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Draft Prep 2011: Setting the lines

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Unless you're really, really into Fantasy Football, offensive lines aren't a part of your annual Draft Day routine. Nor should they be -- but they should be part of your preparation before you make picks.

The big fellas up front are responsible for giving running backs gaps to run through and holding off defenders so quarterbacks have a few seconds to throw to their intended targets. When a team's offensive line gets worse, be it over the course of an offseason or a game due to an injury, the other offensive players struggle.

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So we've taken the liberty of grading the offensive lines for you as they stand headed into the preseason. We grade every starting lineman individually on a scale much like your basic school report card. We also give slightly higher grades to linemen who have been in the same scheme and/or with the same team for several seasons. Coaching has also become a big factor in how offensive lines are judged. We also improve grades if the starter listed has a capable backup behind him -- depth is a huge key to success in the NFL. And as we've done in the past, no rookie is eligible for a grade higher than a 'B.'

Once every lineman was graded, we computed the cumulative average without a curve or weighing blind-side tackles more than others. As any offensive line coach would say, a line is as strong as its weakest link, so we grade accordingly.

We also added the number of false start and offensive holding penalties charged to each team. Though the numbers reflect the total amount of penalties, meaning that skill-position player penalties are included, we strongly believe that the overwhelming majority of these penalties were committed by linemen. Coaches have seen these stats and will undoubtedly move to make these numbers drop. The higher the total, the more work that needs to be done.

Is this a secret to winning at Fantasy Football? It can be. Last year we had a pretty high grade on the Texans offensive line and they helped carry Arian Foster to a rushing title. Then again, we had an awful grade on the Bears' O-line -- and they were awful -- but Matt Forte had a solid season anyway (not so much for Jay Cutler). At the very least, consider them "tiebreakers" just as you might with our schedule analysis. For instance, if you find yourself debating between Shonn Greene and Ryan Mathews, at least you know the Jets have the stronger O-line.

Offensive line rankings
Rank Team GPA Grade '10 Grade
1 Carolina Panthers 3.33 B+ B
2 Philadelphia Eagles 3.264 B B
3 New England Patriots 3.13 B B
4 Houston Texans 3.062 B B
4 Miami Dolphins 3.062 B B
6 New York Jets 2.996 B B
7 New Orleans Saints 2.93 B B+
7 San Francisco 49ers 2.93 B B-
7 St. Louis Rams 2.93 B C+
10 Baltimore Ravens 2.864 B- B+
10 Cleveland Browns 2.864 B- B-
10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.864 B- B
13 Tennessee Titans 2.862 B- B
14 New York Giants 2.796 B- B
14 Cincinnati Bengals 2.664 B- B
14 Denver Broncos 2.664 B- B-
17 Green Bay Packers 2.6 B- B-
18 Dallas Cowboys 2.596 C+ B
18 Jacksonville Jaguars 2.596 C+ B-
18 Minnesota Vikings 2.596 C+ B
18 San Diego Chargers 2.596 C+ B
22 Atlanta Falcons 2.594 C B
23 Kansas City Chiefs 2.53 C+ B-
24 Washington Redskins 2.528 C+ C+
25 Indianapolis Colts 2.462 C+ B-
26 Detroit Lions 2.396 C+ C+
27 Pittsburgh Steelers 2.328 C+ B-
28 Seattle Seahawks 2.262 C B-
29 Arizona Cardinals 2.064 C B-
30 Oakland Raiders 1.93 C- C+
31 Chicago Bears 1.928 C- C
32 Buffalo Bills 1.464 C- C-

