Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 7 - Footballguys

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

UPGRADES

Atlanta up three slots

It has been four weeks since veteran starting left guard Andy Levitre was placed on the injured reserve list with a torn triceps, making way for 25-year-old Wes Schweitzer to regain a starting job. Schweitzer started all 16 games at right guard last season but was supplanted by veteran Brandon Fusco during the preseason. Schweitzer took a week or two to adjust to life on the left side, but he has settled into his role (for the most part, he did allow one sack last week). Schweitzer grades out better as a run blocker than a pass protector and combined with left tackle Jake Matthews, the Falcons' offense could find running room in their direction. Matthews is having an outstanding 2018 campaign, which is his final before he is allowed to test free agency, and Matthews has been excellent in both run blocking to the second level and providing lockdown pass protection all season. This is a scheduled cohesion upgrade to an already top-tier unit.

Tennessee up 10 slots

It seems counterintuitive to upgrade a line one week off such an awful performance (11 QB sacks allowed) against Baltimore. Nevertheless, the model assumed left tackle Taylor Lewan wouldn't play with a foot injury, and he did tough it out. Perhaps he should have taken the week off but he is a team captain and a huge part of their offense. This upgrade is based purely on his presence, instead of starting Dennis Kelly or Tyler Marz. During the contest, left guard Quinton Spain hurt his shoulder and has not practiced this week. Backup center Corey Levin took Spain's place during the game and will likely get the start again if Spain can't go. Again, to be clear, this is not a story about a line playing well. But they are playing hurt at key spots (right tackle Jack Conklin is also still rusty from his 9-month layoff) and they grade as a high mid-tier line, no longer in the cellar of the rankings. These Titans are like chameleons, they can beat the Super Bowl champion Eagles in their house and a few weeks later get embarrassed at home by the Ravens. Despite their most recent performance, they are still a talented line by 2018 NFL standards and should bounce back quickly.

Houston up five slots.

The Texans' offensive line remains terrible but they have been slightly less terrible since rookie Martinas Rankin was benched two weeks ago. The coaching decision allowed Julien Davenport to resume his usual left tackle position and Kendall Lamm to take over at right tackle for Davenport. While no one will mistake Davenport's current form for good (he's allowed 32 pressures in six games), he's better than Rankin (who was disastrous, allowing 27 pressures in only three starts). Kendall Lamm is not an above average starter but he has 11 games starting experience from last season and still could grow into the job. The Texans' line remains a below average option but it is trending in the right direction. This line has potential, for example, center Nick Martin is a solid young player, and if they improve tackle play, this could yet be a mid-tier line.

Also, #29 MIA (up three slots) received a scheduled cohesion upgrade. For more on how the cohesion value in the rankings is defined, check the explanation in the Methodology section at the bottom of this year's Training Camp article.

DOWNGRADES

Philadelphia down 2 slots

Former All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters suffered a biceps tear during last Thursday's contest against the New York Giants. Peters has not practiced this week and to quote FBG injury expert Dr. Jene Bremel, "...it's not a season-ending injury but Peters will have to manage pain and swelling to return. If he recovers quickly, Peters could be available this week. More likely, the Eagles will give Peters some time to rehab and return him when they face Dallas after the Week 9 bye." Halapoulivaati Vaitai played the remaining 34 snaps (48%) for Peters last week and will likely get the start again this week against Carolina. Vaitai is well remembered for his form during last year's Super Bowl run but like quarterback Nick Foles, the version of Vaitai who played in preseason this summer was not nearly as effective. The team has turned to former rugby player Jordan Mailata as the left tackle of the future. For now, it's Vaitai versus Carolina and the left side with second-year player Isaac Seumalo starting for Stefan Wisniewski (coaches decision) suddenly looks inexperienced and vulnerable. The Eagles' line loses their top spot for the first time this season but could reclaim the title if Peters' recovery is quick.

