Sannes: Fantasy Football Offensive Line Rankings for 2019

Which offensive lines could make a meaningful difference for fantasy football in 2019?

Entering 2018, the Minnesota Vikings' offense looked stacked. They had added Kirk Cousins to a skill group that already included Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook, which should have propelled them to another deep playoff run.

But then the realities of their offensive line set in. Instead of trying to duplicate the Minneapolis Miracle, they were licking their wounds while the rest of the NFC jockeyed for a slot in Super Bowl LIII.

No matter how good your skill players are, a porous offensive line can sink the ship in a hurry. This has major implications for real-world football, but it also alters the fantasy landscape in ways the public may not account for. Cousins finished outside the top 12 in quarterback scoring despite having gobs of weapons at his disposal, and Cook topped 17 half-PPR point just once all year.

If a team has an issue up front, we need to know about it before we draft our fake football teams for 2019. The reverse is also true as a stout unit up front can be the final key to unlocking a breakout for a running back, as we saw with the Indianapolis Colts and Marlon Mack during the middle part of last year.

As such, it's essential to take a look at the offensive-line landscape as training camps get underway. We need to know which units are primed to struggle in 2019, which could excel, and which have made major changes in the offseason.

That's what we'll try to do here today. First, we're going to rank each offensive line and sort them into tiers based on their overall abilities and how they perform in both pass- and run-blocking. Then we'll dive into explanations behind each of the rankings.

The explanations will be key as not every "average" offensive line is created equally. Some may have thin depth that has the potential to cause issues while another may be one breakout away from leaping into another tier. So while the rankings matter, you'll want to stick around and get a deeper look into why each team is ranked where they are.

These rankings -- as always -- are going to involve some subjectivity as we haven't seen most of these lines play together as we get set for 2019. There will clearly be some guesswork involved. But plenty of other factors were considered, as well.

One of the chief tools we'll be leaning on is numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), the metric we use to track the expected points added or subtracted on each play throughout the season. Most of the discussion will center around the expected points lost on sacks (referred to as Sack NEP) and the percentage of plays that increase the expected points for the drive (referred to as Success Rate). It's important to factor in data when making these rankings, even if there is some element of unknown when it comes to offensive lines.

With that said, let's get to the rankings. The table below shows where each team ranks, their overall tier, and their tier as run- and pass-blockers. The rankings may not always line up with these tiers, in part because not all "above average" units are the same and because pass-blocking is more important than run-blocking in today's NFL. Again, the additional context below should help fill in the gaps there, as well.

Rank Team Overall Pass Run
1 Indianapolis Colts Elite Elite Elite
2 New Orleans Saints Elite Elite Above Average
3 New England Patriots Elite Above Average Elite
4 Pittsburgh Steelers Above Average Elite Average
5 Philadelphia Eagles Above Average Above Average Average
6 Dallas Cowboys Above Average Average Elite
7 Atlanta Falcons Above Average Above Average Above Average
8 Green Bay Packers Above Average Average Elite
9 Kansas City Chiefs Above Average Above Average Average
10 Baltimore Ravens Above Average Above Average Above Average
11 New York Giants Average Above Average Average
12 Los Angeles Rams Average Average Above Average
13 Carolina Panthers Average Average Above Average
14 Tennessee Titans Average Average Average
15 Los Angeles Chargers Average Average Average
16 Chicago Bears Average Average Average
17 Jacksonville Jaguars Average Above Average Below Average
18 Cleveland Browns Average Average Average
19 Denver Broncos Average Average Above Average
20 San Francisco 49ers Average Average Above Average
21 Washington Average Above Average Below Average
22 Detroit Lions Average Average Average
23 Minnesota Vikings Average Average Average
24 Seattle Seahawks Average Below Average Above Average
25 Oakland Raiders Below Average Below Average Average
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Below Average Average Liability
27 New York Jets Below Average Average Liability
28 Cincinnati Bengals Below Average Below Average Below Average
29 Buffalo Bills Below Average Below Average Below Average
30 Arizona Cardinals Below Average Below Average Below Average
31 Miami Dolphins Liability Below Average Below Average
32 Houston Texans Liability Liability Liability

That team at the top should show you how quickly things can change. Let's dive into why the Colts top this chart, get into the rest of the teams, and discuss what this all means for fantasy football.

1. Indianapolis Colts

Overall: Elite | Pass-Blocking: Elite | Run-Blocking: Elite

When we did this rankings piece last year, I thought I was being bullish on the Colts by ranking them 22nd. Turns out, I was selling them severely short, and they're now arguably the top line in the league.

The season-long metrics for the Colts are all glowing. They led the league in both Sack NEP per drop back and sack rate, and they were eighth or better in Rushing Success Rate by running backs to the left, up the middle, and to the right (the "by running backs" segment is to filter out rushes by quarterbacks, which tend to be more efficient attempts, and future references to Rushing Success Rates based on numberFire's metrics will also filter out runs by non-running backs). There were no holes in this unit. But even those season-long numbers don't encapsulate how good this line was.

With how well the team finished the season, it's easy to forget that they had to play the first five games without left tackle Anthony Castonzo. The team certainly wasn't bad in those opening five games, but their numbers after Castonzo returned were at a whole new level.

Colts in 2019 Sack Rate RB Rush Success Rate
First 5 Games 3.9% 39.6%
Final 11 Games 2.0% 48.0%

If that 2.0% sack rate had been their full-season mark, they would have led the league by a whopping 1.4 percentage points in that metric. Simply put, they were a dominant unit.

Unlike many of the other top units we'll discuss, the Colts are running it back for 2019 with all their 2018 starters still in place. That means we don't have to worry about them taking a step back unless the injury bug happens to bite. They're just good.

Everybody on the Colts' offense will benefit from this, but the biggest winner seems to be the aforementioned Mack. Mack finished last year ranked sixth in Rushing Success Rate among 47 running backs with at least 100 attempts, and the coaching staff has given him multiple votes of confidence this offseason. His average draft position (ADP) is at the beginning of the third round in 12-team, half-PPR leagues, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, which is certainly no small cost. But with this offensive line and a healthy Andrew Luck in place, Mack still seems to be worthy of that price tag.

2. New Orleans Saints

Overall: Elite | Pass-Blocking: Elite | Run-Blocking: Above Average

The New Orleans Saints were dealt a serious blow with center Max Unger announcing his retirement back in March. It threatened to knock the team out of the elite tier up front. But as they've shown numerous times the past few years, the Saints recognize the value of the offensive line, and they made the proper investments to account for Unger's departure.

The first move was to bring in former Vikings lineman Nick Easton. Easton missed all of last year due to neck surgery but is entering just his age-27 season. His injury was one of the dominoes that led to the Vikings' descent last year.

