2022 Offensive Line Almanac
Offensive line play matters in fantasy football. (We dug into exactly how much it matters last year.) Yet it goes relatively overlooked in most fantasy analysis.
Not here. We research every offensive line when building our player projections and writing our player profiles.
Wanna know what we found and how it’ll impact your 2022 fantasy season? Here’s your 2022 Offensive Line Almanac, looking back at offensive line play last year, examining which units are trending up or down and running through the teams and players that will be helped or hurt by their O-lines.
2021 in Review
Let’s start by looking back at how all 32 offensive lines performed in both the run and pass games last year. I took the average of each team’s rank in Pro Football Focus grades and Football Outsiders metrics – Adjusted Line Yards for run blocking and Adjusted Sack Rate for pass blocking.
Let’s Run it Back!
These 3 teams return the same 5 starters from last year’s offensive line. Continuity is generally a good thing on the O-line – although it’s less of a good thing when the line was bad last year.
Atlanta Falcons (11th in 2021 run blocking; 28th in pass blocking)
Detroit Lions (20th in 2021 run blocking; 16th in pass blocking)
Kansas City Chiefs (4th in 2021 run blocking; 3rd in pass blocking)
Expect these 5 offensive lines to be better this season than last:
Carolina Panthers (26th in 2021 run blocking; 31st in pass blocking)
This was 1 of the worst offensive lines in the league last year. It has the potential to at least be an average unit in 2022 after spending the 6th overall pick of this spring’s draft on LT Ikem Ekwonu and adding RG Austin Corbett and C Bradley Bozeman in free agency. Taylor Moton returns as a rock-solid RT. It’s good news for RB Christian McCaffrey.
Cincinnati Bengals (16th in 2021 run blocking; 32nd in pass blocking)
The Bengals might be Super Bowl champions had they gotten better O-line play last year. They attacked the problem this offseason, adding RT La’El Collins, RG Alex Cappa and C Ted Karras. All 3 guys look like significant upgrades over the 2021 starters. Holdovers LT Jonah Williams and LG Jackson Carman are 24 and 22 years old, respectively, and candidates to improve in 2022. QB Joe Burrow should be more comfortable in the pocket this season.
Green Bay Packers (11th in 2021 run blocking; 5th in pass blocking)
The Packers didn’t make any significant additions this offseason but should get a boost from better health. LT David Bakhtiari didn’t debut until Week 18 last year after a 2020 ACL tear, RT Elgton Jenkins went down in Week 11 with his own ACL tear and C Josh Myers missed 11 of the final 13 games with a knee injury. Green Bay’s O-line was solid despite those injuries last year. It has the potential to be 1 of the league’s best with better health in 2022.
Miami Dolphins (31st in 2021 run blocking; 28th in pass blocking)
The Dolphins’ trade for WR Tyreek Hill made all the headlines this offseason, but their offensive line upgrades were just as important. Miami inked LT Terron Armstead to a big 5-year, $75 million deal and also added G/C Connor Williams in free agency. Both guys are proven assets, especially in pass protection. 2020 1st-rounder Austin Jackson, 2020 2nd-rounder Robert Hunt and 2021 2nd-rounder Liam Eichenberg are capable of taking steps forward this year. With even just average offensive line play, this Fins offense could take off.
New York Giants (28th in 2021 run blocking; 23rd in pass blocking)
This unit has been a problem for a while, but there are reasons for optimism heading into 2022. LT Andrew Thomas emerged as 1 of the league’s best last year, especially in pass protection. Evan Neal, the 7th overall pick of this spring’s draft, has the potential to give the Giants a top-notch tackle duo. RG Mark Glowinski and C Jon Feliciano arrived in free agency. They’re not big names but should be upgrades over last year’s starters. An improved offensive line is 1 of the reasons we’re buying this Giants offense in 2022 fantasy drafts.
These 4 offensive lines project to take a step back from last year:
Dallas Cowboys (1st in 2021 run blocking; 4th in pass blocking)
This has been 1 of the best O-lines in the league for a while but might drop back to the middle of the pack in 2022. The Cowboys forced to release OT La’El Collins in March for salary cap reasons. He’lll be replaced by Terence Steele, who ranked 48th among 65 qualifying OTs in Pro Football Focus’ 2021 grades. Dallas also has a hole to fill at LG after losing Connor Williams to Miami. First-round rookie Tyler Smith, a 2-year starter at LT for Tulsa, is the leading candidate to replace Williams. Even LT Tyron Smith is a bit of a question mark after missing 20 games over the last 2 seasons.
Los Angeles Rams (6th in 2021 run blocking; 2nd in pass blocking)
The Rams lost LT Andrew Whitworth to retirement and RG Austin Corbett to Carolina in free agency. Whitworth has been the team’s starter for all 5 of HC Sean McVay’s seasons and ranked 5th in PFF grading last year. He’s expected to be replaced by Joe Noteboom, who has just 672 career snaps at LT. Corbett finished a solid 26th among 70 qualifying Gs in PFF’s 2021 grades. Third-round rookie Logan Bruss is penciled in as his replacement.
San Francisco 49ers (5th in 2021 run blocking; 11th in pass blocking)
Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey return as stalwarts at OT. But there are questions at all 3 interior spots after C Alex Mack retired and LG Laken Tomlinson signed with the Jets in free agency. San Francisco didn’t make any significant additions at those positions, instead counting on 2021 2nd-round G Aaron Banks and C Jake Brendel, a 29-year-old with just 250 career offensive snaps, to step in. Daniel Brunskill is expected to stick at RG after ranking 48th among 70 qualifiers in PFF’s 2021 grades. It’s a concern, especially for the 49ers’ run game.
