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Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 6

Week 5 brought us the first game to be played in London for the 2019 season, a game that I was in attendance for! The atmosphere was incredible, and the game was full of twists and turns. If you are thinking about going to one of the London games- do it and I'll get you a beer. Aside from that game, we also saw Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones run all over the Dallas Cowboys and essentially win you a week if you had him in your lineup.

Good offensive line play gives a team the best chance to be effective. However, a lot of fantasy owners completely overlook its importance to identify if it is a player that's struggling, or if he's being handicapped by the protection ahead of him and actually performing as well as they can.

Using PFF's player grading tool, each week I will identify an offensive line that has been trending up, and one trending down and more importantly, how that will affect your fantasy roster over the next few weeks. 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!

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Offensive Line to Watch - Oakland Raiders

Watching the game in London, I found myself looking at the performance of the Raiders offensive line against the Chicago Bears and thought it would be worthy of consideration for my article this week. Then looking at the rankings, I saw they have one of the better units in the league and my decision was made. The potent Bears Defense failed to record a single sack in the game, and while the job was easier to block Khalil Mack with Akiem Hicks missing the majority of the game, the Raiders did an incredible job against the Bears' fearsome front seven.

Pass Blocking

Quarterback Derek Carr has been inconsistent for fantasy with his performances this season, but that isn't really due to the protection that he has been given.

The Raiders added Trent Brown in the offseason, and he will need to continue to put in top performances with the struggles the team has at the right guard position. Denzelle Good is one of the worst players in the league at pass protection in the guard position with a grading of just 39.4; to put that into context there are 86 players that have a higher grading than him. If Good were to raise his protection to even close to an average starter caliber guard, the Raiders line would rise up the ranks.

Carr has been sacked eight times this season, with seven of those coming in two games (three against the Kansas City Chiefs and four against the Minnesota Vikings) but he hasn't utilized his receiving options downfield. The Raiders quarterback has been relying on his short-field options to break a tackle and make a play, shown in his average depth of target at just 5.9 yards.

All of this points to the value of tight end Darren Waller being solidified as a big target for Carr to use just beyond the line of scrimmage.

Run Blocking

The Raiders are the fifth-best line at run-blocking in the league, and it really showed in the game.

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs put in one of the stronger running back performances for the Raiders. Jacobs finished the game with 26 carries that he took for 123 yards and two touchdowns, as well as hauling in three passes for 20 yards. In doing so, he became the first running back to finish a game against the Bears with over 140 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns.


Fantasy Impact

Trust: Darren Waller/ Josh Jacobs

I couldn't really separate the two players as winners for the offensive line. Waller has been benefitting from the Raiders usage of the shorter targets that Carr has been taking. Given its success moving the chains, it's unlikely that it will change too much for the rest of the season. Jacobs is a clear winner behind one of the better blocking units in the league. The Raiders have committed to establishing the run this season, and have entrusted Jacobs with the responsibility in the backfield. With the blocking ahead of him being as effective as it is, the only way that Jacobs is likely to fail will be if he suffers an injury.

Cause for Concern: Tyrell Williams

I could have selected any number of the other Raiders receivers but opted for the only one that has clear fantasy value on a weekly basis. The Raiders offense doesn't seem to match Williams's talents, with the team not fully allowing downfield plays to develop. Williams will have some boom games, but shouldn't really be looked upon as a reliable option for your fantasy lineup.


Offensive Line to Avoid - Chicago Bears

As good as the Raiders offensive line looked, that was equaled by the inability of the Chicago Bears to protect their quarterback and running back, something that they have struggled with all season. The Chicago Bears offense last season seemed to be constantly evolving and combined with their defense made them a handful for teams last year. However, until they are able to fix some of the problems they have on their offensive lines, they might fail to meet the expectations fantasy owners have of them.

Pass Blocking

The team has already had to move to their second-string quarterback, with starter Mitch Trubisky currently injured with a torn labrum and a dislocated left shoulder. Trubisky has been constantly threatened by the opposition pass rush all season, with eight sacks in four games.

The Bears offensive line hasn't improved much since they changed quarterback. Backup Chase Daniel has been sacked five times since he took the reigns of the offense. For those of you keeping track that is a combined 13 sacks in the opening five weeks. That really doesn't afford them much time to make their read before passing the ball, and really limits the value of any of the pass catchers in the offense.

Run Blocking

Unfortunately, the ability of the offensive line isn't limited to pass blocking.

The Bears offensive line is also one of the worst in the league, shown by the struggles of the running backs to make an impact on the ground. Rookie David Montgomery came into the league with a lot of fanfare in the offseason but has struggled to live up to the hype. Montgomery has rushed the ball 69 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns in his five games this season, far below the mark set by Josh Jacobs in the Raiders offense mentioned above. Even the veteran of the backfield Tarik Cohen has been limited on the ground. In previous seasons he had the ability to break long runs, but this season has only rushed for 37 yards on 17 attempts.


Fantasy Impact

Trust: Allen Robinson

Robinson is really the only offensive piece that I think I can fully trust in my lineup on a weekly basis. The Bears' lead receiver attracts a healthy target share in the offense, with 42 targets so far this season. After struggling in the early weeks of the season, Robinson had an impressive performance against the Raiders, where he caught his first two touchdowns of the season. The offense will need to rely on its surrounding talent to make plays, especially when Tarik Cohen, the only other truly explosive player on offense, takes up a valuable running back slot.

Cause for Concern: Trey Burton

Burton has struggled to make the impact that was expected of him when he was signed for the Bears last season. The familiarity of the offense being run was a unique selling point, but he has struggled to make a consistent impact for fantasy owners. The struggles of the offensive line mean that Burton is more likely to be used in blocking formations, limiting the ability of the tight end to catch passes and, more importantly, convert red zone opportunities for touchdowns.


Top Five Offensive Lines

1) Baltimore Ravens
2) Philadelphia Eagles
3) Dallas Cowboys
4) Detroit Lions
5) Indianapolis Colts


Bottom Five Offensive Lines

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

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