Perhaps the bolder move, though, was to take center Erik McCoy with the 48th overall pick in this year's draft. Among interior linemen at this year's combine, McCoy was second in weight-adjusted 40-yard dash time. The two guys around him in that metric -- Chris Lindstrom and Garrett Bradbury -- both went within the first 18 picks. McCoy also had well-above-average marks in his weight-adjusted vertical, bench, and broad jump, showing he has the athleticism to fill Unger's shoes well.

McCoy has been working as the team's starting center in minicamps with Easton at guard. If both of those two moves pay off, the Saints have a shot to re-claim their spot atop this list. But there's enough unknown there to knock them down a peg.

That's not enough, though, to get us scared off of any of the Saints' big pieces for fantasy. This should still be an elite unit even with Unger gone, and they pair that with a quarterback who -- even in advanced age -- is still one of the best in the game. Don't let changes up front on this offense push you away from all the goodness the Saints have to offer.

3. New England Patriots

Overall: Elite | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Elite

For the New England Patriots, the big question is at left tackle with Trent Brown departing in a Brinks truck to join the Oakland Raiders. But with the magic line coach Dante Scarnecchia has worked on this unit in the past, we should still expect this to be a top-end line.

Last year's 23rd overall pick, Isaiah Wynn, seems likely to get the first crack at the role after tearing his Achilles' during the preseason. Wynn has question marks -- especially with that being such a brutal injury -- but prior to last year, Brown hadn't been a full-time left tackle in the pros, and the Patriots got him simply by swapping a third-round pick for a fifth-rounder. Time and time again, the Patriots have taken unproven assets and made them into stars, and they invested far more draft capital in Wynn than they have past starters.

With depth being a concern due to Brown's departure and that of LaAdrian Waddle in free agency, the Patriots double-dipped on linemen by taking tackle Yodney Cajuste in the third round and guard Hjalte Froholdt in the fourth. Cajuste allowed no sacks and just 10 hurries in 394 pass-blocking snaps during his final year at West Virginia, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), but may have slipped in the draft due to a quad injury. If Wynn struggles or has a set-back in his recovery, there is a backup plan waiting in the wings in Cajuste.

The other four spots on the line are all rock-solid, meaning that even with Tom Brady creeping toward his 50s, this is still an offense we want to target in fantasy.

The name to monitor here is Damien Harris. Harris doesn't have a defined role right now, but lead back Sony Michel is already dealing with yet another knee injury. If Harris were to carve out a role, he'd be running behind an elite offensive line and tied to an efficient quarterback. With his ADP currently in the 11th round, he seems to be a worthwhile roll of the dice as we get closer to the season.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Elite | Run-Blocking: Average

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a staple near the top of this list for years now, and it's for good reason. They ranked third in sack rate last year and were top-15 in Rushing Success Rate to each direction. That's why they're up this high. It's just hard to move them much higher with a bit of a question mark lingering at right tackle.

The Steelers shipped former starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round pick. Playing without Gilbert will not be a new experience for the Steelers; he had played just 12 games the past two seasons combined. But the fill-ins this past year left open some questions.

The table below looks at the team's numbers when Gilbert was on the field compared with likely starter Matt Feiler and the alternative, 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor. All numbers come via The Quant Edge's injury tool.

Steelers in 2018 Snaps Sack Rate Yards Per Pass Yards Per Rush
With Gilbert On 339 2.6% 7.96 4.17
With Feiler On 646 3.8% 7.67 4.16
With Okorafor On 147 2.8% 7.49 3.54

A 3.8% sack rate would still have ranked fifth in the league last year, but their 2.6% sack rate with Gilbert on would have been the best in the league. This makes it at least noteworthy that the oft-injured Gilbert is gone.

Whether it's Feiler or Okorafor who wins the right tackle job, the Steelers' offensive line should remain elite in 2019. They were fine without Gilbert last year, and even when you bake in a step back due to his departure, things still look fairly rosy here.

This is why it figures to be advantageous to take stabs at the lower-cost assets within the offense. Jaylen Samuels, James Washington, and Donte Moncrief are all going outside the first eight rounds in half-PPR drafts, but if any were to get opportunities, they'd likely be efficient in those looks. The departures of Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown figure to negatively impact this team, but a solid offensive line and ample touches for the taking still make this an attractive team to target late in drafts.

5. Philadelphia Eagles

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Average

If you could guarantee guard Brandon Brooks -- who tore his Achilles in January -- would be healthy, the Philadelphia Eagles could very well be in the "elite" tier. The team's immense depth allows them to stay up here even with Brooks' status questionable.

The team re-signed Stefen Wisniewski in May, meaning he could shift over to the right side with Isaac Seumalo picking up where he left off last year and starting at left guard. Neither is an elite option, but they're flanked to the inside by Jason Kelce and on the outside by Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, so perfection is not necessary.

They also picked up an insurance policy for the 37-year-old Peters by trading up for left tackle Andre Dillard during the draft. Dillard led the class by a pretty wide margin in the 20-yard shuttle at the combine, a critical measurement for linemen, as outlined by Rotoworld's Josh Norris. Dillard ranks seventh among tackles in weight-adjusted 20-yard shuttle score at the combine since 2000, meaning they figure to have both a short-term fill-in and a long-term answer locked down for left tackle.

Someone's going to run behind these bad men up front. We just don't know who yet, keeping the fantasy toll for Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders in check.

The most likely scenario is that we continue to see a backfield committee in Philadelphia, which is going to limit both the floor and upside of everyone involved. But the stout line -- whether Brooks is healthy or not -- should at least make those touches efficient. That's why it can't hurt to keep taking stabs at someone like Sanders as long as his ADP doesn't rise too much (he is currently going at the tail end of the seventh). If he can carve out a role here, he'll likely give solid production, and that's hard to pass up once you get past the top couple tiers at running back.

6. Dallas Cowboys

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Elite

Where you rank the Dallas Cowboys depends on how you view center Travis Frederick, who missed all of 2018 but was taking part in individual drills during June's organized team activities. The hope is that putting them sixth accounts for the uncertainty around his situation.

The Cowboys' line did struggle without Frederick this past season. They ranked 28th in sack rate and were outside the top 10 in Rushing Success Rate going both left and right. Clearly, they missed Frederick.

But a healthy Frederick would likely erase plenty of those sins. Frederick has not allowed a sack since Week 9 of 2014, according to Mark Chichester of PFF, which would seemingly help alleviate their biggest issue from last year. If they can shore that up while adding a smidge to their run-blocking, they'd be higher on this list.

It also helps that the Cowboys brought in some competition for left guard Connor Williams, who struggled in his rookie season. They selected Connor McGovern in the third round, and although McGovern missed OTAs due to an injury, he gives the team another option there should Williams continue to struggle. McGovern also played center at Penn State, giving them an option there if Frederick's comeback doesn't go to plan.

