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NFL DFS Trenches Report: Finding an Edge For Week 4 Contests

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, after three weeks of data they’ll be my primary resource this week.

However, we’ll still be taking a glance at qualitative sources. Like Weeks 1 through 3, 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.

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The Data

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 three 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. Cleveland Browns DL (#20 in PFF’s D-line rankings)

Given their preseason rankings, the Falcons were perhaps a surprising addition to last week’s column. However, they didn’t disappoint. Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 141 yards on 17 carries, with Tyler Algier chipping in an additional 25 yards on six carries. That’s a combined YPC of over seven, though of course, some big runs from Patterson contributed to that.

Coming into Week 4, the Falcons lead the league in adjusted line yards. They’re taking on the Browns, who rank 29th in defensive line yards — and will likely be without star defensive end Myles Garrett who was injured in a car accident following Week 3.

This is just an average matchup in the passing game based on current data but would move to “solidly positive” for the Falcons if Garrett indeed misses the contest. PFF classified the Browns defensive line as “great edge duo, weak interior.” Still, my main focus will be on Patterson. With his explosive ability, he could have a huge day if there are running lanes open for him.

Detroit Lions OL (#3 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Seattle Seahawks DL (#29 in PFF’s D-line rankings)

We picked on Seattle last week via the Falcons, who as noted above had a great day on the ground. This week, an even better — at least based on preseason rankings — offensive unit is in front of them.

That’s the Lions, who were third in Anderson’s preseason rankings and have been the fourth-best unit in adjusted line yards so far in 2022. Notably, Detroit was missing the entirety of their starting interior line in Week 2 before returning center Frank Ragnow in Week 3.

Guard Jonah Jackson could potentially return as well in Week 4, making this unit even stronger. Even if he doesn’t, it’s an excellent matchup for Jamaal Williams on the ground. He’s likely to be the starting running back, with D’Andre Swift missing a week or two.

It’s also a great matchup for the Lions through the air. That makes Jared Goff and the passing attack attractive as well. Goff has been excellent with a clean pocket — but struggles under pressure — making this a solid week to look his way.

New England Patriots OL (#9 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Green Bay Packers DL (#3 in PFF’s D-line rankings)

The Patriots make the list solely for their strength in the run game this week. While the Packers have an excellent defensive front, that’s based more on their ability to rush the passer than stop the run. Green Bay has the 12th-best adjusted sack rate on the season — and the worst adjusted line yards allowed.

That lines up nicely with how New England is likely to approach this game anyway, with starting quarterback Mac Jones out. Unfortunately, Damien Harris and Rhomandre Stevenson have a roughly even timeshare, a frustrating situation for DFS.

Still, one of them could pop if they’re able to pick up a touchdown and/or the 100-yard bonus. I don’t have an especially strong take on which one is likelier, though I’d lean Harris based on his red zone role. He has 10 total opportunities inside the 20 this year, compared to just three for Stevenson.

Strong Defensive Line Matchups

Dallas Cowboys DL (#21 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Washington Commanders OL (#12 in Anderson’s Rankings)

This one doesn’t make a ton of sense based on preseason rankings, but hear me out. Dallas was another unit in the “great edge duo, weak interior” category by PFF. They’ve lived up to that expectation, with a top 10 adjusted sack rate so far in 2022.

We’re stretching the definition of line play a bit here, with the Cowboys’ best defender being linebacker Micah Parsons. Still, he contributes heavily to the pass rush and is a crucial component of the defense overall.

On the Washington side, they’ve already allowed 15 sacks this season, tied for most in the league. The Cowboys defense isn’t cheap at $3,500 but could be a great pivot for tournaments this week.

New York Giants DL (#22 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Chicago Bears OL (#32 in Anderson’s Rankings)

Astute observers might notice that the Bears and Giants — who play each other — are the bottom two teams in projected pass protection this week. The Giants ranked higher on both sides of the ball in our preseason rankings though, so they get the “official” nod here.

Chicago ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate — living up to their preseason expectations. While that’s not all the fault of the offensive line, it’s still notable heading into a game where they’re 3.5-point underdogs. Justin Fields has already taken 10 sacks and produced five turnovers, so we’ll be looking to target defenses against him whenever possible.

If the Giants defense projects for heavy ownership, I’ve got no problem with flipping it around and rostering Chicago though. These are two bad offensive lines protecting mistake-prone quarterbacks — defensive points are highly likely here.

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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, after three weeks of data they’ll be my primary resource this week.

