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Offensive Line Analysis: Champs and Chumps


A key factor that is often overlooked in terms of fantasy success, especially at the running back position, is the importance of solid offensive line play. Many of the top fantasy football performers have the luxury of playing with some of the top lines in the game. Similarly, when a player is on a team with a poor offensive line, it can greatly inhibit their ability to perform on a consistent basis. For example, in 2019, RB Joe Mixon and QB Andy Dalton played behind a struggling Cincinnati Bengals offensive line. As a result, Mixon was terrible for fantasy purposes and often getting hit in the backfield, while Dalton was under constant duress. Selecting players with the best offensive line situations could be the deciding factor when stuck between several players, as better offensive line play tends to lead to better scoring opportunities in fantasy, something that we are all chasing.

Just looking back at last year, some of the top-scoring and more competitive teams around the league (Packers, Titans, Patriots, and Saints) all had top offensive lines. Adding to that, these teams are also littered with talent that we target in fantasy drafts, such as Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, and Derrick Henry.

The biggest beneficiaries of a strong offensive line from a fantasy standpoint are usually the running backs. In a year where the depth at the position might be at an all-time low, targeting the running backs behind great offensive lines will consistently pay off for you. Reading this forthcoming analysis is just another tool that you can utilize to give you a leg up on the competition during draft season.

 

Champs

Some of the top offensive lines heading into 2020, such as the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers, have been consistently good for a few years now and will have several viable players for fantasy football. Now, I am going to reference some of the better offensive lines in the league and discuss any changes to the teams heading into 2020 along with the fantasy outlook for their skill position players.

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are arguably the best offensive line unit in the league with projected starters: LT – Anthony Castonzo, LG – Quenton Nelson, C – Ryan Kelly, RG – Matt Glowinski, and RT – Braden Smith. In 2019, RB Marlon Mack ran an average of 1.61 yards before he saw initial contact and the entire Colts offensive line from 2019 is returning this season.

Things are setting up very well for the entire Indy offense in 2020, who will have QB Philip Rivers calling the shots. This is an upgrade from Jacoby Brissett. Although Rivers lacks mobility, he will be playing from a clean pocket while slinging the ball to the likes of WRs T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., and Parris Campbell. The Colts also drafted one of the best pure runners the league has seen in years in Jonathan Taylor, who could bust out in a big way. The arrow is pointing up on the entire Colts offense and their offensive line is a major reason why.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the better offensive lines in the league over the last decade, or ever since they drafted Tyron Smith, and that shouldn't change in 2020. The Cowboys projected starters are: LT – Tyron Smith, LG – Connor Williams, C – Joe Looney, RG – Zack Martin, and RT – La’el Collins. The one concern here is that the Cowboys lost their center Travis Frederick to retirement, but everybody is returning otherwise.

In 2018, the Cowboys missed Frederick for the season due to a medical condition and RB Ezekiel Elliott did just fine without him in the lineup, gaining 4.72 yards-per-carry, of which 1.60 came before he saw initial contact from defenders. Elliott actually saw initial contact after just 1.28 yards in 2019, which is down from the 2018 mark. The main takeaway from those statistics is that Frederick’s retirement should not downgrade Elliott or the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys offensive line is a major boost for the RB and will provide QB Dak Prescott with tremendous protection, allowing WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup to get downfield in their routes.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns offensive line struggled in 2019, but heading into 2020, they upgraded their projected starting lineup: LT - Jedrick Wills, LG – Joel Bitonio, C – JC Tretter, RG – Wyatt Teller, and RT – Jack Conklin. In 2019, RB Nick Chubb ran for 5.01 yards-per-carry, of which 3.77 of those came after initial contact. The Browns' offensive line struggled last year attempting to overcome the retirement of Joe Thomas and losing Kevin Zeitler via trade to the Giants, but they still did a good job opening up room for Chubb to operate.

This offseason, Cleveland acquired Jack Conklin in free agency, and he is one of the best run-blocking tackles in the NFL. They also added Jedrick Wills through the draft. Adding these two bookend tackles will only make the already solid Browns rushing attack that much better in 2020, which means big things for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The improved offensive line is also good news for QB Baker Mayfield and WR Odell Beckham Jr., as the improved blocking on the edges should give the Browns' receivers more time to get down the field.

Kansas City Chiefs

Over the last few years, the Kansas City Chiefs have let several of their interior offensive linemen walk via free agency, but they’ve still managed to have adequate line play. Here are the projected starters on the Chiefs' offensive line for 2020: LT – Eric Fisher, LG – Andrew Wylie/Mike Remmers, C – Austin Reiter, RG – Ryan Hunter, and RT – Mitchell Schwartz. In 2019, RB Damien Williams rushed for 4.49 yards-per-carry, but only 0.9 of that was actually blocked for him before he saw initial contact from defenders.

