By MV July 5th 2015

Looking back on my young handicapping days in Vegas a wise guy named Paulie told me that the best way to handicap is to study Offensive and Defensive lines. In his deep Brooklyn accent he asked, “You like the Bills today, huh, well how many lineman can you name in the game?” I dug deep and came up with one name, “umm, Brown?” His point was clear the game is largely decided on the line of scrimmage and when it’s matched up closely it comes down to 2-3 plays.

Our projections start on the line of scrimmage. When we come up with our player projections we first need to break down game outcomes. A team’s record and the score of the game dictates the fantasy production in the game. Our projections tell a story and the strength of the Offensive and Defensive Line fills in the chapters.

How do I use O-Line Rankings when I draft? If I am stuck deciding on 1-3 Running Back’s in the draft I will always select the RB with the stronger line. Strength of schedule and bye weeks is all background noise.

There is a connection of the top fantasy offenses and the top offensive lines. There is also a direct correlation to playoff teams with the best offensive lines. There is also a pattern towards the bottom of the list where the best offensive lines have stayed together and the best teams make it a priority to keep their O-Lineman. Maybe my paesano Paulie was right afterall.

32. Atlanta Falcons

LT Jake Matthews
LG Chris Chester
C Joe Hawley
RG Jon Asamoah
RT Ryan Schraeder

A whole lot of injuries in 2014, and not 1 of their lineman started all 16 games last year. The team is hoping Jake Matthews improves on his poor 2014 performance. Add in Devonta Freeman’s poor blocking and this has an impact on where I draft Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. If Tevin Coleman wins the job it might be because he can block. This whole thing stinks. There are too many weapons to not have blockers for. This poor unit might have cost Mike Smith his job.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

LT Luke Joeckel
LG Zane Beadles
C Luke Bowanko
RG Brandon Linder
RT Jermey Parnell

This line had a league high 71 sacks in 2014. This is a young group and a full off season together could provide a boost in their pass protection performance. Their run-game should also improve with the addition of day 1 starter TJ Yeldon, yep, he’s good. I keep referring back to the best two RB fantasy seasons I can remember were Fred Taylor and MJD, both Jags. Nostalgia and association might get me into trouble this year, still it has to be better than Toby Gerhart.

30. St. Louis Rams

LT Greg Robinson
LG Rodger Saffold
C Tim Barnes
RG Barrett Jones
RT Brandon Washington

Three of the Rams’ O-Line starters are new to the team. The Rams are clearly building something for the future. They added Gurley and spent four of their nine picks in this year’s draft on O-Lineman. This line will move up the ranks in the next few years.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LT Donovan Smith
LG Logan Mankins
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
RG Patrick Omameh
RT Demar Dotson

This is another young group with the team drafting two tackles in round two of this year’s draft. Dougie Martin is in a contract year and is the projected starter, mild upside, but meh.

28. Tennessess Titans

LT Taylor Lewan
LG Andy Levitre
C Brian Schwenke
RG Chance Warmack
RT Byron Stingily

A rookie Quarterback can make an offensive line look worse than it really is. The problem is this unit did not need very much help. This is Lewan’s first year as a week 1 starter after being drafted in the first round of 2014’s draft. This offense clearly needs this unit to play their hearts out. It is hard to blame Sankey alone for his poor rookie campaign. We will see how they progress in the preseason.

27. Miami Dolphins

LT Branden Albert
LG Dallas Thomas
C Mike Pouncey
RG Billy Turner
RT Ja’Wuan James

It seems as though this group has been reeling in from the Incognito bully debacle for over two years now. This group did well in rushing last year largely due to Tannehill’s fleet-footedness. He will continue to be forced out of the pocket and have to make plays with his feet. This team desperately needs Branden Albert ready for week 1. We will either slide this group up or down based on his health.

26. Oakland Raiders

LT Donald Penn
LG Gabe Jackson
C Rodney Hudson
RG Khalif Barnes
RT Austin Howard

This group has built in a little competition, J’Marcus Webb and Menelik Watson, might be in the starting lineup at some point. The Rodney Hudson signing, former KC Chief, should help.