The Cowboys have the potential to be elite, so it's hard to put them much lower on this list. It's just worth acknowledging that there are some question marks. But Frederick's return -- along with some increased passing-game usage for Ezekiel Elliott -- is why I have the Cowboys' running back at the top of my preseason fantasy rankings.

7. Atlanta Falcons

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

The team ranked behind the Cowboys is one following the model that made the Cowboys' line among the most fearsome of the past decade. There is no way to question the Atlanta Falcons' commitment to improving conditions up front.

The biggest additions were in the draft as the Falcons took guard Chris Lindstrom 14th overall and tackle Kaleb McGary 31st. They also brought in both James Carpenter and Jamon Brown in free agency, completely revamping the interior around center Alex Mack.

Lindstrom, specifically, is a huge get. Lindstrom led interior players at the combine in weight-adjusted marks in the 20-yard shuttle, broad jump, and 40-yard dash, flexing elite athleticism. McGary was fourth among tackles in weight-adjusted 20-yard shuttle times, so it seems clear the Falcons do value athleticism up front.

This will help out Matt Ryan and the passing game, but Ryan didn't really need the boost. He ranked sixth in Passing NEP per drop back last year, so efficiency was already in his corner. It will, though, help out Devonta Freeman as he returns from injury.

The Falcons finished 2018 ranked 28th in Rushing Success Rate to the right and 21st up the middle. Lindstrom is a lock to start at right guard, and either McGary or Ty Sambrailo will get the call at right tackle. This should represent a major upgrade from Brandon Fusco and Ryan Schraeder on the right side.

Freeman's definitely not free given that he's going in the middle of the third round. There's risk there, especially with his injury history. But he's in a desirable situation, tied to an efficient quarterback and a much improved offensive line, and Tevin Coleman's departure should bring a bit extra workload security. If Freeman can stay healthy, his upside jusitifies his cost where it currently sits.

8. Green Bay Packers

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Elite

The Green Bay Packers entered the offseason with arguably just one hole on their offensive line at right guard, and they were largely just average at left guard. They made moves to improve at right guard and bulk up their depth on the interior, solidifying themselves as an above-average unit.

Specifically, the Packers signed guard Billy Turner to a four-year deal to become the new starter at right guard. Turner started four games at right tackle for the Denver Broncos last year and seven at left guard. Turner finished the year as PFF's 33rd-ranked guard overall out of 77 graded guards, generating a better rating than Byron Bell had at right guard last year.

Then the Packers doubled down on the interior by selecting center Elgton Jenkins in the second round. The Packers are set at center with Corey Linsley coming back, but Jenkins can help fill in should the team have an injury or if Turner or left guard Lane Taylor struggle.

Even before the additions, the Packers ranked ninth or better in Rushing Success Rate to all three directions last year, showing that this was already a solid unit. Putting Turner and Jenkins in the mix only figures to help.

This is why our evaluation of Aaron Jones should be similar to that of Marlon Mack and Devonta Freeman, both of whom are going a half round behind him. There may be red flags around each player, but all three are running behind top-end offensive lines and tied to quality quarterbacks. Jones showed what he can do last year in a bellcow role, averaging 18.1 half-PPR points per game in contests where he had at least a 50% snap rate. With Jones, Mack, and Freeman all going between the middle of the second and the third round, it seems to be an advantageous spot to bank on upside at running back.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Average

The Kansas City Chiefs lost an anchor in the middle of their line in the offseason with center Mitch Morse departing for the Buffalo Bills. Morse was a great player at a crucial position, but the Chiefs fared just fine without him last year.

Morse went down in the Chiefs' Week 6 primetime duel with the Patriots, playing just 40.7% of the snaps in that game. He went on to sit Weeks 7 through 11, giving us six games in which Morse played less than half the snaps. Here's how the Chiefs performed in those versus the games when Morse was healthy.

Chiefs in 2018 Yards Per Pass Sack Rate Yards Per RB Rush RB Rush Success Rate
Games Morse Played At Least 50% of Snaps 8.28 3.2% 4.19 45.6%
Games Morse Played Less Than 50% of Snaps 9.84 6.1% 5.16 45.6%

The sack rate doubled without Morse, which matters a lot. They would have ranked 11th in sack rate if that 6.1% mark were their full-season number (instead of their actual fifth-place ranking). But they were dominant on the ground and were still a borderline top-10 unit even with Morse on the sidelines.

It probably also helps that Austin Reiter performed well in Morse's absence. Reiter started from Week 8 through Week 11, and although it was in a small sample, Reiter received a higher overall grade from PFF than Morse did last year. It's risky because of the small samples tied to those numbers, but it's possible they get a solid in-house replacement at center, and not many teams can pull that off.

An injury to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif last year also allowed guard Andrew Wylie to crack the starting lineup for 10 games, and he performed well enough that he seems likely to start at left guard. If the Chiefs can upgrade there from last year's starter, Cameron Erving, without losing much at center, they'll be positioned well to duplicate what they did in 2018.

This is why Damien Williams is still tempting even as he sits in the middle of the second round. Williams' lack of a track record means that there's plenty of risk here. But the upside is that you'll get a three-down back running behind a top-10 offensive line and tied to the reigning MVP. As long as Williams can hold off Carlos Hyde and Darwin Thompson, there's a decent chance he will outperform his slot as the 13th-ranked running back.

10. Baltimore Ravens

Overall: Above Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

With the Baltimore Ravens, you have to take all data around them with a grain of salt. They allowed just a 4.0% sack rate when Joe Flacco was on the field compared to 9.9% when it was Lamar Jackson. And their rushing efficiency went through the roof when Jackson became starter because his presence helped open running lanes for the running backs. So we've got a lot to juggle here.

But even when we account for all this, the Ravens still seem pretty solid.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda are among the best in the game, providing a solid foundation up front. Then they inserted third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle, providing an upgrade there from James Hurst.

Left guard Alex Lewis missed six games but was underwhelming when he was healthy, and center Matt Skura was adequate. That's why it's hard to put the team higher than 10th. But when you're set at both tackle slots and one of the interior positions, you're going to be able to move some bodies.

Given the ADPs of the assets in this offense, it seems wise to invest almost across the board. Jackson produced last year as a starter and now has a rebuilt receiver core, giving him higher upside as a passer. And with Mark Ingram, the team's rushing volume may help overcome the concerns around his lack of passing-game involvement and the presence of fourth-round pick Justice Hill. A decent offensive line can help alleviate plenty of concerns, which allows us to get excited about Jackson's crew in year two.

11. New York Giants

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Average

The New York Giants have gone all out in rebuilding their offensive line the past two years, spending big on Nate Solder, taking Will Hernandez high in last year's draft, and trading for Kevin Zeitler as part of the Odell Beckham deal. This unit is no longer a liability.

