Pity the offensive linemen as they only get their name called when they screw up. It’s the running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks that get all the glory when they do well. But don’t mistake a lack of fame for a lack of importance, even from a fantasy perspective as it’s worth noting the difference they can make to a player’s production.
All O-Lines merit some consideration, but those middle-of-the-road lines probably won’t make a huge impact either way, so I’ve focused on the very best and worst who I think you should be most aware of (in no particular order):
A liability in the Grigson years, the Colts have done a 180 degree turn by turning their O-Line into a strength under new GM Chris Ballard. True, LG Quinton Nelson was a catalyst and everything the Colts hoped for, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but this is a line with top talent across the board. Their biggest concern right now is center Ryan Kelly, who has had injury problems the last 2 years. But that’s the only possible blip on a unit that should rank as one of the league’s best while keeping Luck upright, Colt fans breathing easier, and fantasy owners eyeing Colts up and down across the board.
New England Patriots
Although they lost star RT Trent Brown, the Pats should once again sport a line which might not be the league’s best, but is still on the short list. Top-notch coaching will get the most out of this group and give Brady and company time to do their thing, even though the so-called skill positions don’t look quite as appealing as they have in fantasy years gone by.
New Orleans Saints
As with the teams above, the Saints know keeping their franchise QB from getting smacked around is top priority, especially with an all-time great like Brees, who isn’t getting any younger. It’s therefore no surprise that when star center Max Unger retired, they didn’t hesitate. They signed former Viking LG Nick Easton and spent a second-round pick on Erik McCoy. McCoy should win the job, but Easton is a fine addition for depth. All the other four starting linemen did was receive Pro Bowl bids. Those of you targeting guys like Kamara and Thomas (and who isn’t?) have no OL concerns here.
Like the Patriots, the Steelers are known for cranking out top OLs year after year, and this year should be no different. Although OL coaching guru Mike Munchak and RT Marcus Gilbert are gone, the Steelers shouldn’t miss a beat, with several Pro Bowlers anchoring a top-notch line which otherwise remains intact. Expect another year of superior blocking to open lanes for Conner and extend Big Ben’s career at least one more year.
The ageless Jason Peters returns for what may be his last year, along with a couple of Pro-Bowlers, topped off with highly-regarded rookie LT Andre Dilliard, who they moved up to draft as the heir apparent to Peters. With Wentz another injury away from the infamous “Fragile Freddy” tag, Philly knew continued focus on the OL was vital.
Chicago Bears: Continuity has bred a very solid overall group.
Green Bay Packers: Upgrades at guard could propel this group to a Top-5 finish.
Dallas Cowboys: Staying healthy is key, something they didn’t do last year.