Denver up 11
This upgrade is a rare mid-season ability boost to right guard Quinn Meinerz. Meinerz's punishing run block on Melvin Ingram III on Sunday Night Football two weeks ago went viral. Meinerz kept up his dominating play last week in the win against Detroit. A former third-round pick out of UW-Whitewater (Division Three), Meinerz will be starting his sixth career game this weekend against Cincinnati. Meinerz is the latest developmental success story from offensive line coach Mike Munchak. The Broncos' offensive line has had a tough time with injuries this season, but with Meinerz's emergence and almost everyone healthy (right tackle Bobby Massie is playing through an ankle injury), they check in at 13th in the current rankings.
Green Bay up 11
First, the bad news: right tackle Billy Turner was forced from last week's game Sunday Night Football win with a knee injury. Turner didn't practice this week and his situation appears to be a multi-week rehab. Dennis Kelly played the final 65% of snaps in place of Turner, and will likely get the start this week at Baltimore. So why is Green Bay listed under upgrades? Because All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari was spotted running around Packers practice this week and quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the press it was "good to see the big giraffe out there again." Bakhtiari may not be in football shape but look for him to see action this weekend. Assuming Bakhtiari is healthy enough to replace Yosh Nijman, the Packers' offensive line moves up to 11th in the latest rankings.
Baltimore up 4
This is another good news/bad news situation. The bad news is that right tackle Tyre Phillips (illness), left guard Ben Powers (foot), and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva (knee) are all absent from practice this week with various nagging injuries. These players are still included in the rankings, but it's fair to wonder how much these injuries are affecting their play. The good news is that right tackle Patrick Mekari has recovered from his hand injury and has rejoined the team at practice. The Ravens' offensive line has been spotty during the second half of the season, but they always look better with Mekari in the lineup. The return of their usual right tackle moves this group to 17th before facing a talented Green Bay defensive front at home.
NY Jets up 6
Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif played 100% of snaps in the home loss to New Orleans. The Jets' offense has problems due to the inconsistent fundamentals of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, but the offensive line looks marginally better of late, and much better with Duvernay-Tardiff in the lineup for Greg Van Roten. In other news, George Fant is being held out of practice with a knee injury, but he is included in the ranks. Since moving back to his natural left tackle spot, Fant has locked down in pass protection. Center Connor McGovern has also stepped up his game. This offense probably isn't going to win many fantasy championships, but they're crawling out of the cellar of the rankings, 24th this week before facing a decent Dolphins defensive front.
Carolina up 2
Last week left tackle Cam Erving returned to the lineup and played the entire game in the loss to Atlanta. Erving and right tackle Taylor Moton performed well, but the problems were at guard, where Dennis Daley and Brady Christensen were overmatched. This week, the usual starters of right guard John Miller (ankle) and left guard Mike Jordan (hamstring) should start at Buffalo. For Miller, drafted by Buffalo in the third round of the 2015 draft, this game has a bit of a homecoming/revenge factor. Jordan might still be hampered by his hamstring, in which case, Daley or Deonte Brown are other options. It's a modest upgrade to a below-average group. They rank 29th before facing a Buffalo defensive front seven that can't seem to stop the run lately.
Houston up 1
Center Justin Britt returned from his knee injury to start last week's blowout loss against Seattle. While far from a dominant player, Britt is the usual starter, and his return sent the untested Jimmy Morrissey to the bench. While this change seems minor, it is enough to get Houston out of the last spot in the rankings. The Texans' grade 31st before this week's choice matchup against Jacksonville.
Dallas down 2
Left tackle Tyron Smith was forced from last week's win over Washington with an ankle injury. Smith has not practiced this week, leaving Terrence Steele to get another start. Steele has grown into a starting quality tackle by league standards, with experience replacing Smith before, hence this is only a small downgrade. In other news, right tackle Lael Collins was ejected from last week's game for throwing punches but has but avoided suspension by the league. The Cowboys' line has more depth options than most, as evidenced by Ty Nshkhe taking the final 20 snaps for Collins. Still, the loss of Smith is a downgrade, and the Cowboys' offensive line grades out eighth in the latest rankings before facing an average NY Giants' defensive front.
LA Rams down 5
With veteran right tackle Rob Havenstein out with Covid, Joe Noteboom started and played 100% of snaps in the crucial Monday Night Football win over Arizona. Noteboom is another starting quality player, just waiting for his chance for a full-time job at either tackle spot. The real concern is at center where Brian Allen missed last week's game with a knee injury and has not practiced this week. Coleman Shelton will likely get another start this week against Seattle, but Shelton is a downgrade compared to Allen in pass protection. This is a modest downgrade, and the Rams' offensive line checks in at 14th this week.
