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Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 13


Happy Holidays! Moving onto Week 13, the outcome of your season-long leagues is now taking shape and you know if you are in the playoff race or not. Therefore, who you can rely on becomes more and more important, with the games meaning much more with each passing week.

However, many fantasy owners completely overlook the importance of identifying the reasons behind a player's struggles. Is he being handicapped by the protection ahead of him and actually performing as well as possible given the situation, or is he struggling despite effective play from his offensive line? Using PFF's player grading tool, each week I will identify an offensive line that has been trending up and one trending down. More importantly, I will analyze how those trends might be affecting, or might be about to affect your fantasy roster over the next few weeks.

Please Note: When determining individual player ranks I will only be looking at players that have played over 400 snaps, as well as those on IR. If you want to look at the raw data and my applied method, feel free to message me on Twitter @RichKingFF. I'm happy to share!

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!

 

Offensive Line to Watch - New England Patriots

Pass Blocking

The New England Patriots were a team in the lower half of the league overall, until the return of Left Tackle Isaiah Wynn.

Of course, having a player who effectively doubles as a coach in Tom Brady helps any line in protection. However, the Patriots no longer offer the same downfield threat that they have been in historical seasons. The struggle in achieving that with a quarterback like Brady is that the pocket needs to remain intact.

While the tackles are effective (by that I mean they are average starters) the struggle is the interior of the line. Specifically their center, Ted Karras. Karras ranks 25th in the league, which really harms the overall effectiveness of the line.

That has meant that Brady's favored targets once again this season are the guys who operate in the short and medium route trees in Julian Edelman and James White.

 

Run Blocking

The running game is where this line is truly effective.

Overall, the line is fifth in the league in the run blocking game. As we have seen week after week, that starts at the tackle and center positions.

The tackles are some of the better run blockers in the league, and unlike in pass blocking, Karras ranks inside the top 10 at his position. Combining that with two guards who are effective brings the Patriots towards the top of the league.

That effectiveness can especially be seen in goal-line situations, where the team are obvious in setting up for a running play and still find a way to create space for Sony Michel to run through.

 

Fantasy Impact

Trust: Julian Edelman & James White

Edelman will be the favored target of Brady for as long as they are both on the team, the connection is just too strong.

White is equally a favored target of Brady's and combined with the protection that he is able to enjoy in the running game, he is a true player to trust.

Cause for Concern: N'Keal Harry

While it's difficult to just rule out the rookie entirely, his game is typically as a downfield threat. If the protection for Brady doesn't improve, then it's more likely that he will continue to be marginalized in the Patriots' offense. It will be interesting to see him this week in the controlled conditions in Houston, as the weather was a major factor the last two weeks. However, if he drops ball this week then Brady may start looking elsewhere even more so down the stretch.

 

 

Offensive Line to Avoid - New York Giants

Blocking

I don't normally highlight both the run and pass-blocking at the same time. That is because the previous teams that we have covered have had some level of effectiveness in either the passing game or the running game. That isn't the case with the Giants.

This line is a true testament to the struggles that the team has had this season. Truly the only player that has some level of effectiveness is guard Kevin Zeitler.

Outside of that, the tackles are unable to set the edge and the interior is unable to stop any of the rushers from getting through and putting pressure on Daniel Jones or Saquon Barkley.

If you look at the next-gen stats charts for Barkley, you can see that he is aware of those struggles- often trying to get out towards the sidelines instead of finding a gap in the middle he can exploit.

Jones has also struggled in his rookie season, with the pressure that he has faced. That has led him to be sacked 33 times this season and fumble the ball 14 times. That is even before considering the eight interceptions he has thrown. However, it's hard to evaluate his play so far in realistic terms, given the poor protection that he has been given early in his career.

 

Fantasy Impact

This section will again take a different format- as truly there is no-one that I can recommend you can trust. Golden Tate has been effective as a dump-off option for Jones but has struggled recently. Darius Slayton has emerged from relative obscurity to be an effective target for the offense but isn't consistent.

As for Barkley, he is being stuffed continuously, and is unable to find the space he had last season to punish teams.

 

Top Five Offensive Lines

1) Philadelphia Eagles
2) Indianapolis Colts
3) Dallas Cowboys
4) New Orleans Saints
5) Baltimore Ravens

 

Bottom Five Offensive Lines

32) Los Angeles Rams
31) Miami Dolphins
30) New York Jets
29) Los Angeles Chargers
28) Cincinnati Bengals

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