Offensive Lines The Starting Point For All Fantasy Production

By Adam Pfeifer
Adam Pfeifer



Who is the first player to touch the football every single play?

That's right. The center.

It has been a bit better lately but for the most part, offensive line play continues to be severely overlooked and under-appreciated when it comes to fantasy football. And it shocks me because so often I hear player debates and the line "yeah, but the offensive line was a mess" is uttered. Try asking Joe Burrow how important it is to have a steady offensive line to pass protect, especially after he was under pressure nearly 40 percent of the time during Cincinnati's Super Bowl run. You could ask Tua Tagovailoa the same question, as Miami's offensive line has been among the worst in football over the last year or so. There are so many factors when it comes to fantasy football, with offensive line play being a major one. Yet one of the most difficult positions in all of sports continues to go overlooked.

Time to show some love.

The Elite

Philadelphia Eagles

It shouldn't come as a surprise to see the Eagles regarded as an elite offensive line. Led by veterans Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, Philadelphia has been among the league's best for years. This was arguably the best rushing attack in the NFL last season, as according to Football Outsiders, just 12 percent of the carries by the Eagles were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, which was the lowest rate in football. Meanwhile, the team generated 2.22 yards before contact per rush attempt, which was the highest mark in the league. Running back Miles Sanders alone averaged 3.4 yards before contact per carry, the second-highest rate at the running back position. The Eagles also found their future at left tackle in Jordan Mailata, who ranked 13th in Pro Football Focus' run-blocking grades, as well as 15th in pass-blocking. And with Johnson, who didn't allow a single sack in over 400 pass-blocking snaps last year, and Kelce still playing at a high level, this should remain one of the three best units in football, especially if left guard Landon Dickerson can continue to improve entering his second season.



Kansas City Chiefs

Like the Eagles, the Chiefs' offensive line was already very strong. But the additions of Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith really took this unit to a new level. Humphrey is already legitimately one of the best centers in football after just one season. PFF graded him as the top overall center in the league last season, while left guard Joe Thuney continues to play at an elite level. Thuney allowed just one sack on a league-high 805 pass-blocking snaps. The strength of this unit is definitely run-blocking, as only the Eagles created more yards before contact per rush than Kansas City last season (2.08) and the success was even more impressive when you consider that the Chiefs walked into the 2020 season with five brand new starters on the offensive line.



Detroit Lions

Don't look now but the Lions are building something in Detroit. They have plenty of talent on offense but it starts with a borderline elite offensive line. After adding Penei Sewell last offseason, Detroit's offensive line took a step forward in 2021, despite Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow only playing in four games. So an already very good unit will get an elite center back, who received the third-best run-blocking grade among centers when he was healthy back in 2020. Continuity is extremely important when it comes to an offensive line and the Lions will be returning their entire unit from this past season, which is fantastic. Don't be at all surprised if the Lions emerge as the clear best line in the NFL by the end of the season. They are that good.



Right There


Cincinnati Bengals

I know. What a difference a year can make, right? This time last year, the Bengals sported one of the worst pass-blocking units in football. And it translated over the course of the season, as quarterback Joe Burrow was under duress on 38 percent of his dropbacks during the postseason. And over the course of the regular season, the Bengals sported the second-worst adjusted sack rate in all of football (9.1 percent). However, Cincinnati clearly addressed the weakness of the roster by adding to the right side of the offensive line. The Bengals added La'el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras, massively upgrading this unit. Unlike the Lions, it might take a bit for this unit to gel but once they do, there likely won't be a more improved line in all of football. Burrow with more protection and more time to throw to his elite pass-catchers? Yeah, that is a scary thought.



Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have made serious acquisitions to the offensive line over the last two seasons. In 2021, the team added Cory Linsley via free agency and Rashawn Slater via the draft. And this past April, the team selected guard Zion Johnson in the first round. Slater looks like a future All-Pro left tackle, while the Chargers sported the league's fifth-lowest adjusted sack rate a season ago (5.0 percent). Meanwhile, quarterback Justin Herbert was only under pressure on 26.5 percent of his dropbacks, which was the fifth-lowest rate among qualified signal callers. If Johnson lives up to the hype, this unit will finally climb into the elite tier. Last season at Boston College, Johnson allowed just one sack, two hits and three hurries in nearly 370 pass-blocking snaps. He's a very high-floor player and should massively help the right side of this Chargers offensive line that struggled a little bit this past season.



The Bad


Chicago Bears

The Bears' offensive line has to be viewed as the worst in football, especially after some of the additions the Miami Dolphins made this past offseason. Chicago will rely heavily on 23-year-old left tackle Larry Borom and 24-year-old right tackle Teven Jenkins. No team in the NFL last season sported a higher adjusted sack rate than the Bears (9.5 percent), while Justin Fields was under pressure on 42.8 percent of his dropbacks during his rookie season, the third-highest rate in all of football. This unit also struggled to create running lanes for David Montgomery and company, as 21 percent of the carries by the Bears were stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage, the second-highest rate in the league. To address this position, Chicago added four rookie linemen via the draft, though all four players were selected in the fifth round or later. And after losing right guard James Daniels in free agency, I just don't know if that is going to be enough to get it done.

Philadelphia Eagles: A+
Kansas City Chiefs: A+
Cleveland Browns: A+
Detroit Lions: A
Dallas Cowboys: A
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A-
Los Angeles Chargers: A-
New England Patriots: A-
Cincinnati Bengals: B+
San Francisco 49ers: B+
Indianapolis Colts: B+
New York Jets: B
Los Angeles Rams: B
Washington Commanders: B
Baltimore Ravens: B
New Orleans Saints: B-
Buffalo Bills: B-
Denver Broncos: B-
Green Bay Packers: B-
Carolina Panthers: C+
Atlanta Falcons: C+
New York Giants: C+
Miami Dolphins: C
Minnesota Vikings: C
Pittsburgh Steelers: C-
Tennessee Titans: C-
Jacksonville Jaguars: C-
Arizona Cardinals: C-
Houston Texans: D+
Seattle Seahawks: D+
Las Vegas Raiders: D
Chicago Bears: D