NFL O-line Overview: Week 3

Injuries can derail a team’s season like nothing else. Aside from losing a starting quarterback (the early favorite for “Narrative of the 2019 season”) injuries to the offensive line can be particularly tricky to overcome. That’s namely because of the general gap in quality between starters and backups, but also because the ol’ swap-guys-around trick rarely works out.

Without further ado, let’s check in at which O-lines around the league are looking up and which are holding their team back.

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Week 2 Observations

It was a frustrating week, I won’t lie. My fantasy teams did okay, but I went 5-10 against the spread, lost my best bet (the Saints) and my Super Contest entry was 1-3, pending Monday night. Maybe it’s just the state of mind I’m in during a week like this, but the product quality seemed worse than ever to me. So many penalties — it seemed like every other play, and only about half of them were legitimate. The worst call of the weekend was the ref blowing dead Cam Jordan’s fumble return TD for no reason whatsoever. Why not let the play happen and let the review (automatic on turnovers) take its course?

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Week 2 DFS Lineup: Targeting Josh Allen, Tyrell Williams at Bargain Prices

DFS LINEUP – DraftKings

QB – Josh Allen @ NYG, $5,300

Allen was the No. 1 quarterback in fantasy over the final six weeks of 2018, with 79.3 yards per game on the ground and 13 total touchdowns during that span. Last week he had a decent showing of 16 points against the Jets, and despite committing two interceptions and fumbling twice, proved capable of leading Buffalo back from a 16-point third-quarter deficit with a rushing and a passing score down the stretch. He and the Bills head back to MetLife Stadium for the second time in a week, now to take on a Big Blue defense that allowed to Dak Prescott to throw for 405 passing yards, four touchdowns and a perfect quarterback rating in Week 1. Mashing the “over” button on his ESPN-projected output of 18.7 points, and looking to take capitalize on a discount quarterback in a dream matchup.

RB – Alvin Kamara @ LAR, $8,200

In Kamara we’re taking that margin gained from the budget QB, and throwing it down immediately on a star running back. Barkley, Zeke, take your pick… but Kamara brings an even further elevated ceiling in this NFC Championship game rematch. The matchup is expected by Las Vegas to be an absolute boat race, as indicated by the over/under of 52 points – the third-highest of Week 2. Christian McCaffrey was RB1 against these LA Rams in Week 1 with 42.9 PPR points, and Kamara is as much a lock as any other back to hit 20 points Sunday in what will be a high-scoring affair.

RB – Austin Ekeler @ DET, $6,100

Even in the wake of a monstrous Week 1 showing that saw him rack up 154 total yards and three touchdowns, it doesn’t appear that the market has quite caught up with Ekeler — who is underpriced at his current number of $6,100. Melvin Gordon remains sidelined because of a contract dispute with the team, meaning Ekeler is in line for a sizeable workload once more in Week 2, taking on a Lions defense that last week gave up 25.7 points to David Johnson. One deterrent could the Chargers’ banged-up offensive line, but this Russell Okung-less front five is still better than what Arizona was trotting out there last Sunday. Ekeler has averaged 92 scrimmage yards, 5.8 catches, and more than a touchdown per game in his last four outings with at least 15 touches, meaning his 16.8 projected point total is on the conservative side.

WR – Michael Thomas @ LAR, $8,000

Wouldn’t mind going with a Rams wideout here to maintain some roster balance, but Thomas is an absolute target monster and possesses more upside than any member of LA talented receiving trio – who will each have a productive Week 2, but perhaps do not have 30-point blowup potential with so many mouths to feed in the Rams passing game. Thomas absorbed more than a quarter of the Saints’ targets in 2018, and during the thrilling Week 1 win over Houston on Monday Night Football, garnered 33 percent of the target share, and translated those opportunities into 10 receptions for 123 yards. Definitely not sold yet on Jared Cook being an integral week-in, week-out contributor to this Saints’ passing attack, and New Orleans has one of the least impressive collections of potential No. 2 wide receivers in the NFL (granted, Ted Ginn went for 102 receiving yards against the Texans, but Thomas is, of course, overwhelmingly the top guy on the perimeter for New Orleans). The Rams and Saints have met three times since the start of the 2017 season, yielding an average of 58.3 points scored per game. Get me as much stock in this game as humanly possible.