Baltimore down 6 slots

After playing most of the game (58 snaps or 76%), left guard Alex Lewis suffered a neck injury in the road win at Tennessee. The injury looked serious and officials required the cart to remove Lewis from the field of play. Backup center Bradley Bozeman saw out the final 18 snaps. While Lewis' injury thankfully was not serious, he appears doubtful for this week's home game against New Orleans. James Hurst, who has been starting at right tackle all season, will be moved to left guard again. Hurst played this position most of last season while Lewis was hurt. Rookie (and human example of Bill Parcells' "Planet theory") Orlando Brown Jr. will likely get his first NFL start. The son of infamous ref-pusher Zeus Brown, Orlando is a massive load in the run game and surprisingly decent at pass protection for a player of his experience. While this move is exciting from the long-term perspective, and certainly better than starting Bozeman who is more of a natural center, in the short term it's a small hit to cohesion. The Ravens are still a mid-tier line and despite the downgrade, Brown's first start should be fun to watch.

Washington down three slots.

Despite the running game's success at home versus Carolina, center Tony Bergstrom was exploited in pass protection, allowing five pressures and two quarterback hits. While Chase Roullier has done an excellent job at left guard, the offense needs Shawn Lauvao healthy so Roullier can move back to center, allowing Tony Bergstrom to again find his rightful place on the bench. The tackles had rough days as well, as Trent Williams allowed 5 quarterback pressures and Morgan Moses was tabbed for a crucial holding penalty late in the contest. But the pressure up the middle is far harder to deal with and should be easier to stop. The tackles will likely bounce back and find their usual form, but there's little hope for Bergstrom to improve. While Bergstrom starts at center, Washington falls from the top-tier to the mid-tier in the latest rankings.

Kansas City down 5 slots

Center Mitch Morse is in the concussion protocol, has not practiced and is likely out for this weeks' game against Cincinnati. Jordan Devey, who made his first Chiefs' start at right guard for the injured Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, was moved to center. Converted tackle Andrew Wylie took Devey's right guard in the away contest at New England, and Wylie should be in line to get his first career start this week. While Wylie is an interesting prospect from a size and strength perspective, he has no starting experience. Although the Chiefs' offense is obviously humming from a fantasy points perspective, be aware this line has lost two veteran starters in two weeks. Even more concerning, the offense fell apart down the stretch last year while Morse was hurt. Morse could emerge from the protocol and play this week but the model assumes the team will take their time with this key player.

New England down 3 slots

Right tackle Marcus Cannon left the game after 50 snaps with a head injury. This week, Cannon is in the concussion protocol and has not practiced. Cannon was also in the protocol at different points during the last two seasons, and this recovery might take time. Substitute LaAdrian Waddle could have to start at Chicago, where his primary matchup would be against Bears star pass rusher Khalil Mack. At this point in the season, the availability of their first-round pick Isaiah Wynn would have been beneficial, but he tore his Achilles' tendon in the preseason and he will miss the entire year. While this Patriots' offense has seen a recent increase in fantasy firepower, the line has little depth to spare and their grade falls to the low-tier. As usual, it will be up to quarterback Tom Brady to make quick decisions and get rid of the ball.

Arizona down 2 slots

The Cardinals lost both starting guards last week at Minnesota. Left guard Mike Iupati only played 21 offensive snaps (36%) before leaving the contest with a back injury while right guard Justin Pugh played 45 snaps (78%) before breaking his hand. Daniel Munyer and Jeremy Vujnovich saw action, but Vujnovich was also injured during the game, giving way to swing tackle John Wetzel. Neither Vujnovich or Iupati practiced this week, but Pugh was limited. The model assumes Pugh will play in a cast and Daniel Munyer will start for Iupati. The Cardinals grade as a low-tier option.

Denver down 4 slots

Right guard Ronald Leary tore his Achilles tendon in the game against the Rams, and he will miss the entire season. A veteran player turning 30, this could actually be career threatening. Max Garcia replaced Leary in the game and is likely to remain the starter for the rest of the season. While Garcia has some experience, Leary is the team's best lineman and his loss won't be easily overcome. Right tackle Jared Veldheer remains out with a bone bruise in his knee, leaving Billy Turner to get another start. With the latest rash of injuries, the Broncos' line falls to the very bottom of the rankings.

OTHER NEWS

BUF- LG Vlad Ducasse injured his left knee and Ryan Groy played the final 18 snaps on offense. Ducasse is questionable but the model assumes he will play.

CIN - LT Cordy Glenn was added to the injury report mid-week with an ankle injury. Glenn practiced in a limited fashion and the model assumes he will start this week at Kansas City.

DET - RG T.J. Lang still questionable with a concussion, the model assumes he will miss another game.