Despite having Saquon Barkley, the Giants ranked 31st in Rushing Success Rate up the middle and 30th to the left. Zeitler's presence will help up the gut, and so will bringing back center Jon Halapio, who played just 116 snaps before going down with knee and ankle injuries. Barkley went wild last year behind a mid-level unit, and they figure to be markedly better -- both as run-blockers and pass-protectors -- in his sophomore campaign.

The pass protection will certainly help Eli Manning as he tries to fend off the ills of age. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll suddenly be able to lead an efficient offense, which matters for fantasy.

Last year, the Giants finished 20th in Sack NEP per drop back. Manning's Passing NEP per drop back -- which does account for expected points lost on sacks -- ranked 23rd out of 43 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs. When you take sacks out of the equation, he still ranked just 19th, right behind Marcus Mariota and Nick Mullens. Sacks weren't what was holding this offense back last year, which means the issues run deeper than just the guys up front.

Because of this, it's hard to upgrade Barkley much from a fantasy perspective even with an improved unit paving the way for him. That's why Barkley still sits second in my personal rankings, trailing Elliott, who has the benefit of both a stout offensive line and higher levels of competence around him. Offensive lines make a difference, but we can't simply ignore other factors while accounting for them within our process.

12. Los Angeles Rams

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

It's extremely rare for an offensive line to go an entire year without missing a start due to injury. When it happens, it's pretty likely that the unit will grade out well because continuity is a major plus, and having your best players on the field is almost a cheat code.

The Los Angeles Rams' offensive line hasn't missed a start due to a true injury since Sean McVay became head coach. Either he's a wizard, or injury regression will hit this team eventually. And that's for a team that's already bound for a major shake-up.

The Rams enter 2019 with an unknown at every interior position along the line. They cut center John Sullivan and let left guard Rodger Saffold walk in free agency. Their lone returning interior starter -- right guard Austin Blythe -- struggled down the stretch last year, partially contributing to their dropoff late in the regular season.

That's before even mentioning that left tackle Andrew Whitworth is entering his age-38 season and mulled retirement in the offseason. For a team with so much continuity the past two years, they're on some shaky ground right now.

To the Rams' credit, they've made investments in the draft to potentially offset the losses. Last year, they took center Brian Allen in the fourth round. Allen said he learned plenty behind Sullivan, and the Rams saw enough from Allen in practice that they felt comfortable jettisoning Sullivan to the streets. Sullivan was the weakest part of the Rams' line last year, as well, so this part isn't as concerning.

But Saffold is a player who played well even before McVay's arrival, and he figures to be tougher to replace. Joseph Noteboom was a third-round pick last year and seems likely to get the first crack at starting even though they also took Bobby Evans in the third round of this year's draft. Noteboom was drafted as a tackle, but he led all tackles at last year's combine in weight-adjusted shuttle time, and he ran a well-above-average 40-yard dash, as well. He may wind up being solid, but it's hard to ask anybody entering his first year as a starter to immediately replace the production of Saffold.

There are few teams whose range of outcomes up front is wider than that of the Rams. If Whitworth or Rob Havenstein were to get hurt, and the interior crumbles, they could sink the entire offense. That's why they're outside the top 10. But they still have enough pieces in place to not be viewed as a negative.

Whitworth and Havenstein are two solid bookends on the line, and that does matter. Additionally, McVay has proven in his first two years that he is self-aware enough to know areas where he needs to compensate for a lack of talent. They've had the whole offseason to plan for the departures of Sullivan and Saffold, and they may be able to account for that within their schemes.

Combine this all together, and there is some risk within the Rams' skill-position guys, even before we discuss Todd Gurley's knee condition. It's not enough where we need to avoid the wide receivers or Jared Goff -- this should still be a plus offense -- but given the costs tied to each of them, it may be wise not to actively seek them out, either.

13. Carolina Panthers

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

The Carolina Panthers have a chance to be an above-average unit at four of the five spots along the offensive line this year. From left guard through right tackle, they have players who could play at a Pro-Bowl level, including free-agent signing Matt Paradis at center. Unfortunately, their lone hole is at left tackle, and that keeps them from pouncing into the top 10 in these rankings.

The most likely guy to anchor Cam Newton's blindside is second-round pick Greg Little. The Panthers traded up to take Little 37th overall, which is a big enough commitment to say that the team clearly views him as the future at the position. The question is whether he can be the answer in the present, as well.

If Little lives up to those expectations, this unit has the potential to be among the best in the league. And it's not as if left tackle was a strength of theirs last year.

Taylor Moton started last year as the team's starting left tackle. But when right tackle Daryl Williams injured his knee in Week 1, Moton shifted to right tackle with Chris Clark taking over at left tackle. Moton thrived on the right side and figures to start there again this year, but Clark was merely adequate at left tackle. It didn't stop the Panthers from doing major damage up front.

The team finished 2018 ranked seventh in sack rate, and they were a top-10 unit in Rushing Success Rate to each direction. Again, that was without having a locked-in stud at the line's most important position. It helps gives the Panthers a hefty floor along the line entering the year, and their ceiling is likely better than this ranking indicates.

The upside in this offensive line should help smooth concerns around Newton as a fantasy asset. Yes, he's coming off shoulder surgery, but some of those concerns are baked into his ADP as the 11th quarterback off the board. He's seventh in my rankings, and if this offensive line hits the top end of its potential outcomes, Newton has the ceiling to be the league's top-scoring player at the position.

14. Tennessee Titans

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Average

The Tennessee Titans dealt with a whole load of poo last year from an injury perspective, and we're not just talking about Marcus Mariota not being able to feel his hands, something that seems slightly sub-optimal for a quarterback. The offensive line was also banged up from start to finish, positioning them for a rebound this year. (NOTE: Left tackle Taylor Lewan has since been suspended the first four games due to a failed drug test.)

The downslide for the Titans actually started during the 2017 playoffs when right tackle Jack Conklin tore his ACL. Conklin missed the first three games of the year, and the Titans started three different players in his stead. Conklin's early absence set the tone for the rest of the season.

In Week 2, the Titans had to play without their top three options at tackle. Conklin was still recovering, left tackle Taylor Lewan had a concussion, and right tackle Dennis Kelly had spent time in the hospital due to an illness. Kelly and Lewan eventually returned, but then Conklin went down with another injury in Week 14 and missed the final three games.

Now, Conklin figures to be healthy some time early in camp, a much more favorable timeline than he had entering last year. They also brought in Rodger Saffold from the Rams, an upgrade from the departed Quinton Spain at left guard. They still have a gap at right guard with third-round pick Nate Davis potentially starting there, but things are very much looking up for this team.

