The Best Offensive Lines, Tommy Pham Improving, Making a Mint

Knowledge Drop June 14, 2018 – Sammy Watkins Edition* (35)

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*We wish Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins a happy 25th birthday today


Which O-Lines Helped Your Fantasy Team Last Season?

The sun is out today.

That’s perhaps the dullest sentence you’ll read all day. “What else is new, Captain Obvious?” you might ask. But what if I told you that it’s rained for nine straight days here.  Now, a warm, dry, blazing display of sunshine becomes a different proposition.

That’s context.

In Fantasy football, offensive lines are just that – context. A great O-line can take an ordinary running back and turn him into an unexpectedly productive RB2. A bad O-line forces QBs into bad decisions and injuries. Similarly, a great RB can help the rankings and statistics of an ordinary line, so we have to treat every statistic and ranking with care.  And context.

Let’s take a look at the best O-lines from last season, as measured by various metrics. Are we saying that the Steelers front line is the only factor in Le’Veon Bell’s greatness? Hardly.  But could he have been better – or worse – with different personnel up front? When you’re armed with the information, you can better decide if that’s the case.

First we’ll look at the top teams in the Pro Football Focus team O-Line rankings, which averages the PFF grades of each player to arrive at an overall value. The number in parentheses is the number of “pressures surrendered” by the O-line, you know, for additional context.

Team Pressures


PHI 154
ATL 148
NE 186
DAL 153
TEN 126
LAR 151
BUF 124
OAK 133
NO 110
CAR 161


The two Super Bowl teams were in the top 3.  Interesting.

Now we’ll look at the top teams as ranked by Football Outsiders.  These rankings are separated by Run Blocking and Pass Protection statistics and formulas.  First we’ll look at the top 10 run blocking O-lines, as ranked by the Football Outsiders “Adjusted Line Yards” formula – essentially weighting grades by the length runs and factoring opponents, down-and-distance and other factors.

Power Success is runs on 3rd or 4th down, 2 yards or fewer that achieved a first down or touchdown. Stuffed Percentage is the amount of times a running back was tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Team Adjusted

Line Yards

RB Yards Power Success


Stuffed %


NE 5.05 4.43 65% (14) 16% (3)
NO 4.93 5.11 69% (7) 15% (1)
LAR 4.70 4.53 50% (29) 22% (23)
DAL 4.66 4.26 77% (3) 17% (4)
GB 4.60 4.13 66% (11) 16% (2)
BAL 4.36 4.22 69% (7) 20% (14)
PIT 4.36 4.07 65% (12) 17% (5)
ATL 4.36 4.25 64% (17) 21% (20)
DEN 4.31 4.03 65% (15) 18% (7)
SF 4.20 4.13 62% (20) 23% (25)


Here are the top 10 O-lines in terms of pass protection, according to Football Outsiders “Adjusted Sack Rate” that provides sacks per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance and opponent.

Team Sacks Adjusted Sack Rate
PIT 24 3.9%
NO 20 4.0%
LAC 18 4.2%
BAL 27 4.3%
JAC 24 4.4%
MIN 27 4.4%
OAK 24 4.6%
ATL 24 4.8%
LAR 28 5.6%
NYG 34 5.8%


Remember, teams with great running backs get credit for better O-line play because of that runner’s output. And a great offensive line is brought down in the rankings by bad running backs. So Alvin Kamara probably elevated the Saints O-Line rankings, but they also fared very highly in pass protection as well.

It’s encouraging for Steelers fans as well to see their lofty pass protection rating in addition to the Le’Veon-aided run enhancing #7 rating above.

But any kind of ranking, while it provides some context, must be treated as merely another data point.  Football Outsiders  has that Steelers line on the top of pass protection and in the top 10 of run blocking, yet Pro Football Focus does not rank the O-line in the top 10 overall (they had them 12th ranked).

So look over these numbers, shared your thoughts with us, and on Sunday we’ll look at teams that made O-line upgrades through the draft and free agency to help us predict RB and QB performances this season.

Before we look closely at those RBs and QBs, we need to know who’s protecting them.  You know – context.


Today, @BatFlipCrazy sees signs that Tommy Pham is coming out of his slump:

Follow @BatFlipCrazy on Twitter and read more in-depth data analysis at


A man left home running. He ran a ways and then turned left, ran the same distance and turned left again, ran the same distance and turned left again. When he got home, there were two masked men. Who were they?

Email your guess to

Tuesday’s Riddle: You have 2 coins that add up to 35 cents. One of the coins is not a quarter.

What kind of coins do you have?

Several readers guessed correctly.  One of the coins is not a quarter, but one of them is. The correct guess is that you have a quarter and a dime.  We went easy on you this time…..



Did you hear about the guy who invented Lifesavers?





They say he made a mint.

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