Fantasy Football: OL/DL matchups to target and avoid in Week 9

Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams (30) celebrates a field goal against Miami Dolphins with center Frank Ragnow (77) during the first half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

  • The NFC North showdown the Packers have desperately needed: The Green Bay Packers OL against the Detroit Lions DL should give Aaron Rodgers the time he needs to finally have an MVP-caliber performance.
  • Avoid streaming the Tennessee Titans’ rookie QB: Even with six quarterbacks on a bye week, streaming Malik Willis is a poor option as he is expected to be under a ton of pressure, which he didn’t handle well in his first start.
  • Arrow’s up for Jamaal Williams: Playing against his former team, there are plenty of positive signs that Williams can add to his already strong season.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Whether fantasy managers are looking for some important tie-breakers in fantasy start/sit decisions or a DFS advantage, understanding which teams have the advantage in the trenches can be a key to weekly fantasy football success. These are the most crucial matchups to be aware of as fantasy managers head into Week 8.

NOTE: Click here to see this week’s entire offensive line/defensive line matchup tool.



The Packers offensive line enters this week with a 72.3 pass-blocking grade as a unit, which ranks seventh in the NFL. It also appears to have its best pass-blocker, David Bakhtiari, back to full health, boosting its strength even further. The Lions defensive line ranks toward the bottom of the league in pass-rush grade at 58.7 (30th), generating only a 30.0% pressure rate (26th), which has led to just 13 sacks (tied for 30th).


QB Aaron RodgersThe back-to-back MVP would likely have been considered a no-brainer weekly start heading into the season but given the team’s offensive struggles so far, he’s been far from an ideal play each week. Luckily, he has a positive matchup in Detroit, where he has the potential to finally throw for more than 260 yards and two touchdowns in a single game this season. This season, 83% of Rodgers’ passing yards and 11 of his 13 passing touchdowns have come from a clean pocket. He has made 10 big-time throws (tied for fourth) from a clean pocket this season and facing minimal pressure this week should allow for one of his best fantasy games of the year so far.

WR Romeo DoubsDoubs has been Rodgers’ most targeted pass-game option this season, but 44 of his 47 targets (94%),  290 of his 296 receiving yards (98%) and all three of his touchdowns have come when his QB has a clean pocket. If the Packers offensive line dominates as expected this week, then Rodgers and Doubs should both be in for a big fantasy day.


Sticking with the same game but looking at Detroit’s run game, the Lions' offensive line enters this week ranked sixth in run-blocking grade (72.6) while the Packers defensive line has been no more than average with a 58.4 run-defense grade (17th). Detroit is tied for the second-most rushing attempts for running backs inside the opponent’s five-yard line, which has resulted in five touchdowns (tied for second). Green Bay has surrendered 11 rushing attempts inside its own five-yard line (tied for sixth most) so far this season.


RB Jamaal WilliamsHe is second in the league in rushing touchdowns (eight) this season, five of which have come from inside the opponent’s five-yard line (tied for first). The Packers defensive line is also surrendering 1.53 yards before contact while the Lions’ offensive line is generating an impressive 1.49 yards before contact. Williams has earned a 90.2 rushing grade when allowed at least one yard before contact, accounting for 10 explosive runs. Without even taking the “revenge game” narrative into consideration, Williams should be in for another great day on the ground.


The Bengals defensive line has struggled against the run this season, managing a 47.1 run-defense grade (27th) that has caused them to rank in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game (125.6). The Panthers offensive line has been average in run-blocking grade, (63.2) but it have typically performed better against the bottom half of the league’s run-defending defensive lines.


RBs D’Onta Foreman and Chuba HubbardSince Christian McCaffrey was traded, both Panthers’ running backs have performed well. Over the past two weeks, the Panthers running backs have combined for the second-highest rushing total in the league (322 yards). Hubbard (7.0) and Foreman (5.8) have both posted impressive yards per carry since Week 7 and will have a chance to build on that this week. The duo has also combined for seven explosive runs when given at least one yard before contact, which is tied for the sixth-most over the past two weeks. While neither player is McCaffrey, both are viable flex plays against a poor run-defending defensive line.



Tennessee’s offensive line has been one of the worst pass-blocking units in the league this season, tying for 30th in pass-blocking grade (50.1) through the first eight weeks of the season, causing it to be tied for the highest pressure rate allowed in the league (34.1%). The Chiefs defensive line ranks inside the top half of the league in pass-rush grade (72.5) and tied for third in quick pressure rate (25.6%).


QB Malik WillisHe made his first NFL start this past week and was under pressure for eight of his 14 total dropbacks on the day (57%). When under pressure, Willis managed just one completion for 16 yards while also throwing an interception, resulting in a 28.0 passing grade (29th) last week. Even with six quarterbacks on a bye week, this isn’t shaping up to be a great week to plug in Willis as a fill-on option.


The Commanders offensive line is currently middle of the pack in run-blocking grade (64.1) this season, as the unit generates a 34.9% positive EPA per play rate (30th). The Vikings defensive line (71.4) has now surpassed Miami in run defense grade.


RB Brian Robinson Jr.With Robinson handling the bulk of the carries since he joined the lineup (49% since Week 5), his production is most at risk among the Commanders’ backfield. When faced with contact at or behind the line of scrimmage, Robinson’s rushing grade dips to 56.2, which is 46th among all running backs since Week 5. His yards per carry also drops to 1.2 yards, which is 55th among running backs during that time. For context, Antonio Gibson is averaging 3.0 yards per carry (tied for fifth) under the same circumstances over the same span of time. 


Chicago’s offensive line continues to struggle as pass-blockers, tying for the league-high in pressure rate allowed (34.1%), which has resulted in a 61.2 pass-blocking grade (25th). The Miami defensive line ranks inside the top 10 in pass-rush grade this season (74.4), and it added help at the trade deadline by acquiring Bradley Chubb from Denver to further impact the passing game.


QB Justin FieldsHe made the list last week as a player to target, which worked out just fine, but he’ll have a much tougher matchup in Week 9 against one of the most blitz-heavy teams in the league. Under pressure, Fields has still struggled with a 32.9 passing grade (34th) and nine turnover-worthy plays (tied for second). The Dolphins also rank fifth in the league in blitz rate (38.7%) and Fields ranks dead last in passing grade when blitzed (39.1) this season. While he’s been a solid option the past couple of weeks, this week could resemble more of what fantasy managers saw in the early weeks of the season.


The Bills passing offense is essentially matchup-proof, but when it comes to the run game, it can be inconsistent. The Bills offensive line currently owns a 56.0 run-blocking grade, which ranks 29th in the league. The Jets defensive line, meanwhile, has earned the fourth-highest run defense grade in the league so far (69.3).


RB Devin SingletaryThere is already concern about how Singletary’s workload is limited in a pass-heavy offense that just traded for another running back at the deadline in Nyheim Hines, but a tough matchup dampens his outlook even further. Singletary has managed just a 45.0 rushing grade this season when contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage, which ranks 61st of 68 qualifying running backs this season. Under the same circumstances, his yards per carry drops to just 0.3, which ranks 65th of 66 running backs. The Jets and their defensive line rank among the top 10 teams in rushing yards allowed per game (108.0) this season.


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