LA Chargers down 5
Star rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater was placed on the Covid list this week, leaving Trey Pipkins to make his ninth career start on Thursday Night Football against Kansas City. Slater has been outstanding this season in pass protection, meanwhile, Pipkins, who started five games at left tackle last year, is the reason why they needed to draft Slater at 13th overall. Should Pipkins struggle, left guard Matt Feiler would the emergency option. Coaches have said they would like to avoid this outcome. The Chargers' offensive line grades 15th this week. Their depth will be tested by a resurgent Kansas City defensive front.
Washington down 1
With Center Chase Roullier and Wes Schweitzer already on season-ending IR, and Tyler Larsen and Keith Ismael on the Covid list, the Football Team signed Jon Toth from their practice squad. Toth will likely be the 5th center to start this season, and it will occur on the road in Philadelphia. The team also signed Jamil Douglas, who could also see reps. This downgrade would be worse would it not be for Sam Cosmi (hip) being activated from the IR. With Cornelius Lucas also on the Covid list, Cosmi's return was timely. This group is banged up, but with all the other bad news around the league, they only fall one slot to 16th this week.
Cleveland down 12
With right guard Wyatt Teller, left tackle Jedrick Wills, and backup guard Drew Forbes all added to the Covid list, the Browns will likely start a patchwork line against Las Vegas. Michael Dunn for Teller, move James Hudson from right tackle to the left side in place of Wills, and put Blake Hance back in the lineup. The tackles are somewhat decent but Dunn (undrafted from Maryland) getting his first career start is probably the most concerning development. With the widespread sickness, this group falls a dozen spots to 20th overall in the latest rankings.
Tennessee down 5
Veteran left guard Rodger Saffold exited last week's game twice with a shoulder injury. Saffold has not practiced this week and told reporters he was fighting through "a nerve thing." Aaron Brewer replaced Saffold last week against Jacksonville and will likely get the start this week. Brewer is another backup who has acquired enough experience to grade as a starter in the model. Still, Brewer is a modest step down from Saffold, who may not be right with this injury until the offseason. The Titans' offensive line falls five slots to 22nd before facing a tough Pittsburgh pass rush on the road.
Detroit down 7
With center Evan Brown added to the Covid list, rookie Ryan McCollum (undrafted from Texas A&M) got his first career start against Denver. McCollum's play was mixed, but the Lions' will likely have to give him another start this week, against a talented Arizona defensive front. In other news, left guard Jonah Jackson (back) has not been practicing this week, but he is included in the lineup. Among all the uncertainty in the interior positions, the Lions' offensive line grades out 23rd this week.
Seattle down 2
Right tackle Brandon Shell (shoulder) missed last week's win over Houston, with Jake Curhan (undrafted from Cal-Berkley) getting his first career start. Shell has not practiced this week and he is not included in the rankings but it would not be surprising if he tried to gut it out for the divisional matchup this weekend against the LA Rams. In other news, Gabe Jackson is nursing a knee injury but he too is included in the ranks. This line is limping down the stretch, 25th in the most recent rankings.
NY Giants down 2
After getting diced by Joey Bosa, the coaches benched usual right tackle Nate Solder for the second half. Matt Peart (former 3rd round pick from UConn) took over for Solder and there could be a split of reps 1:1 until one player or the other distinguishes himself. Either way, it's not a good look before facing a red-hot Dallas defensive front seven. In other news, left tackle Andrew Thomas has had a bounce-back season overall, but he too is fighting through an injury down the stretch (ankle - in ranks). The Giants' offensive line grades 30th this week.
Chicago down 2
If you've made it this far, congratulations, we've finally hit the bottom. Left tackle Jason Peters only lasted 13 snaps against Green Bay before leaving with an ankle injury. Even with the extra day of rest before Monday Night Football, Peters' status is officially doubtful. Rookie Tevin Jenkins replaced Peters for his first career action and his play was extremely poor overall. There was talk of swapping Larry Borom from right tackle to left, but that was before Borom was added to the Covid list. With backup tackle Elijah Wilkinson on the Covid list since November 26, Lachavious Simmons (former seventh-round from Tennessee State) could see his second career start. Simmons' first career action came during Week 7, a 38-3 loss against Tampa Bay. The Bears' offensive line grades last, 32nd in this week's rankings.
