Drafting your fantasy roster—“skill position” players, for lack of a better term—without considering the offensive lines who keep them upright and open holes for them to run through is a dangerous endeavor.
Think of it this way: would you marry without meeting the in-laws? Maybe that would be preferable, but ultimately you’re just setting yourself up for disaster.
The offensive line will have a hand in every fantasy player’s performance: whether Peyton Manning’s surgically-repaired neck is on the line (the Colts spent two high draft picks on bookend tackles), whether this is the year Beanie Wells lives up to the hype (hint: his line ranks dead last), whether A.J. Green will have time to get open in Cincinnati (Andy Dalton’s blindside is covered by the best left tackle in football, Andrew Whitworth).
That, in a nutshell, is why it’s worth paying attention to the offensive lines. Even though names like Harvey Dahl, Eric Winston, and Ryan Harris don’t show up on your cheat sheet, their value to the fantasy productivity of Sam Bradford, Arian Foster, and Desean Jackson is undeniable.
With that in mind, here’s a capsule look at each offensive line in the league. Keep in mind these rankings are subjective, taking into account past performance, continuity, scheme, and personnel. They also draw from an emerging trove of statistical data from sources like the Football Outsiders (FO), the Football Scientist (FS), and Pro Football Focus (PFF), all of whom endeavor to quantify just how much of a team’s offensive performance can be directly attributed to line play.
- This article will reference stats from these sources, so here’s a quick primer on what those numbers measure:
- Adjusted Line Yards — an FO stat that assigns responsibility for rushing yards to the offensive line based on where those yards were gained in proximity to the line of scrimmage
- Power Success — an FO stat that tracks the percentage of runs on third or fourth down with two yards or less to go (or first or second down and goal to go from two yards and in) that resulted in a first-down or touchdown
- Stuffed — an FO stat measuring the percentage of rushing attempts where the back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage
- Adjusted Sack Rate – an FO stat measuring sacks per pass attempt tweaked for down, distance, and opponent
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