Tennessee Titans (14th in 2021 run blocking; 30th in pass blocking)
The Titans lost LG Rodger Saffold and OT David Quessenberry to the Bills in free agency. Quessenberry played all but 2 snaps for Tennessee last year; Saffold started 15 of 17 games. Both guys played well, especially in the run game. 2021 2nd-rounder Dillon Radunz and 2022 3rd-rounder Nicholas Petit-Frere are expected to compete to replace Quessenberry this summer, while free-agent addition Jamarco Jones looks like the best bet to step into Saffold’s position. Both could be problem spots.
We’re upgrading these offenses for what we expect to be strong offensive line play:
The Browns ranked 2nd in run blocking and 20th in pass blocking last year. Expect the latter to be significantly improved in 2022 with better health at the tackle spots. RT Jack Conklin missed 10 games last year and LT Jedrick Wills missed 4. Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller return as the league’s best guard duo. The only question mark here is at C, where Nick Harris is expected to replace J.C. Tretter. Harris has only 211 snaps across 2 NFL seasons. But Cleveland should again have a dominant run game this year – with better protection for whoever is under center.
This looks like a young, ascending unit that might be ready to join the league’s elite in 2022. The Lions ranked 20th in run blocking and 16th in pass blocking last year. But they were without C Frank Ragnow for 13 games and LT Taylor Decker for 8. All 5 starters here are under 30 years old, including 21-year-old, 2021 7th-overall-pick RT Penei Sewell. With plenty of talent on the O-line and at the skill positions, Detroit’s offense could surprise this season.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs return all 5 starters from a unit that ranked 4th in run blocking and 3rd in pass blocking last year. It’s a particularly strong setup for the interior run game. C Creed Humphrey led all 33 qualifying Cs in PFF’s 2021 run-blocking grades; Gs Trey Smith and Joe Thuney both ranked top 21 at the position. We’ll see if RBs Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Ronald Jones can take advantage.
Philly’s O-line was awesome last year, finishing 3rd in run blocking and 8th in pass blocking. It should be dominant again in 2022. Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata form arguably the league’s top OT tandem. 34-year-old C Jason Kelce remains a stud, ranking 3rd among 33 qualifiers in PFF’s 2021 grades. And the Eagles are set to get G Isaac Seumalo back after he missed 14 games last season. QB Jalen Hurts finds himself in a prime spot this year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs lost LG Ali Marpet to retirement and RG Alex Cappa in free agency. Both guys were excellent last year, ranking 7th and 14th, respectively, in PFF’s overall grades. But Shaq Mason, who Tampa acquired via trade with New England, was even better. He finished 16th in pass blocking, 7th in run blocking and 4th in overall grades. The other G spot, expected to be filled by 2nd-round rookie Luke Goedeke, is the only question mark on this line. It should again be a strong unit for QB Tom Brady and RB Leonard Fournette.
We’re projecting fantasy production in these offenses to be hurt by offensive line play:
Arizona Cardinals (running game)
The 2021 Cardinals ranked a decent 17th in pass blocking but 30th in run blocking. PFF graded them 31st, and Football Outsiders had them at 26th. Don’t expect significantly better in 2022. All Arizona did this offseason was swap out G Max Garcia for G Will Hernandez. Hernandez fared slightly better than Garcia in PFF’s 2021 run-blocking grades – but still ranked just 57th among 70 qualifying Gs. RB James Conner is a strong volume bet this season, but we’re not projecting high-end efficiency.
Atlanta Falcons (passing game)
The Falcons return all 5 starters from last year’s offensive line. That’s fine for the running game: Atlanta ranked 11th in run blocking last year, including a #6 finish in PFF grades. But the unit really struggled in pass protection, ranking 31st in PFF grades and 20th in Adjusted Sack Rate. LG Jalen Mayfield finished dead last among 70 qualifiers in PFF’s 2021 pass-blocking grades; Matt Hennessy ranked 30th out of 33 Cs; and RT Kaleb McGary finished 61st among 66 qualifiers. It spells trouble for whoever is under center for Atlanta.
The Bears failed to add any high-end weapons for QB Justin Fields this offseason. They also failed to bolster an offensive line that ranked 25th in pass blocking and 24th in run blocking last year. OT Jason Peters and G James Daniels were the team’s top 2 linemen per PFF grades last year – and neither is on the 2022 roster. Chicago signed C Lucas Patrick, who follows new OC Luke Getsy from Green Bay. But Patrick ranked 28th among 33 qualifiers in PFF’s 2021 grades. The Bears will hope for improvement from 2nd-year OTs Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, but both guys were bad as rookies.
Pittsburgh Steelers (running game)
Despite how it might have looked watching Ben Roethlisberger hobble around, this offensive line was serviceable in pass protection last year. But it was bad in the run game, finishing 26th in PFF’s run-blocking grades and 28th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards. Pittsburgh will have 2 new starters in 2022 – RG James Daniels and C Mason Cole – but neither looks like a significant upgrade. Holdovers LT Dan Moore, RT Chukwuma Okorafor and LG Kevin Dotson all ranked 50th or worse in PFF run-blocking grades. It figures to be tough sledding for RB Najee Harris again this season. Luckily, he’s a good bet to finish near the top of the league in touches.
If you needed another reason to be wary of this Russell Wilson-less Seahawks offense, consider the offensive line. Seattle returns 2 starters – Gs Gabe Jackson and Damien Lewis – from a unit that ranked 15th in run blocking and 27th in pass blocking last year. C Austin Blythe arrives after playing only 12 snaps for the Chiefs last year. He was just average in 3 seasons starting for the Rams. And the Seahawks are slated to start rookies – 1st-rounder Charles Cross and 3rd-rounder Abraham Lucas – at both OT spots. The offensive line, like the offense in general, has potential to be a mess.