ARZ - Justin Pugh (calf - not in ranks) has been limited in practice. Pugh's return would be a small upgrade but the replacements of Sean Harlow at LG and Max Garcia at RG have been average or better.
CIN - Riley Reiff/Isaiah Prince 2:1 split reps at RT last week. C Trey Hopkins (in ranks), Trey Hill, and Prince all did not practice this week with illness.
IND - C Ryan Kelly (knee) practiced in full coming off the bye week. He is included in the Colts' grade prior to facing New England this week.
KCC - RT Andrew Wylie (knee - in ranks) is officially questionable for Thursday Night Football, as is Lucas Niang (ribs - in ranks). Both practiced in full on Wednesday.
JAX - Several players are gutting through back injuries: LG Andrew Norwell, RG Ben Bartch and C Brandon Linder. RT Jawaan Taylor has been limited with an ankle injury. All are included in this week's rankings.
NOS - RT Ryan Ramcyzk (knee - not in ranks) and Terron Armstead (knee - in ranks) both did not practice this week. Armstead usually doesn't practice at this point in the season, but Ramcyzk might be another week away.
PIT - LG B.J. Finney was officially placed on the IR. John LeGlue (undrafted from Tulane) has taken over the job and has done admirably. The next man up would be Rashad Coward.
|8||Dallas||-2||31.3||A-||A||B+||5.0||LT Tyron Smith (ankle - not in ranks), Terrence Steele replaced.|
|11||Green Bay||11||31.1||B+||B+||B+||5.0||Assuming LT David Bakhtiari (knee - in ranks) plays. RT Billy Turner (knee - not in ranks), Dennis Kelly to replace.|
|12||New Orleans||2||31.0||B+||A-||B||4.8||LT Terron Armstead (knee, shoulder - in ranks) but James Hurst to RT for Ryan Ramcyzk (knee - not in ranks).|
|13||Denver||11||30.9||B+||B||A-||5.0||Cohesion upgrade - RG Quinn Meinerz.|
|14||LA Rams||-5||30.8||B||B||B||5.0||C Brian Allen (knee - not in ranks), Coleman Shelton replaced. RT Rob Havenstein (Covid - not in ranks), Joe Noteboom replaced.|
|15||LA Chargers||-4||30.8||B||B||B||5.0||LT Rashawn Slater (Covid - not in ranks), Trey Pipkins to replace.|
|16||Washington||-1||30.2||B-||C+||B||4.6||C Tyler Larsen and C Keith Ismael (Covid - not in ranks) likely out, Jon Toth or Jamil Douglas to replace.|
|17||Baltimore||4||30.2||B-||B||C+||4.6||Assuming RT Patrick Mekari (hand - in ranks) plays. LT Alejandro Villanueva (knee) and LG Ben Powers (foot) in ranks but playing hurt.|
|20||Cleveland||-12||30.2||B-||B||C+||4.4||LT Jedrick Wills and RG Wyatt Teller (Covid - not in ranks), RT James Hudson to LT, Blake Hance and Michael Dunn to replace.|
|21||Cincinnati||-1||30.2||B-||B||C+||5.0||Assuminig C Trey Hopkins (ankle - in ranks) and RT Riley Reiff (ankle - in ranks) play this weekend.|
|22||Tennessee||-5||30.1||B-||B||C+||5.0||LG Rodger Saffold (shoulder - not in ranks), Aaron Brewer replaced.|
|23||Detroit||-7||29.9||B-||C+||B||4.6||C Evan Brown (Covid - not in ranks), Ryan McCollum replaced.|
|24||NY Jets||6||29.8||C+||B-||C||5.0||RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (ankle - in ranks) returned to lineup.|
|25||Seattle||-2||29.7||C+||C+||C+||4.8||RT Brandon Shell (shoulder - not in ranks), Jake Curhan replaced.|
|29||Carolina||2||29.2||C||C+||C-||4.8||RG John Miller and LT Cam Erving return to lineup.|
|30||NY Giants||-2||29.1||C-||C||B-||4.8||RT Nate Solder benched (Matt Peart replaced).|
|31||Houston||1||28.8||C-||C||D+||5.0||C Justin Britt (knee - in ranks) returned to lineup last week.|
|32||Chicago||-3||27.9||D+||C-||D||4.6||LT Jason Peters (ankle - not in ranks), RT Larry Borom (Covid - not in ranks), Tevin Jenkins and Lachavious Simmons to replace.|