However, we’ll still be taking a glance at qualitative sources. Like Weeks 1 through 3, 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.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models & projections

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

The Data

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 three 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. Cleveland Browns DL (#20 in PFF’s D-line rankings)

Given their preseason rankings, the Falcons were perhaps a surprising addition to last week’s column. However, they didn’t disappoint. Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 141 yards on 17 carries, with Tyler Algier chipping in an additional 25 yards on six carries. That’s a combined YPC of over seven, though of course, some big runs from Patterson contributed to that.

Coming into Week 4, the Falcons lead the league in adjusted line yards. They’re taking on the Browns, who rank 29th in defensive line yards — and will likely be without star defensive end Myles Garrett who was injured in a car accident following Week 3.

This is just an average matchup in the passing game based on current data but would move to “solidly positive” for the Falcons if Garrett indeed misses the contest. PFF classified the Browns defensive line as “great edge duo, weak interior.” Still, my main focus will be on Patterson. With his explosive ability, he could have a huge day if there are running lanes open for him.

Detroit Lions OL (#3 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Seattle Seahawks DL (#29 in PFF’s D-line rankings)

We picked on Seattle last week via the Falcons, who as noted above had a great day on the ground. This week, an even better — at least based on preseason rankings — offensive unit is in front of them.

That’s the Lions, who were third in Anderson’s preseason rankings and have been the fourth-best unit in adjusted line yards so far in 2022. Notably, Detroit was missing the entirety of their starting interior line in Week 2 before returning center Frank Ragnow in Week 3.

Guard Jonah Jackson could potentially return as well in Week 4, making this unit even stronger. Even if he doesn’t, it’s an excellent matchup for Jamaal Williams on the ground. He’s likely to be the starting running back, with D’Andre Swift missing a week or two.

It’s also a great matchup for the Lions through the air. That makes Jared Goff and the passing attack attractive as well. Goff has been excellent with a clean pocket — but struggles under pressure — making this a solid week to look his way.

New England Patriots OL (#9 in Anderson’s rankings) vs. Green Bay Packers DL (#3 in PFF’s D-line rankings)

The Patriots make the list solely for their strength in the run game this week. While the Packers have an excellent defensive front, that’s based more on their ability to rush the passer than stop the run. Green Bay has the 12th-best adjusted sack rate on the season — and the worst adjusted line yards allowed.

That lines up nicely with how New England is likely to approach this game anyway, with starting quarterback Mac Jones out. Unfortunately, Damien Harris and Rhomandre Stevenson have a roughly even timeshare, a frustrating situation for DFS.

Still, one of them could pop if they’re able to pick up a touchdown and/or the 100-yard bonus. I don’t have an especially strong take on which one is likelier, though I’d lean Harris based on his red zone role. He has 10 total opportunities inside the 20 this year, compared to just three for Stevenson.

Strong Defensive Line Matchups

Dallas Cowboys DL (#21 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Washington Commanders OL (#12 in Anderson’s Rankings)

This one doesn’t make a ton of sense based on preseason rankings, but hear me out. Dallas was another unit in the “great edge duo, weak interior” category by PFF. They’ve lived up to that expectation, with a top 10 adjusted sack rate so far in 2022.

We’re stretching the definition of line play a bit here, with the Cowboys’ best defender being linebacker Micah Parsons. Still, he contributes heavily to the pass rush and is a crucial component of the defense overall.

On the Washington side, they’ve already allowed 15 sacks this season, tied for most in the league. The Cowboys defense isn’t cheap at $3,500 but could be a great pivot for tournaments this week.

New York Giants DL (#22 in PFF’s D-line rankings) vs. Chicago Bears OL (#32 in Anderson’s Rankings)

Astute observers might notice that the Bears and Giants — who play each other — are the bottom two teams in projected pass protection this week. The Giants ranked higher on both sides of the ball in our preseason rankings though, so they get the “official” nod here.

Chicago ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate — living up to their preseason expectations. While that’s not all the fault of the offensive line, it’s still notable heading into a game where they’re 3.5-point underdogs. Justin Fields has already taken 10 sacks and produced five turnovers, so we’ll be looking to target defenses against him whenever possible.

If the Giants defense projects for heavy ownership, I’ve got no problem with flipping it around and rostering Chicago though. These are two bad offensive lines protecting mistake-prone quarterbacks — defensive points are highly likely here.

Get a 100% Deposit Match up to $100!

Sign up and deposit up to $100

Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only