25. Carolina Panthers

LT Michael Oher
LG Andrew Norwell
C Ryan Kalil
RG Trai Turner
RT Mike Remmers

You don’t need too much help when your Quarterback is built like a linebacker, but you need some help. I am unclear if this group improved this offseason. They let Byron Bell walk after an abysmal 2014 performance at Tackle, but they replaced him with Michael Oher who has played for three teams in as many years. Oher had a pathetic 2014 in Tennessee. Good luck Cam, watch that “Blind Side”.

24. New York Giants

LT Ereck Flowers
LG Justin Pugh
C Weston Richburg
RG Geoff Schwartz
RT Marshall Newhouse

There is a slight upgrade here with the addition of Marshall Newhouse from the Bengals. Losing Will Beatty until November hurts. Their first round draft pick Ereck Flowers will need to step up and fill the Tackle spot. Eli has two new book ends to protect him.

23. Buffalo Bills

LT Cordy Glenn
LG John Miller
C Eric Wood
RG Richie Incognito
RT Seantrel Henderson

This is not the most impressive group of lineman; however, LeSean McCoy will make them look better than they are. We are still not going to spend any of our first round pick on him this year. Center Eric Wood has been receiving praise from Head Coach Rex Ryan. While he is a defensive minded HC, I believe he gets the war at the line of scrimmage. Now, let’s go eat a goddam snack!

22. Arizona Cardinals

LT Jared Veldheer
LG Mike Iupati
C Ted Larsen
RG Jonathan Cooper
RT Bobby Massie

This is another group that is preparing for the future by spending their first pick in the draft on DJ Humphries, Tackle, out of Florida. The addition of former first rounder and three-time Pro Bowler Mike Iupati is huge. This group has the chance to be the most improved this year and Carson Palmer needs them too. Palmer has been cleared for 11-on-11 drills and reports that he is faster, quicker, and stronger than he has ever been which makes him the 31st quickest and fastest QB in the league in front of Brady, barely. Palmer was on pace for 30 TD’s and 4400 yards before going down in week 10. We will see if this O-line helps him stay up right for 16 weeks.

21. Denver Broncos

LT Ty Sambrailo
LG Ben Garland
C Gino Gradkowski
RG Louis Vasquez
RT Chris Clark

I am not sure how satisfied Peyton is with this unit. Remember that they soldered his forehead and his head onto his neck in 2011. I don’t weld so I am not sure what goes into it, but I am sure that they want to keep the impacts to a minimum. This is a new group, Orlando Franklin and Manny Ramirez are gone and Tackle Ryan Clady tore his ACL in May and is out for the season. Ty Sambrailo is a rookie from Colorado State and he has the simple task of protecting Manning’s blind side, so they should be good.

20. Indianapolis Colts

LT Anthony Castonzo
LG Donald Thomas
C Khaled Holmes
RG Todd Herremans
RT Jack Mewhort

A lot of people were scratching their heads when the team drafted Phillip Dorsett in the first round. It seemed like a backup plan to not reaching a deal with TY Hilton in 2016. This was most likely perceived by TY Hilton’s camp as a threat to his payday. Still, you, the entire football world, and I thought they would address their offensive line or their defense. They did not, so they enter the year with the same question marks up front. Luck will continue to succeed, but do not expect Gore to have a breakout campaign simply because he is on the Colts. Gore came from a 49er team that gave him top ten blocking for the better part of his ten years there. Gore will need some help up front. We still like him this year, defenses will not be able to stack the box like they had been doing to Kaepernick and Gore the last couple of seasons.

19. San Diego Chargers

LT King Dunlap
LG Orlando Franklin
C Chris Watt
RG Kenny Wiggins
RT D.J. Fluker

The only thing preventing this unit from falling in the high 20’s is Melvin Gordon. His ability to break one on any play changes the dynamic of this entire offense. I am buying on this guy in the 3rd round after going RB-WR or WR-WR.

