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Offensive Line Champs and Chumps - Fantasy Football Matchups To Target, Avoid (Week 12)

Raheem Mostert - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Week 12 is officially here which means we get three different Thursday games. Additionally, fantasy football fans should rejoice at the first week without byes in quite some time. That will be fleeting once again starting in Week 13, but at least we have something to celebrate.

Offensive football continues to struggle in 2022, especially along the offensive line. We also saw some significant injuries up front in Week 11. The Vikings will be missing stellar left tackle Christian Darrisaw in Week 12 thanks to a concussion. Browns center Ethan Pocic (knee) and Patriots center David Andrews (thigh) are also expected to miss several weeks.

Which teams should we target in the trenches with a full complement of players this week? Check it out below.

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Champ of the Week

Atlanta Falcons

Picking fantasy players who match up against the Bears remains a lucrative practice. The Falcons' surprisingly high level of offensive line play in Week 11 shouldn't have been a surprise.

Right guard Chris Lindstrom paced the unit with a 95.1 PFF grade, but three other linemen finished with grades above 82.0. The worse lineman was left guard Chuma Edoga (77.8), as he allowed the team’s only pressure in the game. That was the only thing keeping Atlanta from a perfect game in terms of pass protection.

As easy as it is to pile on the Bears for a toothless pass rush, the Falcons offensive line continues to gel this season and has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL.


Chump of the Week

New Orleans Saints

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well for the Saints' offensive line unit in Week 11. New Orleans was forced to start backups at left tackle, left guard, and center against the Rams. The results were brutal despite a win against the Rams.

New Orleans had just one offensive lineman (backup right guard Calvin Throckmorton) finish with a PFF grade above 58.0 in Week 11. Surprisingly, their worst player across the line was starting right guard Cesar Ruiz. The veteran had his hands full against Aaron Donald, registering a 0.0 pass-blocking grade and a 32.5 PFF grade.

The Saints' offense has collectively struggled through injuries in 2022 and this week was just the culminating effect of several key players going down across the offensive line. They got away with one against the Rams but will need to step it up to avoid spiraling this season.


Matchups to Target in Week 12

New York Jets vs. Chicago Bears

I’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point. The Jets' offensive line hasn’t been anything special this season as they’ve navigated several injuries to the tackle position (16th in pass blocking, 30th in run blocking, according to PFF), but all of that goes out the window when you’re playing the Bears.

If there is a game for the Jets to get their run game on track (or find exploitable windows in the passing attack), then this is surely it. If the Jets' offense is going to get on track (regardless of the starting quarterback), then this is the matchup to do it.

Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans

Miami’s offensive line hasn’t been anything special outside of free-agent acquisitions Terron Armstead and Connor Williams, but this should be a matchup that gets them back on track. Miami will be coming off a bye week against a Texans defense that has struggled to generate much push this season.

Houston is PFF’s third-worst run defense (38.3 grade) and eighth-worst pass rush (66.3) on the season. Just one Texan has more than 16 pressures and five sacks on the season (Jerry Hughes).

Most fantasy players know to start Miami’s big three at this point (Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle), but both running backs should be in play as well. This game has the makings of a blowout which should mean plenty of work for Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert.

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers

The Denver offense continues to sputter and recently released Melvin Gordon, but their offensive line has played at a high level through the first 11 weeks of the season. According to PFF, Denver features both a top-12 run and pass-blocking grade to start the season.

That bodes well for a matchup against a Panthers defense that has consistently struggled to stop opposing offenses this year. Carolina features a middle-of-the-road run defense (17th in PFF grade) and has just one pass rusher (Brian Burns) with over 27 pressures or four sacks.

Denver should be able to control the game through their rushing attack in this game, making Latavius Murray a solid start in his first game without Melvin Gordon. It is hard to trust any pass catchers with Russell Wilson’s struggles, but Courtland Sutton and Greg Dulcich should be on the fantasy radar.


Matchups to Avoid in Week 12

Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The injuries to Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford are getting most of the attention this season, but the real issue for the Rams stems from their brutal offensive line play to start the season. The Rams head into Week 12 as PFF’s 32nd-ranked pass-blocking and 19th run-blocking unit. Only one player on the offensive line (right tackle Rob Havenstein) has played 10 games this season.

Six different Rams offensive linemen have allowed double-digit pressures this year. That’s bad news with a game against Kansas City’s versatile pass-rushing unit on the docket. Six different Chiefs have at least 14 pressures this season (including cornerback L’Jarius Snead) and five different players have logged at least three sacks.

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Saints are coming off Week 11’s worst performance against the Rams with a banged-up offensive line. Even a healthy line could struggle against a surging 49ers front seven.

Nick Bosa (50 pressures, 10.0 sacks) continues to dominate on the edge for San Francisco this season, which has led teams to try and stop him. The extra effort has allowed Charles Omenihu (37 pressures, 4.0 sacks), Samson Ebukam (22 pressures, 3.0 sacks), and Drake Jackson (13 pressures, 4.0 sacks) the ability to take advantage of other matchups.

The Saints have a very real chance to finish as the worst offensive line in consecutive weeks. Fantasy managers relying on a big performance from Alvin Kamara or the passing attack should temper their expectations heading into Week 12.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Jaguars' offensive line hasn’t been terrible this season, but the Ravens' defense is coming to life in recent weeks. Seven different players have generated double-digit pressures for Baltimore this season and four different players have at least 4.0 sacks.

Not only is Baltimore flaunting depth up front to disrupt quarterbacks, but the addition of Roquan Smith at linebacker (paired with Patrick Queen) is also giving the Ravens the ability to stifle opposing running backs before they can get going. Few teams feature speed at the second level like Baltimore.

Travis Etienne has been fantastic this year since taking over the backfield, but he may struggle to consistently find lanes against this defense. He’s been too good to bench, but he likely struggles to provide the same level of production he’s had in recent weeks against Baltimore.

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