O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 7

Oct 20, 2021
O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 7

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

Quarterback Matchups
O-Line Ranking Team Opponent aFPA Difference
7 GB WAS 32 25
8 KC TEN 30 22
6 SF IND 27 21
5 WAS GB 22 17
9 ARI HOU 24 15
2 LAR DET 15 13
10 NO SEA 20 10
1 TB CHI 10 9
25 DEN CLE 31 6
3 CLE DEN 9 6
17 CAR NYG 23 6
24 TEN KC 29 5
15 BAL CIN 17 2
14 PHI LVR 16 2
12 NE NYJ 13 1
11 BUF BYE 11 0
4 DAL BYE 4 0
19 JAX BYE 19 0
13 LAC BYE 13 0
16 MIN BYE 16 0
27 PIT BYE 27 0
26 CHI TB 25 -1
22 IND SF 19 -3
32 MIA ATL 28 -4
30 ATL MIA 21 -9
18 DET LAR 8 -10
31 NYG CAR 18 -13
21 CIN BAL 7 -14
20 SEA NO 4 -16
29 NYJ NE 12 -17
23 LVR PHI 3 -20
28 HOU ARI 5 -23

Packers vs. Football Team

The passing game matchups this week point to a lot of chalky offenses, so we’ll try to dig a little deeper to find some tertiary pieces that will be worth a Week 7 start. We’ll begin with a Packers offense that has dealt with injuries in the trenches yet continues to put on an impressive display with backups at key positions. If they can keep Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, Chase Young, and the rest of the Washington defensive line away from Aaron Rodgers, he should have a field day against what may be the worst secondary in all of football at the moment.

It’s all systems go for the usual suspects; Davante Adams and Aaron Jones should be played with utmost confidence but for those looking a little deeper, it’s worth noting that Allen Lazard —and not Randall Cobb— has been the de facto number two receiver as of late, operating the other side of the field and running routes on 92-to-100% of Aaron Rodgers dropbacks over the last three weeks. With many high-profile receiving options on bye (Stefon Diggs, Cowboys, Steelers, Vikings, Chargers, Marvin Jones, etc.) Lazard is certainly worth a look if Marques Valdes-Scantling is forced to miss one more week, and at present, it would seem that is absolutely a possibility.

When asked about his availability on Monday, head coach Matt LaFleur answered bluntly, “MVS, I can’t really comment on that right now, I don’t know.” Keep an eye on injury reports and feel free to stick Lazard in your flex if you are desperate for a bye week replacement.

Cardinals vs. Texans

Long a weakness of the team, the Arizona offensive line has slowly morphed into a strength, even after a tough weekend at the offense against the Cleveland Browns edge rushers. While the Cleveland Browns lead the league in defensive pressure% (48.4%), the Cardinals will have an easier go of it this Sunday against a Houston Texans team that is forcing a pressure on only 33.7% of opponents dropbacks (27th). All-Pro center Rodney Hudson was placed on IR before their Week 6 game (illegible to return after Week 8), marking only the second game he’s missed since 2016. Max Garcia will be the next man up filling in for Hudson, and if last week was any indication, he should be just fine in that role. The interior of the Houston defense shouldn’t worry us, as they have managed only one sack on the year with a defensive tackle (t-27th).

In a good matchup with a quarterback who is making a push to join the mid-season MVP talk, you can pick your poison for a WR3/flex plug-in amongst this receiving corp. A.J. Green has proven that he still has some juice left, Christian Kirk can show out with spiked week volume which is useful in full PPR leagues, and Rondale Moore has been a headache for defenses, lining up all over the formation and even taking designed runs out of the backfield. Simply because of the excitement factor, I would want to be playing Moore but any of them make for acceptable bye week replacements.

Chiefs @ Titans

The Kansas City offensive line had maybe its worst game of the young season last week, allowing two sacks and 15 pressures, both season-highs, but the team still managed to score 31 points against the Washington Football Team. Where WFT lacks in secondary talent, the Tennessee Titans may equal them in pass-rushing talent, leaving the Chiefs o-line a little breathing room to bounce back in Week 7.

Patrick Mahomes spread the ball around evenly beyond Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, as each of Byron Pringle (3-55), Demarcus Robinson (3-46-1), and Mecole Hardman (4-62) had very similar stat lines by the end of Week 6, though, dare I say, Hardman has been the most consistent of the bunch throughout the season. As our John Paulsen pointed out in 4for4’s Discord earlier in the week, Hardman has now cleared 55 yards and/or scored a touchdown in four of his last five games, piling up 138 receiving yards over these last two. This week he and the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs face off against this Tennessee team that ranks 29th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, and dead last in aFPA to the wide receiver position.