18. Detroit Lions

LT Riley Reiff
LG Laken Tomlinson
C Travis Swanson
RG Larry Warford
RT LaAdrian Waddle

This unit, we hope, has improved. They replaced Center Dominic Raiola with 2nd year Razorback Travis Swanson. Manny Ramirez was a “throw in” from the Broncos after he had a poor season there. Manny comes back to Detroit and will fill in as a swing Guard/Center which provides some depth. Rookie Laken Tomlinson will win the starting Left Guard job. Laken is an ACC All-Academic from Duke who plans to go to medical school after football. He was ranked as the best pass blocker in all of NCAA for 2014. There is so much draft value in this offense that we are heavily rooting for this unit to succeed.

17. Kansas City Chiefs

LT Eric Fisher
LG Ben Grubbs
C Eric Kush
RG Jeff Allen
RT Donald Stephenson

Grubbs comes over from the Saints and should upgrade this line immediately. He has not missed a start in three years. Jeff Allen has not played since 2013 and is at 100% now and is slated at Right Guard, but he might be a Tackle. Andy Reid is experimenting with his line currently. Eric Fisher was one of the worst tackles in the league last year and Andy had Stephenson working at Left Tackle and Allen at Right Tackle. Fisher was the first overall selection in the 2013 draft. Will see how it works out in preseason.

16. Minnesota Vikings

LT Matt Kalil
LG Brandon Fusco
C John Sullivan
RG T.J. Clemmings
RT Phil Loadholt

Piss-poor pass blocking but this group managed to rank in the top half of the league despite not having Adrian Peterson. This is a contract year for Matt Kalil. The former Trojan gained 16 pounds this offseason after having two knee surgeries. Not a great start. Loadholt is a seven year veteran with the Vikings and is also coming off an injury. Clemmings is a 4th rounder that is slated to start at Right Guard but may slide into the Right Tackle role. Clemmings was a first round hopeful that slid to the 4th because of a foot injury that he had healed from. Adrian Peterson just needs 5 guys to lineup so that they don’t get penalized. Bridgewater who we like as a potential producer as a QB2 will need some help, and this group needs to get it together.

15. San Francisco 49ers

LT Joe Staley
LG Brandon Thomas
C Marcus Martin
RG Erik Pears
RT Alex Boone

“Next man up” is an in-season saying that helps a culture overcome adversity but when an offseason plagued with mysterious departures and early retirements occurs it has to bring some psychological effect. Still NFL athletes are professionals with healthy ego-drive. In perseverance this is a talented group even with losing Mike Iupati to free agency and the retirement of 25-year old Anthony Davis. Alex Boone wants more money and he has a chance to earn it as the new Right Tackle replacing Anthony. Boone played Right Tackle for the Buckeyes. Pears is a veteran Guard who is now playing with his 4th team and slides into the Right Guard spot. Brandon Thomas will be Iupati’s successor and dis coming off injury. Joe Staley is an elite Left Tackle and is ready to roll after a two year contract extension on top of his nine-year deal from 2009. Question marks have this group dropping out of the top ten, but they are still talented enough to produce a fantasy relevant run game featuring Carlos Hyde. Just a hunch, but I am looking for Kaepernick to improve his ground game numbers (especially touchdowns) after the departure of Harbaugh. Sources tell us that the way Kaepernick was being used and developed started most of the tension with Trent Baalke and owner Jed York. Ultimatum’s surrounding Greg Roman’s future ultimately resulted in Harbaugh’s departure.

14. Chicago Bears

LT Jermon Bushrod
LG Matt Slauson
C Will Montgomery
RG Jordan Mills
RT Kyle Long

Slauson looks to be ready for the year. Kyle Long has been spotted taking reps at Tackle, and so for now we have swapped the Right Guard and Right Tackle positions. Veteran Will Montgomery follows Aadam Gase and John Fox over from Denver and will be heading up Center. There are still a lot of question marks on this line.

13. Cleveland Browns

LT Joe Thomas
LG Joel Bitonio
C Alex Mack
RG John Greco
RT Mitchell Schwartz

This is one of the most talented offensive lines in the league. The problem is, well you know what the problem is.

