josh Jacobs, Raiders
- David Johnson/Mark Ingram, Texans
- Alex Collins, Seahawks
- Devontae Booker, Giants
*All “pressure” info comes from Sports Info Solutions, pace and adjusted sack rate/adjusted line yards come from Football Outsiders