Arizona Cardinals
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 17 Offensive Holding: 20
LT LG C RG RT
Levi Brown Daryn Colledge Lyle Sendlein Deuce Lutui Brandon Keith
C+ C C+ C C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.064 (C)
Atlanta Falcons
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 10 Offensive Holding: 15
LT LG C RG RT
Sam Baker Justin Blalock Todd McClure Garrett Reynolds Tyson Clabo
C+ B- B- C- A-
Cumulative GPA: 2.594 (C)
Baltimore Ravens
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 28 Offensive Holding: 14
LT LG C RG RT
Michael Oher Ben Grubbs Matt Birk Marshal Yanda Jah Reid
B A B- B C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.864 (B-)
Buffalo Bills
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 21 Offensive Holding: 18
LT LG C RG RT
Demetrius Bell Andy Levitre Eric Wood Kraig Urbik Mansfield Wrotto
C- C C- D D
Cumulative GPA: 1.464 (C-)
Carolina Panthers
Returning Starters: 5 False Starts: 24 Offensive Holding: 24
LT LG C RG RT
Jordan Gross Travelle Wharton Ryan Kalil Geoff Schwartz Jeff Otah
A B- A C+ A-
Cumulative GPA: 3.33 (B+)
Chicago Bears
Returning Starters: 2 False Starts: 24 Offensive Holding: 33
LT LG C RG RT
J'Marcus Webb Chris Williams Chris Spencer Roberto Garza Gabe Carimi
C- C- C- C+ C+
Cumulative GPA: 1.928 (C-)
Cincinnati Bengals
Returning Starters: 5 False Starts: 22 Offensive Holding: 20
LT LG C RG RT
Andrew Whitworth Nate Livings Kyle Cook Bobbie Williams Andre Smith
A C- C+ B+ C
Cumulative GPA: 2.664 (B-)
Cleveland Browns
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 14 Offensive Holding: 19
LT LG C RG RT
Joe Thomas Eric Steinbach Alex Mack Shawn Lauvao Tony Pashos
A+ C+ A C- C
Cumulative GPA: 2.864 (B-)
Dallas Cowboys
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 29 Offensive Holding: 21
LT LG C RG RT
Doug Free Kyle Kosier Andre Gurode Montrae Holland Tyron Smith
B+ C+ A- C- C
Cumulative GPA: 2.596 (C+)
Denver Broncos
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 17 Offensive Holding: 22
LT LG C RG RT
Ryan Clady Zane Beadles J.D. Walton Chris Kuper Orlando Franklin
A B- C B C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.664 (B-)
Detroit Lions
Returning Starters: 5 False Starts: 24 Offensive Holding: 23
LT LG C RG RT
Jeff Backus Rob Sims Dominic Raiola Stephen Peterman Gosder Cherilus
B- B- B C- C
Cumulative GPA: 2.396 (C+)
Green Bay Packers
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 21 Offensive Holding: 14
LT LG C RG RT
Chad Clifton Marshall Newhouse Scott Wells Josh Sitton Bryan Bulaga
B C B B C
Cumulative GPA: 2.6 (B-)
Houston Texans
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 14 Offensive Holding: 12
LT LG C RG RT
Duane Brown Wade Smith Chris Myers Mike Brisiel Eric Winston
B- B A- C+ A-
Cumulative GPA: 3.062 (B)
Indianapolis Colts
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 20 Offensive Holding: 16
LT LG C RG RT
Anthony Castonzo Ben Ijalana Jeff Saturday Mike Pollak Ryan Diem
C+ C- B+ B- C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.462 (C+)
Jacksonville Jaguars
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 15 Offensive Holding: 22
LT LG C RG RT
Eugene Monroe Jason Spitz Brad Meester Uche Nwaneri Eben Britton
B B- B C- B-
Cumulative GPA: 2.596 (C+)
Kansas City Chiefs
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 20 Offensive Holding: 23
LT LG C RG RT
Branden Albert Ryan Lilja Casey Wiegmann Jon Asamoah Ryan O'Callaghan
C+ B+ B- C+ C
Cumulative GPA: 2.53 (C+)
Miami Dolphins
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 19 Offensive Holding: 23
LT LG C RG RT
Jake Long Richie Incognito Mike Pouncey Vernon Carey Marc Colombo
A+ B- B B- B-
Cumulative GPA: 3.062 (B)
Minnesota Vikings
