Week 6 O-Line Spotlight
You have probably surmised that watching the offensive line over the course of a game to uncover nuggets of fantasy information can be monotonous. While you focus on the star defensive end pushing through with a bulrush, you miss the spectacular play opening on the far sideline. And when focusing on a formidable interior lineman swimming through the center/guard gap, you overlook Todd Gurley getting to the corner and cutting upfield for 30 yards.
It’s difficult to not follow the ball when enjoying Sunday from your couch, neighborhood watering hole, or freezing-cold and pricey stadium seat. Flipping on the Red Zone Channel and scouring box scores afterward is not a bad way to absorb as much NFL action as you can. If you want that extra edge on your fantasy league mates, though, it’s important to dig a little deeper. And that’s where offensive and defensive linemen come into play.
It’s one thing to know who is scoring your fantasy points, but can we find out how they are scoring those points? As they say, it all starts up front.
Kicking off the Week 6 O-Line Spotlight, here is the team that lost most frequently in the trenches:
I would be remiss if we did not spotlight the team that allowed a franchise-high number of sacks to Baltimore. The Ravens, a pillar of this century’s “defense wins championships” mantra, has never had more than nine sacks in a game. That changed Sunday when the Rat Birds stomped through a lackluster Titans line, putting Marcus Mariota in the holiday spirit. He was spooked, seeing ghosts 👻, and running directly into sacks.
Things started right off the bat 🦇. My notes from the first 13 pass plays should give a good idea of how things were going:
Things didn’t get much better after that. Mariota was sacked on 11 of his 30 dropbacks and five times in the first 17 snaps. Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry combined for 30 yards on twelve carries (2.5 YPC). The Titans had 106 total yards. Mariota had fewer completions (10) than sacks taken (11).
It was bad.
In this day, when NFL teams are averaging 24 to 25 points per game, shutouts are anomalies. The Titans became the third team to suffer a goose egg this season, joining the Cardinals in Week 2 and Bills in Week 4. Those teams came out in subsequent weeks and hung a combined 27 points on their opponents. This isn’t to say Tennessee will score 13.5 points against the Chargers in Week 7, but they have a strong need to break out of their funk. Tennessee ranks 22nd in rushing yards per game and 30th in passing yards per game.
Keep an eye on the health of left guard Quinton Spain, who has been one of the stronger pieces of the Titans’ offensive line, despite allowing the Ravens’ fastest sack of the season to Za’Darius Smith (Next Gen Stats are fantastic). Spain’s replacement would be Corey Levin, a 2017 sixth-round pick who has only 16 regular season snaps in his career, but had a promising preseason.
Los Angeles, Tennessee’s Week 7 opponent, is a top-half pass defense with a middle-of-the-road quarterback hurry amount. Tennessee will dodge Joey Bosa, who will be sidelined for an additional week or two, but Bosa’s replacement Damion Square just earned 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss against Cleveland. Square contributed to the eight sacks the Chargers have totaled over the last two weeks, thanks to heavy rotation usage to keep the defensive line fresh while their opponents are playing from behind. I expect more of the same here, leaving Mariota a sitting duck 🦆 while raising the fantasy value of the Chargers’ fantasy defense.
Enough with the insalubrious state of Tennessee, let’s talk about a group that showed out in Week 6:
In a game filled with ugly, ugly (goal line fumbles) plays, the Chicago offensive line looked like a bunch of hunks. Though the Bears’ young quarterback makes some poor decisions and seems lost when facing pressure, his men up front have done well keeping him comfortable in the pocket.
— Lorin Cox (@CoxSports1) October 15, 2018
The Bears’ O-line is the perfect example of a rising tide lifting all boats. While throwing end zone interceptions into double-coverage or pulling the ball down to run when you still have a perfectly clean pocket are negatives in the “real” football world, our fake football world is only concerned with Mitchell Trubisky’s numbers, and the sophomore quarterback’s line is helping him produce.
Mitch Trubisky NFL ranks through 5 games:
Completion %: 4th
Passer rating: 7th
Touchdowns: 11th (every QB with more has played 6 games)
Rushing yards: 5th (every QB with more except Cam has played 6)
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) October 15, 2018
In Trubisky’s recent explosion games, the Bears have maintained the eighth-most rushing yards/game (buoyed partially by Trubisky’s 100 yards in the last two weeks). If not air, then by land, and if not land, then by air. And we are already seeing a shift in who exactly the Bears are allowing to gobble up those yards.
Jordan Howard's snap rate over the last month of games: 73% > 62% > 54% > 51%
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) October 15, 2018
This isn’t to say that 5’6” 180-pound Tarik Cohen is suddenly a workhorse, but Jordan Howard’s downhill snap share coincides with Cohen garnering 32 touches and 295 total yards over the past two games. Don’t expect that to end any time soon, as Week 7 opponent New England has allowed 60.2 receiving yards per game out of the backfield, fifth–most in the league. (And Chicago’s Week 8 opponent, the New York Jets aren’t far behind, allowing 51.3 per game.)
The Patriots have allowed 400-plus total yards in four of their six games this season. The Bears entire offense behind their stout offensive line will be good to go.
Week 6 Accountability
Before we take our leave, let’s revisit the Week 5 O-Line Spotlight and see how it did:
NYG vs. PHI
I suggested fading Eli Manning against stout Eagles defensive line. He posted a stat line of 281 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, and 4 sacks.
SEA at OAK
I told you not to be surprised by another efficient Seahawks game, suggesting Doug Baldwin as a buy-low. Russell Wilson went 17 of 23 for 222 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT; Seattle’s running backs carried 29 times for 123 yards; and Baldwin caught nine passes for 91 yards.