Fantasy Football owners that take their trade seriously understand the correlation between 2012 Fantasy player values to 2012 Offensive Line Rankings. A good running back usually only is as good as his offensive line allows (unlike what Barry Sanders’ career tells you).
So I did some digging and found three sites that did lots of research to come up with their own offensive line rankings. Like I did with my Average Running Back Rankings, I thought I’d average these three sets of rankings out to get a general consensus. My thinking is, the three sets of rankings will give you more help than just the one set.
2012 Offensive Line Rankings
|1||Green Bay Packers||1.33||1||1||2|
|2||New England Patriots||1.67||2||2||1|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||4.33||4||3||6|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9.00||10||9||8|
|12||New Orleans Saints||12.00||12||13||11|
|19||San Francisco 49ers||18.67||20||17||19|
|24||San Diego Chargers||24.67||24||25||25|
|32||St. Louis Rams||31.67||32||32||31|
2012 Rookies: Top 30 Overall | QB | RB | WR | TE
2012 Offensive Line Rankings Breakdown
1. Packers: Future Hall-of-Fame center Jeff Saturday joins an already elite group of blockers. They don’t do a whole lot of running, but with that passing game, who would want to?
2. Patriots: The Packers and Patriots were the only two teams to get either ranked either first or second at each site. Nate Solder, a former first-round pick, will step in to adequately replace retired LT Matt Light. If head coach Bill Belichick ends up leaning on just one running back, between Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen.
3. Chiefs: A big, bruising unit will only get better with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, one of the league’s biggest tailbacks, pounding would-be tacklers after the first assault hits it.
4. Panthers: QB Cam Newton, RB Jonathan Stewart and RB DeAngelo Williams all averaged over 5.0 yards-per-carry. Newton’s success through the air this season will benefit this unit’s run-blocking even more.
5. Bengals: Seems like it was just yesterday that we thought the Bengals blew it with big ol’ RT Andre Smith as an early first rounder. They’ll give above-average protection to second-year QB Andy Dalton, and the new additions on the line should improve the running game.
6. Titans: Interestingly, a team with one of the most dynamic running backs in the league (Chris Johnson), ended up having a great year in pass-blocking rather than run-blocking. They’re expected to improve in the latter.
7. Texans: Houston had to replace its entire right side this offseason, which is one of my 8 Reasons NOT to Draft Arian Foster First Overall. They’ll still be a dominant unit, but matching last year’s success will be difficult.
8. Eagles: Unfortunately, this unit lost LT Jason Peters to an offseason Achilles’ injury. Remember, though, that QB Michael Vick is a lefty, so his backside will be protected by returning starter RT Todd Herremans.
9. Ravens: Star-studded offensive line, despite the loss of LG Ben Grubbs. Their dominance helps me choose RB Ray Rice over Foster with the top pick in Fantasy.
10. Buccaneers: The Bucs have the best chance of improving from last season. They added All-Pro G Carl Nicks and they’re coming off a season in which they rushed the ball an NFL-low 21.6 times per game (compared to No. 1 Denver’s 34.1).
11. Steelers: A versatile group with C Maurkice Pouncey already a two-time Pro Bowler (in just two years in the league). They also added a first-round G in David DeCastro to the line.
12. Saints: Like the Packers, New Orleans sets up the run with the pass. QB Drew Brees returns four starters in front of him, and Nicks was replaced by Grubbs.
13. Giants: Their top-notch pass game was balanced out by a horrible run game. Rookie RB David Wilson and incumbent starter Ahmad Bradshaw’s success depends on this line improving on the ground.
14. Browns: Strangely, the Browns have had an excellent offensive line, anchored by one of the top left tackles of the past five years in Joe Thomas, but not much success. I have rookie RB Trent Richardson as a Top 15 running back. He’s not higher only because I imagine teams will load the box on him until a passing attack emerges.
15. Bills: Veteran C Eric Wood returns from injury, and an already excellent group (allowed a league-low 23 sacks in 2011) gets better.
16. Cowboys: New offensive line coach Bill Callahan hopes he can help this line give up fewer sacks in 2012, which will be integral in keeping QB Tony Romo healthy.
17. Lions: No team threw the ball more last season than Detroit, but their efforts on the ground were well below average. This aging unit needs consistency and healthy seasons from their running backs.
18. Jets: Once considered the best offensive line in the league a couple years ago, only C Nick Mangold and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson strike fear in opponents. Can Shonn Greene help these guys out with some good north-south running?
19. 49ers: San Fran made great efforts to bolster this offensive line recently and it showed in the stats. The Niners have an oversized group of road-graders (led the league in rushing attempts) that likely has the best chance of climbing into the top 10 for 2013.
20. Broncos: A young unit with great upside now has a future Hall-of-Famer at the helm, rather than a Heisman winner. While the new signal-caller will greatly benefit this line’s ability, I still don’t think Peyton Manning is a top-10 Fantasy QB this year.
21. Jaguars: One thing that helps an offensive line above all else is repetition and continuity. The Jags return four starters and get a healthy RT Eben Britton back. I’m surprised they are ranked this low, as it seems like they have top-15 potential right out of the gate.
22. Dolphins: A rookie likely starting behind center and a brittle tailback are the only reasons Miami is ranked this low. They have a top-five left tackle in former No. 1 pick Jake Long, and C Mike Pouncey should take big strides in Year Two. The team moves to a zone-blocking system, though, which should make things tough in the early going.
23. Vikings: By drafting LT Matt Kalil with a top draft pick, and making some key pickups in the offseason, Minnesota essentially improved itself at three spots on a very bad line.
24. Chargers: Rotoworld called RT Jeromey Clary the second-worst RT in the game, behind Jets RT Wayne Hunter. I still am not a huge believer in Ryan Mathews and all of these people drafting him as the fourth-best back behind Foster, Rice and LeSean McCoy.
25. Redskins: They return four starters and the deft feet of rookie QB Robert Griffin III could allow this team to climb several spots in 2013.
26. Falcons: One of the biggest reasons for Atlanta’s unexpected success in 2008 was the improved play of their offensive line. That unit needs a youthful injection this season to make marked improvement again.
27. Seahawks: Health issues make this O-line a back-of-the-pack group. But they can definitely open holes for RB Marshawn Lynch, and if QB Matt Flynn can make good decisions, they could become a top-15 unit.
28. Raiders: Going from a power-blocking scheme to zone-blocking, this team could take a while to get going offensively.
29. Bears: One of the worst pass-blocking teams in the league is growing together as a group, so they could climb up to mediocrity. They allowed more sacks (105) in the past two seasons than any other team in the league.
30. Cardinals: Lots of problems ahead for whomever the team chooses to start at quarterback, as well as whomever gets the bulk of the carries at running back. The pass-blocking has to improve to help Larry Fitzgerald live up to his top-10 pick status.
31. Colts: Exhibit A why Andrew Luck won’t be a big Fantasy helper in his rookie season. Losing Manning and Saturday can do some damage to a line’s upside.
32. Rams: All three sites have the Rams at the bottom or next-to-bottom of their 2012 Offensive Line Rankings. They allowed a league-high 55 sacks last year. Sam Bradford was hit 114 times last season, tied for the league-high. Luckily, only two starters from last season return – which is usually the opposite of a good thing.
Hopefully, these three sites have helped you figure out which offensive lines you want to trust your top picks with, and the 2012 Offensive Line Rankings end up being just one more tool in your Fantasy toolbelt.
Speaking of great tools, check out the Top 13 FREE Fantasy Football Draft Tools You Must Use this offseason.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.