The Titans averaged 8.19 yards per pass when Conklin was on the field and 4.82 yards per carry, according to The Quant Edge. Without Conklin, those numbers dipped to 7.11 and 4.19, respectively, and Conklin's second injury occurred right when Derrick Henry saw his meteoric rise at the end of the year. If they get a healthy Conklin paired with Henry's skills at running back, this ground game could be an even bigger force than it was down the stretch.

Head coach Mike Vrabel has said multiple times this year that they plan to use Henry as the team's load-bearing back from the jump in 2019. That means volume should be there. If this offensive line lives up to its potential, the efficiency should be there, too. Going in the middle of the third round, Henry's ADP has barely moved from where it was entering last year. That makes now a time to buy, especially if this offensive line can stay in tact all year long.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Average

Something good must be in the water in Los Angeles. Although the Los Angeles Chargers didn't have zero games missed due to injury like their cross-town rivals, they did get 16 games out of four of the five positions up front. As a result, we likely saw their ceiling in 2018, and the production was that of an above-average unit. It's just hard to bank on a team repeating that type of output.

The Chargers' line was the best it has been in Melvin Gordon's tenure, ranking fourth in Rushing Success Rate to the left, 17th up the middle, and ninth to the right. That was despite having Sam Tevi struggle while getting his first significant time as a starter at right tackle. Assuming that veterans Russell Okung and Mike Pouncey don't fall off due to age, it's reasonable to view the Chargers as being part of the blob in the middle tier as an average offensive line.

The possibility for a skills deterioration is there, though, and the team has below-average starters penciled in at both right tackle and left guard. That makes it hard to put the Chargers higher than 15th.

If the Chargers somehow manage to stay healthy again, then we should expect a repeat performance out of Gordon, assuming he doesn't wind up holding out into the regular season. They're returning all the starters, and that certainly helps. And if Forrest Lamp -- now almost two years removed from a torn ACL -- can show signs of life, then there's also the possibility for a step forward. But once you bake in some injury regression, the Chargers are about as average as you can be, planting them firmly in the middle of the pack entering the year.

16. Chicago Bears

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Average

In general, the Chicago Bears' offensive line is regarded as being a plus for the team. It's very possible that's true. But it's hard to find data that backs up that sentiment, pushing them down to 16th on this list.

On the ground last year, the Bears ranked 19th or worse in Rushing Success Rate to all three directions. They also ranked 28th in Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards, meaning that the running backs may have actually made the ground-game data appear even better than it should have.

Part of those poor numbers likely stemmed from guard Kyle Long missing time yet again. The team averaged 4.78 yards per carry with Long on the field compared to 3.51 without him, according to The Quant Edge, so getting Long back would lead you to believe they'll perform better this year. But Long has missed at least six games in three straight seasons, so assuming full health might not be the wisest route there.

The other potential cause for said optimism is getting James Daniels into his second year with the team and shifting him to his natural position at center while moving Cody Whitehair to left guard. But the Bears struggled to move the ball on the ground with Daniels starting last year as their Rushing Success Rate to the left fell to 32.5% from Week 8 on after it was 46.7% before that. Part of that may have been a ripple effect from Long's injury at right guard, but it also shows that a full year of Daniels in the starting lineup does not necessarily guarantee a major step forward.

This perception of the Bears as a plus line may be driving the cost of David Montgomery up a bit. He's currently going at the front end of the fourth round, and that's not a small cost for a back who figures to lose passing-down work to Tarik Cohen. The team clearly values Montgomery, burning one of just five draft picks on him this spring, but there's certainly some shakiness there that makes him a risky selection where he's currently going.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Below Average

Earlier, we discussed the levels of treachery the Titans experienced from an injury perspective at tackle. That alone should make us believe they'll bounce back this year. But their misery does not come close to comparing to that of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

If you had a pulse and were physically capable of standing upright, you probably started a game at left tackle for the Jaguars last year. Congrats. They lost Cam Robinson in Week 2, Josh Wells in Week 5, and Josh Walker in Week 10 before handing over the reins to Ereck Flowers from Week 11 on. Yes, that's the same Ereck Flowers who started the year as the Giants' right tackle before getting cut. Nobody started more games at the most important spot on the Jaguars' line than him. That should be enough to tell you why the Jaguars are in for an improvement.

But the injuries weren't isolated to just left tackle. Brandon Linder missed from Week 11 on, and Andrew Norwell followed him to the shelf just two games later. Right guard A.J. Cann was the only guy to start all 16 games, and he was the fourth-best piece on that unit.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Jaguars' two best offensive outputs came early in the year, scoring 31 points in Week 2 and Week 4. They never topped 26 from that point on, and they scored 20 points in just two of their final 12 games. Injuries up front likely played a big role in that landslide.

Not only are all those injured vets returning, but they also drafted Jawaan Taylor in the second round to fill the hole at right tackle. This is in addition to -- in theory -- upgrading at quarterback by signing Nick Foles to a big-money deal.

This is why a handful of Jaguars are intriguing at their current draft costs. Leonard Fournette is going at the top of the third round, accounting for the ambiguity around the team's faith in him. Dede Westbrook is the only wide receiver with an ADP, going in the middle of the 10th. Whether it's Fournette, Westbrook, or any of the other skill-position guys, it's reasonable to expect improvements this year with a healthy line and Foles in town, meaning we can buy into them even with some legit uncertainty around their roles.

18. Cleveland Browns

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Average

Last year, Freddie Kitchens was able to help the Cleveland Browns navigate around a lack of talent at their tackle positions once he took over as offensive coordinator. That definitely helps as we look forward to 2019. His task will be even more difficult this time, though, with Kevin Zeitler now in New York.

Kitchens took over play-calling duties prior to Week 9 and immediately made Greg Robinson his starting left tackle. From that time on, the team had a 1.9% sack rate, which would have led the league had it been their full-season number. If they had entered 2019 with the same bunch, then we could have been decently optimistic even without an upgrade at left tackle.

But that's not the case. Instead, their best lineman is now gone, and they have unknown entities at two spots. It's why the Browns are lower on this list than they've been in years past.

That's not to say that the Browns couldn't make the leap back up in 2019. It's possible Robinson has improved in a new system. His weight-adjusted 40-yard dash time ranks sixth among tackles at the combine since 2000, trailing All-Pro studs like Terron Armstead, Lane Johnson, Trent Williams, and Joe Staley.

Austin Corbett, who figures to replace Zeitler at right guard, was also a plus athlete at the combine in 2018. They're not devoid of talent up front; they're just not a guaranteed plus.

The offensive line may be the best rebuttal to hype surrounding their skill-position players in fantasy in 2019. They've got the pieces at all other positions to be an efficient offense, and efficient offenses generate the touchdowns you need for big fantasy outputs. The concern is that if the line were to hit the low end of its range of outcomes, things could go south in a hurry. There's enough left up front with Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter where you don't need to avoid the Browns by any means, but it's best to enter drafts knowing that there is room for some disappointment.

