O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 8

Oct 27, 2021
O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 8

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

Panthers @ Falcons

Coming off of a miserable 111-yard performance in which he was benched for P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold will have a chance to redeem himself against a Falcons team that ranks second-to-last in aFPA to the quarterback position. After allowing an overall QB4 performance to Tua Tagovailoa in Week 7, Atlanta has now surrendered 15 passing touchdowns over its six games played and presents a get-right scenario for a Panthers team that has dropped four straight after beginning the season 3-0.

Along the offensive line, right guard John Miller was placed on IR this week after suffering an ankle injury, and though the Panthers have dealt with some change-ups in the trenches, you’d be hard-pressed to name many teams that haven’t had to deal with injuries to the o-line this season. The soft Atlanta defense makes Darnold a 2QB-option and D.J. Moore —who has at least five catches in every game this season— should be able to feast as the obvious first read in a Christian McCaffrey-less offense.

Rams @ Texans

The most efficient quarterback in the league takes on the 31st-ranked scoring defense with the only thing standing between them being the league’s best pass-blocking offensive line. What could go wrong? Matthew Stafford currently leads the NFL with a 9.3 ANY/A (adjusted net yards per attempt) and is the most fruitful quarterback in the league when throwing the ball to his wide receivers, averaging 251 yards per game and tossing 16 touchdowns when targeting the position. Pair that with a Texans defense that is allowing a third-worst 9.6 yards per attempt to opposing offenses when they target wide receivers and it doesn’t look like things are going to be slowing down for fantasy’s WR1, Cooper Kupp.

Behind him, we have the slow phasing out of veteran DeSean Jackson over the last two games as second-year player Van Jefferson has usurped him in routes run (67-to-13), targets (11-to-2), and, most importantly, production (7-62-1 to 1-6-0). As such, Jefferson makes for a decent desperation flex play this week, and a viable dart throw in DFS. Though he is quietly being shadowed by this monster season from Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods is still providing steady WR2/WR3 numbers with the ability to pop up with his own crazy games, as he did in Week 5 when he turned 14 targets into a 12-150-0 stat line.

Broncos vs. Football Team

The pass rush is still doing its job in Washington but it would be hard to tell when you see the point totals that they have allowed this season. Despite ranking 10th in the league with a pressure rate of 41%, the secondary is simply getting roasted week-in and week-out, currently allowing 312.1 yards per game (29th) and 19 touchdowns (32nd) through the air.

On paper, this matchup would look to favor the Washington pass rush in the trenches — particularly across from right tackle Bobby Massie where Chase Young will spend most of his afternoon— but if Teddy Bridgewater can consistently get the ball out quickly, he has the weapons to take advantage of this secondary. This type of game plan would put a damper on deep-ball specialist Jerry Jeudy who is expected to make his return to action this week after an early-season ankle injury. The main beneficiaries of this type of approach would be Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, both of whom lead the team in target% over the short left, short middle, and short right sections of the field.

I think the best approach to attacking this game is to either play Sutton and Fant who we have ranked as the WR22 and TE9 respectively, or fade the offense entirely and play Washington’s defense if you think Teddy will hold on to the ball too long. I would prefer the former over the latter.

Favorable Defensive Matchups

Bills vs. Dolphins

The Dolphins had a good showing in Week 7, eclipsing 400 yards of total offense for only the second time on the season, and have only allowed one sack over the last two weeks. Things are sure to tighten up a bit this week as they take on a Buffalo Bills defense that ranks top-five in aFPA to quarterbacks (first), running backs (fourth), wide receivers (second), and tight ends (third). Things could get dicey quickly against a defensive front that puts pressure on the quarterback at the third-highest clip in the league (44.1%).

Miami has recently flipped rookie Liam Eichenberg to the left side of the line, pairing him with second-year player Austin Jackson. The push inside for Jackson has coincided with those aforementioned less-sacked games but sadly they were against two teams in the Falcons (28th) and the Jaguars (32nd) whose defense ranks at or near the bottom of the league in adjusted sack rate. The real test will come against this Bills pass rush, and I’d take the bet that Buffalo comes out on top.

Bengals @ Jets

A surprisingly adept Cincinnati Bengals defense averaging 2.7 sacks per game (fifth-most) will venture into New York to take on an offensive line that ranks 30th in adjusted sack rate (8.8%). This was a juicy matchup as it was, but at the time of writing it was announced that Mike White will be the starter for this game, and if you don’t pay close attention to preseason action or missed last week’s Jets game, you probably have no idea who that is. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, Week 7 was the first time he had seen an NFL field during a regular-season game and it wasn’t an exceptional performance. Though he did manage to rack up 202 yards on the afternoon, his 6.3 yards per attempt would rank 32nd if extrapolated over the season and his 8.6 turnover-worthy play percentage would lead the league by a ton (current TWP% leader Jimmy Garoppolo has the worst mark in the league at 6.1%).

The Bengals defense was already Joe Redemann’s top defensive streamer of the week and I’m sure this news won’t do anything to dissuade him of that.

Favorable Running Back Matchups

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

Eagles @ Lions

Philadelphia gets themselves a very good matchup in Week 8 but will likely be without Miles Sanders, leaving us with the question of whether rookie Kenneth Gainwell or sophomore Boston Scott will gobble up the majority of backfield fantasy production. As John Paulsen pointed out in our 4for4 subscriber discord, Gainwell played 51% of the snaps after Sanders left with his injury, accumulating nine touches (four receptions) for 61 yards and a receiving score while Scott got eight touches for 29 yards and a rushing touchdown on 33% of the snaps. John believes Gainwell will lead the committee while Sanders is away and I am inclined to agree.

The Lions rank 31st in aFPA to the running back position and are currently 3.5-point home underdogs.

Patriots @ Chargers

In a blowout win against the moribund New York Jets, Damien Harris was forced to cede touches to J.J. Taylor and Brandon Bolden after racking up most of his 113 all-purpose yards in the first three quarters of the game (only one of his 16 touches came in the fourth quarter). In what is sure to be a closer game this weekend, the Patriots will take on a Chargers team that ranks second in aFPA to the quarterback position yet 25th in aFPA to running backs. While those numbers would portend a game plan that favors New England’s backfield, it gets even spicier when we see that the Chargers’ defensive adjusted line yards rank 31st (4.96) through seven weeks.

Damien Harris makes for an easy RB2 play with RB1 upside while Brandon Bolden can be used as a desperation flex if you feel confident that he will reprise the James White role moving forward. He has now racked up 22 targets since Week 3.

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

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