O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 4

Sep 27, 2023
O-Line Rankings and Matchups to Exploit: Week 4

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-Line/defense matchups we can exploit.

Editor's Note: Check out the complete set of Week 4 rankings here.

Favorable Quarterback Matchups

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

49ers vs. Cardinals

The Cardinals have admittedly looked much better through three weeks than many had predicted, currently sitting at a +5 point differential and a 1-2 record, with one of those losses coming from a crazy comeback by the New York Giants. The team is assuredly riding high after beating the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, despite coming into the game as double-digit underdogs. That sportsbook line is even more formidable this week, as they head to San Francisco as 14-point underdogs, and their edge rushers will now have to take turns against Trent Williams, who has allowed two pressures on 107 pass-blocking snaps.

Were the Cardinals to muddy up the pocket on Sunday afternoon, they will have to deal with a quick-read offense that has allowed quarterback Brock Purdy to rank sixth in catchable-ball percentage (83.3%) and seventh in on-target percentage (70.8%) while pressured.

This is a start-em-if-ya-got-em situation for 49ers fantasy options, with the only worry coming for Christian McCaffrey’s workload in what could very well turn into a blowout. As such, Elijah Mitchell becomes an interesting FLEX option for truly desperate fantasy managers, as he may get a good amount of run in the second half of this game.

Chargers vs. Raiders

With Mike Williams now out for the rest of the season, the secondary receiving option will shift to a semi-rotation between Josh Palmer and rookie Quentin Johnston. Though the team spent a first-round selection on Johnston, beat writers have long reported that the Chargers didn’t expect to thrust him into the lineup this soon in his NFL career, as he needs some refinement to add to his exceptional skill set. Expect Palmer to handle much of the 2-WR sets in the initial weeks following Williams’ untimely departure.

The real winner here is veteran Keenan Allen, who finished Week 3 with a Puka Nucua-level 20 targets and 45.5 PPR points. The Raiders' bottom-four (29.5%, 29th) pressure rate should allow Justin Herbert plenty of time to operate, and Allen could go nuclear again while also having one of the best fantasy floors in all of football, particularly if Austin Ekeler continues to miss time.

The tight end rotation is truly a fantasy nightmare, but Gerald Everett will try to gobble up targets against a Raiders defense that has allowed a good fantasy performance from a TE in each of their first three weeks, including Adam Trautman (5-34 on five targets), Dalton Kincaid (5-43 on six targets), and Pat Freiermuth (3-41-1 on four targets). Donald Parham’s red zone usage caps Everett’s ceiling, but this is still a good spot for him.

Lions @ Packers

Injuries have forced the Detroit Lions down these rankings since they debuted at No. 3, but they’re still a top-10 unit with some strong pieces, particularly on the left side of their line. During their Week 3, 20-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons, they lost their backup right tackle and their backup to the backup, resulting in three different people lining up at RT throughout the game. Good news seems to be on the way, though, as early-week reports have incumbent right tackle Taylor Decker coming off the injury report in time to play against Green Bay.

The Packers currently rank 26th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position after facing Justin Fields, Desmond Ridder, and a combination of Derek Carr and Jameis Winston in their first three games. This offensive line and the pieces surrounding Jared Goff will surely put up a better fight, which could make that 26th ranking even lower by next week. Sam LaPorta, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Jahmyr Gibbs are obvious starts, while Josh Reynolds makes for an interesting WR4, and David Montgomery is a fringe RB2/3 if he were to return to the field.

Favorable Defensive Matchups

Chiefs @ Jets

The Jets' season—particularly their offense—has gone from bad to worse almost from the opening snap of the season. Being forced to start Zach Wilson is bad enough, but the offensive line isn’t doing them any favors. Mekhi Becton now has three starts under his belt on the season, and an injury to Duane Brown has forced (allowed?) him to move back to the left side, as he has been sulking for over the better part of two years. He was decent enough in his first game back to his “natural” position, allowing four pressures and a sack on 39 pass-blocking snaps.

Becton’s four pressures were only part of the problem, as the line allowed 15 pressures in total and currently sits dead-last in allowed pressure rate (52%) through three weeks. Not that it particularly matters against a potent Chiefs offense that will keep their foot on the throttle, but the Jets are also 32nd in adjusted line yards (2.85). The Chiefs are an easy click in Week 4.

Bengals @ Titans

The Bengals' defense has certainly not been the main talking point of their season up to this point, but maybe they’re being a little too overlooked. Cincinnati currently ranks second in sack rate (12.2%) and eighth in adjusted sack rate (9.1%), even though they have been playing from behind on 52.6% of their snaps. That script is unlikely to continue in Week 4, as they head to Tennessee to take on a moribund offense as 2.5-point favorites.

Ryan Tannehill had a great Week 2 against the Chargers defense, but in his two other games (Saints, Browns), he has completed 49.1% of his passes for 302 yards (5.1 yards per attempt). Over those 70 dropbacks, he has been pressured 29 times for a 41.4% pressure rate. The offensive line ranks only ahead of the Jets’ line with a 4.08 blown block percentage, per Sports Info Solutions. If the Bengals' offense can get rolling and put some pressure on the Titans to take to the air, they could have a similar outcome to Week 3, when they manhandled a struggling Rams offensive line for six sacks.

Favorable Running Back Matchups

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

Browns vs. Ravens

Jerome Ford hasn’t missed a beat as it pertains to fantasy scoring since relieving Nick Chubb following the fantasy stud’s torn ACL. While it hasn’t been overtly efficient, Ford has scored 40.7 half-PPR fantasy points through two games and has a date against a Ravens defense that ranks 23rd in aFPA to running backs. The Browns' offensive line hasn’t been the dominant force we’ve become accustomed to over the last couple of years, but they do rank a respectable 13th in RB yards before contact average (1.63) and 18th in adjusted line yards (4.02).

In Kareem Hunt’s first game back as a Cleveland Brown, he looked pretty much exactly like he did last season, earning 13 yards on five carries (2.6 YPA) and forcing one missed tackle. We should expect that level of usage to continue while Ford is locked in as a high-end RB2 in positive matchups such as this one.

Vikings @ Panthers

The Carolina Panthers rank 30th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, while the Minnesota Vikings rank sixth in adjusted line yards (4.59) and seventh in RB yards before contact average (1.85). Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Despite rumors that the team will look to get newly-signed Cam Akers involved in the offense in Week 4, the Vikings don’t have a lot of reasons to pull Alexander Mattison off the field. Mattison finally had his breakout game last week, accruing 125 yards on 26 opportunities, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to limit his workload in favor of a guy you swapped a seventh-round pick for 10 days prior. Mattison should be considered a 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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