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. While these statistics still aren’t matchup adjusted, we can leverage them a bit heading into Week 3.
However, we’ll be using more qualitative sources. Like Weeks 1 and 2, the primary resource will be The Action Network’s Brandon Anderson ranking all 32 NFL offensive lines. On the defensive side, PFF’s defensive line rankings will be the main source.
Below is a table featuring every offense’s combined adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate combined with the opposing defensive units. Adjusted line yards are a Football Outsiders statistic that quantifies how much of a team’s rushing yards gained/allowed are attributable to the offensive or defensive lines. Adjusted sack rate measures sacks against down-and-distance rates to quantify how many more or fewer sacks on average a team is recording/allowing.
With adjusted line yards, higher numbers are better for the offensive unit. With adjusted sack rate, lower numbers are better. Both factors should be considered though, for example, a running back will score more fantasy points on average when his team’s passing attack is functioning well, and vise-versa for quarterbacks.
Keep in mind these are based on only two weeks of data and are not matchup adjusted. Strength of schedule plays a major role in (some of) these numbers. Also keep in mind that adjusted sack rate takes into account sacks, not pressures. Therefore quarterback play heavily influences the offensive side of the statistic.
Strong Offensive Line Matchups
Atlanta Falcons OL (#26 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Seattle Seahawks DL (#29 in PFF’s D-line rankings)
The Falcons weren’t well-regarded in the preseason rankings, but a glance at the table above suggests they might be a pleasant surprise. Atlanta ranks eighth overall in adjusted line yards and has the fourth-best matchup according to the table.
Their solid numbers are especially encouraging, given the quality of competition they faced in the first two weeks. Both the Saints and the Rams were preseason top-eight defensive lines according to PFF.
This week they take on the Seahawks, who ranked 29th coming into the season — and dead last through two games.
Atlanta should also have an edge in the passing game, with the sixth-best combined adjusted sack rate.
Detroit Lions OL (#3 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Minnesota Vikings DL (#12 in PFF’s D-line rankings)
Detroit trails only Green Bay in combined adjusted line yards this week but are likely a better option. Detroit’s number comes despite playing two tough defensive fronts to open the year — both Philadelphia and Washington were top nine according to PFF.
Detroit also has the best running game matchup according to preseason rankings. While Green Bay and Philadelphia both ranked high in Anderson’s list, they’re matched up with top five defensive fronts according to PFF. While both of those opponents (Tampa Bay and Washington) have disappointed on the ground so far, I’m trusting our priors for now.
The matchup is less appealing for the Lions in the passing game, though some of that is likely due to a fairly immobile Jared Goff.
The Lions were also missing all three starting interior linemen last week. Two of the three could return for Week 3.
Kansas City Chiefs OL (#2 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Indianapolis Colts DL (#11 in PFF’s D-line rankings)
This one is more passing-game centric with the Colts defense doing a much better job in the run game. After two weeks, the Colts rank second in adjusted line yards allowed but 25th in adjusted sack rate.
Not that we need much more to motivation to play Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing attack. Their 28.5-point implied total is top three on the slate. This should give us a bit of pause on Clyde Edwards-Helaire though.
The matchup isn’t great, and he’s unlikely to get a ton of volume even in a positive game script.
Strong Defensive Line Matchups
Los Angeles Rams DL (#1 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Arizona Cardinals OL (#25 in Anderson’s Rankings)
The Rams appeared in this space last week and had a solid performance, recording three sacks and three turnovers against the Falcons. They should be at it again in Week 3, though the mobility of Kyler Murray and the Cardinals could limit sacks to an extent.
I won’t be going out of my way to roster the Rams defense at $3,400 but will keep them in mind as an overlooked defense.
Especially since eating the chalk at DST is never a good move.
Houston Texans DL (#30 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Chicago Bears OL (#32 in Anderson’s Rankings)
The Texans have over-performed their initial rankings so far in 2022. After two games, they rank a respectable 21st in adjusted line yards and 19th in adjusted sack rate. Meanwhile, the Bears are who we thought they were.
Chicago ranks dead last with a 15% adjusted sack rate through two games and 30th in adjusted line yards. Houston’s defense is just $2,600 in Week 3 and are a solid option against a mistake-prone Justin Fields who has taken five sacks and thrown two interceptions on just 28 pass attempts through two weeks.