Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 5 - Footballguys

Offensive line related news, injuries and updates, prior to week five of the regular season.

Sometimes subscribers ask why this article doesn't have a blurb their favorite team's offensive line. It's a fair question and essentially it's because there's a ton of injury news to cover every week. Avoiding a mention in this article is usually a good sign.

The revolving door is in full swing along the #offensiveline. Injured players are shuffled out and healthy players are added to the mix. As the regular season is finding its stride, some lines are falling apart while other lines are shaping up.

The big men, the road graders, the leviathans. Let's get after it!

UPGRADES

Green Bay up four spots

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga was limited last week in practice with a back injury but battled through it and started the home win over Buffalo. Bulaga did not give up a pressure for the first time all season and had his best game of the season so far. Bulaga is again limited in practice this week but is expected to play in Sunday's divisional contest at Detroit. In other news, right guard Justin McCray continues to miss time with a shoulder injury but the coaches liked the extra bulk Byron Bell brought to the position and it's possible he might keep the job after McCray regains health. These were the weak spots of the line, as left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Lane Taylor and center Corey Linsley have been effective. After a brief stint in the middle, this line again grades as a top-tier unit.

Tennessee up three spots

Right tackle Jack Conklin returned to action, making his season debut in last week's contest against Philadelphia. Conlin's start was rumored to be a possibility but as this player had not seen game action since injuring his knee in the 2017 postseason, these rankings erred on the side of caution and held him out until he proved he was healthy. Even head coach Mike Vrabel acknowledged the first game back after an ACL injury is a significant 'mental hurdle' for any player to overcome. But Conklin had a good game and his return was timely, as the other right tackle option in Dennis Kelly continues to recover from a mystery illness and has not suited up for several weeks. With Conklin and Taylor Lewan finding their stride, the Titans boast one of the league's best tackle duos. They grade as a top-tier unit.

Seattle up five spots

Center Justin Britt returned to the lineup after missing one week and he played well against Arizona. The interior three starters, left guard J.R. Sweezy, Britt and right guard D.J. Fluker have formed a power blocking front, and the offense has had over 30 rushing attempts in each of the last two games. This line is starting to open up big holes, especially behind the right side of Fluker and tackle Germain Ifedi. Sorting out who exactly will get the yards is the tough part of fantasy and DFS, but the line itself is playing well and this general increase in form has taken pressure off of quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks' offensive line checks in at thirteen in the latest rankings, on the high end of the mid-tier.

Jacksonville up two spots

Starting right guard A.J. Cann has returned to practice and is expected to get the start this week at Kansas City. Chris Reed had started the Week 3 loss and the offense certainly performed better Week 4 with Cann starting. The Jaguars' line is not completely out of the woods, as center Brandon Linder has been held out of practice with a back injury and he along with left guard Andrew Norwell are listed as questionable. Norwell has not missed a snap all season, but the coaches say he sustained a foot injury during last week's game. This player has not fully lived up to his free agent price tag through the first month of the season, and if he's playing through a foot injury, this could be an explanation. Assuming the usual starters play, Jacksonville grades as a high mid-tier line. The season-ending injury to left tackle Cam Robinson dropped their ranking to just outside the top-tier, but they still have the upside to recover most of their original grade as the season progresses.

Carolina up eight spots

After a Week 4 bye, All-Pro right guard Trai Turner has been cleared from the league's concussion protocol and he is expected to start this week's home contest against the New York Giants. Turner's return sends Tyler Larsen back to the bench. Larsen is a decent backup with experience but he's not the game-changer Turner can be, especially in the run game. The Panthers' line started the season with tons of injuries but they have hopefully stabilized as of late. With Turner's return, their grade climbs out of the low-tier. They can be included among the league's average lines again.

Arizona up four spots

Right tackle John Wetzel has been excellent in relief of Andre Smith, who has been dealing with an elbow injury since Week 1. Two games ago, Wetzel forced the Bears to swap Khalil Mack to the other side and last week against Seattle, Wetzel again exhibited high form. Smith is still hurt and Wetzel's starting status has not been made official by the coaches. The Cardinals' offensive line remains a low-tier option either way, but nonetheless their grade receives a cohesion upgrade headed into the Week 5 matchup at San Francisco.

DOWNGRADES

Oakland down three spots

The Raiders placed right tackle Donald Penn on the injured reserve this week. Penn had been in and out of concussion protocol twice in this season and he suffered a groin tear last week after 35 snaps (38%) against Cleveland. In theory, Penn's injuries are not super severe, allowing the possibility of his return later in the season. However, Penn wasn't playing well and never adjusted to life on the right side. Rookie Brandon Parker replaced Penn in the game and will likely get the start against the Chargers. Another news item, All-Pro left guard Kelechi Osemele did not participate in Wednesday's practice and although the model assumes he plays, his situation bears observation. Without Penn, but including Osemele, the Raiders' offensive line grades out solidly among the mid-tier.

Detroit down four spots

Right guard T.J. Lang was forced from last week's game at Dallas and is in the concussion protocol this week. Lang had been dealing with a back injury and while it looked like he was finally getting healthy, Kenny Wiggins took 81% of last week's snaps. Look for Wiggins to get the start again, while Lang's individual grade is higher, Wiggins is building cohesion and the difference is not huge in the rankings.

