O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 17

Dec 27, 2023
O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 17

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, including an offensive line's positive and negative impact 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-Lline/defense matchups we can exploit.

Favorable Quarterback Matchups

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

Vikings vs. Packers

In a year with never-ending surprises at the quarterback position, Nick Mullens has managed to throw for 714 (!!) yards over his first two 2023 starts, and he will now take on a Packers defense that has allowed 651 yards to Baker Mayfield and Bryce Young in that same stretch. Though it hasn’t necessarily been pretty for Mullens—he has nine turnover-worthy passes—it’s clear the Vikings just want the quarterback to get the ball into their best players’ hands as often as possible, as evidenced by Justin Jefferson’s 20 targets over these last two games.

The Packers currently rank 21st in QB aFPA, 23rd in WR aFPA, and 25th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, accruing a lowly 32.6% pressure rate (23rd) over their last four games. Mullens, Jefferson, and K.J. Osborn (if Jordan Addison is forced out of Week 17) should all be in consideration this week, as the Vikings look to put the nail in the coffin for defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

Cowboys vs. Lions

As we’ve come to expect from late-career Tyron Smith, the All-World left tackle is liable to miss some games occasionally. And although the Cowboys allowed a massive 44.7% pressure rate against the Dolphins during their 20-22 Week 16 loss, Dak Prescott still delivered an 18-point fantasy performance, with CeeDee Lamb going 6-118-1 en route to an overall WR10 finish.

A softer matchup is in store for Week 17 and should point towards a strong championship week performance for the Cowboys passing attack, even if Smith is forced to miss another game as the team gears up for the playoffs. The Lions' defense ranks 31st in QB aFPA and dead-last in WR aFPA, solidifying Prescott and Lamb as two of the better plays on the entire slate. Behind them, Brandin Cooks presents a great FLEX play option for those of us who don’t mind a little risk, while Jake Ferguson is a bona fide TE1 after soaking up eight targets in each of the last four games.

This game currently has the highest point total of the week (53.5) and should be an offensive explosion between two of the best offensive lines in the league. A big performance from Prescott could also see him sneaking back into the MVP race for anyone who might be holding a ticket there.

Broncos vs. Chargers

Russell Wilson and the Broncos offensive line were our cover boys (covermen?) last week. Wilson was able to avoid any of his three turnover-worthy passes turning into an interception, on his way to an overall QB6 finish. The matchup will be much lighter this week, with the only concern coming in the form of whether or not the Chargers will put up any sort of fight as 5.5-point underdogs.

Since Joey Bosa went down just four snaps into Week 11 and subsequently was placed on IR with his foot injury, the lack of a pass rush has further exasperated an already-struggling secondary. Even including the disaster of a 6-0 win in Week 13 against the Patriots, the Chargers have allowed 25.7 points per game since Bosa’s injury. Those points include the second-most touchdowns allowed to wide receivers (nine) and the 10th-highest yards per attempt allowed (8.4) to receiving options out of the slot.

This points towards an interesting spot for Jerry Jeudy in Week 17, and possibly even more so if Courtland Sutton is forced to miss this game due to the concussion protocol. With Sutton knocked out of the game in the first quarter, Jeudy ended up tying his season-high with 39 routes run and split his time between the slot and out-wide much heavier than his usual 60% of routes from the slot. Jeudy should be considered a WR3 option regardless, but if Sutton is cleared in time, they can both be trusted as respective WR3/WR2s in a great matchup.

(Edit: at the time of publication, there are rumors the Broncos may bench Wilson to avoid an injury that would hook them for the rest of his contract. Backup Jarrett Stidham makes for an interesting spot-start here, particularly in Superflex leagues, but I wouldn’t be as high on the wide receivers if that ends up being the case. UPDATE: Stidham will start)

Favorable Defensive Matchups

Panthers @ Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars offense has been floundering as of late, and the o-line likely won’t get a boost in these final two weeks of the regular season, as left tackle Cam Robinson’s 21-day practice window was just opened today (12/27). It’s been a rough 2023 for Robinson, who only logged snaps in seven games, due in part to his four-game suspension that was handed down in June due to violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

His absence from the left side of the line has caused some less-than-desirable shuffling, with the team trading for the former Vikings left guard Ezra Cleveland so that they could shift Walker Little out to left tackle. The results haven’t been great, with either Cleveland or Little allowing six or more pressures in three of the last four games. Things haven’t been much better in the running game—for anyone rostering Travis Etienne is well aware of—as the team is averaging 0.87 yards before contact since Week 12, easily the lowest mark in the league and nearly half of the league average (1.65) in that span.

The Panthers' defense makes for an interesting Championship Week start against C.J. Beathard and is also a very affordable option in Week 17 DFS.

Steelers @ Seahawks

I was very high on the Seahawks offensive line coming into the season, as the rookie-year performances of tackles Charles Cross and Abe Lucas were incredibly promising. While Cross has lived up to his end of the bargain since returning in Week 6 due to a toe injury, Lucas has missed a vast majority of the year with a knee injury and hasn’t looked as dominant when on the field. Five different faces have had at least one start at a tackle position this year, and the play from the interior of the line hasn’t done much to keep their collective heads above water, either.

The Seahawks still can score some fantasy points for our teams, but the Steelers D/ST has a floor with T.J. Watt—the NFL’s sack leader—coming into town to toy with a dysfunctional -Line.

Favorable Running Back Matchups

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

Eagles vs. Cardinals

The offensive line with the fifth-highest running back yards before contact (1.84/att.) will be taking on a defense that ranks 32nd in adjusted line yards (4.90) in Week 17, and sometimes it’s just that easy. What makes this a slightly less slam-dunk matchup for D’Andre Swift is the recent re-reemergence of Kenneth Gainwell, who has seen 45% of the offensive snaps over the last four games after not hitting that mark since Week 3. Luckily, this has mostly been on passing downs, as Gainwell is still only averaging 7.0 opportunities (carries-plus-targets) compared to Swift’s 16.0.

Swift’s ceiling is somewhat capped with Gainwell taking so much of the passing-down work, but the former is still a great-ceiling RB2 play in Championship Week.

Colts vs. Raiders

The Raiders defense has tightened up as of late, but they’ve also seen some of the most wild game scripts we could imagine over the last month, including a 0-3 loss against the Vikings in Week 14, just to turn around and beat the Chargers 63-21 on the back of four fumble recoveries and an interception. They followed up those two crazy weeks by beating the Kansas City Chiefs without reaching 70 yards of passing offense.

It’s hard to come up with a solid takeaway from this roller coaster, but what we do know is that the rushing defense still ranks 28th in adjusted line yards (4.48) and 25th in RB aFPA. With any sort of normalcy this week, Jonathan Taylor is in a great spot to bounce back from his pedestrian 18-43-1 rushing line from last week.

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/or the strong defensive fronts they will be facing:

About Author
Trending Now
Most Popular
Latest Articles