With many fantasy seasons getting to playoff time, now is as good a time as ever to find out what's happening with the offensive lines around the league.
Miami plus 19.
Things are looking up in Miami, as left tackle Branden Albert and left guard Laremy Tunsil have returned to practice. Although both players are engaging only in "limited participation," to have these crucial players on the practice field is a huge step in the right direction. The coaching staff seems optimistic that both will be able to play this Sunday. While there's still no sign of center Mike Pouncey, getting Albert and Tunsil back in the lineup (and Sam Young and Kraig Urbik back on the bench) raises the Dolphins' offensive line grade from the cellar to a mid-tier unit.
New York (A) plus 13.
Another upgrade based on improving health, Nick Mangold was spotted at Jets' practice this Wednesday and he appears to be on track to make his return against Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. Mangold has missed 4 games already this season but because of his practice reps and the extra time this week (the game being on Monday instead of Sunday) it feels safe to put him back in the ratings. The Jets are still having issues at left tackle, as evidenced by Ben Ijalana's "look-out' block at the end of last week's game against New England. But still, getting their best player back takes the Jets' line from the low tier to the mid-tier.
Cincinnati minus 11.
The Bengals' offensive line is not playing well of late. To quote the FBG game re-cap "the Bengals' issues at right tackle are dire and showing no signs of improvement. 2015 first rounder Cedric Ogbuehi may be a lost cause and veteran Eric Winston is well past his prime." We couldn't have said it any better. Ogbuehi remains the starter but Winston has relieved him almost every week, and he's not been playing any better. Some onlookers wonder if it's time to try Ogbuehi at guard and bump Jake Fisher to the right side. The line is also having a problem at center, where Russell Bodine has been rotating with T.J. Johnson. The center problem might actually be worse than the right tackle problem. All of this adds up to a major drop to the mid-tier, as it's not accurate to label this unit as a top-tier line while C and RT problems continue.
Cleveland minus 17.
Right guard John Greco sprained his foot last week against the New York Giants, and he has been placed on the injured reserve. With Greco on the shelf, the only remaining starter from last season's line is left tackle Joe Thomas. The lineup going forward will be Thomas at LT, Spencer Drango at LG, Cameron Erving at C, Alvin Bailey at RG and Austin Pasztor at RT. Jonathan Cooper could challenge Drango and Bailey for a guard spot but he remains on the bench for now. While Thomas' play remains exemplary, the rest of the unit is in tatters, and it's safe to classify them as a low-tier group at this point in the season.
Carolina minus 2.
Injuries continue to plague the Panthers' offensive line, as both Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski were placed on injured reserve this week. Taking their place in the lineup is an undrafted free agent from Utah named Tyler Larsen. Larsen stepped in for Gradkowski during the second half of the Raiders' loss last week and managed to hold his own. Despite his lack of game experience, Larsen is actually a third-year player and doesn't represent much of a downgrade from Gradkowski. Both are huge downgrades from Kalil, however. In tackle news, Daryl Williams was injured last week and Trai Turner had to slide to right tackle in his place, (after which, he was destroyed by Khalil Mack). With Michael Oher added to the injured reserve list, look for Turner to continue to start at right tackle while Chris Scott steps in at guard. It's a ton of change for this line, but only a two slot drop, as they were already dwelling in the low-tier.
Minnesota minus 2.
Center Joe Berger is still in the league's concussion protocol and has been ruled out for the game versus Dallas on Thursday night. Berger had started 88 consecutive games in the center spot for Minnesota before this week. In Berger's place, Nick Easton makes his first career start. Whille Easton is an interesting prospect, the loss of Berger is yet another blow to the Vikings' line, who have seen more than their share this season. This line currently grades out as the worst in football.
CHI - LG Josh Sitton limited at practice.
While Sitton is participating, it is not certain that he will play this weekend. He is held out of the rankings for now.
GB - G/T Don Barklay returns but RG T.J. Lang still shaky.
Jason Spriggs got the start last week but it looks like Barklay will get that honor this week. The real starter, T.J. Lang, looks to still be a week (or more) away from rejoining the lineup.
BUF - Coaches express concern about LT Cordy Glenn.
Glenn usually gets days off of practice during the week but this time, the head coach Rex Ryan seemed worried that Glenn could miss the game. He is in the rankings for now, but this is a situation to watch.
LA - LT Robinson benched but still starting.
Greg Robinson was inactive for last week's game versus New Orleans. Robinson's performance has been shaky of late. However the team lacks better options and Robinson will likely get the start this week against New England.
Week 13 Matchups of Note
- 3rd OAK offensive line vs. 19th BUF defensive front seven(+16)
- 16th NYJ offensive line vs. 30th IND defensive front seven (+14)
- 15th NYG offensive line @ 27th PIT defensive front seven (+12)
- 20th TB offensive line @ 31st SD defensive front seven (+11)
- 8th DET offensive line @ 18th NO defensive front seven (+10)
- 30th CAR offensive line @ 3rd SEA defensive front seven (-27)
- 17th SF offensive line @ 8th CHI defensive front seven (-9)
- 14th CIN offensive line vs. 5th PHI defensive front seven (-9)
A quick note: usually the cut off for mention in this column is +/- 15 however this week there were an uncommon amount of good-on-good matchups (ATL OL vs KC D7) so the pickings were slim. Please be aware that a -27 fade is more certain than a -9 fade.
Week 13 Offensive Line Rankings
|13||MIA||32||19||29.18||B||B+||B-||Albert & Tunsil return.|
|14||CIN||3||-11||29.15||B||B||B-||C & RT struggle.|
|25||CLE||8||-17||28.35||C+||C+||C||Greco to IR.|
|30||CAR||28||-2||27.1||C-||C||D+||Kalil to IR, Williams out.|
Week 13 Defensive Front Seven Rankings
|15||New York (A)|
|16||New York (N)|
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.
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