After two weeks of regular season action, there are several changes to starting lineups due to injury. In addition there are a couple of performance-based downgrades, and our popular new feature, "weekly matchups of note". Let's get right into it
ARIZONA PLUS 13
The Cardinals, who are off to a hot start, got some good news this week as Pro Bowl left guard Mike Iupati is reportedly going to start Week 3. With Iupati in the lineup, along with the suspension of right tackle Bobby Massie coming to an end, the Cardinals should have the lineup that they thought they would have this offseason. Iupati is a load in the run game and is a huge upgrade over Ted Larsen, who was starting in place. The coaching staff has verbally supported starting right tackle Earl Watford, but he struggled a little last week and Massie should return to the lineup. With the return of two starters, the Cardinals line rises 13 slots, currently 10th in the latest offensive line rankings. This is good for a top-tier ranking.
BALTIMORE PLUS 4
UPDATE 9/24: Eugene Monroe did not practice on Wednesday. This is usual for even mildly injured players around the league, but still this concussion might be more serious than the team is letting on and his status for the Week 3 contest is questionable. Without Monroe they drop down to 11th again. The Ravens were without left tackle Eugene Monroe, who suffered a concussion in week 1. In his place, James Hurst has struggled. The team listed Monroe as questionable, but national news sources are reporting that the team expects him back this week, home against Cincinnati. Should this be the case, it would be an upgrade to the Ravens’ offensive line, up 4 spots to 7th overall in the rankings. Despite their W-L records, the Ravens' line remains a top-tier option.
JACKSONVILLE PLUS 9.
UPDATE 9/24: Brandon Linder was limited in Wednesday's practice with a left shoulder injury that occured during the practice. It is not clear that Linder will miss the game against New England. In better news Luke Joeckel returned to full practice activity for the first time in about ten days. Despite losing left tackle Luke Joeckel to an ankle injury, the Jacksonville line performed well against the Dolphins during week two. Replacement left tackle Sam Young wildly exceeded expectations and was solid in the contest. Not known as a quality player, Young surprisingly only allowed one hurry. Right guard Brandon Linder took the majority of the snaps against Dolphins star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and performed well. With the increase in form the Jaguars rise 9 slots in the latest offensive line rankings, to 19th overall.
TENNESSEE MINUS 8
The Titans’ offensive line had a tough showing in the loss at Cleveland. The line allowed 11 hits on quarterback Marcus Mariota, seven of those for sacks. While some of these situations were clearly the quarterback hanging on to the ball, the overall pass protection left much to be desired. Rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi was blamed for at least two of the sacks and he is a player that other teams are targeting as a weak link. The line got some bad news as right guard Chance Warmack left the game with a knee injury, and he was diagnosed with a sprained MCL. Warmack is one of the team’s better linemen, and he expected to miss at least one game, this week against the Colts. With a bye in week 4, the team hopes that Warmack will only miss this week’s contest. Journeyman Jamon Meredith steps into the lineup in his place. In light of the injury and their recent performance, the Titans line has been downgraded 8 spots to 19th overall in the latest offensive line rankings.
MIAMI MINUS 19.
Against Jacksonville, the Dolphins’ line fell apart after left tackle Branden Albert exited the game with a hamstring injury. Albert, who missed all preseason with recovery from a major knee injury (ACL, MCL) is likely dealing with a lack of conditioning, which probably led to his hamstring pull. Jason Fox replaced Albert and gave up a sack to Jared Odrick, who forced a fumble in the end zone. Besides the injury to Albert, the rest of the line was a disaster against Jacksonville, as right tackle Ju’Wuan James was flagged three times and each of the other starters (Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas and Mike Pouncey) were beat handily at the line of scrimmage. With their current form, and the injury to Albert (who is not expected back next week) the Dolphins’ offensive line takes a plunge, falling 19 spots to 29th overall in the rankings.
PHILADELPHIA MINUS 6.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ offense is a tire fire, and many fingers are pointed at the offensive line. I do not subscribe to the theory that everything that is wrong with that offense is the line’s fault. They lack playmakers and there’s no game breaker that can take the top off the defense. Still, the Eagles’ line recent performance is worthy of a downgrade. Center Jason Kelce had a miserable day against the Cowboys, snapping early and missing several key blocks. There are some rumors that Kelce was tipping the snap count with a tell, and there is also a possibility that Jason Peters (who briefly left week one’s contest) is playing injured. What else? Oh yeah, Tight end Brent Celek has been atrocious in run blocking and this has also been a problem. There are even some beat writers who believe that the Eagles’ run game issues are not fixable. Still, I am not as pessimistic as others. There is still good talent on this line, and if the quarterback can get more support from the skill positions, the fantasy points should start flowing. It’s probably not going to be easy against the New York Jets in Week 3, but as the season continues and the new players mesh together they should improve. In the meantime, the Eagles fall 6 slots, and are ranked 9th in the current offensive line rankings.
WEEK 3 MATCHUPS OF NOTE
EXTRA POSITIVE MATCH-UPS TO TRUST
1st DAL O-line vs. 27th ATL defensive front seven (+26)
5th WAS O-Line @ 23rd NYG defensive front seven (+18).