19. Denver Broncos

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

It's possible the Denver Broncos could be too low on this list. With Ja'Wuan James at right tackle and second-rounder Dalton Risner at right guard, they're really intriguing as an overall unit. Questions around their center, though, keep the optimism around them in check until we see the unit on the field.

Matt Paradis left the team via free agency to join the Panthers. Because Paradis missed the final seven games of last year due to a broken leg, we have an idea of the impact he made up front. The numbers below from The Quant Edge show why Paradis' departure should make the Broncos a bit nervous.

Broncos in 2018 Yards Per Rush Yards Per Pass
With Paradis 5.20 7.99
Without Paradis 4.45 6.25

The Broncos were also missing left guard Ronald Leary in this time, and again, they did make upgrades at right guard and right tackle in the offseason. But with how important centers are to an offense, we can't just brush off Paradis's absence.

The question marks on the offensive line are another red flag with Phillip Lindsay as a fourth-round pick. Not only is he coming off of a wrist injury, but he may lose a few carries to Royce Freeman under a new coaching staff. Lindsay lived on efficiency rather than volume last year and isn't in an offense that will reside in the red zone. Add in the potential for the line to struggle with Paradis gone, and Lindsay may be a bit tough to swallow at his current cost.

20. San Francisco 49ers

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

Even with solid tackles in Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, the San Francisco 49ers aren't the league's most talented unit up front. That is why they wind up sitting a bit lower on this list. But that may not matter with regards to fantasy.

Last year, the 49ers ranked eighth in Rushing Success Rate to the left, 15th up the middle, and 20th to the right. It's pretty middling across the board.

But Matt Breida still managed to finish 12th in Rushing NEP per carry among 47 backs with at least 100 carries. How did that happen?

Turns out Kyle Shanahan ain't no dummy.

Last year, runs by running backs up the middle added -0.02 Rushing NEP per carry across the league. Runs to the outside -- whether left or right -- added 0.02, meaning a run to the outside is worth 0.04 more expected points than a run up the gut. As such, you'll likely want a good chunk of your carries to be ones that avoid the pile-up in the middle of the line.

Shanahan's past four stops -- Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta, and San Francisco -- all ranked in the bottom five in percentage of runs that went up the gut. If runs up the middle are less efficient than those to the outside, a simple cheat code to increase your ground-game efficiency is just to go outside more often, and Shanahan seems to be fully aware of this.

This is why it's less important for a team like San Francisco to have talent up front than it may be for other teams. So while they sit 20th in our rankings, we don't necessarily need to dock assets tied to them because of it.

Shanahan's presence and the health of Jimmy Garoppolo should push us to invest in the 49ers' backfield, even with high levels of ambiguity within it. Tevin Coleman is going in the sixth round, Jerick McKinnon in the ninth, and Breida in the 13th. None of those tags are overly daunting. Someone in this backfield is likely to be a solid asset for fantasy, as long as they don't turn into a full-blown committee. Although that's certainly possible, we should still be looking to scoop up some exposure to the pieces in this backfield, especially Coleman and Breida with their reasonable price tags.

21. Washington

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Above Average | Run-Blocking: Below Average

Originally, Washington was higher on this list. Then left tackle Trent Williams said he wanted a new contract or to be traded, and their situation got a whole lot murkier.

Because Williams missed time due to injury in both 2018 and 2017, we know what the team looks like when they don't have him out there. And it wasn't all that pretty, with the numbers here being via The Quant Edge.

Washington's Offense Yards Per Rush Yards Per Pass Sack Rate
With Williams in 2018 4.09 7.09 7.8%
Without Williams in 2018 5.13 6.50 8.3%
With Williams in 2017 3.86 8.44 5.8%
Without Williams in 2017 3.19 7.12 8.9%

The numbers were awful in 2017. They took a step back without Williams in 2018, as well, but the gap was a bit smaller. That time without Williams last year, though, was with Ty Nsekhe at left tackle, and Nsekhe is now with the Buffalo Bills.

If Williams can't go, the aforementioned Ereck Flowers -- originally signed to be a guard -- could wind up sliding out to left tackle. That would be a major downgrade for the offense as a whole.

This could all be moot if the two sides can work out a deal, but there's risk here that wasn't present a few months ago. We should account for these unknowns when drafting.

Derrius Guice already carried risk in the sixth round because he was coming off an ACL injury and had yet to play in a real NFL game. But now we have the Williams uncertainty coupled with a fresh hamstring injury for Guice. Getting Williams' situation ironed out would improve Guice's outlook, but at least for right now, it seems wisest to wait it out and pluck Adrian Peterson or Chris Thompson, instead, if you really want exposure to this team.

22. Detroit Lions

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Average

The Detroit Lions' offensive line isn't bad. They've got decent tackles in Taylor Decker and Ricky Wagner, and they tend to keep Matthew Stafford upright. They're just aggressively mediocre, which puts them in the blob as a firmly average team.

The Lions finished last year ranked 19th in sack rate, 13th in Rushing Success Rate to the left, 30th up the middle, and 18th to the right. The number up the gut was likely dragged down by the sluggish running of LeGarrette Blount, but even Kerryon Johnson's 37.1% Success Rate up the middle was lower than the league-average mark.

That mediocrity was despite having solid injury luck almost across the board. The only player who missed time was guard T.J. Lang, who is now retired. If the Lions can't put up impressive marks even while staying healthy, it's hard to say they have any sort of lust-worthy ceiling.

There aren't any high-end picks here with no Lions going within the first two and a half rounds, which could seem like an opportunity to buy. But the offensive line is mediocre, and the team wants to skew toward the run. Even with reasonable costs, there's no huge reason to get excited about anybody tied to this team.

23. Minnesota Vikings

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Average

For the Lions, being part of the blob is a negative. For the Minnesota Vikings, it's a resounding positive. Last year, they were outlierishly bad, as discussed in the opening. But with the steps they've taken in the offseason, we should expect more of a middle-of-the-road performance, and there's upside for a bit more.

The big move, obviously was getting center Garrett Bradbury 18th overall. Bradbury was either first or second in the class among interior players in weight-adjusted bench press, three-cone, and shuttle, meaning he has the athleticism to run Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme.

Bradbury is an upgrade at center, and he also allows the team to upgrade at left guard as Pat Elflein slides over there. Between Elflein, Bradbury, and right tackle Brian O'Neill, the Vikings have three top-70 picks from the past three years along their offensive line, so you can't say they haven't tried to improve.

