There's just a ton of injury news for the offensive line this week, even more than usual. But not all of it is bad. Some lines are getting healthier and have been upgraded. The regular season is about halfway through, it's the big men, the #offensiveline, let's get after it!
This upgrade is primarily based on the return of left tackle Cordy Glenn to health. Glenn had been battling a foot injury that had limited his effectiveness for the first two months of the season. Glenn's run blocking was in top-notch form in last week's home win over Tampa Bay. In other news, Seantrel Henderson is back at swing tackle after his suspension and there's also been a change at right guard, where Vlad Ducasse has relegated John Miller to the bench. Ducasse is imperfect in pass protection but an absolute tank in run blocking. With Richie Incognito and Eric Wood also powerful run blockers. the Bills' line has earned their top -tier status in the latest ranking.
I know what you're thinking: this is a large upgrade for a line with four of their five starters on the injury report (and just lost their second starting quarterback this season to injury). Nonetheless, this group is tough and keep playing hard. Last week's injury to left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) appears to be a non-issue, with Tunsil practicing in full before the Thursday night clash against Baltimore. Center Mike Pouncey was questionable last week with a concussion but he cleared the league's protocol on Saturday night and played every snap in the win over the Jets on Sunday. Left guard Anthony Steen will likely miss Thursday with a foot injury but the coaches are eager to see what Jesse Davis (a converted defensive lineman) can do with real reps. Overall, this upgrade is based mostly on the inclusion of Pouncey in the lineup and the assumption that Tunsil will gut through his knee injury this week.
The Vikings' offensive line gets this upgrade based on the projected return of LG Nick Easton to full health. Easton had missed last week but he practiced in full this week before traveling with the team to London. The line had a rough time last week as both Riley Reiff and Jeremiah Sirles missed snaps with minor injuries. They both returned to action and are not expected to miss time. Sirles should return to the bench when Easton is at full health. The Vikings wear teams down with their run blocking over the course of four quarters and they grade on the cusp of top-tier status.
Left tackle Duane Brown reported to the team after holding out for the first seven weeks of the season. Brown appears to be on track to start this week at Seattle. Check the Saturday news for certain but the ongoing Chris Clark calf injury is not giving the Texans the luxury of taking Brown's return slowly. Brown reportedly is in good shape. That is not the same as football shape but Brown's former Pro-Bowl talent level should make the Texans' already explosive offense run even more smoothly.
Signs point to both center Mitch Morse and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff rejoining the starting lineup this Monday night against Denver. Both starters had missed multiple weeks with Morse replaced by Zach Fulton and Duvernay-Tardiff replaced by Cameron Erving. The Chiefs' backups are also getting healthier, as Parker Ehinger has been practicing for several weeks and could challenge Bryan Witzmann at the left guard sport Ehinger started at last season.
GB + 15
The Packers' offensive line looked much better last week with the return of both tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga to the starting lineup. Although left guard Lane Taylor still appears to be several weeks away, Justin McCray had been doing a decent job in replacement at right tackle for Bulaga. Filling in at left guard should be a more natural fit for McCray's skillset. The play of McCray and the other youth in the last few weeks probably made the decision easy to cut Don Barklay off the injured reserve list. Another lineman, Jason Spriggs, is rehabbing nicely and could be a candidate to return off the injured reserve down the stretch. Overall the Packers' offensive line is getting healthier, and the offense should be more focused on the run without quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Seahawks' offensive line blocked well in the road win over the New York Giants. Left tackle Rees Odhiambo appears to be fully healthy and has upped his game considerably since the start of the season. Right tackle Germain Ifedi is also rounding into form, and that right side with Oday Aboushi has been solid in both phases of the game. Mark Glowinski and Ethan Pocic are splitting reps at left guard while Luke Joeckel recovers. Pocic has been impressive as a rookie and even spelled Justin Britt when the starting center tweaked his ankle. In general, this Seahawks' offensive line is still low-tier but they are young, talented and trending up in recent weeks.
Injuries are starting to mount for this Washington offensive line and it's becoming tough to grade this unit. This two slot downgrade is probably too generous; the downgrade could be much more. Left tackle Trent Williams is playing hurt and will need knee surgery to repair the damage. Williams is playing until he breaks, the question is will that be next week or months from now? Right guard Brandon Scherff was diagnosed with a grade 2 MCL sprain but it's not clear if he will miss any time. Right tackle Morgan Moses is playing on two sprained ankles but he is also expected to play through it. Center Spencer Long also missed snaps last week. Right now the rankings assume Williams play and Scherff doesn't but these are basically guesses. There's plenty of uncertainty surrounding this Washington offensive line, who are modestly downgraded for now. Fantasy players with exposure to this offense should monitor game-day inactive list closely.
The 49ers' offensive line will likely be without two of their starters this weekend at Philadelphia. Right guard Brandon Fusco suffered a biceps injury and right tackle Trent Brown was concussed. Fusco is considered questionable but Brown has already been ruled out for a Sunday game (this goes to press on Wednesday), indicating this could be a multi-week recovery for Brown. Garry Gilliam will in for Brown and Zane Beadles would likely play for Fusco. Both are veterans with experience, which prevents this from being a larger downgrade. Still, it's rarely good to lose the entire right side of the line.