12. Washington Redskins

LT Trent Williams
LG Shawn Lauvao
C Kory Lichtensteiger
RG Spencer Long
RT Brandon Scherff

Trent Williams is a beast at Left Tackle and is experiencing no set-backs from his ankle clean-up procedure. This is a contract year for him. Brandon Scherff was selected 5th overall from USC and is slated to start at Right Tackle. They should definitely improve on their 58 total sacks from 2014. Of course we will see what Jay Gruden does with his QB’s again this year. While the early Matt Jones praise by Jay has created some hype, Alfred Morris will be the starter. With the addition of O-Line Coach Bill Callahan we expect Alf to have a 1000+ rushing season with double digit TD’s. Well worth his current mid-3rd round ADP.

11. Seattle Seahawks

LT Russell Okung
LG Alvin Bailey
C Lemuel Jeanpierre
RG J.R. Sweezy
RT Justin Britt

I really hate excluding this group from the top 10, but someone has to fill the spot. This is a good group of lineman made excellent by a Beast-Mode of a Running Back and the most elusive Quarterback I have ever seen. Of course I will side to the loss of Max Unger and James Crapenter to free agency as the reason why we bounced them from the top ten.

10. New York Jets

LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson
LG Willie Colon
C Nick Mangold
RG James Carpenter
RT Breno Giacomini

This has been a culture of a great offensive line for what seems like over 10 years. Surprisingly this team had the 3rd most rushing yards in football last year. Ya but, I saw a game when Rex refused to let Geno throw the football. James Carpenter comes over from Seattle and helps them out at the Guard position. Mangold is one of the best in the game. We are looking at Ivory’s current ADP mid-8th as a value pick, injury risk, sure but back that up with Ridley in the 14th and you locked up a back field that is running behind one of the best O-lines in the game.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

LT Andrew Whitworth
LG Clint Boling
C Russell Bodine
RG Kevin Zeitler
RT Andre Smith

Whitworth is in his 10th season with the Bengals and Andre Smith is in his 7th with the Bengals. The Bengals offensive line played in the NFL for an accumulated 30 years this year all for one team. That is a lot of continuity. You have to love the club’s loyalty. They did; however, spend their first 2 picks on tackles in this year’s draft. Smart. This run game is something to be envious of. Jeremy Hill is likely to push his way into the first round of next year’s draft while Gio will have a better year.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

LT Jason Peters
LG Dennis Kelly
C Jason Kelce
RG Allen Barbre
RT Lane Johnson

There was a lot of movement on this roster including the offensive line. The departure of Evan Mathis is being reviewed by the NFLPA, and we will bump this group up if he stays with the club. There is a lot for me to be worried about with DeMarco Murray. His ADP of 2.2 suggests that I am not the only one. Still, it is hard to deny what he did last year and the Eagles offensive line is not a complete drop off in talent. I believe that Ryan Matthews will have a greater impact on this offense than believed. When DeMarco and Ryan both go down with an injury who is the next up? McCoy had an amazing ability to shake off possible injuries. Matthews and Murray have an amazing ability to avoid the field.

7. New England Patriots

LT Nate Solder
LG Tre’ Jackson
C Bryan Stork
RG Ryan Wendell
RT Sebastian Vollmer

This offense will never support a full time fantasy relevant Running Back that you can count on, but it has a different purpose. To be one of the best pass-protection units in the NFL and take care of the man Tom Brady. This is a unit that has only played for the Patriots. Continuity creates timing. Tre’ Jackson was drafted by the Patriots in the 4th round and is the only new addition to this offensive line. Vollmer might not be ready for training camp, but should be ready to go for the start of the season.

6. Houston Texans

LT Duane Brown
LG Xavier Su’a-Filo
C Ben Jones
RG Brandon Brooks
RT Derek Newton

The secret to Arian’s success? Maybe. Left Tackle Duane Brown has added twenty pounds. Brown says that was his goal to improve his run blocking. Our weight gains have different implications. Derek Newton is arguably the best run blocking Right Tackle in the game. Ben Jones moves to Center which opens the door for 2014 2nd round draft pick Xavier Su’ a-Filo to take the Left Guard job. There is no stopping this run game. Brandon Brooks is one of the best Guards in the game. All in, this is a great line supported by Arian Foster. Look for another big year for #23.

