Projecting line play — or for our sake — the line’s impact on fantasy scoring — is one of the more challenging tasks in all of DFS.
While quantitative measures exist, they can be lacking to an extent. On the player level, grading services like Pro Football Focus are notoriously challenged with offensive line play. It’s difficult to know which member of a line blew an assignment, for example.
Things are a bit easier on the team level, as assessing the unit’s overall success is more practical. Once we get further into the season, I will be heavily leveraging Football Outsiders data, including pressure rate and adjusted line yards. Those stats usually need four weeks of data to become matchup-adjusted.
Until then, we’ll be using more qualitative sources. Like last week, the primary resource will be The Action Network’s Brandon Anderson ranking all 32 NFL offensive lines. Last week, the top two mismatches (for the offense) were Kansas City and Philadelphia: they were the two highest-scoring teams in Week 1.
The third-best mismatch, San Francisco, was impacted by some terrible weather in Chicago, so any struggles there weren’t the fault of the offensive line.
Hopefully, the mismatches in Week 2 can shed some light on this week’s high scorers.
Here they are.
Strong Offensive Line Matchups
Indianapolis Colts OL (#10 in Anderson’s Rankings) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars DL (#28 in PFF’s D-line rankings)
The Colts offensive line held up their end of the bargain in Week 1, clearing the way for 177 total rushing yards against the Texans. Expect more of the same this week, with the Jaguars 28th ranking coming into the season essentially equal with Houston’s 30th.
Jonathan Taylor averaged over five yards per carry in that contest, which sets up nicely for him in Week 2. While his 31 carries probably won’t happen again, the efficiency should be there in this matchup.
Jacksonville’s defensive line is much better at rushing the quarterback than defending the run though. The addition of edge rusher Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick seemed to pay off, with Walker picking up a sack, a pass deflection, and an interception in Week 1.
For that reason, boosting Taylor up a bit based on line play makes sense, but don’t expect a clean pocket for Matt Ryan.
Los Angeles Rams OL (#11 in Anderson’s Rankings) vs. Atlanta Falcons DL (#32 in PFF’s D-line rankings)
Anyone against the Falcons is likely to make the list of offensive line mismatches. Atlanta came into the season with PFF’s lowest ranking and did little to disprove that in Week 1. The Saints ran for nearly eight yards per carry against Atlanta last week.
According to Anderson, the Rams offensive line is a big step up from New Orleans as well. It’s hard to say if that’s the case based on Week 1, though, with the Rams having a very difficult matchup with the Bills in the opener.
With Los Angeles giving the bulk of their carries to Darrell Henderson, he has a clear path to a big game here. The Rams were happy to run down the clock in games they controlled last season and will probably do the same this week against a struggling Falcons line.
There’s also a case to be made for Matthew Stafford. He had a bad Week 1 but was sacked seven times by the Bills. He has a far better chance of staying clean this week, which could make him an ideal buy-low candidate.
Strong Defensive Line Matchups
Los Angeles Rams DL (#1 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Atlanta Falcons OL (#26 in Anderson’s Rankings)
The Rams DST has a $4,000 price tag in Week 2, but they could be well worth it. The league’s best group, according to PFF, has a very appealing matchup with the Falcons. Neither group lived up to their preseason rankings in Week 1 (the Rams recorded just two sacks, with Atlanta allowing zero), but the matchup is far better for LA/worse for Atlanta than last week’s.
That puts the Rams defense in an interesting buy-low spot as a massive favorite. Given their poor play last week and high price tag, expect them to go overlooked in tournaments.
That’s crucial for DST selection in GPPs.
San Francisco 49ers DL (#6 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Seattle Seahawks OL (#31 in Anderson’s Rankings)
Another spot where I’m going to be fading the small sample of Week 1 in favor of preseason rankings. Seattle’s offensive line looked average (at worst) on Monday night against the Broncos, producing five yards per carry for Rashad Penny and allowing just two sacks.
The 49ers defensive unit was acceptable, limiting the Bears on the ground and forcing two sacks. However, the field conditions in Chicago probably worked against the 49ers explosive edge rushers.
This week, San Francisco should have a clear edge against the Seahawks. They lead our NFL DFS Models in median projection and projected sacks and are a top tournament option.