The reason the Vikings have upside for more is that they actually improved as last year went along, though it went largely unnoticed. From Week 11 on, the team had Riley Reiff at left tackle, Elflein at center, and O'Neill at right tackle. In those seven games, their Rushing Success Rate was 40.1%, up from 31.7% prior to that. If adding Bradbury and moving Elflein can further those gains, there's a legit chance they could be an above-average unit.

The obvious benefactor here is Dalvin Cook, helping justify his draft cost in the middle of the second round. But it's also worth highlighting Cousins.

After that rough 2018, Cousins is now the 21st quarterback off the board. That's despite having two immensely talented wide receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen while playing his home games indoors. Cousins is draftable in single-quarterback leagues, and he's likely someone we should actively target in superflex and best-ball drafts.

24. Seattle Seahawks

Overall: Average | Pass-Blocking: Below Average | Run-Blocking: Above Average

Last year, the Seattle Seahawks ranked 31st in sack rate, ahead of only the Houston Texans. That's firmly not great, Bob.

But that also wasn't entirely their fault as the team ranked eighth in ESPN's pass-block win rate, meaning we can't label them as a liability. They also re-signed D.J. Fluker, and a full season of him could help things significantly.

Fluker isn't someone who graded out well at scouting sites, potentially because the team's ground-game efficiency dipped when he was on the field. But the team's passing offense took a radical step in the right direction when he played, according to The Quant Edge.

Seattle in 2019 Yards Per Pass Sack Rate
With Fluker 9.29 7.4%
Without Fluker 6.72 13.9%

That sack rate with Fluker still would have ranked 20th in the league. But it's a whole heck of a lot better than 31st.

The Seahawks didn't change much in the offseason outside of signing Mike Iupati to replace J.R. Sweezy at left guard, meaning we should expect more of the same in 2019. That should be a slightly below-average pass-blocking line that can open some holes on the ground. They're just a line that doesn't move the needle all that much, meaning we should make assessments of the fantasy assets here based on volume and opportunity rather than the big guys up front.

25. Oakland Raiders

Overall: Below Average | Pass-Blocking: Below Average | Run-Blocking: Average

The Oakland Raiders made big changes up front this offseason. What remains to be seen is whether those changes will be positive.

They started things off with a bang, signing Trent Brown to the largest contract in NFL history for an offensive linemen, leading to the logical assumption that Brown would play left tackle, as he did with the Patriots. Instead, the team announced that last year's first-round pick, Kolton Miller, will stay on the left side with Brown shifting back to right tackle. Any time you can hand out fat stacks to a right tackle, you gotta do it.

Brown was solid at right tackle in his time with the 49ers, meaning he is a definitive upgrade over Brandon Parker. But Miller struggled in his rookie year, meaning they have a major question mark at the most important spot on the line.

And there's an even bigger question mark next to him on the left side in Richie Incognito. Not only did Incognito miss all of last year, but he will also miss the first two games this year after getting arrested at a funeral home for disorderly conduct. Incognito was long a difference-maker up front, but after sitting out two of the past five seasons -- and with this being his age-36 campaign -- it's hard to say his presence will be a boon for the Raiders.

The team got better this offseason by acquiring Antonio Brown, someone who can aid the efficiency of Derek Carr. But they ranked 25th in sack rate last year and still have liabilities on the left side. That may mitigate some of the gains they pick up due to Brown's arrival.

That will play a role in how we evaluate rookie Josh Jacobs. He figures to get plenty of volume, and that makes a big difference. But the efficiency could be low if the line struggles, and the team may not score a ton of points. Jacobs is palatable as a pick at the end of the third round due to his volume, but given these limitations, he's likely not someone we should actively seek out.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overall: Below Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Liability

Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had no games missed up front due to injury, and yet they still produced like a lackluster unit. That's not the combination you're looking for.

They are one of the teams that could benefit from a scheme change, similar to what we discussed with the 49ers. Last year, 46.4% of Tampa Bay's runs went up the middle, which was the fourth-highest mark in the league.

You would think that a change to Bruce Arians at head coach would inspire confidence there, but that's not entirely true. Arians is a brilliant schemer of passing offenses, but in 2017 -- his last year with the Cardinals -- they ran up the gut 56.3% of the time. That would have been the second-highest mark in the league last year, with only the 2018 Cardinals topping it. We can be optimistic about the offensive philosophy, but we shouldn't expect an up-tick in rushing efficiency.

This makes it a bit more concerning that Ronald Jones has bulked up in the offseason. Jones finished his collegiate career with just 32 receptions in 40 career games, and he accumulated just nine targets as a rookie. He's not getting work in the passing game. He seems to think adding bulk will help him be a better runner, but the scheme and lack of talent up front make that an uphill battle. Jones is a worthy selection in the eighth round right now, but if that cost increases as we get into training camp, it may be wise to proceed with caution.

27. New York Jets

Overall: Below Average | Pass-Blocking: Average | Run-Blocking: Liability

Le'Veon Bell made his living with the Steelers by exhibiting patience as a runner and waiting for holes to come open. There will be holes up front for the New York Jets, but they're not likely the kind Bell wants to see.

Specifically, the Jets have a massive red flag at center entering the season. Spencer Long was hurt or ineffective for good chunks of last year and left in free agency, leaving Jonotthan Harrison as the likely starter at the position. The Jets' offense took a step back when Harrison was on the field last year, according to these numbers via The Quant Edge.

Jets in 2019 Yards Per Rush Yards Per Pass
With Harrison 3.58 6.80
Without Harrison 4.29 7.63

They now have Kelechi Osemele at left guard, coming over via trade from Oakland, and Osemele was once one of the best linemen in the league. If he were to regain that form, it would help cover up the gap in the middle of the line. But with how important centers are to an offense, we should be concerned about the lack of quality there for this Jets team.

The likelihood that Bell struggles to be efficient as a runner seems high. But that was also true in 2017, when he averaged just 4.0 yards per carry with the Steelers and was still the second highest-scoring running back in fantasy. As long as he gets his usual work in the passing game, he can still pay off as a first-round pick, and with how many targets Kenyan Drake got under head coach Adam Gase last year, that seems likely. But it does add extra fragility to Bell's profile, so keep that in mind when plucking him in the middle part of the first round.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Overall: Below Average | Pass-Blocking: Below Average | Run-Blocking: Below Average

The Cincinnati Bengals did things the right way this offseason in trying to upgrade their front. They took Jonah Williams 11th overall, allowing them to upgrade two positions at once (putting him at left tackle and sliding Cordy Glenn to guard).

Then Williams had surgery, and that whole plan went in the pooper.

Williams is likely to miss the season, meaning Glenn will have to slide back to left tackle. Then they took another hit just a few weeks later with left guard Clint Boling announcing his retirement due to health reasons.

Injuries happen to offensive lines all the time in the NFL. But when they start piling up in July, you've got yourself a major issue.

