If you are still alive in your fantasy league at this point in the season, congrats, it's probably playoff time. And that means owners have tough decisions to make. What do we do when there are tough decisions? Look at the offensive lines. Week 15, let's get after it!
Atlanta plus 4
Prior to last week's contest at Los Angeles, left tackle Jake Matthews was battling a knee injury and was rumored to miss the game. As such, we removed Matthews from the rankings. However, Matthews, who is having an outstanding season in pass protection, did in fact gut through the injury and the offensive line led the way to a blowout road victory. Look for the points to continue as the Falcons host a suspicious San Francisco defensive front seven this weekend (see matchups, below for more detail).
Washington plus 4
After getting their All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams back from a four-game suspension last weekend, the Washington offensive line continues to get healthier this week, as both left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Spencer Long returned to practice this week. With the return of these two players, the line returns to the starting five that the team intended prior to the season, and that's always a positive in the cohesion rankings. The Washington line continues to be one of the best in the league, and they are getting healthier at a point when many teams wear down.
Chicago plus 6
Despite a tough performance last week against Detroit, when both left tackle Charles Leno and guard Ted Larsen were tabbed for crucial holding penalties, this Chicago offensive line deserves an upgrade for it's improved run production over the last month or so of the season, and for the return of guard Josh Sitton into the starting lineup just in time for a game against his former team, the Green Bay Packers. Even without Sitton, the line has banded together and managed to open holes for tailback Jordan Howard as the season winds down. Are they a very good offensive line? No, but they are the best of the worst if that makes sense. With the upgrade, the Chicago line becomes the highest rated line still in the low tier.
Detroit minus 7
Center Travis Swanson left last week's contest with a concussion and he remains in the league's concussion protocol this week. Should Swanson not recover in time for the game at New York, Graham Glasgow will slide over from guard and Laken Tomlinson would rejoin the lineup in guard in place of Glasgow. Glasgow has been playing at a breakout level this season and was outstanding in place of Swanson last week. There was an odd moment when Glasgow was called for illegal hands to the face, but the league admitted that the referees called it on the wrong team, as it was actually Glasgow who was being personally fouled by Eddie Goldman. Either way, this downgrade is more about the gap between Glasgow and the struggling Tomlinson. Tomlinson already was benched in favor of Glasgow and he has been having a serious regression this season. The lineup is better with Tomlinson on the bench, but in their current state, the Lions' line remains a mid-tier option.
San Diego minus 7
Left guard Orlando Franklin was forced from last week's contest against the Panthers with the hip injury that he has been battling all season. Undrafted rookie Spencer Pulley took Franklin's place and Franklin is not practicing this week. As such, Pulley looks ready to make his first start this weekend at home against Oakland. It's not an ideal outcome for the coaching staff, but with the Chargers' season in tatters, this might be a good opportunity to get a look at some younger options. The Chargers remain a mid-tier option, as the rest of the line is fairly healthy.
Arizona minus 2
D.J. Humphries took a turn starting at left tackle last week, the spot had been held by John Wetzel since Jared Veldheer went on the injured reserve list. Humphries left last week's game with a concussion and he remains in the league's protocol this week. Should Humphries not be able to go, Wetzel will regain his job, and Earl Watford would slide out to right tackle. Taylor Boggs, who is 29 and has bounced around the league, would get his first career start in place of Watford at guard. The Cardinals' line has been ravaged by injury and currently grade out as a low-tier option.
Minnesota minus 2
Another update from Minnesota, as last week right guard Brandon Fusco was forced from the contest with a concussion. Fusco has not practiced this week and seems like a long shot to play against the Colts at home on Sunday. Should Fusco not make a recovery in time, Nick Easton would likely join the lineup. Easton had played in place of center Joe Berger a couple weeks ago, so it wouldn't be his first career start, but still the Vikings' line are trotting out an awful lot of inexperienced players. Of the five players that were projected to start the season, only Alex Boone and Berger (who did recover from his concussion prior to last week's game) remain healthy enough to play.
San Francisco minus 14
Starting center Daniel Kilgore suffered a season-ending injury last week against New York. Further shuffles occurred due to the absence of left tackle Joe Staley, who was a late scratch prior to the game with a hamstring injury. Zane Beadles, who had been starting at left guard slid out to left tackle, leaving Marcus Martin to start at guard. When Kilgore was injured, Tiller came in at guard, while Martin slid to center. However, beat writers believe Andrew Tiller would likely get the start this week, as Martin was pushed back on a key 4th and 2 play toward the end of the contest. Without Staley and Kilgore, the Niners' line drops to the bottom of the rankings.
HOU - RG Allen concussed, Aboushi may start.
Jeff Allen remains in the league's protocol and Oday Aboushi might get another start this week. Aboushi had started last week at left guard due to Xavier S'ua-Filo's finger injury but after Allen went down, Aboushi moved to right guard and S'ua-Filo rejoined the lineup.
MIA - C Pouncey to IR.
Pouncey, who had not been playing recently with a hip injury, was moved to the injured reserve list, despite his protests to the contrary. Anthony Steen continues to start in his place.
NYJ - RT Giacomini to IR, Qvale also hurt.
Rookie Brandon Shell could get his first start this weekend if Qvale can't go.
NO - LT Armstead to IR.
Terron Armstead has been placed on the IR, as he was dealing with a chronic injury that required surgery. He had been attempting to play through it, but couldn't quite get healthy.
PHI - RT's Barbre and Vaitai did not practice.
Taking a risk here and making no change to the rankings as Allen Barbre should find a way to play this weekend. However, if he cannot play, rookie Isaac Seumalo would likely get the start and the Eagles' line would drop a few spots in the mid-tier.
Week 15 Matchups of Note
- 4th OAK offensive line @ 31st SD defensive front seven (+27)
- 2nd ATL offensive line vs. 26th SF defensive front seven (+24)
- 18th BUF offensive line vs. 32nd CLE defensive front seven (+14)
- 14th CIN offensive line vs. 27th PIT defensive front seven (+13)
- 10th NO offensive line @ 23rd AZ defensive front seven (+13)
- 27th LA offensive line @ 3rd SEA defensive front seven (-24)
- 31st NYJ offensive line vs. 9th MIA defensive front seven (-22)
Week 15 Offensive Line Rankings
|3||WAS||7||4||31.15||A-||A||B+||Long & Lauvao return.|
|17||DET||10||-7||28.73||B-||B-||B-||Swanson likely out.|
|19||SD||12||-7||28.65||C+||B-||C||Franklin likely out.|
|LOW TIER||22||CHI||28||6||28.65||C+||B-||C||Sitton to return.|
|28||AZ||26||-2||27.33||C-||C-||C-||Humphries likely out.|
|30||MIN||29||-1||26.85||D+||C-||D||Fusco likely out.|
|32||SF||18||-14||26.48||D+||C-||D||Kilgore to IR, Staley likely out.|
Week 15 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.