Favorable Defensive Matchups

Eagles @ Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive line had a good showing against Von Miller and the rest of the Broncos pass rush last week, limiting the group to eight pressures and preventing any sacks on quarterback Derek Carr (the two sacks credited against the team came on scrambles in which Carr chose to run out of bounds). Alex Leatherwood in particular looked more comfortable during week number two of his move inside to right guard, but he still has plenty of work to do to live up to his first-round draft pedigree early in season one. The line as a whole still ranks in the bottom half of the league in adjusted sack rate and is in 28th place in terms of adjusted line yards (3.87).

Philadelphia could be a tougher test than the outside rush-oriented Broncos, as the Eagles are fifth in the league amongst pressures coming from a defensive tackle (32) and first in sacks from a defensive tackle (8.0). Alex Leatherwood and the rest of the interior offensive line will have an interesting battle on their hands when Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave come into town on Sunday.

Saints @ Seahawks

With Geno Smith at the helm for the Seahawks in Week 6, the team leaned heavily on the run, handing the ball off to Alex Collins, Travis Homer, and DeeJay Dallas 26 times en route to an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rushing output (144 yards) nearly kept pace with the passing output (209 yards), but that will be more difficult this week against a New Orleans defensive line that ranks first in adjusted line yards allowed. That would theoretically mean that Seattle will have to move the ball through the air, pitting Geno versus the pass rush behind an offensive line that ranks 29th in adjusted sack rate (9.2%) and has allowed a pressure on 37.3% of dropbacks (29th).

Favorable Running Back Matchups

Running Back Matchups
O-Line Ranking Team Opponent aFPA Difference
2 LAR DET 32 30
10 NO SEA 28 18
7 GB WAS 25 18
12 NE NYJ 29 17
5 WAS GB 18 13
14 PHI LVR 27 13
9 ARI HOU 21 12
17 CAR NYG 26 9
3 CLE DEN 9 6
8 KC TEN 14 6
1 TB CHI 3 2
30 ATL MIA 31 1
23 LVR PHI 24 1
11 BUF BYE 11 0
4 DAL BYE 4 0
19 JAX BYE 19 0
13 LAC BYE 13 0
16 MIN BYE 16 0
27 PIT BYE 27 0
6 SF IND 5 -1
32 MIA ATL 30 -2
21 CIN BAL 19 -2
15 BAL CIN 12 -3
18 DET LAR 15 -3
24 TEN KC 20 -4
22 IND SF 17 -5
20 SEA NO 10 -10
29 NYJ NE 16 -13
26 CHI TB 8 -18
25 DEN CLE 6 -19
28 HOU ARI 1 -27
31 NYG CAR 2 -29

Rams vs. Lions

This matchup presents us with the best offensive adjusted line yards versus defensive adjusted line yards on the week, pitting the seventh-best running team against the 25th-ranked defense in the metric. It would make sense that a winless Lions team would allow a lot of rushing production considering the obvious negative game script that comes from losing 100% of your games, but Detroit looks poorly when we look at rate stats as well, namely their 12% broken/missed tackle rate (t-31st) and the 2.6 yards after contact per attempt (30th) that they allow to opposing runners.

Darrell Henderson would be a great play this week based solely on those rate stats, but he becomes a top-five option when we consider that he has handled 72% of the Rams backfield touches since returning from a Week 3 rib injury. That three-week touch share sample comes across a blowout loss, a close win, and a blowout win, hinting at the fact that this will be sustainable usage for Henderson regardless of game scenario.

Patriots vs. Jets

As far as a New England backfield is concerned, we have relative clarity on the roles of the running backs, for now. Damien Harris looks like the certified grinder here, racking up 32 rushing attempts over the last two games, accumulating 159 yards and two touchdowns, each coming on goal-line carries from within the five-yard line. It would seem that Rhamondre Stevenson has pass-protected his way out of the doghouse, though he is still splitting some of the passing game work with special teams specialist Brandon Bolden, making the rookie difficult to use, even in this rough bye week.

With the losses piling up for the Patriots, I find it incredibly likely that they lean on the depth of the offensive line and simply run the ball down down the throat of a susceptible New York Jets defense. We currently have Damien Harris ranked as the RB13 and I think even that might be a little conservative.

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:

*All “pressure” info comes from Sports Info Solutions, pace and adjusted sack rate/adjusted line yards come from Football Outsiders

About Author