The team did sign John Miller in free agency, and Miller was a competent piece on a bad Buffalo Bills offensive line last year. But with Boling gone, and the addition of Williams nullified, it shouldn't be a shock if the Bengals are now worse than they were last year, even with center Billy Price entering the year healthy.

The team averaged 4.92 yards per carry with Price on the field compared to 4.32 without him, according to The Quant Edge, but there are too many red flags here to view this team as a positive. Joe Mixon deserves to be a high-end selection because of his potential for massive volume, but the offensive line and increased likelihood of struggles of the offense as a whole do present some risk when you select Mixon.

29. Buffalo Bills

Overall: Below Average | Pass-Blocking: Below Average | Run-Blocking: Below Average

The Buffalo Bills attacked free agency in a smart way up front, searching for bargain-bin players who could come in and start right away without breaking the bank. We should applaud them for that.

But operating that way also means you're getting guys with lesser talent. It makes the Bills a tough team to forecast heading into 2019.

The two big moves were signing center Mitch Morse and drafting right tackle Cody Ford in the second round. As mentioned with the Chiefs, the team didn't struggle when Morse was off the field, but he's generally regarded as a plus player. Ford can start right away and be an upgrade over Jordan Mills.

The two guard spots are where the questions lie. They signed Spencer Long, Jon Feliciano, Ty Nsekhe, Quinton Spain, and LaAdrian Waddle (with Nsekhe having the ability to play pretty much anywhere and Waddle being tackle depth), meaning they've got a lot of dudes there who could wind up being good. Again, this is a smart strategy because you need only one or two to hit for this to pay off. But none of those guys are absolute, sure-fire studs.

With this much change, the Bills are a volatile group entering 2019. In this instance, volatility is a good thing.

You can't be much worse than the Bills were last year, ranking 20th or worse in sack rate and Rushing Success Rate to each direction. They could be similar (which is why they're ranked where they are), but sliding backward is unlikely.

If this strategy of "throw stuff at a wall and see what sticks" hits the top end of its range of outcomes, they could be a mid-range line. That would be a major improvement, and it would make the fantasy assets tied to this team pretty intriguing.

The Bills are probably going to struggle on the line again this year. But that's okay. They took an intelligent approach to free agency, meaning they're not tied down much in the future if all their investments bust. But there's the possibility it could wind up working out, so it's not a bad idea to snag late-round fliers on guys within this offense.

30. Arizona Cardinals

Overall: Below Average | Pass-Blocking: Below Average | Run-Blocking: Below Average

The discussion with the Arizona Cardinals is similar to the one we had with the 49ers: they may not be great, but they can make up for it enough in other departments where it may not matter all that much.

To the Cardinals' credit, they did attempt to make moves and improve things along the line. They traded for Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, and Gilbert has long been a plus asset when he has been healthy. That just hasn't been the case all that often recently. But for what they gave up, it was a smart move.

They'll also benefit from regression in injury luck. Left tackle D.J. Humphries missed seven games, center A.Q. Shipley missed the entire year, and right guard Justin Pugh missed nine games. Just having those guys healthy and adding Gilbert to the fold should make them something better than horrific, even if the raw talent still isn't anything noteworthy.

Additionally, head coach Kliff Kingsbury is no stranger to running an offense lacking in talent on the line.

To summarize, the Cardinals did improve in the offseason, they're getting starters back from injury, and their scheme should be friendly to offensive linemen. Not all bad offensive-line rankings are created equally.

This is unlikely to be an offense that has great efficiency metrics, unless Kingsbury truly is a mastermind. But they'll at least be better than last year, and they should run a fast enough pace to inflate volume of all players. The Cardinals are another team where we should at least be interested in grabbing later-round pieces in hopes that a new scheme can push things in the right direction.

31. Miami Dolphins

Overall: Liability | Pass-Blocking: Below Average | Run-Blocking: Below Average

The only buoy keeping the Miami Dolphins out of the basement here is left tackle Laremy Tunsil. He's a good, young asset at the most important position, and that matters.

The rest of the line will make your stomach queasy.

They let Ja'Wuan James walk in free agency, which was likely a smart business decision. If they're not planning to compete any time soon, there's really no need to pay a veteran right tackle. But it's going to keep Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick on their toes (and backs) all season long.

There are some interesting names up front. Center Daniel Kilgore returns after playing just four games last year before a triceps injury ended his season. They had a 6.7% sack rate in those four games compared to 11.0% the rest of the way, so Kilgore's return will help a bit. They also drafted Michael Dieter 78th overall, and Dieter comes from a Wisconsin program that has long bred quality linemen.

Even if Kilgore and Dieter pan out, this line is going to be a liability. That impacts everybody on this offense, potentially none more than Kenyan Drake.

Drake is going at the front of the fifth round, in the area where running back gets super shaky. Given the potential he has shown when he has gotten opportunities and his ability to contribute in the passing game, it makes sense Drake would go in this range.

But Drake has always had a limited workload dating back to his time in college, and he now has to try to put in work behind a patchwork offensive line. This team isn't likely to score a bunch of points to give him upside, either. It's hard to make a case for too many running backs over Drake, but perhaps it signals that the fifth round is a prime time to focus on either wide receiver or tight end rather than risking it with Drake in this offense.

32. Houston Texans

Overall: Liability | Pass-Blocking: Liability | Run-Blocking: Liability

Things can't get much worse for the Houston Texans up front than they were last year. That's a positive for them. But staying stagnant is a very real possibility, and that would have major ramifications on the offense.

The Texans finished last year dead last in sack rate, and they were 25th or worse in Rushing Success Rate to each direction. The sack rate is not exclusively their fault -- Deshaun Watson's average time to throw was fourth-highest in the league, per NFL's Next-Gen Stats -- but having Julie'n Davenport and Kendall Lamm as their tackles should still qualify as criminal negligence.

They did make investments in the draft, taking Tytus Howard 23rd overall and Max Scharping 55th. However, Howard largely played right tackle in college, and Drew Dougherty of noted that Davenport could open the year as the team's left tackle. Scharping started 52 games at Northern Illinois, but with neither he nor Howard coming from a Power 5 conference, it's fair to have at least some question marks around them entering their rookie seasons.

The upside for this offense is huge if they can figure out the offensive line. Watson ranks 13th in Passing NEP per drop back from 2018 when you include deductions for sacks, but when you take those out, he moves up to sixth. If Howard and Scharping were to hit, this could be one of the best passing offenses in the league next year. That's just not something we can safely assume.

With all of that said, the offensive line should not prevent us from buying into this offense. Even with a putrid front five last year, guys like Waston and DeAndre Hopkins produced for fantasy. This year, they'll hope to add healthy versions of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee into the mix, as well. If they were fantasy-viable last year behind a bad offensive line, they should be able to do the same this year, as well.