O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 2

Sep 13, 2023
O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 2

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.

Editor's Note: Check out the complete set of Week 2 rankings here.

Let’s begin by diving into the passing game to see what offensive line/defense matchups we can exploit.

Favorable Quarterback Matchups

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

Broncos vs. Commanders

Things feel eerily similar to the way they felt after Week 1 in 2022; there was a ton of hope heading into the season, only for Russell Wilson and the Broncos to fall 17-16 in the year’s opening game. In 2023’s version, the revamped Denver offensive line looked pretty decent, garnering a seventh-best 1.71 yards before contact on RB rushes, and though they allowed nine pressures, seven of them came from newly acquired right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who was understandably having a difficult time keeping Maxx Crosby at bay.

McGlinchey will likely see a lot of Montez Sweat this weekend, but the strengths across the rest of the line should help ease that burden, as the rest of the line only allowed two pressures in Week 1, allowing Wilson to complete 78.6% of his passes from a clean pocket. Courtland Sutton was the main beneficiary of those clean pockets, earning all five of his targets on 29 routes run with no pressure on Wilson, including his five-yard touchdown as the clock ticked down at the end of the first half.

If Jerry Jeudy misses Week 2, I would feel comfortable loading Sutton up as my team’s WR2.

Packers @ Falcons

We saw what a healthy Packers offensive line can do to opposing pass rushes in Week 1, allowing a league-low 16.7% pressure rate, which forced Jordan Love to attempt a lowly three passes with a defender in the pocket. Much can be said about the Chicago Bears' pass rush since they traded away both Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith in October of last year, but it was an impressive performance from the O-Line all the same.

The team should expect more of the same in Week 2 when they face off against a Falcons team that had a predictably good opening week against the Panthers' offensive line. The Atlanta interior feasted on Carolina’s fourth-round rookie guard Chandler Zavala, who allowed a whopping eight pressures during his first in-game action. The Packers’ much stronger interior O-Line should have a much easier job keeping Love clean for the second week in a row.

Love remains on the streaming radar, and looks like he may even get his No. 1 WR back. If Christain Watson is forced to miss another game, both Romeo Doubs and rookie Jayden Reed make very intriguing FLEX plays, while Luke Musgrave is also in streaming consideration after leading the entire position with his 72 Week 1 Air Yards.

Eagles vs. Vikings

Nothing much will keep the Philadelphia Eagles out of this column this season, as long as they have a decent matchup in any given week. This is one such week. The Vikings finished 2022 ranked dead last in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, including their 27th ranking against quarterbacks and 30th ranking against wide receivers. This theme carried over into Week 1, as Baker Mayfield finished his Buccaneers debut with a 61.8% completion rating, 173 yards, and two touchdowns, good enough for a QB1 finish on the week.

Extrapolating that to a better offensive line, quarterback, tight end, and, arguably, wide receivers is a recipe for disaster. You already knew you were starting Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith, but this is a call to confidently plug Dallas Goedert back in at tight end, even though he just delivered you a goose egg. In an offense that will very likely do whatever it wants for a full 60 minutes, Goedert presents some very healthy touchdown equity and should find himself back in the top-six scorers at the position where he belongs.

Favorable Defensive Matchups

Chargers @ Titans

The Titans predictably came out of the gate and surrendered a bottom-five pressure rate (47.5%) in Week 1, and this will likely be a common occurrence throughout the season. The Titans were forced to shuffle their entire offensive line over the offseason, with former UDFA Aaron Brewer moving from left guard to center to make room for first-round rookie Peter Skoronski.

While Skoronski looked good in his NFL debut, I’m remaining bearish on the Titans' offensive line as a whole until I can see some consistency from the group, and that may be difficult to come by in this matchup against the Chargers defensive line. This will be a battle of preseason extremes, as the Titans were pegged as likely the worst line in the league (but looked good in Week 1), while the Chargers' pass rush looked like it would be incredibly tough, bookended by Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack (but gave up 36 points and 466 yards passing in Week 1).

This could go a number of different ways, making me want to plug the Chargers' D/ST into DFS tournaments this weekend.

Colts @ Texans

It’s difficult to pull the trigger on anything that has to do with the Colts' fantasy football aspirations outside of Anthony Richardson, but this matchup is an intriguing one for the Indianapolis defense. Both because of himself and often due to his offensive line, C.J. Stroud felt like he was constantly on the move in Week 1, facing pressure on 25/54 dropbacks (46.3%) and taking five sacks. The O-Line more or less looked competent for much of the contest, but things got out of hand when veteran right tackle George Fant went down in the fourth quarter.

On the very first play following the injury, replacement Michael Deiter was immediately beaten (badly), leading to a strip-sack and subsequent turnover. The team would eventually kick Josh Jones out from left guard to right tackle, and he would account for four pressures on only 14 snaps as the replacement to the replacement.

Laremy Tunsil remains a fantastic left tackle, but the Texans line, in general, could be in shambles this weekend, making whoever is lining up against them an intriguing play for fantasy purposes.

Favorable Running Back Matchups

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

Lions vs. Seahawks

The Detroit Lions came out of Week 1 with a surprising victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, but the way in which they did it is probably more predictable. The Lions’ -6.9% pass rate over expectation (PROE) ranked 27th through the initial week of action, while their no-huddle offense was employed on only 3% of their offensive snaps (25th). They will likely use more of that grind-down-the-defense mentality this week against the Seahawks’ defensive line and might continue through the beginning of the season, with rookie offensive weapons getting up to speed and wide receiver Jameson Williams remaining sidelined until October.

Last week, the Seahawks controlled the Rams offensive line in the running game, holding Kyren Williams and Cam Akers to 81 yards on 37 carries, but Week 2 will be a shock to the system of anyone who thinks that run game can hold a candle to the one they will face this week. Even with the on-paper yards per carry from last week, Seattle still managed to miss 15% of their tackle attempts, the fourth-worst mark on the week. Expect David Montgomery to have another decent game, while this could already be the coming out party for Jahmyr Gibbs as the Lions' offensive line sets the pace of the game.

Buccaneers vs. Bears

After losing the likes of Shaq Mason and Ryan Jensen due to trade and injury, respectively, from the interior, it looked as though the Buccaneers offensive line was going to be in a bad way for the 2023 season. That didn’t quite come to fruition in Week 1, as the team allowed the fifth-lowest QB pressure rate (21.1%) and managed a middle-of-the-road 1.08 yards before contact average on RB rushes. If we were looking for a matchup to test their season-long validity, their Week 2 game against the Bears is not going to produce that answer.

The Bears defense was a mess last year, and the team put in resources to shore up the line (Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens in the second and third rounds), but it looks as if that will take some time to gel as the team allowed -0.25 EPA per rush attempt in Week 1 (22nd). Keep in mind, the Packers were also in a lot of obvious rushing situations, as Green Bay had a 10+ point lead for almost the entirety of the second half. Rachaad White, who handled 73% of the Buccaneers RB touch share (17 attempts, two targets) in Week 1, makes for a very strong RB2 this week.

Running Backs with Bad Matchups

As opposed to breaking down every bad matchup 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:

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