Once again in 2020, the Chiefs have let Cameron Irving and Stefan Wisniewski, two of their interior offensive linemen, walk, and they also lost Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the season due to the pandemic. The Chiefs will look to replace those guys with some combination of Andrew Wylie, Mike Remmers, and Ryan Hunter. While the jury is out as to whether these new interior linemen will come through, the Chiefs still have Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher on the outside, which means QB Patrick Mahomes will have solid protection from the opposing edge rushers. Overall, while the Chiefs offensive line isn’t necessarily a strength, it’s not a cause for concern either, which means you should continue to draft Patrick Mahomes, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce with confidence.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills offensive line was improved heading into 2019 after adding one of the best centers in the league, Mitch Morse, in free agency from the Chiefs. When RB Devin Singletary played in 2019, he ran for 5.1 yards-per-carry, with an average of 3.0 coming after initial contact. The Bills were able to upgrade at guard this offseason by adding veteran Brian Winters after he was released by the Jets, which is a positive for RBs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.

Overall, the Bills' offensive line is a decent unit and will support fantasy production from the skill positions. Here are the Bills' projected starting lineup for 2020: LT – Dion Dawkins, LG – Quinton Spain, C – Mitch Morse, RG – Brian Winters, and RT – Cody Ford.

 

Chumps

In 2019, the Miami Dolphins offensive line was absolutely awful and while they drafted several offensive linemen in 2020, they're rookies in a pandemic-offseason, which means things aren't lining up in their favor for a strong 2020 campaign. The Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Rams offensive lines struggled in 2019 and didn't really do anything to improve their units this offseason. At least the Rams are able to scheme up an offensive plan that's somewhat capable of hiding their deficiencies. Now, I am going to discuss some troubling offensive line situations for 2020.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line was terrible to start 2019 and as a result, RB Joe Mixon performed very poorly, and QB Andy Dalton had very little time to throw the football. About halfway through the season, the Bengals switched their blocking scheme from zone concepts and started using more gap concepts in their approach to the running game. After the switch, the results were fantastic as Joe Mixon ended the season on a tear. The Bengals added Xavier Su’a-Filo at guard this offseason and while he’s not a world-beater by any means, he’s an upgrade from 2019’s right guard and has shown flashes of ability, especially with zone concepts. Getting 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams back at left tackle will help tremendously, and if rookie tackle Hakeem Adeniji can pick things up quickly, he may push journeyman Bobby Hart for the time played at right tackle.

The Bengals' projected starting lineup currently looks like this: LT – Jonah Williams, LG – Michael Jordan/Billy Price, C – Trey Hopkins, RG – Xavier Su’a-Filo, and RT – Bobby Hart/Hakeem Adeniji. The Cincy offensive line won’t be a strength in 2020 as there are major questions at left guard and right tackle, but overall, the line shouldn't hurt them. The Bengals' offseason moves indicate they’re looking to get back to more of a zone-blocking scheme this year, but in 2019, the coaching staff demonstrated that they’re capable of adjusting if it’s not working out. The message here is that you should feel good about drafting guys like Joe Mixon, WR Tyler Boyd, and QB Joe Burrow at their ADPs even if their line isn't that great. While I am classifying the Bengals' offensive line as a chump, I consider them a higher-end chump.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears offensive line struggled in 2019 and the outlook isn't looking much better for 2020, as they feature a starting lineup that looks like this: LT – Charles Leno, LG – James Daniels, C – Cody Whitehair, RG – Germain Ifedi/Rashaad Coward, and RT – Bobby Massie. The Bears' offensive line is a group of journeymen offensive linemen who are all regressing in their careers. Kyle Long retired, but he's been in and out of the lineup over the last few years due to injury anyways. The Bears added Germain Ifedi in free agency, who should compete for Long's vacated guard spot, but he struggled early in his career with Seattle, so the jury is out on him.

Similar to the Rams, the Bears need to rely on scheme to somewhat hide their below-average offensive line. While WR Allen Robinson II should be in for a huge season with the Bears likely to throw a lot, RB David Montgomery needs to be somewhat downgraded because of the offensive line, but keep in mind he's the only every-down back on the roster and should see enough volume to have a solid season. The bottom line with Montgomery is you don't want him to be your RB1 and you are fine to take him at his current ADP, which has him being taken as the 23rd running back off the board, around 50 picks into the draft.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers have several question marks on their offensive line heading into the 2020 season, especially at the interior positions. The Panthers seemingly downgraded their guards when they traded away Trai Turner this offseason, but maybe the new coaching staff doesn't view the interior offensive line play as a key to success. Carolina will need to rely on a mix of young players and journeymen to get the job done this season, but their starting lineup is anything but solidified, with these guys in the mix to start: LT - Russell Okung, LG Greg Little/Michael Schofield, C - Matt Paradis, RG - Dennis Daley/John Miller, and RT - Taylor Moton.

At least the tackles seem to be locked in, but with questions marks inside, things are shaping up well for RB Christian McCaffrey and WR D.J. Moore to see a lot of targets in the short to intermediate passing game because the jury is out on whether this line will be able to protect QB Teddy Bridgewater long enough to get the ball down the field to WRs like Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel.



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Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More