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. From Week 5 on, I will be basing these selections almost entirely on Football Outsiders data, including pressure rate and adjusted line yards.
However, we’ll still be taking a glance at qualitative sources. Including 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.
Starting in Week 5, these numbers became matchup adjusted, which should make them far more efficient. Each week, they become slightly more predictive. However, they don’t take injuries into account, so keeping up on those are important. 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
Detroit Lions OL (#1 in Combined Line Yards, #5 in Combined Sack Rate) vs. Green Bay Packers DL
The Lions offensive line continues to be a bright spot for the struggling team, ranking third in adjusted line yards and second in adjusted sack rate on the season. That stands out this week, in which they take on a Packers team that has struggled to stop the run all season, ranking 31st in adjusted line yards on defense.
Of course, the problem is the committee nature of Detroit’s running game. D’Andre Swift returned to action last week, further complicating the situation. Swift had five carries, Jamaal Williams had 10, and two other backs split three carries between them.
Still, if they’re able to keep things close against the Packers, it could be another good spot for Williams. The former Packer averaged over five yards per carry last week and scored two touchdowns. That goal-line work makes him especially valuable.
Don’t forget about the Lions’ passing game, either. They ended up disappointing from a fantasy perspective last week, but largely because of Williams’ two scores. As we’ve discussed, Jared Goff is one of the most pressure-sensitive quarterbacks in the league — and the Packers are unlikely to give him too much trouble in that department.
Green Bay Packers OL (#2 in Combined Line Yards, #3 in Combined Sack Rate) vs. Detroit Lions DL
One of the reasons to like this game is that it’s also a strong matchup for the Packers offense. Detroit’s defensive woes are well documented at this point, but the trouble starts up front: they rank 26th in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate.
Given the lack of weaponry in the Packers’ passing game, this feels like an excellent spot for Aaron Jones. After seeing just 17 carries in the previous two weeks combined, he handled 20 last week. That was in a negative game script against the Bills, so he could easily match that number in Week 9’s much softer matchup.
Still, it could be worth taking a shot on Aaron Rodgers and the passing attack. Detroit just got lit up by the Dolphins’ receivers last week, and this game has serious shootout potential. If there’s ever a spot for Rodgers to get right, it’s here.
Lav Vegas Raiders OL (#3 in Combined Line Yards, #4 in Combined Sack Rate) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars DL
After averaging over seven yards per carry in back-to-back weeks, Josh Jacobs finally regressed a bit in Week 8. He ran just 10 times for 43 yards and failed to find the end zone. Still, the Raiders’ offensive line isn’t to blame, as they rank best in the league in adjusted line yards.
We can somewhat comfortably expect Jacobs’ volume to pick back up this week, as the Raiders are slight favorites over the Jaguars. He was stuck with a negative game script last week for the bulk of the game.
On the flip side, Jacksonville is a tougher matchup on paper than the Saints in the run game. That means we can’t necessarily project an improvement in efficiency. Still, it’s a good spot on paper, so Jacobs is firmly in the DFS conversation this week.
Strong Defensive Line Matchups
Tampa Bay Bucs DL (#2 in Combined Sack Rate) vs. Los Angeles Rams OL
While Tampa’s defensive front isn’t the impressive run-stopping unit it had been in recent years, they’ve still excelled in the pass rush. They rank second in adjusted sack rate this season and third with 25 sacks overall.
More importantly, they’re also facing a Rams offensive line that has drastically underperformed this season. Los Angeles ranks dead last in adjusted line yards and 26th in adjusted sack rate on the year. That latter stat is partially on slow-footed Matthew Stafford, but he’s not getting any faster.
The other side of this game (Rams defense) is also an attractive spot, with similar issues plaguing Tom Brady and the Bucs. However, Tampa Bay is my preferred fantasy defense. They’re $300 cheaper on DraftKings, despite being three-point underdogs.
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