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 31 Offensive Holding: 18
LT LG C RG RT
Charlie Johnson Steve Hutchinson John Sullivan Anthony Herrera Phil Loadholt
C- B+ B- C+ B
Cumulative GPA: 2.596 (C+)
New England Patriots
Returning Starters: 5 False Starts: 16 Offensive Holding: 15
LT LG C RG RT
Matt Light Logan Mankins Dan Koppen Dan Connolly Sebastian Vollmer
B- A+ B+ C+ B
Cumulative GPA: 3.13 (B)
New Orleans Saints
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 16 Offensive Holding: 28
LT LG C RG RT
Jermon Bushrod Carl Nicks Olin Kreutz Jahri Evans Jon Stinchcomb
B- A- C+ B B
Cumulative GPA: 2.93 (C+)
New York Giants
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 19 Offensive Holding: 26
LT LG C RG RT
Will Beatty David Diehl David Baas Chris Snee Kareem McKenzie
C+ B C- A- B+
Cumulative GPA: 2.796 (B-)
New York Jets
Returning Starters: 5 False Starts: 17 Offensive Holding: 23
LT LG C RG RT
D'Brickashaw Ferguson Matt Slauson Nick Mangold Brandon Moore Wayne Hunter
A C+ A+ B- C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.996 (B)
Oakland Raiders
Returning Starters: 2 False Starts: 32 Offensive Holding: 30
LT LG C RG RT
Jared Veldheer Roy Schuening Stefen Wisniewski Cooper Carlisle Joe Barksdale
B+ D+ C D+ C-
Cumulative GPA: 1.93 (C-)
Philadelphia Eagles
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 16 Offensive Holding: 26
LT LG C RG RT
Jason Peters Todd Herremans Jamaal Jackson Evan Mathis Ryan Harris
B A- B B+ B+
Cumulative GPA: 3.264 (B)
Pittsburgh Steelers
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 15 Offensive Holding: 37
LT LG C RG RT
Willie Colon Chris Kemoeatu Maurkice Pouncey Ramon Foster Jonathan Scott
B C- A- C- C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.328 (C+)
San Diego Chargers
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 12 Offensive Holding: 18
LT LG C RG RT
Marcus McNeill Kris Dielman Nick Hardwick Brandyn Dombrowski Jeromey Clary
B+ B B+ C- C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.596 (C+)
Seattle Seahawks
Returning Starters: 2 False Starts: 22 Offensive Holding: 32
LT LG C RG RT
Russell Okung Robert Gallery Max Unger Mike Gibson James Carpenter
B- B B- D+ C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.262 (C)
San Francisco 49ers
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 24 Offensive Holding: 20
LT LG C RG RT
Joe Staley Mike Iupati Jonathan Goodwin Chilo Rachal Anthony Davis
B+ B+ B- B C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.93 (B-)
St. Louis Rams
Returning Starters: 3 False Starts: 29 Offensive Holding: 22
LT LG C RG RT
Rodger Saffold Jacob Bell Jason Brown Harvey Dahl Jason Smith
B- B B+ A- C
Cumulative GPA: 2.93 (B)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Returning Starters: 4 False Starts: 18 Offensive Holding: 27
LT LG C RG RT
Donald Penn Ted Larsen Jeff Faine Davin Joseph Jeremy Trueblood
B+ C- B B+ B
Cumulative GPA: 2.864 (B-)
Tennessee Titans
Returning Starters: 5 False Starts: 23 Offensive Holding: 28
LT LG C RG RT
Michael Roos Leroy Harris Eugene Amano Jake Scott David Stewart
B+ B- B- B- B
Cumulative GPA: 2.862 (B-)
Washington Redskins
Returning Starters: 2 False Starts: 22 Offensive Holding: 21
LT LG C RG RT
Trent Williams Kory Lichtensteiger Chris Chester Will Montgomery Jammal Brown
B- C+ C+ B- B-
Cumulative GPA: 2.528 (C+)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Ravens receiving duo remains confounding
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) The Ravens passing attack has vastly improved from a year ago, but you probably wouldn't be able to tell if you are one of Steve Smith or Torrey Smith's Fantasy owners, as both have remained terribly inconsistent throughout the season.