San Francisco down 16 spots

Left tackle Joe Staley was forced from last week's game after only 23 snaps. Garry Gilliam replaced Staley in the game. This week, coaches characterized Staley's injury as a right MCL sprain, and he has not practiced. Although there are certainly different grades of strains and some linemen can play through almost anything. Still, the model assumes Staley's knee will be a multi-week injury and his availability for this week's game against Arizona appears in doubt. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey missed three plays with a knee injury, forcing Erik Magnuson into the mix. McGlinchey is listed as probable and will likely play. With Staley this is a solid mid-tier line but without him they fall to the low-tier.

LA Chargers down five spots

Left tackle Russell Okung was forced from the game against San Francisco with a groin strain. He is listed as questionable and did not participate in Wednesday's practice. With starting right tackle Joe Barksdale out two games and still listed as doubtful with a knee sprain, the Chargers could be without both starting tackles for this week's game against Oakland. During the game last week, Sam Tevi flipped from right tackle to left and held up admirably. Trent Scott (an undrafted free agent from Georgia) played on the right side and had some shaky moments. These could be the Week 5 starting tackles. The model assumes Okung will miss the contest. The Chargers' offensive line are mid-tier with him but fall to the low-tier if he cannot go.

Miami down three spots

Center Daniel Kilgore suffered a left triceps tear during last week's game at New England and this week he was placed on injured reserve. Kilgore had been brought in during the offseason to replace Mike Pouncey, who left for the Chargers via free agency. Travis Swanson replaced Kilgore in the contest. Swanson last saw meaningful game action with the Detroit Lions last season but spent the preseason with the New York Jets. Wesley Johnson will be Swanson's backup, and he also has experience with both clubs in the last calendar year. The Dolphins' line has been trending downward since left guard Josh Sitton was lost for the season. They dwell in the cellar of the rankings.

OTHER NEWS

CHI - LG Eric Kush and James Daniels are rotating series. It works out to a roughly 60/40 split in favor of the veteran Kush, but Daniels has upside, and the experience he's gaining should pay dividends in the future.

DEN - RT Jared Veldheer did not practice. Veldheer, who cleared the concussion protocol in time to start last week's game against Kansas City, left the game with what the team is calling a knee bruise. The model assumes he plays.

IND - RT Denzelle Good will not play. Good's brother was killed in a drive-by shooting in South Carolina and Good will miss this week's Thursday Night Football contest against New England. Rookie Braden Smith is the nominal starter. Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) has been practicing in a limited fashion but the model assumes he doesn't play. If Castonzo does return, the line grades out as 18th, even without Good.

PHI - LT Jason Peters is questionable. Peters has a quad injury and the troubling aspect is Peters tweaked his quad during the Week 1 contest against Tampa Bay. This could be a reoccurrence. The Eagles still have the league's top-ranked line without him, but he's clearly a difference maker.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
PHI
1
0
34.7
A+
A+
A+
5.0
2
LAR
2
0
31.8
A
A+
A-
4.5
3
PIT
3
0
31.7
A
A+
A-
5.0
4
TEN
7
3
31.1
A-
A
B+
5.0
RT Jack Conklin returned to the lineup.
5
KC
4
-1
31.0
A-
A
A-
5.0
6
ATL
5
-1
30.9
A-
A-
A-
4.0
7
BAL
6
-1
30.8
A-
A
B+
5.0
8
NO
8
0
30.8
A-
B+
A
5.0
LG Andrus Peat returned to the lineup.
9
DAL
11
2
30.3
B+
A
B
4.0
10
GB
14
4
30.3
B+
B
A-
4.0
RT Bryan Bulaga returned to the lineup.
11
JAX
13
2
29.9
B+
A-
B
4.5
RG A.J. Cann will likely return to the lineup.
12
WAS
10
-2
29.8
B+
A-
B
4.5
LG Shaun Lauvao still injured (Chase Roullier). Tony Bergstom to C.
13
SEA
18
5
29.3
B
B+
B-
4.5
C Justin Britt returned to the lineup.
14
CHI
15
1
29.3
B
B+
B-
5.0
15
OAK
12
-3
29.2
B
B+
B-
4.0
RT Donald Penn missed most of last week\'s game (Brandon Parker).
16
NYJ
17
1
29.0
B-
B-
B-
4.5
17
DEN
19
2
28.8
B-
B+
B-
4.0
18
MIN
20
2
28.7
B-
B-
B-
4.5
19
CAR
27
8
28.6
B-
B
C+
4.0
RG Trai Turner will likely return to the lineup.
20
DET
16
-4
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
RG T.J. Lang likely out again (Kenny Wiggins).
21
CLE
21
0
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
22
TB
22
0
28.5
C+
C
B-
4.0
23
CIN
25
2
28.4
C
C+
C-
4.0
24
NE
24
0
28.4
C
C-
C+
4.5
25
SF
9
-16
28.0
C-
B-
D
4.5
LT Joe Staley likely out with a knee sprain (Garry Gilliam).
26
LAC
21
-5
28.0
C-
C
D+
4.0
LT Russell Okung and RT Joe Barksdale likely out this week (Sam Tevi and Trent Scott)
27
AZ
31
4
27.8
C-
C
D+
4.5
28
NYG
28
0
27.5
D+
C-
D
4.0
29
BUF
29
0
27.4
D+
C-
D
5.0
30
MIA
26
-4
27.3
D+
C-
D+
4.0
C Daniel Kilgore placed on injured reserve with a torn triceps muscle (Travis Swanson).
31
IND
30
-1
27.3
D+
C-
D+
4.0
LT Anthony Castonzo and C Ryan Kelly are questionable. #18 line if Castonzo returns. Denzelle Good also out (personal - brother killed Tuesday).
32
HOU
32
0
27.2
D
D
D
3.5

If you have a question about a player, team or matchup not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact the author via Twitter.

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