Two weeks ago, guard T.J. Lang was a surprise deactivation before the loss against New Orleans. Lang has been fighting a back injury this season. This ranking assumes both Lang and right tackle Rick Wagner have recovered enough during the bye week to play in this week's tough home matchup against Pittsburgh. Perhaps this is an optimistic assumption, but offensive linemen don't get a ton of sympathy and missing a game after a bye week is like calling in sick on a Monday: it doesn't go over well. If these guys can go this week, they will. With Greg Robinson struggling, fans are eager for news on left tackle Taylor Decker's rehab. Sadly good news is probably a week or two away as Decker is not practicing yet (and thus not included in these rankings).
Brutal news out of Philadelphia as nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters suffered a knee implosion (ACL and MCL) on Monday Night Football against Washington. Second-year player Halapoulivaati Vaitai (teammates call him "Big V") took Peters' place during the contest and actually looked half decent. Vaitai has played better at left tackle than at right. Right tackle Lane Johnson has a similar condition, looking awful at left tackle for Peters earlier this season. Isaac Seumalo, who lost the left guard competition to Stefan Wisniewski, becomes the swing tackle. The team worked out Taylor Hart this week but replacing Peters is just not realistic. It's a big drop for the Philadelphia offensive line, who go from top-tier to mid-tier without Peters.
The New York Jets offensive line will likely be without the services of right tackle Brandon Shell, who left last week's loss at Miami with a neck injury. Brent Qvale took Shell's place early in the contest and Qvale (pronounced KWA-lay) played over 90% of the snaps. Shell (nephew of Hall of Famer Art) has been a rare highlight on a Jets' line that has struggled to get push this season. He has been a lockdown pass protector and long-term could have potential switching to the left side like Cordy Glenn. Without Shell, the Jets' offensive line fall from just outside the mid-tier to solidly low-tier.
Left guard Matt Slauson was placed on injured reserve this week after suffering a torn biceps in last week's win over Denver. Rookie Dan Feeney replaced Slauson during the contest and had his share of struggles. The injuries are piling up for the Chargers' line, who have been without starting right tackle Joe Barksdale for several weeks. Michael Schofield has been starting for Barksdale. Kenny Wiggins has been starting for Forrest Lamp, otherwise, he would be the natural candidate to replace Slauson. The Chargers signed Michael Ola to fill the roster spot but things are getting dire for Los Angeles.
CLE - 29
Left tackle Joe Thomas tore his triceps during last week's home loss to Tennessee and was placed on injured reserve. Thomas had a streak of over 10,000 consecutive snaps and it's an NFL record that is not likely to be broken anytime soon. Spencer Drango replaced Thomas during the contest and to call the difference a step down is being kind. Thomas is a ten-time Pro Bowler, likely first ballot Hall of Famer, while Drango is a 25-year-old out of Baylor who started 6 games last season at left guard. Tough times for the Browns' offensive line, who plunge from top-tier to low-tier in an instant.
The Colts' line gave up an alarming 10 sacks of quarterback Jacoby Brissett in last week's loss against Jacksonville. Center Ryan Kelly started the contest but couldn't finish it as he hurt his hamstring. Mike Person replaced Kelly, making him the third center to man the position this season. Other positions are equally banged up: Joe Haeg is starting at right tackle for Denzelle Good while Le'Raven Clark has been starting at right guard for Jack Mewhort (both Good and Mewhort are on IR). Until they get healthier, the Colts' offensive line currently grades out as the league's worst.
|6||BUF||26||20||29.98||A||A||B+||LT Glenn returns. RG Ducasse stepping up.|
|7||WAS||5||-2||29.68||A||A||B+||RG Scherff (Roullier). LT Williams playing hurt.|
|8||PIT||10||2||29.65||B+||B+||B+||RT Gilbert (Hubbard).|
|9||LAR||11||2||29.4||B+||A-||B||Assume C Sullivan plays.|
|10||NO||9||-1||29.28||B+||B+||B+||RG Warford (Kelemete).|
|11||MIN||18||7||29.1||B+||B+||B+||LG Easton likely to return.|
|MID TIER||12||HOU||20||8||29.1||B+||A-||B||LT Brown reported from hold-out, likely to start.|
|14||KC||24||10||28.9||B+||A-||B-||Assume C Morse & RG Duvernay return.|
|15||GB||30||15||28.85||B||B-||B+||LT Bakhtiari & RT Bulaga returned. LG Taylor (McCray).|
|18||MIA||31||13||28.68||B-||B-||B+||LG Steen (Davis). Assume LT Tunsil plays.|
|19||CAR||19||0||28.6||B-||B||B-||C Kalil (Larsen)|
|21||DET||14||-7||28.48||B-||B-||B-||Assume LG Lang returns and RT Wagner plays.|
|LOW TIER||22||PHI||6||-16||28.33||B-||B||C+||LT Peters (Vaitai)|
|23||SEA||32||9||28.13||C+||B-||C||LG Joeckel (Glowinski)|
|24||JAX||25||1||28.03||C+||B-||C||LT Robinson (Wells) & C Linder (Shatley).|
|25||NYJ||22||-3||27.98||C+||C+||C+||RT Shell (Qvale)|
|26||NYG||29||3||27.98||C+||C+||C||C Richburg to return after BYE. RT Pugh (Hart).|
|27||DEN||21||-6||27.93||C||C||C||RT Watson (Barbre).|
|28||LAC||23||-5||27.9||C||C||C||LG Slauson (Feeney) & RT Barksdale (Schofield)|
|31||CLE||2||-29||27.85||C-||C-||C-||LT Thomas (Drango).|
|32||IND||17||-15||27.75||C-||C||D+||C Kelly (Person).|
If there are any questions about a team or lineman not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via Twitter.
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