In Week 16 against the Texans, it was Torrey Smith who got loose, scoring two touchdowns on five catches, while Steve Smith was held out of the end zone. Of course, the previous two games saw Steve Smith rack up 107 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches, while Torrey was limited to just two catches and no scores while dealing with an injury.

All in all, Steve Smith has been the more productive of the two, with 975 yards to 684 for Torrey. However, Torrey has 10 total touchdowns to Steve's six, three of which came during the first four games of the season. If you can avoid them, neither player is a reliable option for Week 17, and you have to wonder whether either has much Fantasy value long term as well. 


Trio of Panthers receivers pitch in to Sunday victory
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) No Panthers receivers totaled more than five receptions for 47 yards Sunday against Cleveland, but a trio did make decent contributions.

Kelvin Benjamin finished with five catches for 47 yards, including an acrobatic 18-yarder in the second quarter. Fellow wideout Jerricho Cotchery added 46 yards on five receptions while tight end Ed Dickson had two catches for 44 yards. Among them was a huge 34-yarder with time ticking off the clock that iced the victory.


Buccaneers run game can't get going against the Packers in loss
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) The Buccaneers running game managed just 16 yards on 14 carries for Tampa Bay in the 20-3 loss to the Packers. Just a week after rushing for 96 yards, Doug Martin had 10 carries for 17 yards. Backup Charles Sims had four carries for -1 yards. 

Sims added three catches for 30 yards. 

The Buccaneers will finish their season in Week 17 against the Saints. 


Jets QB Geno Smith held in check vs. Patriots
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) Jets quarterback Geno Smith was held in check in his team's loss to the Patriots in Week 16.

Smith hooked up with Jeff Cumberland for a 20-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception, registering a 83.9 quarterback rating. He was sacked twice and rushed for 9 yards on three carries.

Smith will finish the season on the road against the Dolphins.


More to come for Zach Ertz?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:30 pm ET) In setting a franchise record with 15 receptions Week 16 at Washington, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, as you might expect, also led the team with 18 targets, 10 more than his previous season high, which he had only reached once. In other words, he hadn't been a significant part of the Eagles passing game prior to Week 16.

Of course, 18 targets is an unfair comparison for anyone. It's the second-most any player has had in a game this season. It was made possible by quarterback Mark Sanchez attempting a season-high 50 passes in a game where neither team had trouble moving the ball. Of course, the Redskins in particular have struggled against tight ends this season, allowing the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to them.

Here's the problem for Ertz: The Eagles didn't win. This tight end-heavy approach wasn't some game-changer for their offense, and two talented wide receivers in Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews took a back seat because of it.

Obviously, if you're hurting at tight end -- and it's a position that isn't quite 12 deep in Fantasy -- you could give him a look for Week 17 against Dallas, which also struggles against tight ends, but more likely than not, this performance was an aberration.


Bills DT Marcell Dareus (knee) questionable to return Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is questionable to return to Sunday's Week 16 matchup with the Raiders with a knee injury, the team announced.

Dareus was able to walk off the field after being tended to by the trainers after the play on which he sustained his injury. He was then able to walk to the back to be further examined. The Bills are locked in a 7-7 tie with the Raiders in Oakland early in the second quarter.


Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater has solid performance in loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater helped lead the Vikings to five touchdown drives, but it was not enough as the Vikings fell to the Dolphins 37-35 in Week 16.

Bridgewater completed 19 of his 26 pass attempts for 259 yards while also throwing for two touchdowns. His lone blemish was an interception in the third quarter.

Bridgewater connected with wide receiver Greg Jennings on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and then with Jarius Wright on a 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bridgewater has now thrown multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games as a starter.

The Vikings play against the Bears in the season finale.


Gordon leads small group of Browns contributors Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:26 pm ET) Rather than play a standout role, Browns wideout Josh Gordon merely led a small group of minor contributors to a Sunday loss against the host Panthers.

Gordon finished with four catches for 45 yards. Also chipping in were tight end Jim Dray and wideout Taylor Gabriel, both of whom caught just one short pass.


Bucs' Josh McCown throws for 147 and an interception in loss
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown completed 12 of his 26 passes, but only managed 147 yards in Tampa Bay's 20-3 loss to the Packers.

McCown was under attack for much of the game, getting sacked seven times and hit 12 times.

Tampa Bay will wrap up their season at home against the Saints in Week 17. 


Patriots QB Tom Brady held under 200 yards in win over Jets
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was held under 200 passing yards for the third time this season during Sunday's 17-16 victory over the Jets in Week 16.

Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He compiled 182 yards while completing 23 of 35 passes. He added one touchdown and no interceptions, registering a 76.1 passer rating.

Brady has passed for 4,029 yards with 33 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. He'll look to end the regular season on a high note against the Bills in Week 17.


 
 
 
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