Jul 12, 2009
There’s a saying that for every good man, there’s a good woman behind them. Three things I know about this phrase - 1) it’s mostly true, 2) it was definitely written by a woman, and 3) it’s a great analogy for a running back and their offensive line, except in the case of football it’s flip flopped and it’s not so much about what’s behind but what’s up in front. Countless times a mediocre back has thrived behind a stellar O-line. And though some backs are so good it doesn’t matter who’s in front, when placed behind a good offensive line, they do become unstoppable. The point is, a great offensive line boosts a running back’s fantasy football value and that can be very helpful when trying to decide between several backs at your fantasy football draft. Here’s a look at some of the league’s most dominant offensive lines and the running backs behind them.
1. New York Giants
It’s not just your TV that makes it look like Eli Manning has all the time in the world. It’s the Giant’s superb O-line. Ranked #1 in rushing yards per game, this frontal force has produced a 1,000 yard rusher every year since 2004. And, last season, they produced two in Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, proving that this bunch is truly the best of the best. Barring injuries, the Giant offensive line will continue to dominate the field especially with the addition of the big OT William Beatty from Connecticut. Give Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware and Andre Brown a little edge in your 2009 fantasy football drafts.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Though still a solid O-line, the Eagles witnessed a decline in their running game last season going from 4.8 yards per carry to 4.0. The good news is that adding Jason Peters and Shawn Andrews should give Philadelphia’s running game a major boost in 2009, making them one of the league’s most effective. Brian Westbrook is already a first round pick but if you find yourself trying to decide between him and another back keep in mind the solid line that will be in front of him. Lesean McCoy’s value also rises, especially with Westbrook’s history of getting hurt.
3. Minnesota Vikings
You probably aren’t going to need an offensive line analysis to determine whether or not to draft Adrian Peterson seeing as he’s been the clear cut number #1 pick in most leagues. However, it’s always nice to know that the Vikings offensive line is one of the NFL’s elite. And adding Phil Loadholt from Oklahoma should only make them better.
4. Dallas Cowboys
For the last 3 years, the Cowboys’ offensive front has helped the team average over 4.0 yards per carry. One of the league’s biggest lines, they’ll eventually need to get younger, but for now, they can still dominate the field with their powerful run blocking. It doesn’t hurt that Dallas’ running back Marion Barber is an absolute beast. If you’re trying to choose between Barber and another back late in the first round or early second, the Cowboy’s o-line should give Barber the nudge. While it’s true that he’s part of a committee including Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, Barber will get the ball at the goal line, making him the prize pick of the trio. But, remember, since Jones and Choice are running behind the same bunch of guys, they become a bit more valuable as well.
5. Carolina Panthers
Thanks in part to the Panther’s strong offensive line, Carolina’s run game last season ranked 2nd in the league with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. The 1-2 punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart could not be stopped and if the line can stay healthy, both backs should continue to run over defenses. In fact, the offensive line should be even better than last year with the addition of rookie OT Jeff Otah. Williams is a first round pick in your fantasy draft regardless but considering the kind of crew he has up front, you may want to push him and Jonathan Stewart up a pick or two.