5. New Orleans Saints

LT Terron Armstead
LG Tim Lelito
C Max Unger
RG Jahri Evans
RT Zach Strief

Adding Max Unger courtesy the Jimmy Graham deal should improve the unit. Andrus Peat was drafted as a possible replacement to Zach Strief and seems to be a good fit at the Left Guard vacancy left by Ben Grubbs departure, but for now the team has Tim Lelito starting at Left Guard. The Spiller signing made it difficult to keep Evans, but they figured it out and now get to work with each other. CJ Spiller gets a second chance out of Buffalo and all I can do is think about what Marshawn did when he left upstate New York. The former 9th overall pick is on our must-draft list.

4. Baltimore Ravens

LT Eugene Monroe
LG Kelechi Osemele
C Jeremy Zuttah
RG Marshal Yanda
RT Ricky Wagner

This group is so good it made 29 year-old, 4 team backup, recipient of circumstance Running Back Justin Forsett look like a Pro Bowler. Eugene Monroe had some injury issues last year and should be good in 2015. Ricky Wagner is a top ten pass blocking Tackle in the NFL. He suffered a lisfranc injury but should be ready for training camp. Both Guards are in contract years and are two of the best Guards in the league. Look for Forsett to improve on his 2014 campaign with the addition of Trestman to the team. Our expectations are that he will catch more balls this year.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

LT Kelvin Beachum
LG Ramon Foster
C Maurkice Pouncey
RG David DeCastro
RT Marcus Gilbert

Kelvin Beachum is in the final year of his rookie deal and has been a top ten tackle in the league. Marcus Gilbert is also ranked as a top 10 tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus. This is another organization that is loyal to its players. Every starting lineman has been with the Steelers their entire career. I don’t have to sell Le’Veon Bell. How high you draft him is contingent upon his suspension. I could make a case for drafting him first overall even with missing the first three games of the year. The league has not made a ruling on his appeal yet.

2. Green Bay Packers

LT David Bakhtiari
LG Josh Sitton
C Corey Linsley
RG T.J. Lang
RT Bryan Bulaga

The Packers are great at pass protection and excellent run blockers. Bakhtari has been bulking up this offseason and should improve in his third year. Pro Football Focus named Bryan Bulaga the fourth best Right Tackle for 2014. Corey Linsley did well filling in for JC Tretter last year and held onto the job. Now in his 2nd year McCarthy raves about him and how well he stepped up. This entire starting offensive line has only played for the Packers. This offensive line should continue to dominate and Lacy is in store for a career year.

1. Dallas Cowboys

LT Tyron Smith
LG Ronald Leary
C Travis Frederick
RG Zack Martin
RT Doug Free

Tyron Smith and Doug Free are two of the best tackles in football and they are on the same squad. Leary, Martin and Frederick are all young talents. This starting unit again has never played with any other team. Jerry Jones gets it. He drafted three more offensive lineman in the 2015 draft. This line will be good for years to come. The biggest question is who they will be blocking for. I still believe that Jerry is going to make a run at Adrian Peterson after he gets Dez locked in. If not, and it is Darren McFadden, well he is only 27 and his injuries might not have hurt as much as they would have if he was playing in Dallas. Oakland is painful, but he has not looked good yet this offseason. Joseph Randle is the front runner and has home run ability we will see what happens this summer.




  1. You state that the Browns have one of the most talented lines in the NFL and then you rank them #13 because?? Because they have no QB? You let me know when the QB is leading a running back through the hole. Browns have a top three NFL line and you show your ignorance by placing them at 13 because of a lack of talent at other positions. Thomas top LT, Bitonio top 5 guard, Mack, top 3 center, Greco, Swartz and Cameron Erving are all very serviceable o-lineman.

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