WR – Terrell Williams vs. KC, $4,400

Guys like Willie Snead, D.J. Chark and Corey Davis are more expensive headed into Week 2 than Williams. Give me Williams all day over any of those guys, especially facing a Chiefs defense that gave up three passing touchdowns, and allowed six different Jaguars receivers to rack up four-plus catches in the season opener. Williams’ price point of $4,400 was clearly determined prior to his six-catch, 105-yard, one-touchdown breakout against Denver on Monday night, explaining why he is in every lineup that I have set for this weekend. This is a discrepancy between perceived value and expected output that can be utilized to gain an edge in tournaments this weekend. Oakland is going to have to throw to keep up in this game, and Derek Carr had an extremely efficient Week 1 with over 10 yards per attempt – his first time accomplishing that feat since Week 12 of the 2017 season.

WR – Courtland Sutton vs. CHI, $4,200

You want to roll out Sutton against the Bears? Well yeah, this guy makes explosive plays left and right, and the Bears were prone to giving up the deep ball in the season opener against Green Bay – surrendering 28-plus yard catches to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Trevor Davis and Robert Tonyan . Five of Sutton’s seven catches against Oakland went for 15-plus yards in Week 1, while 16 of his 42 catches last year went for 20-plus. Denver usually dominates at home in the early season, so expect this Broncos team to put up a fight — if not win — against the Bears, and for Sutton to have a lucrative day as the now-No. 1 receiving option. After that, the Broncos could quickly fall out of playoff contention, with matchups against the Packers, Chargers, Titans, Chiefs, Colts, Browns and Vikings on tap between now and Thanksgiving.

TE – Evan Engram vs. BUF, $5,200

Who else is Eli Manning going to throw to? Well Barkley, sure. But he can’t get all the work. The Giants are one more injury from holding a tryout with local flag football standouts. Engram is among the most talented pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, and Big Blue has the most depleted receiving corps in the NFL, with Sterling Shepard (concussion), Golden Tate (suspension) and Corey Coleman (ACL) all out, and Cody Latimer (calf) questionable heading into Sunday. You’re giving me the top-scoring tight end from Week 1, in an offense that has virtually no other pass-catching options? Sign me up. Engram’s 2019 is going to be the monstrous season that many envisioned 2018 would be.

FLEX – Josh Jacobs vs. KC, $4,700

Cash me out on Jacobs here – his $4,700 price tag is another lag in the market that can be exposed to gain a marginal Week 2 edge. 23 carries and 82.8 percent of the Raiders’ running back touches in his NFL debut? Yes please. He’s the first player since LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (2001) to put up 100 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL game.  Jalen Richard appears to have fallen by the wayside, while Jacobs is in line for a hugely productive rookie season by way of immense workload, decent pass-catching upside, and consistent red-zone usage. I’m not imagining that Oakland will be running much in the second half against the Chiefs, but Jacobs will get enough usage regardless to make this a worthwhile investment. What’s more, the Chiefs stink against RBs, giving up 28.9 points per game to the position in 2018 (third worst in the NFL), and last week allowing Jacksonville to average 5.1 yards per carry as a team.

D/ST – Patriots @ MIA, $3,700

The Patriots have lost five out of the past six times they’ve ventured down to Miami, but come into Sunday’s contest as PROHIBITIVE favorites at -19.5. Facing his former employees in Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea, coach Belichick may not be inclined to intentionally run up the score, but this Pats D/ST remains one of the best plays of the week against a woeful Miami offense. How about this for Josh Rosen — he goes from Pro Football Focus’s 32nd-ranked offensive line in Arizona, to PFF’s No. 31 ranked line in Miami. THEN, Miami trades away its best offensive lineman from that already-subpar unit by sending Laremy Tunsil to Houston. Baltimore’s overturned defense was able to accumulate three sacks and one takeaway against Miami last week, but expect New England to beat both of those totals in what will be one of the more lopsided interdivisional meetings of 2019.

NFL O-line Overview: Status Quo Check-in

At long last, Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season is in the books and we’re in the thick of things. The league didn’t disappoint, offering up the usual breakouts and throwing managers whose players didn’t perform on tilt. Of course, the offensive line landscape wasn’t spared of the maelstrom. Without further ado, let’s check in on which O-lines around the league are looking up and which are holding their offense back.

Risers:

New Orleans Saints

The Saints were projected as a top-five group entering the regular season, but if they continue playing to the level of Monday’s win over the Texans they could rival Dallas for the league’s top spot. That’s unlikely, of course, but it can’t be overstated that New Orleans’ offensive front (specifically RT Ryan Ramczyk) held J.J. Watt without a single tackle or sack for the first time in his 105-game NFL career. If the Saints’ O-line is able to repeat a similar performance against Aaron Donald in Week 2, expect next week’s article to begin with a list of accolades to be heaped on the unit.

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