12th OAK O-line @ 26th CLE defensive front seven (+14).
MILDLY POSITIVE MATCH-UPS TO LEAN UPON
10th AZ O-line vs. 24th SF defensive front seven (+14).
20th CAR O-line vs. 32nd NO defensive front seven (+12).
21st SF O-line @ 31st AZ defensive front seven (+10).
POSITIVE MATCH-UPs, BUT SHAKY QB
2nd CLE O-line vs. 22nd OAK defensive front seven (+20).
6th HOU O-line vs. 17th TB defensive front seven (+11).
NEGATIVE MATCH-UPS, BUT GREAT QB
26th SD O-line @ 13th MIN defensive front seven (-13).
NEGATIVE MATCH-UPS TO FADE
29th MIA O-line vs. 4th BUF defensive front seven (-25).
19th JAX O-line @ 1st NE defensive front seven (-18).
23rd BUF O-line @ 9th MIA defensive front seven (-14).
32nd STL O-line @ 21st PIT defensive front seven (-11).
13th CHI O-line @ 2nd SEA defensive front seven (-11).
A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 2 MATCHUPS OF NOTE
Looking back at Week 2, the predictions were 7-4. To clarify, 7 of the recommendations were good predictions and 4 weren't. Not perfect, but getting better...
DAL - LG Ronald Leary expected back this week.
With starting left guard Ronald Leary out against the Eagles with a groin injury, Mackenzy Bernadeau and rookie La’el Collins split reps. Bernadeau got two series for every one given Collins. It was a penalty filled day for the Cowboys’ line as Bernadeau recorded three penalties, while Zack Martin recorded two. Tyron Smith and Doug Free also each were flagged once. Collins had a mostly uneventful day and beat writers called it a solid debut. With Ronald Leary expected to return to the lineup in Week 3, Collins will return to the bench and the 1st ranked Cowboys’ line does not suffer a downgrade at this time.
HOU - Swing tackle Jeff Adams lost for the year.
Jeff Adams, who was starting in the place of Xavier Su’a-Filo, was lost for the year. With Su’a-Filo still injured, recent acquisition Oday Aboushi could start. Aboushi isn’t an amazing player but neither are the players he would be replacing. Also of concern is the injury to left tackle Duane Brown, who has a broken thumb. Brown played through it week 1 but couldn’t in week 2. Assuming Brown can play in week 3 (he is refered to as “day-to-day”), there is no downgrade to the line. If Brown cannot go this line would lose at least a whole tier (10+ spots) in the ranking.
GB – All’s well without tackle Bryan Bulaga.
With right tackle Bulaga out with a knee injury, the Packers turned to Don Barclay, who had a good game. Barclay is one of the better reserves in the league and there is no downgrade to the Packers’ line at this time.
TB - Center Evan Smith forced from the game against New Orleans.
Evan Smith missed about half the game against the Saints with an ankle injury. Joe Hawley stepped in but onlookers noticed a difference in the run blocking. It is not clear that Smith will miss week 3 against the Texans, as such there is no downgrade to this line at this time.
NE – Tackle Sebastian Vollmer out with finger injury. Marcus Cannon replaced.
The Patriots lost starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to a finger injury against the Bills. In his spot Marcus Cannon did a decent job. It should be noted that Tom Brady’s snap-to-attempt time is the fastest in the league. With a quarterback making such quick decisions, it eliminates the line as a negative factor. When we talk about how a franchise quarterback can have an impact on the line’s play, this is a perfect example.
CIN – Swing tackle Jake Fisher recorded a 31 yard gain.
We love it when a big man gets to rumble. So please, sit back and enjoy how hyped up converted high school tight end Jake Fisher gets at the end of his 31 yard reception.
MIN - Guard Brandon Fusco held out of Wednesday's practice with a concussion.
It is not clear exactly when Brandon Fusco was concussed, but he missed practice on Wednesday and the coaches have not commented on his condition. Already the 30th ranked line, the Vikings do not have far to fall, should Fusco miss the contest. Still this is not good news for an already banged-up offensive line.
As usual, if you have a question about a team not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via twitter or in the Shark Pool.
Offensive Line Rankings: Week 3
|6||HOU||6||0||30.73||B+||A-||B||Adams lost for season.|
|7||BAL||11||4||30.65||B+||B||B+||Monroe to return.|
|9||PHI||3||-6||30.48||B+||B+||A-||Lack of execution.|
|10||AZ||23||13||30.45||B+||B+||B+||Iupati and Massie to return.|
|19||JAX||28||9||28.65||C+||C+||C+||Played well against MIA.|
|27||TEN||19||-8||27.6||C-||C-||D+||Lack of execution.|
|29||MIA||10||-19||27.3||D+||D+||D+||Albert injured hamstring.|
Defensive Front Seven Rankings: Week 3
|11||New York (A)||Richardson suspended|
|23||New York (N)|
|25||Dallas||Hardy, McClain suspended|