IND - The team started RG Mark Glowinski and RT Braden Smith in the loss against the Jets. This might be the lineup for the rest of the year.

GB - RT Bryan Bulaga exited the game vs SF with a shoulder injury. Lucas Patrick went to guard and Byron Bell slid out to right tackle. The team is on a bye.

LAR - LG Rodger Saffold left the game at Denver after 57 snaps (77%) with a knee injury. Jamon Brown took his place. Saffold is listed a probable and is likely to play against the 49ers.

OAK - LG Jon Feliciano broke his ribs in the London game against Seattle. Justin Murray took his place. The team is on a bye, which could allow Kelechi Osemele to get healthy enough to reclaim the job in Week 8.

MIN - Brian O'Neill did start at RT, with Rashod Hill to LT. Riley Reiff is still not practicing and the model assumes he will miss this week's game at the Jets.

NO - Left tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and left guard Andrus Peat (head) were both limited participants in Wednesday's practice. The model assumes they play this week at Baltimore.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
LAR
2
1
31.8
A
A+
A-
4.5
2
PIT
3
1
31.7
A
A+
A-
5.0
3
PHI
1
-2
31.5
A
A+
A+
3.5
4
ATL
7
3
30.9
A-
A
B
4.0
Cohesion upgrade.
6
NO
5
-1
30.8
A-
B+
A
5.0
7
GB
6
-1
30.5
A-
B+
A
4.0
BYE WEEK - Check on RT Bryn Bulaga's status prior to Week 8.
8
DAL
8
0
30.3
B+
A
B
4.0
9
TEN
19
10
30.1
B+
A
B
4.0
LT Taylor Lewan returned to the lineup.
10
BAL
4
-6
30.1
B+
A
B+
4.5
LG Alex Lewis injured neck (James Hurst/Orlando Brown shuffle or Bradley Bozeman).
11
SF
10
-1
30.0
B+
B
A-
4.5
12
WAS
9
-3
29.8
B+
A-
B
4.0
LG Shawn Lauvao still not practicing (Chase Roullier to LG, Tony Bergstrom to C)
13
SEA
11
-2
29.8
B+
B+
B-
5.0
14
CHI
13
-1
29.3
B
B+
B-
5.0
15
CLE
14
-1
29.0
B
B+
B-
4.5
16
LAC
16
0
29.0
B
B+
B-
4.0
RT Joe Barksdale could return this week (not included in grade).
17
NYJ
17
0
29.0
B
B
B
4.5
18
KC
12
-6
28.9
B-
B
C+
3.5
C Mitch Morse in concussion protocol (Jordan Devey to C, Andrew Wylie to RG).
19
JAX
18
-1
28.9
B-
B-
B-
4.0
19
CAR
20
1
28.6
C+
C+
C+
4.0
20
IND
15
-5
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
New RG Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith to RT.
21
DET
21
0
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
RG T.J. Lang likely out again (Kenny Wiggins).
22
TB
22
0
28.5
C+
C
B-
4.0
23
CIN
23
0
28.4
C
C+
C-
4.0
24
OAK
25
1
28.2
C
C+
C-
4.0
BYE WEEK - Check on LG Kelechi Osemele's status prior to Week 8.
25
BUF
26
1
28.2
C
C+
C-
5.0
26
HOU
31
5
28.2
C
C
C
4.5
Lineup shuffle (Julien Davenport to LT, Kendall Lamm to RT, Martinas Rankin to bench).
27
NE
24
-3
28.1
C-
C-
C-
4.5
RT Marcus Cannon in concussion protocol (LaAdrian Waddle)
28
NYG
27
-1
28.0
C-
C-
C-
4.0
29
MIA
32
3
27.8
D+
C-
D
4.5
Cohesion upgrade.
30
MIN
30
0
27.7
D+
D
C-
4.5
LT Riley Reiff questionable with foot injury (Rashod Hill to LT, Brian O'Neill to RT)
31
AZ
29
-2
27.5
D+
C
D+
4.5
Both starting guards Mike Iupati and Justin Pugh injured, also Jeremy Vujnovich.
32
DEN
28
-4
27.3
D+
C
D+
3.5
LG Ron Leary to IR with Achilles tendon tear (Max Garcia). RT Jared Veldheer still questionable (Billy Turner).

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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